Hanging bridges in costa rica
Study & explore Costa Rica's abundance of wildlife, lush rainforests, and unspoiled beaches!

Costa Rica, home of Pasadena City College's Winter 2019 Study Abroad program, is one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica's unique geography hosts markedly different climates along its coasts and an incredibly rich diversity of flora and fauna. From rugged rocky headlands and wild beaches to lush jungle lagoons, tumbling waterfalls, highland cloud forests, and dramatic volcanic peaks -- Costa Rica is the ideal destination for those interested in exploring wildlife and the natural world.

Spend your winter exploring Costa Rica's unique biodiversity with PCC Study Abroad! Marvel at the amazing wildlife. Hike through misty rain forests and ascend to simmering volcanic peaks. Kayak, snorkel, and zip-line, then relax in a natural hot spring or along a stunning beach. Adventure abounds in Costa Rica. Pura Vida!

Program Dates

 Jan. 7 - Feb. 9, 2019

  • January 7-18: at PCC
  • January 19 - February 9: in Costa Rica

Program Fee

  • $2,995 without airfare
  • $3,570 with airfare

Price based on 20 students. Excludes airline taxes & PCC tuition.

Info Session

Meet the faculty & learn more about the program at an Information Session!

Noon in C-337:
  • September 4 & 18
  • October 2, 16 & 30
  • November 13
6:00 pm in C-302:
  • September 19
  • October 3
  • November 14

Program Dates

  • January 7 – 18: Program starts at PCC
  • January 19: Group flight to Costa Rica
  • January 20: Program continues in Costa Rica
  • February 9: End of program. Group flight departs for the U.S.

Program Fees

  • $2,995 without roundtrip airfare
  • $3,570 with roundtrip airfare 

Excludes airline taxes & PCC tuition. Based on a minimum enrollment of 20 students.

Program Fee Includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare & transfers, if airfare package is selected.
  • San Jose hotel accommodations during first & last night of program with double-bedded rooms. Breakfast included.
  • San Jose homestay accommodations with double-bedded rooms. Two meals per day (breakfast & dinner) provided by homestay family.
  • Full-day excursions to Poas Volcano & Doka coffee plantation; Arenal Volcano & Baldi Hot Springs; and Braulio Carillo National Park with nature hike, hanging-bridge walk & zip-lining.
  • Full-day volunteering at Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation.
  • 4 day/3 night excursion to Cahuita National Park on Caribbean coast with snorkeling, waterfall & sloth sanctuary visit.
  • 4 day/3 night excursion to Punta Leona on Pacific coast with crocodile tour & kayaking.
  • Cahuita & Punta Leona hotel accommodations with multi-bedded rooms. Breakfast included.
  • Some additional meals provided. See Excursions & Activities area.
  • On-site faculty, student support staff member, and 24-hour emergency contact service.
  • Accident and illness insurance
  • Liability insurance

Program fee does not include:

  • Mandatory U.S. government and airline-imposed departure taxes, fees and fuel surcharges of $117 (subject to change), if airfare package is selected.
  • Refundable housing damage deposit ($125)
  • Meals other than those listed
  • Optional medical insurance upgrade ($65) and optional personal effects coverage ($90)
  • Passport and visa fees, if applicable
  • PCC course registration fees
  • Textbooks
  • Personal expenses
Fee:             Deadline:
Enrollment Deposit $450.00 Due immediately upon acceptance into program
Balance of Fees $2,545.00  November 23, 2018
Housing Damage Deposit (refundable) $125.00 November 23, 2018
Roundtrip Airfare (if selected) $575.00 November 23, 2018
Airline Tax (if selected) $117.00 November 23, 2018
Total (with airfare)   $3,812.00  
Total (without airfare)              
Optional Upgrades:    
Medical Insurance Upgrade $65.00 November 23, 2018
Personal Effects Insurance $90.00 November 23, 2018

All students must submit the $450 deposit when completing the online enrollment form immediately after acceptance into the program. Subsequent payments may be made by check or credit card. Checks should be made payable to “AIFS.” American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted.

Please note: A $35 returned check fee will be charged on all checks returned by the bank for insufficient funds.

AIFS Air/Transportation Package 

Tickets purchased from AIFS are exclusively on scheduled airlines (not charters). They are not endorsable to another carrier. Flights are not necessarily direct or non-stop, they cannot be rerouted, and frequent flyer miles are not applicable. The AIFS Transportation Package includes round-trip ground transportation from the airport in San Jose to your accommodations on the regularly scheduled program dates. 

Participants wishing to purchase the Transportation Package must notify AIFS in writing by Thursday, October 25, 2018, or by selecting this option on the online enrollment form. Participants wishing to cancel from the flight must notify AIFS in writing by Friday, November 23, 2018. Cancellation penalties will apply. Tickets are non-refundable after this date.

AIFS Airfare Regulations

Return must be to original U.S. departure city. Tickets are subject to airline availability. No refunds are available for any unused portion of ticket. Stopovers are not permitted. Once in San José, participants may be able to change their return date, but only if that date is available and in the same class of service in which the ticket was booked. Only the ticketing agent can provide this information. Participants are subject to agency and airline-imposed change fees and space availability. Group round-trip ground transportation to and from the airport in San José is on the regularly scheduled program dates only.

A minimum of 10 participants must take the AIFS flight for it to be offered.

AIFS Refund Policy 

All notification of withdrawal must be made in writing via fax or certified mail to: Registrar, Customized, Faculty-led Programs, AIFS Study Abroad, 1 High Ridge Park, Stamford, CT 06905. The fax number is 203.399.5597. Postmark date or date of fax transmission is considered date of withdrawal. All withdrawal statements must be signed by the applicant, or they will not be processed.

If a student withdraws on or before Thursday, October 25, 2018, s/he will receive a refund for all fees paid less a $150 processing fee and any non-refundable deposits paid by the student or by AIFS on the student’s behalf.

If a student withdraws after Thursday, October 25, 2018, but on or before Friday, November 23, 2018, s/he will receive a refund for all fees paid less the $450 deposit and any non-refundable deposits paid by the student or by AIFS on the student's behalf.

The total program fee is due Friday, November 23, 2018. No refund will be given after this date for any reason except medical covered by the AIFS Fees Refund and Medical Insurance Policy. The policy requires written proof of medical reasons provided by your physician.

This refund policy is necessary because the booking of facilities in Costa Rica requires substantial non-refundable payments and commitments by AIFS in advance.


Costa Rica is the perfect platform for students to learn and engage with wildlife. The Field Biology and Human Impacts on the Environment courses are designed to be complementary, enabling students to make and experience meaningful connections.  As a learning community, we will travel and celebrate together in such places as moist tropical rainforests (understory & canopy), volcanoes & hot springs, Red Macaw & Sloth reserves, waterfalls, coral reefs (snorkeling and kayaking), coffee plantations & other agriscapes, the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, the capital of San Jose, and more…. Students will complete the course with a mastery of both Scientific Literacy and Data Collection & Analysis skills in addition to real world applications of current biological & environmental topics.


Participants must enroll in both classes for a total of 7 units.

Course #

Course Name


Biology 014 Field Biology


Environmental Studies 002 Human Impact on the Environment


* All courses are CSU/UC transferable.* Honors Program credit for those who qualify

Program Faculty

Professor Erika Catanese, Natural Sciences

Erika Catanese

Professor Catanese teaches Environmental Science, Botany, Biology, and Critical Thinking. Student centered learning practices drive her pedagogical passions. She finds great satisfaction teaching and learning alongside her students and engaging them outside the traditional classroom. She regularly teaches programs with Californian forests, beaches & deserts as her classroom. She’s also taken students to diverse places such as Hawaii, Baja California, England (Oxford Study Abroad) and Italy (Florence Study Abroad), facilitating learning through service, hiking, gardening, food recovery, ecological restoration, and water management projects. An aficionado in Aquaponics, her students have won awards and gained employment. She enjoys traveling and teaching students about their power through choice and is excited to have the privilege of leading students in the PCC Costa Rica Study Abroad Winter 2019. Costa Rica is synonymous with Conservation and Wildlife. Professor Catanese first experienced Costa Rica’s moist tropical rainforest as a student research intern and has since returned to the tropics many times. Having been inspired by these excursions, she is thrilled to be sharing this extraordinary adventure with PCC Students.

Meals & Accommodations

Accommodation for the first and last night in a San Jose hotel with double-bedded rooms and breakfast.

San Jose: Accommodations in furnished, double-bedded, homestays. You will live with a local family in a residential neighborhood located a maximum of 30 minutes walk or bus ride from the Study Center. Breakfast and dinner will be provided by your homestay family on a daily basis. Linens will also be provided, although you must bring your own towels. One load of personal laundry may be done each week.

Cahuita Excursion: Three nights in double-bedded rooms at a hotel with breakfast.

Punta Leona Excursion: Three nights in multi-bedded rooms at a hotel with breakfast.

Additional meals may be provided. See Excursions & Activities area.

You will be invoiced for a $125 refundable housing damage deposit in addition to the program fees.

Excursions & Activities

Orientation Program
  • Orientation upon arrival covering topics such as general acclimation, safety and security issues, cultural differences, travel and money.
  • Local San Jose walking tour covering housing and classroom locations and local amenities.
  • A half-day guided sightseeing tour of San Jose including a visit to the central market.
  • Full-day excursion to Poas Volcano and the Doka Coffee Plantation, including lunch.
  • Full-day excursion to Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs including entrance to the hot springs, lunch, and dinner.
  • Full-day excursion to Braulio Carrillo National Park including zip-lining, a guided nature walk, a visit to the hanging bridge, and lunch.
  • Full-day volunteering at the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation.
Overnight Excursions
  • Cahuita National Park: four-day, three-night excursion to the Caribbean Coast, including transportation by private bus, hotel accommodation, breakfast, one group dinner, entrance to the National Park with a local guide, snorkeling on the Cahuita coral reef, a visit to the Sloth Sanctuary, and a waterfall visit.
  • Punta Leona: four-day, three-night excursion to the Pacific Coast, including transportation by private bus, hotel accommodation, breakfast, a crocodile tour, and kayaking.

Financial Aid may be available to those who qualify. Grants, loans, and scholarships may be used to pay program fees.

Apply immediately. You should allow up to eight weeks for your financial aid request to be processed.

More About Financial Aid options at PCC

Apply to Study in Costa Rica!

We are now accepting applications for the Costa Rica 2019 program! Applications submitted on or before October 1 will be given priority. A limited amount of spots are available for this program. Apply now!

To be eligible for the program, you must be at least 18 years old on the date of departure. All adult students and varied educational backgrounds are welcome! You do not need to be a current PCC student to join the program.

Apply Now

More Information

Contact Professor Andrea Murray, Study Abroad Coordinator