Language requirements: Interns must be confident enough to verbally communicate in basic Spanish

Associated career paths: Individual Support, Disabled Carer, Special Education Teacher, Early Intervention Specialist, Physiotherapist, Art Therapist, Educational Audiologist, Interpreter for the Hearing Impaired, Music Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Nurse, Counsellor, Psychologist, Social Worker, Speech-Language Pathologist.

Minimum duration: 2 weeks

Internship details

This is an immensely rewarding teaching experience in Costa Rica, providing hands-on care and teaching assistance in dedicated centers for disabled children and adults.

Special education centers in Costa Rica provide dedicated education and care to locals with a range of mental and physical disabilities. These centers play an important role in delivering targeted services that address the specific needs of the children and adults who attend them. They rely on volunteers and donations to run, so interns provide valuable assistance in all range of teaching and care duties.

Special education interns are placed in centers or schools around San Ramon de Alajuela, assisting local staff with all parts of their day. This is a fully immersive special education internship, where you’ll experience everything that goes into providing care for those with specific needs.

Interns help to teach various classes (such as handicrafts, painting, and reading), assisting students and staff, helping to create educational material and planning classes. Assistance may also be required during the day when students have their meal time. Your primary role is to be caring and encouraging, and contribute to a supportive learning environment.

Special Education interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
  • Preparing and teaching classes
  • Creating educational material
  • Helping students with meal times
  • General care for students
Professional development opportunities:
  • Work with students with variety of mental and physical conditions
  • Work alongside experienced staff that deal with disabled children and adults
  • Help create games and educational material tailored to different student’s needs
Typical schedule:
  • 8am to 2pm, Monday to Friday
Internship highlights:
  • Genuine experience in special education
  • The chance to work closely with individuals and see them making progress
  • Contribute to dedicated care providers that rely on volunteers
Types of host organizations:
  • Organizations that support mentally and physically disabled individuals
  • Schools

Keen to get started?

Taking the first step is easy! It is free to apply and takes just 5 minutes.

Submit an application

Program fees

It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$449 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$449 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.

Internship Duration Program Fee (USD)
2 weeks 2 weeks $1,357
3 weeks 3 weeks $1,635
4 weeks 4 weeks $1,913
5 weeks 5 weeks $2,021
6 weeks 6 weeks $2,130
8 weeks 8 weeks $2,349
10 weeks 10 weeks $2,522
12 weeks 12 weeks $2,695
16 weeks 16 weeks $3,042
20 weeks 20 weeks $3,388
24 weeks 24 weeks $3,735
  • To convert these prices to your local currency visit the XE currency converter.
  • All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges. International wire transfer payments attract a minimum fee of US$75.
  • Terms and Conditions apply

Program fee for abroad internships

What it covers
  • Securing your internship placement
  • Personalization of your internship plan
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up
  • Program orientation
  • Accommodation
  • Meals (for selected programs)
  • Experiential Learning Curriculum
  • In-country guidance for social and tourism activities
  • International reference letter

Intern review: Mariana Arenas

Costa Rica - Physical Therapy

"I was placed in a small city in Costa Rica and I absolutely loved it. I had the opportunity to work in a church with children and missionaries. I was teaching children, translating and even got to ass..." read more

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Arrival and Orientation

Programs begin on the first and third Monday of every month and participants may choose to spend a minimum of 2 weeks, up to a maximum of 24 week. All participants fly into the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in order to be picked up and transported to the accommodation, unless alternative arrangements for an overland arrival have been made. Orientation is given by our local hosts at their offices in San Ramon and covers important details concerning introductions, support, culture, customs, safety, rules and expectations, things to see and do, and more.

Accommodation

All interns in Costa Rica are accommodated in various homestay accommodations. Interns are matched to an appropriate host family, taking into consideration convenient proximity to their internship placement. Typical host families in Costa Rica usually comprise of two parents and children or a single parent with children (the ages of a host family’s children can range from young and still living at home, to adults living independently). There are usually 1 - 2 bedrooms in most home-stays and everyone has their own bedroom (unless special requests are made in advance to share with a friend or partner). Bathrooms are shared. Living is comfortable and home-stays offer electricity, running water and western bathrooms. However, showers can be low pressure and unheated/tepid. WiFi is provided in most of the home-stays but it is important to note that it is not guaranteed.

Accommodation upgrades are available at an additional cost, for those who would prefer more independent accommodation and social interaction with other travelers. Interns who have confirmed their participation may opt to arrange hostel accommodation, in either a dorm (sharing a room with 4-8 beds) or a private room. Dormitories provide lockers, so that guests may securely store their personal items. Bathrooms are typically shared. Amenities include WiFi and a common area for guest use. Please note that hostel accommodation is subject to availability (depending on the location of your internship) and includes daily breakfast only. Interns who are interested in arranging an accommodation upgrade are welcome to speak with their Internship Program Manager for more information.

Meals

Internships in Costa Rica include two meals per day, served at the home stay. A typical Costa Rican breakfast is provided and may consist of bread, spreads, fruit and eggs accompanied with tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat (often chicken), soups, pastas, starches and vegetables. Please be sure to let us know of any specific dietary requirements that you have in advance, so that we may ensure your hosts are aware and make recommendations accordingly.

Activities and tourism

Spanish lessons

Internships in Costa Rica require interns to have varying levels of Spanish language proficiency, from either a confident level of basic Spanish to a more developed grasp of intermediate language skills. The definition of having basic Spanish skills (Level A2) includes the ability to exchange brief information with questions and answers, use and understand simple language in daily situations and cultural aspects.

Keep in mind that despite you level of proficiency, a language barrier can still be encountered to a certain extent. Interns should be prepared for the very natural and normal frustration of not always understanding what is being said around them. Most interns are able to have a successful internship experience and it is essential to come prepared and willing to surmount a language barrier, as opposed to being intimidated by it.

We strongly recommend that all interns take advantage of the affordable language lessons offered exclusively to Intern Abroad HQ participants by our host organization in Costa Rica. These can be arranged directly with the local team once registered for the program (ask about online Skype lessons) or at the orientation in-country. Language lessons are tailored to each individual’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday.

Weekends and travel

During the weekends, free time is available to relax, engage in tourism activities and explore other parts of Costa Rica. The program is based in the canton of San Ramon, in Alajuela Province. This is 55 km/34 mi northeast of Puntarenas (the nearest coastal town), 58 km/36 mi from the capital city of San Jose, and 31 km/19 mi from Juan Santamaría International Airport. The Pan-American Highway is easily accessible to the south and a northern route provides direct access to the popular tourism destination of Volcan Arenal.

Popular tourist attractions in and around the Alajuela Province include visiting Poás Volcano National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Los Ángeles Cloud Forest and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Within the city of San Jose, there are various museums and galleries, such as the Precolumbian Gold Museum, Jade Museum, National Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design - just to name a few!

Our local team in Costa Rica are also able to assist interns with trip bookings, to experience more of the country. These can be coordinated directly once you’ve registered to confirm your internship program. Options include:

  • Tortuga Island: This sightseeing full-day trip includes return transportation from local pick-up points, guides, snacks and entertainment, catamaran tour, and lunch in Tortuga Island. Located within the Gulf of Nicoya, Tortuga Island is a paradise archipelago which has maintained the Ecological Blue Flag status for more than twelve years. The turquoise waters are beautiful to swim in and the trip is not to be missed while you’re exploring the coasts!

  • Poás Volcano National Park, Doka Coffee Tour and La Paz Waterfall Garden: This full day excursion covers some of the region’s highlights. You’ll want to bring your camera and comfortable walking shoes for the three adventures, all across different eco-systems. Within La Paz Waterfall Garden, you’ll have a great opportunity to check out some of the amazing wildlife. There’s a hummingbird garden, serpentarium, aviaries, butterfly garden and tropical frog exhibit.

  • San Luis Canopy Tour: This tour departs from San Ramon and only takes half a day. Enjoy views of the Cataraticas River, bring comfortable clothing and a sense of adventure! There are 12 cables on this zip-line tour, with lengths from 56 to 550 meters, connected across 18 platforms. You’ll also get to experience the Tarzan swing and Superman cable - woohoo!

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Country profile

Capital San Jose
Population 4.805 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone UTC−06:00

Weather and climate: Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country, situated between 8° and 11° north latitude, fairly close to the equator. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains above 2000 meters, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 21.7°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 20.6°C (69°F).