Welcome to your Spanish Immersion Program!!!

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. This page will be updated frequently as we get closer to departure.

Follow these steps to get ready to launch into immersion. Bookmark this page & check back frequently!

1. Complete Your Program Registration
Due: 1 week after your program deposit
2. Download, sign & submit your Pre-departure Paperwork which includes:
-Travel Contract
-Travel Liability
-Behavior Contract
-Smart Phone Contract
-Medial Release
-Notarized Consent to Travel with a Minor
– Payment Schedule
Ecuador Backpacking WAIVER (for Ecuador travelers only).
DUE: 1 month after you register
Send these in 1 of 2 ways:
– Sign and email to support@commongroundinternational.com (you can email us a scanned copy, or digitally sign them using the free app Adobe fill & sign or any other online tool of your choice.)

– Snail mail to: Common Ground International. PO box 174, Lafayette, CO. 80026
3. Passports:
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.
– Submit a copy of your passport
Give yourself at least 3 months if you need a new passport or need to renew it.
4. Travelers Health & Safety is súper importante!
– Submit your Covid-19 vaccination card (mandatory)
-Check out what the Center for Disease Control says about traveling to Costa Rica &Ecuador. Pay special attention to mosquitos!
-Make an appointment with your primary care physician

SUBMIT your COVID-19 Vaccination Card. Take a picture of it and send it in!
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.
5. Submit 1 character reference letterEmail it to support@commongroundinternational.com
6. Flights:
– Check in with Leslie Foster about group flights first.
– If you are flying independently, please email Leslie to get arrival and departure information.
Lisa Lowrance Group: stay tuned for more information about Group Flight
7. Pre-Departure Preparation Course:
This is a required, online course for all participants. This will set you up for success on your immersion program.

Start this course today and go at your own pace.

Costa Rica Pre-Departure Course (opens in Jan.)
Ecuador Pre-Departure Course (opens in Jan.)

Complete your language school placement exam
DUE: Must be completed 1 month before departure

**Parents get this information in your Parent Manual
Costa Rica Parent Manual
Ecuador Parent Manual
8. Attend 3 required online meetings with your trip leaders

Meetings take place in the spring.

Ecuador Meetings:

Costa Rica Meetings:

Meetings will take place on Zoom.
Find link here:

9. Suggested payment schedule: You must be paid in full 45 days before program departure

1. Deposit at time of registration
2. Payment # 2: Dec. 1st, 2022
3. Payment #3: March 1st, 2023
4. Payment #4 : May 1st, 2023
Due: Must be paid in full 45 days before departure
Link to pay

Costa Rica Optional Activities:
10. Get your travel paperwork in order and get packed. Make sure you have a copy of your passport, travel insurance, flight itinerary.

Review the “Before you depart” list ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️
Start 2 weeks before your departure date

Before You Depart:

Bank: Inform your bank about the card you will be using out of the country to avoid a “card freeze”
Passport: Make 2 copies of your passport. Keep 1 in your backpack and 1 in your main baggage
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
Travel Insurance: Carry a copy of your travel insurance policy with you.
Ecuador participants: have a copy of your American Alpine Club Global Membership card
Cell phone: inquire about an international data and calling plan from your wireless provider
COVID-19 Test: A CGI program requirement: 72 hrs. before departure, Submit your negative test to support@commongroundinternational.com
(It can be an at home test with a witness, a PCR, etc.)
Join the WhatsApp Groups for all Trip communication (you will get the link via email 1 week before departure)
Pack your bags:
Download Costa Rica Packing List
-Download Ecuador Packing List

Super Importante Links

High School Spanish Immersion Programs
Program Registration
Pre-departure paperwork
Make Payments Online
Character Reference Form
Pre-Departure Course: OPENS in January
Costa Rica Pre-Departure Course
Ecuador Pre-Departure Course
Volunteer Sign-up
Coming soon
Program Itineraries:
-Coming soon
Packing Lists:
-Costa Rica Packing List
-Ecuador Packing list
Parent Manuals:
Costa Rica Parent Manual Costa Rica Participant Handbook
-Ecuador Parent Manual

Program FAQs

What are the vaccine requirements for Ecuador and Costa Rica?

Ecuador: COVID vaccination card, negative COVID RT-PCR test within 72 hrs of flight & complete traveler’s health declaration within 72 hrs of flight. 
Combo Program: If you’re flying from Ecuador to Costa Rica you DO need a yellow fever vaccine.
Costa Rica: No more requirements to enter Costa Rica but you might need to show your vaccination card when we enter establishments.
CGI COVID requirements: CGI does require everyone to be fully vaccinated and to get tested before their flight (any type of test works fine).

Do we need the actual vaccination card or just a picture to enter establishments?

You can show just a picture.

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?


For Costa Rica can anyone be a witness to our required COVID test?


What happens if I test positive for COVID prior to my trip?

You can reschedule / transfer your trip to a future date

Is there extra cost for COVID testing to come home?

Yes, it’s typically anywhere from $40 – $60

Are we required to use any specific type of mask?

No, you can use whatever you like.

Can you sign up for optional excursions before the program begins?

Yes, in fact if it’s an overnight excursion we actually need you to be registered within 30 days of the trip so that we can properly reserve your hotel space.

Where can I find the pre-departure course?

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: support@commongroundinternational.com

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

When is the best day to buy flights?

There may or may not be a “best day” to buy flights but when you search for flights, try using an incognito browser and/or clearing your browser cache. Some airlines have cookies that adjust pricing based on your activity searching.
Use google flights to track pricing and get historical pricing trends.

What happens / can I come in a day early or a day late?

Yes absolutely you can come in early or late. We just need to know your flight details so that we can plan accordingly with your host family.

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).

Has the date for the Isla tortuga day trip been decided? It says TBD.

Isla Tortuga is a one day trip that can easily be scheduled for any day during your visit. 

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.

Where do I sign up for excursions and what is the deadline?

We need you to be registered within 30 days of the trip so that we can properly reserve your hotel space. You can find them here: https://commongroundinternational.com/trips/

Are rooms shared during excursions?

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

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