Welcome! We are so excited about your once-in-a-lifetime journey. This is your program hub 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!
|ACTION STEPS||DUE DATES|
|1. Complete your travel registration:|
– Teacher Immersion.
– Medical Immersion.
– Adult Immersion.
– Family Immersion.
|Due: 1 week after your program deposit.|
|2. Download, sign & submit your Pre-departure Paperwork which includes:|
– Travel Contract
– Travel Liability
– Behavior Contract
– Payment Schedule
–Paperwork for medical, teacher, and adult participants.
–Paperwork for Family participants.
|DUE: 1 month after you register|
Send these in 1 of 3 ways:
– Through our platform when you do the Pre-departure course assignments.
– email to firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
– Apply for a passport if you don’t have one. Make sure you have a passport book. Passports cards are NOT allowed for international travel.
– 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.|
* You can submit it through our platform when doing your Pre-departure course or email it to email@example.com
|4. Travelers Health & Safety is súper importante! |
– Submit your Covid-19 vaccination card (program requirement)
-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.
|6. Flights: |
– Send us your flight itinerary to firstname.lastname@example.org
*Make sure to send any flight changes if there are any.
Your program runs from Saturday to Saturday (with accommodation and insurance included). So feel free to book your travel days on Saturdays, there is no programming on Saturday.
If you’re arriving mid-program, you may consider coming in on the Friday before your program begins to join us on a weekend trip! Similarly, if you want to travel on the weekend after your program concludes, consider booking your return flight for Monday night or Tuesday following your program conclusion.
In case you’re flying a day or days earlier or you’re staying after your program ends to travel, you have the option to purchase additional days with host family and/or extra days of travel insurance. Links →
|Additional days (optional):|
If you need extra days of accommodation and/or extra days of insurance for solo travel, you can get it here:
– Extra nights with host family.
– Extra days of travel insurance.
|8. Pre-Departure Preparation Course & Placement test|
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:
– Medical Immersion
– Teacher Immersion
– Adult Immersion
– Family Immersion
Take my placement exam
|Spanish Placement test DUE: TBD.|
Pre-departure course DUE: Must be completed 1 month before departure
|9. Attend 3 required online meetings with your trip leaders|
Program Meeting Dates on Zoom:
Winter ’23 Costa Rica Meetings
Meeting 1: Replay on YouTube
Meeting 2: Replay on YouTube
Meeting 3: Replay on YouTube
|Meetings will take place on Zoom. |
Find link in your email reminders and on the calendar event you were invited to.
|10. Suggested payment schedule: You must be paid in full 30 days before program departure:|
Total trip amount to be paid in 4 payments
Trip Deposit $500 Due upon registering
Balance Payment # 1 Due 90 days prior to travel.
– Costa Rica Win ’23: DUE October 28, 2022
– Ecuador Sum ’23: DUE March 17th
– Costa Rica Sum ’23: DUE April 1, 2023
Payment # 2 Due 60 days prior to travel.
– Costa Rica Win ’23: DUE November 28, 2022
– Ecuador Sum ’23: DUE April 17th
– Costa Rica Sum ’23: DUE May 1, 2023
Payment # 3 Due 30 days prior to travel.
– Costa Rica Win ’23: DUE December 28, 2022
– Ecuador Sum ’23: DUE May 17th
– Costa Rica Sum ’23: DUE June 1, 2023
|Due: Must be paid in full 30 days before departure|
Link to pay
Optional Activities: coming soon.
|11. Register for Optional Excursions BEFORE DEC. 30th|
– Jan. 29th: COFFEE LOVERS: 2 hour coffee tasting / harvesting tour
– Feb. 1st: 1/2 trip to Poas Volcano
– Feb. 3rd or 10th: CHOCOLATE LOVERS: Sibu tasting and history (2 hrs)
– Feb. 4-6th, 2023 – VOLCANO WEEKEND: La Fortuna / Volcan Arenal
– Feb. 11-13th, 2023 – BEACH WEEKEND: Playa y Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
|Learn more and register using these links:|
– Cafe Britt (Coffee Lovers)
–Poas Volcano (1/2 day)
– La Fortuna Volcano weekend
– Manuel Antonio Beach weekend
|12. 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.|
Enlaces Importantes – Program Links
- Winter 22 Program Itinerary
- Winter 22 Volunteer planning document
- Winter 22 Confirm your travel day plans
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|
|COVID-19 Test: A CGI program requirement: 72 hrs. before departure, Submit your negative test to email@example.com|
(It can be an at home test with a witness, a PCR, etc.)
|Traveler Health Declaration: This is a health form for Ecuador only. Complete it within 72hrs of travel|
|Join the WhatsApp Groups for all Trip communication (you will get the link via email 1 week before departure)|
|Cell phone: inquire about an international data and calling plan from your wireless provider|
|Pack your bags: |
–Download the Ecuador & Costa Rica Packing List
Planning Meeting FAQs
CGI COVID requirements: CGI does require everyone to be fully vaccinated and to get tested before their flight (any type of test works fine).
Ecuador – Costa Rica Combo Program: If you’re flying from Ecuador to Costa Rica you DO need a yellow fever vaccine.
You can show just a picture.
Most families are vaccinated, you can ask to be placed in a vaccinated household.
No, as long as you have the first two standard vaccinations, you’re fine.
You can reschedule / transfer your trip to a future date or come down after your isolation period.
No, there is no longer any testing requirement to enter the USA.
No, you can use whatever you like.
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.
All of the important program links are found here on the welcome page (the page you’re on now).
No, we will be back in time for your afternoon classes.
Yes, these are per person costs.
The younger ones, especially if they don’t have any Spanish experience are ok to skip the test.
All teens and adults need to take the test.
You can email your information to Samanta at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please try to find a flight that arrives to the airport by or before 9p so that you’re able to get settled into your host family at a decent hour. If you get in too late, we’ll ask you to get a hotel the first night.
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.
Yes, you’ll have regular access to the internet at language school and in most host homes.
We usually send out host family info 1-2 weeks before your trip
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.
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.
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.
Yes, absolutely! Local schools and families benefit greatly from school supplies.
Host families will do laundry for you. You only need around a week worth of clothes cause you’ll be able to wash them.
Ecuador: we’ll have some bus trips to take you to the airport.
Costa Rica: you can take an uber or taxi.
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).
Isla Tortuga is a one day trip that can easily be scheduled for any day during your visit.
You can google “Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica” or “Cuenca Ecuador” in your browser and click on maps and it’ll give you a rough idea of where we will be.
Home stay weeks run from Saturday to Saturday, but if you want to join us on the weekend excursions you’ll want to check the dates of the excursions and arrive earlier on Friday (we leave on Saturdays for excursions), or leave (late)Monday or Tuesday (we come back from the trips on Monday morning. )
As soon as possible. At least 30 days in advance before your trip if possible.
Yes, usually rooms are either double or triple (each person has their own bed).
The Medical Immersion program is 20 CME credits. For Nursing it can be as much as 20 CE credits per week.
This standard policy included in your program covers: emergency and sickness medical expenses, lost baggage, delayed baggage, emergency medical evacuation, accidental death and repatriation of remains. See an example description of coverage here.
The standard rooming arrangement in Costa Rica is 1 person per host family.
The standard rooming arrangement in Ecuador is 2 people per host family.
The standard arrangement is for your host family to pick you up upon arrival, and then you’ll find your own way back to the airport for your departure.
Most host families are within a 20-30min walk to and from our daily meetup points.
You don’t need a lot of cash day to day, but it’s a good idea to have around $50 equivalent cash on you at all times just in case. Most of your expenses you can take care of with your credit / debit card.