High & Middle School Immersion Trip
Reserve your spot (register) and make immersion trip payments here!
2024 dates are TBD- they will be similar to the 2023 dates below.
Registration for 2024 Programs is OPEN!
Summer ’23 Costa Rica High School Spanish Immersion: 2-week trip: June 29 – July 13, 2023, 3-week trip: June 29 – July 20, 2023 4-week trip: June 29 – July 26, 2023.
Summer ’23 Ecuador Amazon, Science, Spanish Backpacking Trip: June 16-28, 2023 (Program closed)
Summer ’23: 4 week Combo Program: Ecuador & Costa Rica: June 16- July 13, 2023
May ’23: Providence High School Spanish Immersion Trip: May 17- May 30, 2023
June ’23 Cardinal Gibbons High School Spanish Immersion Trip: June 1 – June 15th, 2023
ALL TRAVELERS REQUIRED TO BE FULLY VACCINATED FOR COVID*
Register for your program here!
Registration process is as follows:
- Pay your deposit to reserve your place!**
- Once you make your deposit, you will receive a welcome email with links to the full registration form and your next steps.
- Fill out the full registration form where we collect your passport information, emergency contact information, medical / dietary information and more!
- Send in your pre-departure paperwork
- Have questions, call us today! Or email Leslie Foster
Bookmark this page for remaining payments. After your initial deposit, please select the Remaining Balance Payment* option and enter a specified amount for your remaining payments.
*Some exceptions may apply if you are medically unable to be vaccinated. Contact Leslie if you have questions about vaccination policy
**As detailed in the terms and conditions, program payments are non-refundable. A portion of your payment may be transferable to a future program. Please contact CGI program leaders ASAP if you anticipate a change in your travel plans to discuss your options.
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Zipline & Hanging Bridges Adventure Tour – La Fortuna$125.00 Add to cart
Extra Nights With Your Host Family$50.00 Add to cart
Morning Surf Lesson – Manuel Antonio$55.00 Add to cart
Ethan Norris –
I participated in the 2022 twelve-day summer Ecuador trip and absolutely loved it. The trip leaders, other high school participants, and all of the Ecuadorians that I met on the trip were great people who I am honored to have had the opportunity to meet. My host family was so welcoming and already felt like family after the first day. It was an excellent opportunity to practice my spanish in an immersive environment and meet wonderful people at the same time. During our time in Ecuador, there was a national protest that began which prevented us from being able to follow the original itinerary. Even though the situation was not ideal, the trip leaders were very resourceful and always created an alternate plan that was just as fun, to the point where it almost felt like everything was going according to plan. I always knew I was totally safe on the trip due to the quality and experience of the trip leaders. I could not recommend Common Ground enough for a life changing spanish immersion experience, and am so grateful to my parents for investing in this trip.
Janine Frank –
My high schooler attended the 3 week program this summer (2022) and had a wonderful time. CGI did a terrific job of meeting our unique needs at short notice and even handling a few minor issues that crept up along the way. I always felt that my child was in expert care with the trip leaders and with Leslie Foster at the helm. The daily updates with pictures from the leaders were so reassuring! We always knew exactly what everyone was doing and could see how much fun they were having. The host family was absolutely incredible also; very caring and responsive. Thank you for a great experience!
Eli Norris –
I went to Ecuador this June with Common Ground for what i believe ended up being a 14 day trip and it was an absolutely incredible experience. The trip was intended to have two parts, one with host families, spanish classes and fun activities in the town, and a second half at a reserve in the Amazon. Unfortunately, we were unable to go to the Amazon because of a protest that blocked us from leaving the city of Otavalo. Despite this, the trip was still fantastic. Thankfully my host family was extremely welcoming in hosting me for an additional week, and even more thankfully the other high schoolers on the trip were super fun to hang out with and we had tons of fun together even though we weren’t in the Amazon. The trip certainly COULD have become disastrous but the amazing people at Common Ground, Leslie, Rory and Lisa, put all their efforts into making phone calls and organizing plans to get everyone home safely. I felt absolutely safe under their supervision and I can confidently say that there is nobody else in the world I would have rather had managing the situation than them. As for the content of the trip, I thoroughly enjoyed hiking to several gorgeous (and freezing cold) waterfalls, observing demonstrations of indigenous weaving methods and their culture, cooking pizza with locals, and many others, but my favorite thing was playing pick-up basketball on the streets in the evening with the locals. Of course, through these experiences, my host family and at spanish school with my wise teacher Eugenio, I definitely improved in my spanish conversational skills. I am extremely grateful for this exceptional experience and for all the efforts of everyone at Common Ground International for organizing the trip and for getting everyone home safely (and in style). I unequivocally and fully recommend this experience to anyone in high school, but I must say I’m sorry that the people on your trip won’t be quite as cool as the people on mine.
Alexandra Jones –
I went on the 2-week immersion trip to Costa Rica and it was such a fantastic experience. I got to get a chance to practice my Spanish, learn all about a new culture, and even live within it for a week with my host family. Not to mention the amazing food and views, and having a chance to get to know my group peers and leaders, overall I would highly recommend this trip.
Kate Blanchard –
I was fortunate enough to be in the educator program in Costa Rica while my daughters participated in the high school program, so I saw first hand the care, thought and passion Rory and Leslie put into this program. The program includes so many thoughtful and fun learning experiences—from trips to a local market and high school, opportunities to work with local children, memorable excursions to national parks and beaches to see the beauty and wildlife of Costa Rica. Rory and Leslie have so much experience leading trips and planning itineraries , ensuring that students get to do and see so much in the few weeks they are there. My girls loved their host family and teacher at Lapa Verde, and though they were nervous initially, they got so much out of the host family experience and say it was one of the best parts of their trip. I would not hesitate to send my kids with Common Ground again and wholeheartedly recommend this program!
Beth Kim –
My daughter had so much fun on the trip. She loved her host family and got a lot out of speaking with them daily, even if she couldn’t understand everything. Another cool benefit for her was meeting so many kids from other parts of the U.S. I think she gained a bigger world perspective and wants to travel more internationally. All her years of study Spanish suddenly became more relevant and exciting.
Audrey Blanchard –
The trip is very well-run, and they clearly know all the best restaurants and places to go! I feel like I stepped out of my comfort zone a lot, but I always had my leaders’ support. I became a lot more confident in my Spanish speaking, especially through the classes at Lapa Verde. The small class sizes helped me learn a lot more than I have in high school. My host family was very sweet and took great care of me. If you are looking for an immersion program with a little bit of vacation and sightseeing mixed in, I would highly recommend this program!
Sheryl Reto –
My fifteen year old daughter completed a two week immersion program in Costa Rica. She had an amazing time meeting other teens, staying with a wonderful host family, taking Spanish classes, and volunteering. She also really loved the trips to Manuel Antonio beach and Arenal and has requested to return for a three week program next year.
Leo H. –
Hey, I’m Leo and I went on the three week trip this summer. I’m rating it three stars because while it was nice at times, it was not the huge, life-changing experience that was promoted on the website and in the pre-departure course.
Over the course of the trip, my conversational Spanish improved exponentially. I learned how to utilize the Spanish I’ve learned in the twelve years I’ve been taking it. I became so much more comfortable speaking about topics I’m familiar with.
The Spanish education was fine. I wasn’t in a very challenging class, so I was quite bored, but I know other students loved their classes. I really liked my teachers– they let me go deeper on assignments when I wanted to.
The host family immersion was nice. I was a bit scared of my family which is on me, not them. They were great. I was just nervous to be in a foreigncountry. They were a lot better than expected when it came to my transness, which I’ll come back to later.
The excursions were nice too! I especially liked the hot springs with the water slide. I slept through isla tortuga but I’ve been assured it was awesome. I loved seeing the sloths at Manuel Antonio.
Kristina, Kelly, and Caleb were AMAZING. They were all so nice and lovely to be around, especially Kristina.
However, as a trans, queer, and brown teen, I did not feel safe on this trip. Full stop. Maybe it’s just a normal part of being in high school as a person with marginalized identities, but it’s not an experience I want to have. I, a trans male, was placed in a room with a trans girl. I was fine with that, but she wanted to be with the cis girls. I understand that this is a hot button topic, but it would have been so easy to just have a form in the pre-departure course about who you’re comfortable rooming with in regard to gender. My friends, besides said girl, on the trip would have been fine with rooming with her if somebody had just asked.
I understand that this will mean that the program could lose students who want to go on the trip who have bigoted families, but by not adding this simple form the program is actively choosing the comfort of prejudiced people over the comfort of queer people. It’s up to the program who they want to side with, but they must change something. As it stands, it was an uncomfortable and sometimes hostile experience for me, a trans person, and I assume it was also uncomfortable for the people who don’t want me to exist.
Additionally, slurs and offensive jokes were tossed around casually among other students. I don’t think I need to put more details here. I know there was a sit-down conversation with one of the kids, but I didn’t see any other consequences– that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but I personally did not see anything else. Last year, a kid who bought alcohol on the trip was kicked off pretty much immediately (according to my friend who went on the trip last year). There needs to be a list of community norms and actual, severe, and clear consequences if they are breached. Saying the n-word repeatedly is an offense worthy of expulsion from the program, in my opinion.
I was pretty constantly misgendered and it was even worse for my friend. As a trans boy who’s been out for years it’s strange that I got misgendered so much–especially since I corrected people and get referred to correctly by strangers at home on the east coast. Even after repeated correction, other people involved with the program misgendered me. I understand that it’s difficult, but I pass and they never knew me as anything but a boy. There was also a lot of casual homophobia among some of the students, but that’s an inevitable part of life as a queer person.
All in all/tldr:
It was okay. I don’t think we would have shelled out so much money if we had known how it was going to be. It didn’t feel safe as a trans and brown person and I learned two new words in Spanish, though my oral fluency definitely increased. I’m glad I made the friends I did and for my multitude of stuffed sloth purchases, and I think, overall, I’m glad that I went, but I wouldn’t do so again. I want trans kids who are considering going on the trip to keep this in mind: if nothing changes, it will not be a safe experience.
Wesley Shafto –
My son did the 4 week Spanish Immersion trip this summer 2022. He had so much fun and made so many memories. I feel like his Spanish improved so much as well! I was really nervous about sending him out of the country for a month but once he was there I was so much more at ease. The trip leaders posted updates every day on the group app so we could see what they were doing and his host family treated him like one of their own! In addition, all of the excursions were amazing! I can’t say enough good things about this program.
Anna Morelli –
I went on the 2 week Costa Rica immersion trip. It was an amazing experience for me. It gave me a chance to get out of my comfort zone, and I got to know some of my peers. I also got to form a relationship with the group leaders. I was able to practice my spanish, and it made me realize I knew a lot more spanish than I thought I did before. I would highly encourage people to go on this trip.
Casey Hale –
My son was on the Ecuador immersion and amazon hike trip summer 2022 and despite not being able to go on the amazon hike due to issues within the country, they had amazing hikes around their city and had a wonderful experience with the people in the city, their host families and the others in his group. He had such an incredible adventure, did not have any issues and as a parent, I felt he was very well taken care of and looked after.
I went on the 2 week immersion trip and it was one of the best experiences of my life! I got to speak Spanish everyday and learn a lot about the culture. I got to step out of my comfort zone and make new friends. I really enjoyed all the excursions we went on, and feel like I am a much better Spanish speaker now. I would highly recommend this program!
I had the opportunity to go on the 2-week immersion trip to Costa Rica, and it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I met so many amazing people and got to step outside my comfort zone by speaking more Spanish than I ever had before. I loved learning about another culture and of course all the great activities. Everyone involved was so nice and accommodating, I felt right at home.
Ellison Belk –
I went on the 4 week Costa Rica trip and this was the best experience in the history of experiences! I had around 15 years of Spanish knowledge, but I was never able to get anything out except for “estoy bien”. Not only did I come back being able to speak entire conversations in Spanish, but I came back with a lifetime of memories that I will never forget. My host family were the nicest and funniest people on the planet and the food there was amazing. I would definitely do this again and even a third time!
Owen Perez –
Wonderful trip, met a bunch of new people, learned lots of Spanish, l would definitely recommend
Madeleine Butler –
I took part in the four week immersion program in Costa Rica. It was an wonderful experience and the environment was very conducive to making great friends. The Spanish classes were fun and I had an great time hanging out with my host family. This trip not only drastically improved my Spanish but also included many adventures such as zip lining and visiting waterfalls. The chocolate farm was a perfect way to finish off the trip. It was an amazing way to spend a summer and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys learning Spanish.
AJ Birk –
I did the 4 week Costa Rica Immersion this summer and had the best time! I had a fantastic host family and loved all of the excursions, waterfalls, surfing and volcanos! My Spanish experience was very limited before this summer but I will be much more confident in my HS Spanish classes in the coming year! Thank you to CGI for this opportunity!
Shelley Belk –
My daughter had the experience of her lifetime, and this was such an incredible opportunity for her in so many ways. I’m grateful she stayed the entire four weeks to gain the most out of the program. I believe this program provided the perfect mixture of fun, education, and cultural exposure!! I would highly recommend this program or any child in high school because it is so well organized, safe, educational, while also providing an opportunity for tremendous personal growth.
Tsvetan Beloreshki –
AP Spanish scores came out just a few days back… Amazingly enough, my daughter, that girl who came this close in 8th grade to being relegated to CPB Spanish, had a reason to log on and check hers. Even more amazingly, she is beaming with pride. The turning point was – without a doubt – this program. Just as Maria did a couple of years back, my son loved everything – from the fun parts to the study parts – about his trip! And I know what his Spanish score is going to be in a few years when he gets to take it…
Molly May –
The 4-week high school immersion program was incredible! A perfect mix of learning about Costa Rican culture by living with a family, taking classes, and seeing the country on trips and excursions. I feel so much more confident in my Spanish abilities and was able to go outside of my comfort zone and make amazing memories!
Marion Batayte –
Our son just came back from the 4 week program and had an amazing time! It was a perfect combination of Spanish classes, volunteering, adventure excursions, and down time. He gained confidence in his Spanish skills and in his ability to navigate challenges. Leslie and her team were GREAT, provided comprehensive updates prior to and throughout the trip and took care of the kids like they were family.
Tsvetan Beloreshki –
AP scores came out last week… Amazingly enough, my daughter, that girl who came this close in 8th grade to being relegated to CPB Spanish – was beaming with pride. The turning point was her taking part in this program two years ago, the chance to be surrounded by, live and breathe Spanish (and do so in a fantastic environment and having an amazing support from Leslie and her team)…
So yes, I just had to let my son experience it all as well. I knew it would be a wonderful experience for him. He came home a different person – so much confidence and growth. Oh, and I know he is going to ace his AP Spanish exam in a few years…
Katrina Evans –
This program surpassed all my expectations. The balance of learning, community service, adventures and down time were perfect for my child. Incredibly impressed by the efforts that the leaders made both on the trip and through communication with parents. I was extremely comfortable, knowing that all of the kids were clearly cared about and safe. Thank you! HIGHLY Recommend!!
Katrina Evans –
This program surpassed all my expectations. The balance of learning, community service, adventures and down time were perfect for my child. Incredibly impressed by the efforts that the leaders made both on the trip and through communication with parents. I was extremely comfortable, knowing that all of the kids were clearly cared about and safe. Thank you! HIGHLY Recommend!!
George K –
Our son Erik just returned from the 3 week Spanish Immersion program in Costa Rica with Common Ground. It was an amazing experience for him and we are already seeing signs of newly gained independence ahead of his going to University. His host family was wonderful and we felt he was in good hands at all times. More importantly, he had lots of fun, made friends, improved his Spanish and visited some amazing place in Costa Rica. Thanks CommonGround
Nikoya Schevene –
I participated on 2 week trip to Costa Rica and it was AMAZING!! I made so many friends and learned so much about the language and cultural norms. I loved my host family and had so many fun experiences. I made so many memories that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
Skylar Evans –
I did the 2 week trip to Costa Rica this summer and it was great!! I feel like i learned a lot and I made some great friends. I definitely recommend for anyone who wants to improve their Spanish and is willing to go out of their comfort zone to do so
Ted Simpson –
This was my daughter’s second trip with Common Ground and she loved it! The Fosters and their leadership team are people I would highly recommend based on their experience in Latin America, character, and friendliness. Our daughter came back a more mature, fluent, and well rounded young woman. Additionally, she had a blast!
Shane Franciscovich –
This is a very thoughtfully planned program with the perfect balance between fun, cultural learning, community/charity, etc. My daughter really enjoyed the exchange with other high school students from Costa Rica. We are so happy with her improved Spanish, her appreciation for its usefulness and her increased confidence.
Ava F –
This trip to Costa Rica was a roller coaster of experiences. I enjoyed every moment of it, even the tougher ones. It made me more comfortable with speaking Spanish and more confident and now it comes more naturally to me.
My son participated in the High School Spanish Immersion trip to Costa Rica in the summer of 2019. We chose the 4-week option and we are glad we did, because his last week at the chocolate farm was one of the highlights of his trip. Perhaps the most meaningful part of the entire experience was his host family. In fact, I think it might be a relationship for life. He fell in love with them, and they with him. In fact, we have already planned a family trip to Costa Rica to meet our new “Tica Familia” and have our son show us Santa Domingo and surrounds. Our son said that the Spanish he learned through his desire to communicate with his family really made a difference in his learning experience. He was especially excited to learn the different types of past tense so he could start to communicate more complex ideas when he was at home with his new familia. A wonderful experience. One of the things I loved was the way that Leslie and her team kept us parents informed about what was happening by sending pictures and text updates via the Whatsapp group. What a great idea! I highly recommend.
Louisa Barrett –
I went to Costa Rica with a group from school and it was an experience I will never forget. My host mom cared about me and the trips to the beach were super fun.
Liam Peeples –
The funnest 2 weeks of my life, where I learned so much and grew more wholesome as a person. Don’t be afraid of failure and live in the moment because you’re going to miss every second of the trip and want to do it again.
Vivian Shillingsburg –
I did the 2 week Spanish Immersion trip to Costa Rica this year and I had the time of my life. It was an amazing learning and growing experience. I learned so much about the culture and the environment. My host family was so welcoming and I felt like I was part of their family. The food was incredible and the people were so loving. Everything was organized, but I had to learn how to go with the flow because not everything was not meant to go as planned, but I trusted my trip leaders and I just enjoyed my experience and i lived every moment to the fullest. I highly recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in going. It is a wonderful experience. I made lifelong memories and friends and I hope that I can go back and see my family again and spend more time hiking and swimming and living it up. It was the best decision that I’ve ever made. When it was time to leave, I was ready to go home and see my family, it was also so sad for me because the country was so beautiful and the experience was life changing. If you or your kid have any interest in this program, make it happen.
Audrey Damare –
Was an indescribable rollercoaster of an experience, and I loved every moment of it even the hard ones! I would recommend this to anyone, it will make you not only a stronger spanish speaker, but a stronger person!
This program was great! I improved my Spanish and got to see and experience the culture in Costa Rica. I found this program very rewarding and fun. Hopefully you will too!
My daughter, Maria, had an absolutely fantastic trip to Costa Rica. And yes, her Spanish is hugely improved. But, and this came quite as a surprise to me, she grew up in so many other ways – getting a true flavor of a different culture, learning with, from and about the rest of the kids, and gaining a lovely level of confidence having made it for four weeks away from home on her own. Ultimately, this is the best part of it all.
Diane & Chris Dunkin –
Our daughter participated in the 3wk HS Spanish immersion program with Common Ground. We appreciated that she was also able to join the medical service group activities. Our daughter was very happy with her home stay and felt safe and welcome. The activists were well planned and the group of teens were kind and inclusive. Great experience and highly recommended!
Rose Morales –
My 14 year old son participated in the 3 week Spanish Immersion program to Costa Rica in 2019 and absolutely enjoyed it, so much so, that he wished I had left him for the 4th week to participate in the Cocoa Farm. Leslie was very communicative from the moment I requested information all the way through to the end of the program, updating us with pictures almost daily. My son even lost his prescription glasses on the 2nd day during the surfing lesson and Leslie went out of her way to retrieve them, even after they had left the town. What an amazing program if you want your child to be a little more comfortable with speaking a foreign language and immersing themselves in another culture. Great adventure trips and opportunities to learn and grow socially, emotionally, and academically! My son returned speaking Spanish a little more fluently and comfortably. He enjoyed his host family and all the friends he made and continues to speak/text to. He wants to return next year and try Ecuador!
Grace DeNoia –
I went on the two week trip to Costa Rica with some of my classmates and it was one of the best things that’s happened to me. I was placed out of my comfort zone and it helped my Spanish to grow all while seeing once in a lifetime views and foods that I would never see at home. If I had the opportunity I would trade anything to experience this trip all over again. I really would recommend this trip. I was hesitant about this trip at first because I felt as if my Spanish wasn’t good enough but it is an opportunity to help you grow no matter what level of Spanish you are at. This was a great trip!
Emma Claire Broome –
I did the 10 day immersion trip, and had so much fun! I learned so much, and would definitely do it again. I recommend it to everyone. I learned so much about myself and the world, it was great. Loved every part, from surfing to looking at sloths and monkeys to zip lining over the rain forest, it was perfect. Loved it so much!! This trip was amazing.
Molly Pennisi –
I traveled on the 2 week program with CGI, and it was UNFORGETTABLE. Everything was taken care of and each day was planned to the minute so we were prepared each day with our clothes, materials for class or service, and money (we had a SUPER HELPFUL 5 page itinerary). The trip’s structure was perfect as well, with the middle week being the “grind” with Spanish classes and host families and the first and last couple of days being excursions and tourist-y activities. My host family was perfect for me – I enjoyed getting to know them, they took great care of my friend and me (especially when my friend was not feeling 100%), the food they cooked was delicious, they were very patient when we spoke Spanish since we weren’t fluent and taught us new words/phrases specific to CR, and they included us in whatever activities they were doing (we went to the mall and a couple restaurants together). All of the food was delicious. It was fun trying new dishes from another culture. Also, the trip leaders were super positive, encouraging us to put our phones away and “sacar el jugo,” and especially when we felt discouraged. They went to great lengths to ensure our safety and to get to know each one of us as a person, which is something I appreciate. I highly recommend CGI for any immersion trip to anyone with a thirst for improving Spanish and learning about another culture!
From the planning stages all the way through the end of the trip, Common Ground sees to it that everything is attended to. Truly a great experience for my daughter.
Lilly Gruebel –
This program was truly amazing. I was exposed to so many new cultures and I learned so much about myself. This program does a really great job to make sure you are safe and comfortable, they will make any accommodations to ensure that. I definitely recommend this program. I had an experience of a lifetime and I got so close to many new people!
Madeline Sexton –
I thought that the program was awesome! I had so much fun learning about the culture in real-life situations. I loved the activities we did and the amount of time we spent at each location. I had a great host family and the school staff was super nice. My one critique is that I wished we would have done the excursion portion before the host families, so at the end of host families, we would go home. Everything went so well! I couldn’t have asked for a better trip!
Sophia Parker –
I did the two week Spanish Immersion trip, and I would say it was one of the best trips I’ve ever had. I had so much fun with my group, and I learned to speak Spanish so much faster and more comfortably. The food was delicious!
ellie russin –
I participated on a 2 week immersion trip with my high school, Cardinal Gibbons. The experience common ground provided was life-changing; my eyes were opened to a new way of life – pura vida. From Manuel Antonio to Santo Domingo to La Fortuna, my experiences were unforgettable and I will cherish the lessons I learned forever. My interactions with my trip leaders, peers, and the Costa Rican locals were solely positive. Everyone was welcoming and engaging; they wanted to provide you with the best trip possible. My host family was extremely welcoming and made me feel as if I was apart of their family. They took me to the movies, the market, and to try local empanadas. I thought the trip contained a well balanced itinerary of excursions and education. Whether I was in spanish class or on an excursion, I was improving my spanish.
Jordan Isley –
Would definitely recommend to others! My Spanish has ultimately improved because of this trip and the experiences were something that one would never forget. I felt truly immersed in the culture and learned a lot about the country.
Gabriella Ercolino –
I participated in the 2 week Costa Rican Spanish Immersion trip with my high school- this opportunity has drastically changed my life for the better. My experiences with my host family, on adventures, and in Spanish classes at the language school were solely positive. I felt safe and cared for throughout the whole trip and strongly recommend this program.
Catherine Cobb –
I participated in the 10 day immersion experience and I loved the entire experience. I had a wonderful experience and was able to use my Spanish skills in many different situations. My Spanish improved so much and I was able to learn about the culture of Costa Rica from both students and adults. Being able to stay with a host family was one of the most beneficial parts of the trip because of the immersion and ability to live with a family in Costa Rica. If I am ever given the chance, I would definitely do the program again and even for a longer time period. This program was incredible and I would highly recommend it for any interested students.
ava anderson –
some of the best ten days of my life
would definitely do it again if i get the chance
Jane Elkins –
Fabulous 10-day Spanish Immersion trip for rising 9th graders! Nine students from the K-8 school where I teach just completed this adventure. The students learned so much about Costa Rica, Spanish language, and themselves. Common Ground did an excellent job of preparing 8th graders for the trip, particularly in the on-line short classes that could be done usually in 15-20 minutes. The preparation is comprehensive, and is tailored specifically for a trip to Costa Rica. The packing list, for instance, lets participants (and their parents) know exactly what to bring. The information about cultural differences helps to prevent culture shock. The travel experience is very well organized, with a smooth flow from place and kind of learning to another. The language classes and instruction was excellent, and so were the home stay experiences. Common Ground does a good job matching the student to the home stay family that will be best for him or her. I cannot say enough good things about this program!
Ellie Bock –
I did the 10 day high school immersion program. This trip was so amazing and I learned so much about myself and the culture. From this trip, I became more comfortable using Spanish around others, especially with my host family. I will never forget this amazing opportunity to have fun with my friends and to learn about a new country.
Steven Elkins –
My wife and I had a wonderful time in a program that combined Spanish immersion with seeing part of Costa Rica. The Spanish school and our host family were wonderful. Common Ground’s organizational skills and flexibility made it fun and interesting. I would recommend CG to anyone.
Annika Jackson –
I was a part of the four week high school immersion trip, and it was amazing! I went on the trip to improve my Spanish, and it truly helped me to become more comfortable speaking, although I still make errors. The classes we took also helped me to learn about verbs. With the four-week program, I felt there was a good balance between excursions and living in Santo Domingo, but if I had left after only two weeks, I would not have felt this way. My two favorite parts of the trip were staying with my host family, and La Iguana Chocolate farm. The farm was an awesome immersion into rural life, although I did appreciate the return to technology afterwards. My family was really welcoming, and I was clearly not the first student they had housed. Overall, I loved the experience, and would highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to improve their Spanish, as long as they have a starting knowledge for basic communication.
Nora Batko –
CGI is amazing! I would highly recommend this trip for anyone who either has a passion for Spanish, languages, Latin American culture, or just travel! No matter your Spanish ability, this trip will immerse you in the language and improve your everything about your Spanish. After only a week I was beginning to think in Spanish first and second in English! I learned so much in Spanish classes and had so much fun on excursions. The host families are incredibly kind and welcoming and they really help you feel at home. Leslie was great the whole time, answering questions prior to the trip, laying out all the travel logistics and details, and caring about every individual participant. This was an unforgettable experience and made my summer the best ever! To savor the memories I made a short music video to the trip, if anyone is curious and wants to see exactly what kinds of things we did! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3_vkH2cJVA
Ann Batko –
My 17-year-old daughter participated in the 4-week Spanish immersion trip with Common Ground this summer (2018) and had a terrific experience. I was a bit nervous about it at first, because CGI was not among the organizations our school had worked with to send students on trips, and I basically found it through an online search. But every step of the way, from when we first made inquiries through the return travel communications, Leslie Foster and her team showed they are so organized, thoughtful, and dedicated to the students’ success that it was very reassuring. The pre-departure information, the communications to parents and students, the attention to detail–everything was just awesome.
I also think the program elements themselves were really well thought out and balanced. It was such a great blend of academics, service work, adventure, and cultural immersion. My daughter made great new friends, came home with a big increase in Spanish fluency and a lasting appreciation of Costa Rican culture. Kudos to CGI for such a fabulous program! I would definitely recommend it to others.
Ken Laughlin –
Our daughter did the 3 week Spanish Immersion trip. It was an extraordinary experience for her on all counts, including the culture, the adventures, the new friends she met, and the improvement in her Spanish. The host family was extremely welcoming, and the neighborhood friends she met were wonderful. Kudos to the trip organizers Leslie and Rory for their extraordinary vision about making this kind of an experience possible, and to the trip leaders Kelsey, Meghan and Lindsay who made it all happen in a delightful way. Their commitment to making it a true immersion program made it as rewarding as it was fun. I would highly recommend this program to anybody looking forward to a challenging, amazing experience.
I researched three language immersion programs in Costa Rica and interviewed reps from each. I felt that CGI had designed each of the components of the program most carefully and thoughtfully, including language instruction, host family stays, meaningful community service, activities and adventure travel. My 17 year old son found the four-week trip offered just the right mix of independence and support, language learning and travel, time with locals and time with other students. My wife and I especially appreciated how Leslie and her trip leaders kept us informed about the group’s activities through almost daily social media messaging. And we were grateful that they picked up our son’s bag when his airline re-routed his flight and loaned him a cell phone when his died — things that made his first major trip without us go smoothly. He came back confident in his ability to navigate new places and cultures, speaking much-improved Spanish, and full of appreciation for the opportunity to experience Costa Rica. Many, many thanks to Leslie and her trip leaders.
Shirley McWilliams –
Full immersion into a foreign culture and language is the best way to experience and learn it. This is something I have always wanted for my children and Common Ground International (CGI) delivered above and beyond. I am bilingual and I would love for my children to become as well. I see the importance of it and to be honest, it is not easy to get my children to practice with me and that is why I searched for this.
My 15 year old daughter went with the Summer 2018 High School Immersion Program from CGI for 3 weeks. As any parent should be, I was hesitant to send my child abroad. Leslie from CGI has been amazing even from the first inquiries. I felt completely comfortable with having my daughter travel with the adult leaders and other high schoolers. I honestly didn’t worry because the communication via, texts, WhatsApp, emails and calls was more than I could have imagined. I loved that everyone was keeping all of the parents informed nearly daily with updates and pictures of the kids having fun and learning. If we needed to get ahold of anyone, they responded almost immediately. The leaders keep close tabs on the students at all times.
CGI does a lot to prepare the students and parents. There are several things to learn, review, and do to prepare for the trip. CGI will remind you of what to do and which videos to watch and there are video conferences with the leaders and students so they can all meet a couple of times via the computer before meeting in person.
My daughter gained valuable knowledge and experience while with the group and host family. My daughter had her 16th birthday while in Costa Rica and said she enjoyed her special day and has great memories of her trip. My daughter who is generally reserved and quiet. loved the time spent with her host family as well as the excursions, dance and cooking classes, volunteer time, interacting with Costa Rican high schoolers and elementary school students as well as the time spent with her new friends. She returned with a valuable new perspective on life. She said the time learning was difficult but it forced her to understand and speak Spanish to a greater level than before and appreciate it.
I think Leslie and CGI are doing a great job preparing parents and students for this program Their support and guidance as very much appreciated. I didn’t know where to start when I began looking for a Spanish Immersion program for my daughter, but I found a truly great one! I am hoping to send my son in a couple of years. Thank you!
Joy Fitch –
My 18 year old nephew recently returned from the High School Spanish immersion trip to Costa Rica (Summer 2018) with Common Ground International. He had an amazing experience despite his apprehension about living with a host family and concerns about communicating primarily in Spanish. The preparation videos, materials, and meetings were really great, and gave both my nephew and I valuable information about the trip and the culture. The pre-departure guidelines really prepare you for what to do and what to expect from the trip. The trip leaders gave regular and fun updates including pictures and videos from the trip. Common Group International is a very professional organization, with leadership that are obviously very passionate about their program. The program is structured to give the kids safe exposure to a new culture, and language learning opportunities they won’t find in the States. I would highly recommend this program to anyone considering a Spanish immersion trip.
Natalie Studer –
My 14 (almost 15) year old son just returned from the 2 week immersion program with CGI (summer 2018), and I couldn’t be any more pleased with this program, from initial inquiry through final flight boarding back to the States. The preparation is THOROUGH, and requires the student to go through some self-reflection while learning about what they might expect during their experience. My own son (who will enter 9th grade this coming school year) had a taste of working with older students in small groups to plan their teaching experiences for the summer camp, and enjoyed meeting high school students from across the US as a peer for the first time. Leslie, Megan, and Kelsey were superb communicators for parents back home, and I was completely confident in their management of the group, and care for my son, who came back to us wishing to “habla solamente en Espanol” with us so he could keep up his new trajectory of confidence with spoken Spanish. Signing my son up for this program makes it onto my personal Top 10 List of Good Parenting Moves I’ve made (and that’s in his lifetime, folks!).
Gabriel Studer-Randall –
I just came back from the 2 week immersion trip with Common Ground. I had an amazing time and wish that I had decided to stay for for 3 weeks or 4 weeks. My host family was great, they were super nice and made sure that I was comfortable the entire time I was staying with them. I would love to see them again sometime. I improved on my Spanish, and I was inspired to become a better more fluent speaker. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who wants to not only learn more Spanish, but also experience another culture. And make sure to sign up for the surfing class, it was really fun:)
Annabelle Laughlin –
I just returned from the 3 week program with CGI. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I made so many amazing connections with the people I met there: my amazing host family, my Spanish teacher, the trip leaders, my “neighbors”, other students on the trip, and the kids of Lapa Verde and Kamuk. Having the host family experience in a less touristy area was so instrumental to my goal of learning and practicing Spanish. My time in Costa Rica has really inspired me to continue speaking and learning Spanish when I go to college. This trip was amazing and I learned so much and I would recommend it to everyone.
Drew Putt –
My son returned from a 2 week immersion trip to Costa Rica. He had a blast and is completely fluent. He fell in love with his host family and we plan to host them in our home in Atlanta. I was 100% confident about his safety and well-being – Leslie has covered all of the bases, even trip insurance.
Susan Pierson –
My daughter just returned from a 3 week high school immersion trip and she had the most wonderful experience. She loved her host family, her teachers, the excursions, the service learning, the other kids, and Costa Rican food. She said she was teary saying goodbye to the group yesterday. I can’t thank Leslie and her staff enough.
My 8th grade son, who was somewhat reluctant to go on the Spanish Immersion trip, just returned yesterday from his most amazing adventure! He walked off the plane with a smile on his face and wonderful stories to tell. Leslie far surpassed my expectations with her professionalism and ability to manage kids of different ages, backgrounds, and language abilities. Her team also did a great job communicating with the parents, giving us updates on travel logistics as well as how they were doing once they arrived in Costa Rica. The high point of the trip for my son was the zip lining excursion so be sure to take advantage of the optional outings. Staying the the host family was my biggest concern but he said that was when he really had to “crunch his brain” and communicate in Spanish. He says he actually started thinking in the language which is my definition of a successful language immersion experience. I feel like he can start high school Spanish in the fall with a lot more confidence than if he hadn’t gone on this trip. Thank you to Leslie and all who made the experience a really enriching one for my son.
Myndi Rohweder –
Our son just returned from a 10 day trip to Costa Rica with CGI. It was his second trip to Costs Rica, but his first experience without parents and in an immersion program. It was an amazing experience! The program is incredibly thought out and organized! It was a great balance between adventure and exploration with language learning and cultural awareness. We would love to have him go again and will definitely send our other children with CGI in the future! Thank you to Leslie and CGI for all the preparation and experience that goes into these trips. Your passion for both your students and the people of Costa Rica shines through and provides an incredible experience!
Mary L Broughton –
My 14-year-old son participated in the 10-day Spanish immersion program to Costa Rica through Common Ground. It was his second time in Central America but first time with a host family. He came back with wonderful experiences to share. He met new friends in the school they attended while living with a host family. They surfed, zip lined, cooked, danced, hiked, saw volcanoes, waterfalls and made new friends on this trip. This was a lifetime experience and would love for my son to do it again. I feel extremely confident in his experience and know that he would do it again in a skinny minute. Thank you Leslie Foster for giving Owen the opportunity to think outside the box and become part of another culture. He wants to do another trip!!!
Amy Milslagle –
My 13 year old daughter did an 11 day program with Common Ground, in conjunction with her 8th grade class from middle school. Overall, it was a fantastic experience for her! She was hesitant to leave her parents for that many days, but came back saying “I didn’t want to leave Costa Rica”! The trip was run flawlessly. There was a small hiccup with the host family. My daughter was uncomfortable, but Leslie from CG handled the situation the very next day and placed her with a new family that she adored! I was so grateful for the way the situation was handled, it really put me at ease. My only suggestion would be to make sure to visit all host families yearly to ensure similar problems do not occur for others. Other than that, I could not recommend this program highly enough. My daughter will likely do it again!
Ashley Milslagle –
I participated in the 10 day high school immersion trip, and had the best time! This trip made my summer. I used my spanish a lot when staying with my host family, and I can tell how much it has improved. Spending time at Manuel Antonio and Volcano Arenal was amazing! I got to spend time with my old friends and made some new friends as well. This trip not only helped me learn spanish, but it made me understand the different cultures, and I’m so glad I got to experience that at such an early age (13). When it was time to go back home, I never wanted to leave.
Emily G –
Our 14 year old son spent an amazing 10 days under the care and supervision of CGI. The trip was executed flawlessly from my perspective. Our son came back with so many stories to share about the interesting things he saw and did. I know he appreciated the chance to practice his Spanish and build the confidence he needed to continue learning the language. Living with his host family was the highlight of the trip.
Rita Littrell –
As a former educator, I would like to say that I was extremely impressed with the 4 week Spanish Immersion program in Costa Rica. The staff were awesome! They kept us updated and made sure we had critical information about flights and happenings in the country. They were professional and well organized. The host families were very nice and welcoming to the students. The experiences varied so there was something everyone really enjoyed. Upon completion of the program and after three years of Spanish in high school (8th, 9th and 10th grades) our son scored high enough to take the third level of Spanish in college. This meant he skips two levels and gets credit for them. He had completed his senior year in high school. We would have liked for him to do this a year or two earlier, but he had conflicting summer opportunities he did not want to forego. I think four weeks is necessary to have a big impact on learning a language. The program was great for him! It was much more economical than other programs but offered terrific variety in a safe environment. I highly recommend. A neice and nephew may attend next year
Stephen Van Evera –
My daughter Lydia had a great experience with the 4-week Common Ground Costa Rica immersion trip in 2017. Lydia learned lots of Spanish and lots about the lives and beliefs of ordinary Costa Ricans . The Common Ground service activities (helping teach elementary school students in Heredia, and doing farm work on a family-run chocolate farm in Mastatal) were very valuable and well-designed. The group adventures–to the Arenal volcano and the Parque Nacional Antonio, ocean snorkeling, etc.–were excellent.
Lydia greatly benefited from the general wonderfulness of Common Ground group leaders Saphire Stockman and Parker Benedict, who ran a tight ship with kindness and understanding and made all rough places plain.
Leslie and Rory Foster have created an outstanding immersion program. Fabulous!
Eveline Grady –
My son Patrick participated in the 2 week full immersion program this summer (2017). It was his first ever stay abroad and it could not have been more successful. The preparations for the trip were really useful – Leslie Foster & Sapphire answered all questions we had with much detail and professionalism. As a parent I also really loved the fact the my son had the opportunity to give back and participate in community service on the ground. He loved his home stay families and really enjoyed all the families and students he met during his stay. He told me that he always felt very safe and that his Spanish really took off and improved by leaps and bounds. He really did not want to come back home which speaks volumes on how well the students are taken care of. I highly and warmly recommend CommonGround International.
Patrick Grady –
I participated in the 2 week full immersion program with CGI and I LOVED it. I met awesome people, both Costa Rican and American, and I had a really fun time in general. If you plan on going, I highly recommend going on the excursions and going for 4 weeks. The excursions were a blast as was the entire trip. I also learned a lot more Spanish in a safe and fun environment/classroom.
Shannon Case –
My 14-year-old daughter did the 4 week Spanish immersion trip in Costa Rica in the summer of 2017. She had a wonderful experience. Her Spanish fluency increased, she made great friends, she gained maturity and confidence, she benefited from helping others through community service, and she enjoyed living with her host families. The program was well organized, and the pre-departure course gave my daughter good preparation for encountering a foreign culture, living with a host family, traveling in Costa Rica, and everything else. We could not have been happier with the program.
Billy Biscoe –
When I first got there I was scared to death about not fitting in but as soon as i got there i felt home and i wasnt wrong. Everything was perfect and i couldnt be happier.
I went on the four week program in the summer of 2016. The experience was incredible, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Our group was extremely close, and we’ve all kept in touch since. Before the trip, listening was by far the weakest aspect of my Spanish. By the end of the trip, I could have full family conversations with my host family. I learned so much about Costa Rican culture, and it’s impossible to pick out a single aspect of the trip I loved most.
Emi Hoffer –
I went into this program not knowing what to expect. I attended the two week portion in 2016, and was hoping to improve my speaking Spanish for high school. After learning that I was the youngest member of the group, I was a little nervous. However throughout the trip I grew much more confident and, to my surprise, understand much if not all of what the civilians and instructors said. The host families were also a delightful surprise. Though I was only with them for a short while, we quickly became very close. I would say that those few days helped my conversational Spanish the most. I would suggest that the families try to engage with the children more through activities like grocery shopping or just walking around the city. I know some students had trouble connecting, though this was not the case with me. Between the friends I made, the adventures I embarked on, the new culture I discovered, and the language I learned, this trip definitely improved my Spanish and understanding of Costa Ric-an life.
Sarah Maronick –
I went on the four week exchange program in 2014. When looking into programs I had a lot in mind for what I wanted out of the experience. My main criteria included safety, location, quality of leadership, hospitable host family, and meaningful volunteer work. All of them scored a ten with this program. It really gave me more than I expected.
After I scored a 5 on the AP Spanish test and got a scholarship to study abroad in Turkey. What I have realized here in Turkey is that even the smallest experience that we take from our daily lives can make a big impact. Don’t be afraid to explore and learn. If I had not gone to Costa Rica I would not have understood this concept so well.
Janie Anderson –
I did the Spanish immersion program in summer of 2013 and I have no doubt that is was one of the best experiences of my life. It is due to this trip that I decided to pursue a major in Spanish at the University of Colorado, which I am now halfway through. I am currently studying abroad in Costa Rica and am soon going to visit my host family from three years ago. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful this program is and how many opportunities it opened my eyes to. I strongly recommend that anyone looking to improve their spanish skills or to get a taste of a different culture to enroll in this program, you will not regret it!
I went on the 2-week Spanish Immersion trip in 2010 and I loved it. My familia tica was incredible; I’m still in contact with them to this day! My Spanish improved hugely, and I walked away with a much richer understanding of the world and appreciation for a different culture than our own. The Foster family was also really nurturing and good to me when I was experiencing the expected anxieties of being in a foreign country without my own family for the first time.
This experience was amazing for my daughter. Her confidence and independence went through the roof. Her speaking and comprehension ability in Spanish also escalated. Her Spanish teacher was impressed. I would advise going for the month program – it’s the experience of a lifetime. We’re still in contact with her host family and they’re wonderful.
My son had a terrific experience during his 4 week Spanish immersion program in Costa Rica. The family he lived with was a very important component of making his stay so memorable. He also enjoyed the excursions and they were well planned and gave a good overview of the country and were also just plain fun.
I spent a lot of time looking for a program for him. My older son had gone on a 4 week trip to Costa Rica two years previously with one of the large student study/travel programs. In general, it was less than optimal experience particularly the home stay experience. I knew I needed to find a for a better program. Once I found the Common Ground program online I could tell it would be a completely different experience for my younger son.
Bailey Bressler –
It has been almost 5 years since I went on the immersion trip. I participated in the 2 week program. It was a blast. It was probably one of the best expiriences that I have ever had. The family that I stayed with was absolutely amazing. All around it is a wonderful expirience and I would recommend it to anyone.
Christi Jenkins –
My daughter participated in the 4 week program. Her Spanish improved immensely and her high school Spanish teacher was amazed how confident and comfortable she has become speaking in Spanish. Her love for latino culture grew and she now wants to do her collegiate study abroad in South America. She enjoyed her host family and continues to stay in touch with them. Leslie and her family are amazing leaders. They are caring, communicative, and provide the students with structure and great opportunities to learn and grow. The students grow academically, socially, expand their world view and experience another culture. I would highly recommend Common Ground International to any high school student.
Will Murphy –
I participated in the 4 week immersion program before my junior year in high school, and absolutely loved it. My confidence in my spanish speaking ability improved enormously, which i attribute to the excellent structure of the trip. It is a perfect opportunity to solidify spanish speaking ability because you think, live, and dream in spanish, while also going on unreal adventures. ELEC, the formal spanish training school in San Isidro is great, with wonderful, native teachers unlike any language teachers I had previously. The guides and leaders throughout the trip were wonderful people and i am still in touch with them today. Before I went, 4 weeks initially seemed like a long time, but it flew by. If you are on the fence at all, and want a life changing experience, i can’t recommend any program more highly than this one.
This trips was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I will never forget the memories I made. My Spanish improved immensely. I highly recommend Common Ground. Their trips are simply experiences you cannot miss.
Meredith Brown –
My daughter participated in the 4 week program and she wanted to stay even longer! Her Spanish has improved, and she has a greater appreciation for the world outside of the US, which is extremely important to us these days. She had a wonderful experience with her host family, and I think the supervision was “spot on”. The students learned a diverse amount of material–from the academic, to the social to the cultural–and as such, I would highly recommend Common Ground International to other high school students!
Carly McDermott –
I participated in the 2 week immersion program in 2010, and consider it a life-changing trip. I not only improved my Spanish speaking and writing, but got to participate in the daily life of Ticos. This program changed my perspective and was the foundation for my love of travel and experiencing different cultures. Our guides were knowledgable, helpful, and fun! I would highly recommend this immersion program to anyone looking for to broaden their horizons. 🙂
Bailey Radek –
I participated in the 4 week immersion program and loved it. It helped me learn so much spanish and about how big the world truly is. The exposure to a new culture and to new experiences was phenomenal. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone with a thirst for learning and adventure!
Rosie Gershman –
I did a 2 week immersion program in 2014 and absolutely loved it! I made amazing friends and learned a lot of Spanish. Leslie and her family are amazing people and such good leaders. I wish I had never left and could do this program every year and for longer. It was an amazing experience. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for an immersion program. Common Ground International is the way to go!!
Kate Henjum –
I did the 4 week Spanish Immersion trip through Common Ground International in the summer of 2011. I am now a junior in college studying abroad in Lima, Peru. Much of the desire and inspiration to continue with my Spanish and cultural immersion study was because of the experience I had in Costa Rica with Common Ground International. My host family was incredibly kind and very welcoming and ELEC Spanish School did an excellent helping me improve my Spanish. The weekend trips were an incredible opportunity to explore the country. Rory and Leslie Foster are extraordinary people and help to make the entire experience one you will never forget.
I would strongly encourage every high school student to immerse themselves in another country, culture, and community. I can’t think of a better organization to do that with than Common Ground International.
Kim Carey –
I participated in the four week immersion program for the summer of 2015. While it may have been my first time to Central America, it was absolutely one of the best experiences I have ever had. I used my Spanish daily and learned some new aspects of Spanish that I apply in class on a regular basis. My host family was amazing, I miss them a lot. Now, the trip leaders are absolutely some of the best people I have ever met. They do an amazing job of helping the participants learn and they are very encouraging when it comes to facing a difficult situation. I hope that one day I will be able to participate in another immersion program with this group of leaders and teacher in Costa Rica. It was absolutely an unforgettable experience.
Thekla Metz –
My daughter did the 4 week Spanish Immersion trip with Common Ground in the summer of 2015. It was fantastic, a wonderful experience. Her host family was nice, she really used her Spanish and she loved the adventure travel parts. This is a great oufit. I highly recommend them.