Costa Rica

Health care and education

Trip Details

Registration Deadline

October 25, 2019


Costa rica

Dates of Travel

March 7 – March 14, 2020

Cost of trip


Costa Rica abolished its military over 70 years ago at the end of the Costa Rican Civil War, making it one of the few nations that do not have a standing army. The intention in abolishing the army was to divert funding to healthcare, education, and culture. It worked. Costa Rica guarantees universal public education in its constitution, spends 6.9% of its budget on education (compared with global average of 4.4%), has a 97% literacy rate and is known as a highly educated, bilingual workforce. Cost Rica has universal healthcare, a successful mix of public and private health care systems, and an international reputation for providing excellent care. Costa Rica invests significant money in upgrading hospitals and training medical staff. In addition, Costa Rica has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, and is consistently ranked one of the world's happiest countries. On this project, in addition to exploring the education and healthcare systems, students will explore the history and culture of Costa Rica. By listening to first-hand stories, engaging with host families, and utilizing guides from the region, students will develop a thorough understanding of the reality of everyday life for Costa Ricans.

Going beyond the beautiful and glamorous location presented in US media, students will also have a chance to dive deep into immigrant communities, to learn about the struggles and oppression people have faced in Costa Rica, and how the community is responding in innovative ways. The group will visit Longo Mai, a community that has experienced different waves of refugees from Nicaragua and El Salvador—to learn about the history of the community and its environmental conservation, self-sustainability, and community organizing efforts. Students will connect with the community through guest lectures and host family stays.

Sample Itinerary

Day Activities
Day 1: Travel to San Jose Orientation and Exploration Barrio Escalante
Day 2: Tour of Doka Estate Coffee Plantation
Day 3: Latin American Bible University Educational System in Costa Rica
Day 4: History of Costa Rica Socio-economic situation of Costa Rica
Visit Irazu Volcano
Day 5: Costa Rican Health Care System Costa Rican Art Museum
Travel to Longo Mai
Day 6: Longo Mai Costa Rica and Europe presentation Learn about the impact of pineapple plantation
Day 7: Visit La Carpio Costa Rican National Museum
Return to San Jose
Day 8: Travel back to Gettysburg

About the Program

Immersion Projects are off-campus, educational opportunities at sites in the United States and abroad which take place over Winter Break, Spring Break, and in May. Students spend the weeks prior to travel learning about the community and its history. Students then travel to sites ranging from Nicaragua to Morocco and from Alabama to New York City, where they immerse themselves in a the community. Each project seeks to foster a dialogue between the students and the host community around issues of social justice. By working alongside community leaders and sharing their stories, students learn about themselves and the world. Students find Immersion Projects to be exciting and powerful educational experiences. Immersion Projects are open to all Gettysburg College students. Occasionally, persons from off-campus participate. Participants must be sixteen years of age or older. Students must be in good disciplinary standing (no more than 5 points and not on academic probation) in order to participate on an Immersion Project. Each participant must agree to full participation in their chosen project by attending all pre-trip meetings, completing required paperwork and preparatory assignments (such as readings, videos, other activities), behaving in an appropriate manner at all times, participating in group reflection, and contributing to the group follow-up project.

Application and Payment

Registration opens September 23, 2019 and closes October 25, 2019 at 4:00PM. A $100 non-refundable deposit is due at time of registration. First half of payment is due Friday, November 12, 2019 by 4:00PM. Final payment is due Friday, January 24, 2020 by 4:00PM.

Financial Aid

Scholarships are available to help offset the cost of an Immersion Project. Read carefully the criteria for financial awards and follow directions for completing the application. For consideration, complete the Financial Award Application and email it to See application for detailed information. Application Deadline: OCTOBER 25, 2019 by 4:00PM.

Mandatory Orientation Session

ALL Winter project participants are required to attend a mandatory orientation session held on early November. Email reminders will be sent to participants. Participants will meet other project members, receive important paperwork, and discuss requirements and goals of Immersion Projects.

Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance

All Gettysburg College students traveling on an Immersion Project are covered under the College's medical evacuation and repatriation travel insurance. This insurance does not replace the student's primary insurance policy, but will cover certain emergency services when traveling, such as the need for evacuation. Students and parents are welcome to examine the details of the policy.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

The Center for Public Service will register each student traveling internationally on an Immersion Project in the STEP Program. This program is a free service provided by the U.S. government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. STEP provides users with travel warnings and alerts, and allows users to receive routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Withdraw from Project

The $100 deposit required at the time of registration is non-refundable should the participant decide to withdraw from the project. In addition, the participant is responsible for paying for all expenses incurred on their behalf at the time of the withdrawal. For example, if airline tickets have been purchased by the time of withdrawal, participant will be responsible for the cost of the ticket, as well as any other pre-paid expenses.

The Center for Public Service reserves the right to remove a participant prior to departure for reasons of, but not limited to, failure to make project payments in a timely manner, financial debt to the College, a history of judicial violations, failure to complete required participant forms (such as release and health forms), failure to attend mandatory Orientation Session and/or group meetings. The Center for Public Service reserves the right to send a participant home during the project (at the participant's expense) for reasons of, but not limited to, violations of College policy, the use of alcohol or illegal drugs, disrespect toward site community or group members, or medical/psychological emergencies.

Contact Us

Email or call 717-337-6490.