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SAO Instituto San Joaquin de Flores
San Joaquin, Costa Rica
Program Terms: Academic Year,
Fall Semester,
Spring Semester,
Homepage: Click to visit
Program Dates & Deadlines: Click here to view
Budget Sheets Academic Year,
Fall Semester,
Spring Semester,
Fact Sheet:
 Language of Instruction:
 Language Requirement:
100-level, 200-level
Host Family
 Illinois Sponsor:
Study Abroad Office (campus-wide)
 Credit or Not for Credit:
For credit
Program Description:
Costa Rica Volcano

***The deadline for the Summer 2015 and Fall/AY 2015 terms has been extended to March 15, 2015.***

Program Overview

Students who choose to study in Costa Rica want something different. They thought about studying in Spain but want an alternative perspective. They recognize the presence and influence of Latin American cultures in the U.S., and they recognize the personal and professional growth that will come from learning more about these cultures. They know that they will benefit from studying in a school with small class sizes and a strong support network. And they know that they will put their academic and interpersonal skills to test in a program site with caring host families, diverse volunteering opportunities, and very few tourists. You can study abroad at the Instituto San Joaquín de Flores during the summer, fall or spring semester, or the academic year.

Check out this promotional video for the Institute!

Quick Links

Program Specific Information
General Study Abroad Information
Program Costs, Financial Aid & Scholarships *Please note that program-specific costs are available through the "Budget Sheet" link at the top of this page.

Academic Environment
Where you will study
You will study in a private school called the Instituto San Joaquín de Flores, usually just called the Instituto. It specializes in the teaching of Spanish language and Latin American cultures to U.S. students.
The physical space of the Instituto is nearly as inviting as the people that work there. The structure is that of a large house, with spacious, decorated rooms and plenty of natural light. The building is surrounded by a garden thick with tropical flowers, trees, and birds. The front door opens to a living room with local artwork on the walls and a group of couches where students can be found practicing spoken Spanish or reading a newspaper. The resident director and academic director work in the adjacent set of rooms, easily accessible for questions or just to chat. Upstairs, next to one of the main classrooms, is a small kitchen where coffee, tea, and freshly cut fruit are set out on the table for a snack during breaks. While classes normally finish by mid-afternoon, you can stay in the building until early in the evening, using the Instituto as a place to finish homework, discuss questions with an instructor, or socialize with friends.

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For a full listing of courses offered and their Illinois equivalencies please click the following link:  SANJOAQUIN_COURSELIST.pdf

Class size
The Instituto offers very personalized instruction, with classes limited to around fifteen students. Local instructors will teach your courses, incorporating their academic background and life experiences into their teaching. One of the strongest components of the program is that you have the time and space to develop a connection with your instructors. The small class sizes and the friendly atmosphere of the Instituto allow you to feel comfortable and secure. This base of support allows you to focus your attention on making the most of your classes and opening up to the experiences around you.
The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. Plan to use it in all of your classes, with your host family, and around the country. 
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Experiential Learning/Volunteer Opportunities
Part of the central theme of the San Joaquin program is the students involvement in the community. Therefore, for one of the classes, Conversation: Community Based Learning, you will spend half the time in the community, teaching English to children and adults or participating in recreational activities with senior citizens. You’ll be assisted in these integrative activities by your academic director, Ramírez.
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Onsite Support
Each Illinois Center has an onsite resident director whose purpose is to support you both inside and outside of the classroom during your time abroad.


Ana Teresa Alvarado

Ana Teresa Alvarado (you can call her Ana) has been with the Instituto since 2006. With a degree in Management and Conservation of Natural Resources from the State University for Distance Learning in Costa Rica and years of experience as a Spanish instructor and tour guide, she leads the four-day, on-site orientation and program excursions around and outside of Costa Rica. Ana also coordinates housing, matching students with a local host family and maintaining regular contact to ensure that communication is flowing. Thanks to her work, it is common for students to form a tight and lasting bond with their host families. She noted that, "It's amazing how many of the students return to Costa Rica to visit their families again. And now, with new technology, they stay in touch all the time."

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You will be matched with a host family for your stay in Costa Rica. We select a family for you based on your answers to a housing questionnaire that you will receive following your acceptance to the program. Life with a host family is likely one of the most full experiences that you will have while abroad, with all of its ups and downs. This is a key opportunity to experience an intimate side of how people in Costa Rica live their lives. In addition, life with a new family in a new place challenges you to develop your communication skills, flexibility, and patience with both others and yourself -- this is what studying abroad is all about!

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Application Process


To participate on the program you must be a Illinois undergraduate and have a GPA of at least 2.5. You need to have completed the equivalent of four college semesters of Spanish prior to your departure. At Illinois, Spanish 140, 141, 142, or 143 count as the fourth semester. If you have not taken any Spanish in college, you need to have completed four years of high school Spanish. If you are a heritage speaker of Spanish and have not taken a Spanish course(s), this program might be the perfect one for you -- please contact the Study Abroad Office to talk about your linguistic background and goals.

Dates and Deadlines

All requirements must be completed by the Study Abroad Office deadlines: online materials are due by 11:59 PM on the deadline date; paper materials are due by 4:45 PM the following business day. Preference will be given to students applying by the priority deadlines.

Spring Semester Programs
Priority Deadline: June 15
Final Deadline: September 15

Summer/Fall/Academic Year Programs
Priority Deadline: January 15
Final Deadline: February 15

How to Apply

Please click the Create App button (found at the top-right of this page) to apply. Note that you will be charged a non-refundable $25 application fee by clicking Create App and logging in.

The Instituto San Joaquín de Flores application requires:
  • Official transcript
  • 1 letter of recommendation (must be from an academic advisor, TA, or professor; does not need to be from a Spanish instructor)
  • Personal essay in Spanish and in English
  • Online questionnaires
Additional information and supplemental application requirements will follow once you are accepted to the program, which should ocurr within one month of the respective deadline.

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Resources & Contact Information

Walk-In Advising Hours
Monday - Friday
9:00 am - 4:45 pm
Study Abroad Office Resource Center (112 International Studies Building)

First Steps Info Sessions:
Click here for the dates and times of the First Steps Info Sessions.

Costa Rica Program Advisor
Clair Bryan

Location and Mailing Address
Study Abroad Office
910 South Fifth Street
112 International Studies Building
Champaign, IL 61820

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Program Dates

Please review the program dates table below:

Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2015 09/15/2014 
Rolling Admission 01/13/2015 05/17/2015
Fall Semester 2015 03/15/2015** Rolling Admission 08/25/2015 12/19/2015
Summer 2015 03/15/2015** Rolling Admission 05/19/2015 07/05/2015
Academic Year 2015-2016 03/15/2015** Rolling Admission TBA TBA
Spring Semester 2016 09/15/2015 09/15/2015 TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed