What Is a Homestay Extension?
The homestay extension for students on GLA's Costa Rica: Spanish Service Adventure high school language immersion program is an opportunity to have the most immersive abroad living experience imaginable.
Students who enroll in the homestay extension will first participate in our 14-day or 21-day Flagship program, where you'll live with fellow high school students at our GLA home base and volunteer in the surrounding communities. This will be your chance to become familiar with the region and its unique needs, as you become accustomed to the Costa Rican way of life.
On the day your fellow students depart for home, you'll say your goodbyes, and then you'll begin the next part of your adventure back in the Los Santos region, 2-3 hours from San Jose. You will meet your homestay family at this time, and will have the opportunity to broaden your experience past the home base by spending time in a local town within the same region. You'll spend the next week living with a Costa Rican family in their home as you build deep connections, cook and eat local food, and explore the town.
How It Works
GLA has partnered for years with Green Communities, a local organization that works within communities in the region to promote sustainable agriculture and development projects. They've established strong bonds in the communities in which they operate, and they've coordinated with many local families to host student volunteers in their homes. This way, students can live and volunteer in the same community at the same time. Green Communities has over 11 years of experience managing homestays, and GLA is excited to partner with them to provide these opportunities to our students.
Host families are vetted and meet strict criteria developed based on GLA's and GC's expertise, including:
- Family must have previous experience hosting students
- Maintain a clean home with a working shower, hot water and a bathroom
- Be responsible, trustworthy and organized hosts
- Provide a gender-segregated sleeping area and lock on the door for student use
- Serve good, tasty and healthy food (can accommodate most student dietary needs)
- Have a landline phone for student use
- Access to laundry in the house
Your local staff will help you get acquainted with your family and will provide an orientation on the first day. All host families pass a full evaluation and are trained in best practices for hosting international students. Families will provide homestay students with a key to their house for the duration of their stay. You can talk to your enrollment advisor for more information.
The Benefits of a Homestay
This is a unique chance to live in small, tightly-connected communities that are grateful for the service work you'll do during the homestay portion of your experience.
Volunteers will participate in projects that may include ecological development (such as working on coffee farms) and community improvement (such as making eco bricks, repairing or improving roads and pathways to prevent erosion), among others. You'll work with a staff coordinator and other students participating in homestay extensions with other families on the program.
Living with a local family is also an exceptional opportunity to further make an impact in this region on a personal level. You'll be connecting with real people living their day-to-day lives, and sharing a home with a family that is excited to have you join them for family meals, conversations, and more.
Students also frequently stay in touch with their host families after their homestay experience!
After taking a few weeks of Spanish language courses on your GLA program, you'll be better prepared than ever to spend your homestay with warm, friendly people who speak Spanish as their native language.
You do not need to speak fluent Spanish to participate in the homestay. In fact, one of the best reasons to participate in the homestay is to further your Spanish language learning. No experience is more rewarding for language development than living and volunteering alongside people who speak a language different than your own. You can expect your Spanish skills to take a big leap forward after the time you spend on your homestay.
Here's a Sample Day-to-Day Itinerary:
During most mornings of your homestay, you'll participate in community service projects. You'll have a break mid-service for a snack, and have lunch at noon. In the afternoons, you might visit a waterfall, head into town, or go for a hike. You'll spend evenings at home with your host family, sharing meals and getting to know one another.
Day 1: Move to homestay after departure of program students and meet family. Your local staff person will lead an orientation and introduce you to your host family.
Day 2: Begin community service in the morning with other homestay students.
Days 3-6: Continue your community service projects and participate in afternoon activities & excursions.
Day 7: Celebration day. Enjoy the rewards of your hard work and spend extra time with your host family.
Day 8: Say your goodbyes and depart for the airport.
If you're interested in adding the homestay extension to your Costa Rica: Spanish Service Adventure program, you can enroll in both at the same time. If you'd like more information, you can also call or email one of our expert enrollment advisors, who will be happy to walk you through the details of your stay, and answer any questions you may have.