Culture. Nature. Fun.
CULTURE: Intercultura’s Heredia campus is a unique school among the many present in the capital area:
We offer not only linguistic immersion and daily activities on campus, but we also integrate our students into the artistic and cultural life of Costa Rica that most tourists never get to see.
In the last 10 years, the central valley, which includes Heredia, San José and Alajuela, has revitalized its arts scene with initiatives including bi-monthly architectural tours, monthly art festivals, free concerts, five different yearly international music and film festivals, night-time art tours, monthly cultural bike tours, free weekly historic city tours, and much more.
At Intercultura, we believe that cultural immersion goes beyond Latin dance and cooking classes; we believe that in order to truly understand a country, one has to experience the “Culture” of that country in a larger sense. Our students will participate in activities attended by Ticos (Costa Ricans), not by foreigners. You will mix with people from all walks of life joined in the common pursuit of artistic entertainment and the expansion of cultural knowledge. You will get to know the city and feel a part of it in a way few foreigners have the opportunity to do, and, undoubtedly, you will improve both your Spanish and your intercultural communication skills!
NATURE: From the second floor roof terrace you can see the mountains to the north and the valley to the south; from the balcony you can see the colonial church spires and the palm trees of the central park, 4 blocks away, where bright green parakeets gather at sunset, singing so loud you can sometimes hear them all the way from the school!
Nearby you have Barva volcano with its famous lagoon. A public bus ride and a short hike later, you will be walking through a mystical place that looks like something out of a fairytale, with centuries-old moss-covered trees, giant plants that seem like they come from another age, and abundant bird and animal life.
If you’re looking for a nice way to spend an afternoon, you can take another short bus ride to the Ojo de Agua natural spring pools, a series of large natural pools spread out in a beautifully landscaped gardens, where you can swim, sunbathe and mingle with the few people that go there during the week (on weekends it gets crowded!)
Also in the Heredia province is the La Paz waterfall gardens, where you will hike down a path right next to 6 giant waterfalls, and visit a beautiful butterfly garden, a frog and snake exhibit, and see exotic plants you never even knew existed. A hour’s drive to the north-west is Poas volcano, which occasionally bubbles in the massive crater you can see from the top, in among the moonscape-like scenery.
FUN: If you’re looking for a fun place to spend your vacation, Heredia is a vibrant, safe and easily walkable city (most homestays are less than half a mile from the center). As home to the national university, we have a large population of young, educated Ticos who enjoy meeting foreign students and showing them around the many fun venues Heredia has to offer, from student bars to international restaurants, to yoga and dance studios, to the activities on the national university’s campus, to hanging out at the local gym with its Olympic size pool, to free jazz in the central park.
Taxis are very cheap, so getting around at night is easy too, and because all the students (as well as the locals) live in one general area, it’s easy to meet up with your friends after school and spend time doing any activities that come to mind. If you want to get out of the city center, you can easily hike up to nearby San Rafael, a picturesque town with a beautiful church and great sports facilities (skate park, basketball courts, football, running track etc). Or you can hop on a bus and 10 minutes up the road you will find yourself in colonial Barva, with one of the three oldest churches in the country (Heredia has another), and a historic center where adobe houses with spanish-tiled roofs surround the central park, which is dedicated to the arts: sculptures, public art events, town fiestas and exhibits are a constant in Barva.
WHAT FORMER STUDENTS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT HEREDIA
Alison Germaneri, 19, USA (Brookhaven):
Intercultura in Heredia was the perfect setting for me to study Spanish. During the week I could completely focus on my language learning. Since Heredia isn’t a big tourist destination there are fewer English speakers so I was forced to use my Spanish navigating through the city, going restaurants and shops and of course going dancing. I enjoyed immersing myself in the city life to get an authentic feel of Costa Rican culture. I also loved that the school was centrally located in the country making just about any destination doable for a weekend excursion. There was even a wide range of day trips near the city for fun weekend activities. The Heredia campus gave me a perfect balance between traveling around the country and enjoying city life and I could work on improving my Spanish through it all.
Choosing between the Heredia and Samara campus is a tough choice, especially if you’ve seen the Samara campus, which literally looks like paradise. But the Heredia campus ended up being the perfect option for me for many reasons.
Heredia is not a big tourist destination so restaurants and shops are catered to Costa Ricans, this means you are forced to use your Spanish. This gives you a true feeling of total immersion and is a huge benefit to your Spanish studies.
Being in the city also gives you a wide range of activities like going to the park, museums, cafés, shops and dancing. You can hop on the bus and go explore a neighboring city. The area also offers hiking trails, volcanoes and some great ecological attractions. You won’t run out of things to do.
While the Samara campus is beautiful I knew if I decided to study there I wouldn’t travel on weekends. I wouldn’t opt to spend the day on the bus if I was already at a beautiful beach. I wanted to see as many places in Costa Rica as I could and Heredia is perfectly situated in the center of the country so just about any destination in the country is doable for a weekend trip.
The Heredia campus gave me the perfect balance between city life and weekend journeys and was the perfect way to work on improving my Spanish.
Andrea Keith, 26, USA:
"What I liked about Heredia was that it was such a fun place to be a single woman traveler; you got to meet tons of people, it’s never boring, and I could call an inexpensive cab be anywhere in the city in minutes, and I could take a cab home by myself late at night and feel totally safe. Then there are the mountains right there, a beautiful refreshing place to go on the weekends, a little escape from the city, and it’s also super close to SJ and the bus-stops, so you can get anywhere really easily… during the week you are focusing on your Spanish and then on the weekends you can go all these amazing places all over the country, and the bus tickets are also super inexpensive."
Robert Fleischer, 18, Germany
"Staff is friendly, inclusive, warm and welcoming. Heredia is a vivid town, very interesting due to the historic structure of the city, the streets, the cultural places, etc. Intercultura is very impressive, not only the classrooms, but also the campus as a whole (gardens, terrace, etc.). The structure of the class is very interactive which I like a lot. Costa Rica stands out in comparison to other Central America countries due to its progress, anti-military thinking and attitude, security and welfare.”
Alice Gleises, 34, France
"I spent 4 extraordinary months at your school [in Heredia] and got to experience the school and the personnel in depth and I must say that everything was perfect....The organization was impressive, the teachers extremely competent ... I loved the mix of cultures and the positive ambience... A big thank you to the whole team at Intercultura Heredia for such a warm welcome!!"
Gerald Scholefield, 65, Canada
"The school is very well organized and run. The teachers of Spanish are knowledgeable, skillful, enthusiastic and caring. The classes are small and the students dedicated to learning. Moreover, the school "climate" is happy, warm, and supportive. Staff and students obviously enjoy working together as an educational family. Classes are comprised of students of diverse nationalities, cultures, and ages - a factor which enriches the overall educational experience. Combined with my positive homestay I would characterize my time as a student at Intercultura Heredia as a joy and I would rate the school and its services as outstanding."