Cardinal Gibbons Class 2023: Spanish Immersion Program!!!

Cardinal Gibbons class of 2024: Welcome to your Spanish Immersion Program!!!

We are so excited for your once-in-a-lifetime journey. This is your program hub and where you can find all the important documents. Bookmark this page; it will be updated frequently as we get closer to departure.

Watch this short video for quick instructions:

What are my next steps? 👣

Mark your calendars with these important dates!
  1. Complete registration form and pre-departure paperwork 1 month after making your deposit.
  2. March 15 – Payment # 1 and all paperwork due.
  3. March 25- Flight Payment to CGI (after original deposit).
  4. April 15 – Payment #2 to CGI
  5. May 6 – Payment #3 (final) to CGI
Check your email!

Check your email and read your official welcome email with next steps! If you did not receive this email, email Leslie at [email protected]

Follow the timeline below to complete your pre-departure tasks!

Click on the links below and submit your paperwork! This is imperative for us to have in order to reserve your host family, spot on excursions, purchase your national park tickets and more!

What is the timeline for preparation?

Follow these steps to get ready to launch into immersion. Bookmark this page & check back frequently! Please do not put this off! The absolute latest date to complete the things below is April 1st!


Complete these action items within a month of registering!
  1. Deposit due Feb 27
  2. Passport: Check your passport and make sure it has 6 months of validity.
  3. ✅ Complete your Registration form
  4. Pre-departure paperwork: Read, sign, and submit
  5. IMPORTANT! Your program includes basic travel medical insurance with trip interruption, delays, lost bags, etc. If you have any uncertainties about your upcoming adventure, it’s a good idea to consider additional travel insurance coverage. If you’re looking for a Cancel for Any Reason policy, we suggest you shop for it here and act quickly as it is often has to be purchased within two weeks of your initial deposit.


  1. Travelers Health: Read what the Center for Disease Control says about traveling to Costa Rica. Make an appointment with your primary care physician if necessary.
  2. Send us a copy of your passport. Apply for a passport if you don’t have one. Check your current passport, make sure it’s not expired or does not expire 90 days after your return date to the US.
  3. Payment # 1 DUE – March 15
  4. Flight payment DUE – March 25
  5. Complete all paperwork. Make sure you’ve sent us your registration form, contracts and passport copy.


AND FINALLY…do these!!!
(April – May)
  1. Payment # 2 DUE – April 15
  2. Complete your pre-departure course. This is a required, online course and will set you up for success! –Costa Rica Pre-Departure Course.
  3. Attend 3 online meetings with your trip leaders and participants. April – May
  4. Final Payment DUE – May 6
  5. Optional activities: Register by May 1st (see info. in pre-departure course)

Download this checklist – hang it on your fridge!

Before You Depart:

  1. Bank: Inform your bank about the card you will be using out of the country to avoid a “card freeze”
  2. Passport: Make 2 copies of your passport. Keep 1 in your backpack and 1 in your main baggage
  3. Flight Itinerary: Print out a paper copy of your flight itinerary, some immigration officials ask to see the paper proof of your return back to the USA
  4. Travel Insurance: Carry a copy of your travel insurance policy with you.
    Cell phone: inquire about an international data and calling plan from your wireless provider
  5. COVID-19 Test: CGI may require (TBD) you to submit a negative covid test 72 hrs. before departure to [email protected] (It can be an at home test with a witness, a PCR, etc.)
  6. Join the WhatsApp Groups for all Trip communication (you will get the link via email 1 week before departure)
  7. Pack your bags:
    Download Costa Rica Packing List

Super Important Program Links (all in ONE place)

Program FAQs

What are the travel health considerations / requirements for Costa Rica?

Costa Rica: Please refer to the CDC’s Travelers Health Recommendations
CGI COVID requirements: Covid vaccine is recommended by the CDC for international travel, but not required by Common Ground International.

Are host families vaccinated?

Ecuador: yes, all families are vaccinated.
Costa Rica: most families are vaccinated, you can ask to be placed in a vaccinated household.

Does fully vaccinated mean boosted?


Where can I find the pre-departure course?

Here. All of the important program links are found here on the welcome page (the page you’re on now).

For weekday optional excursions, do those interfere with our classes?

No, we will be back in time for your afternoon classes.

Do we submit all paperwork via the pre-departure course or can we email it to someone?

You can email your information to Samanta at: [email protected] or to Kelly.

Do we need cash before the trip or is it ok with just our credit card?

You don’t need to take a bunch of local currency with you as you travel. Our suggestion is to have some USD on you and to have both a debit card (for ATM use) and a credit card for everyday expenses.
Be sure to check with your banks about international transaction fees so that you’re aware of your costs to use your cards abroad.

Are we going to have WiFi?

Yes, you’ll have regular access to the internet at language school and in most host homes.

When will I know who my host family is?

We usually send out host family info 1-2 weeks before your trip

What type of clothes should I pack?

We cover clothing pretty well in the packing list info of your pre-departure course but here is a brief summary:
Ecuador: Pack in layers. Pants, long sleeves, bring a backpack with you. It usually gets colder at night. 
Costa Rica: prepare for rain in the afternoon, not that many layers, something to keep you dry.
For both countries you’ll want business casual clothing for our volunteer work projects.

Can we bring school supplies as donations?

Yes, absolutely! Local schools and families benefit greatly from school supplies.

What is the laundry situation?

Host families will do laundry for you. You only need around a week worth of clothes cause you’ll be able to wash them.

How buggy is it where we’ll be traveling?

The general rule is that the higher the elevation, the fewer bugs you’ll encounter.
Ecuador: we’re at around 8,000 feet, so the bugs aren’t bad at all.
Costa Rica: we’re at around 4,000 feet and the bugs aren’t bad either.
Your biggest concern is mosquitos, be sure to have bug repellent and proper long sleeves and long pants for dawn and dusk hours in lower elevations (beach, etc).

Is it possible to get a street map of the area where we’ll be in Costa Rica?

You can google “Santo Domingo de Herdia, Costa Rica” in your browser and click on maps and it’ll give you a rough idea of where we will be.

Are rooms shared during excursions?

Yes, usually rooms are either double or triple (each person has their own bed). 

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