Following are some of the things you should keep in mind when preparing your luggage:
Cultural Standards: There is a dress code at the Institute. Dress is casual, but shorts are not acceptable in school. Dress in Costa Rica is generally more formal; jeans and pants are the norm for men, while pants, dresses, and Capri's are the norm for women. Costa Ricans do not wear shorts unless exercising or at the beach. Tico men usually wear casual clothes (slacks and a shirt) to church unless they are preaching. Dresses, nice pants or skirts and blouses are appropriate attire for women on Sundays.
Although this is a tropical environment, it does get cool here. Spring/summer clothes can be worn year round; however, the mornings and evenings are cool so layers of clothing are advisable, including a long sleeve shirt, a light jacket, and/or a sweatshirt. At the beach and tourist areas, dress is more casual. If you travel to the mountains, you will appreciate a heavier coat. Temperatures in the mountains can reach the freezing point.
Clothing is usually of lower quality and priced higher than in most home countries. Large sizes are hard to find, and imported clothes can be quite expensive. Good quality, comfortable shoes are essential when walking everyday to school. Be sure to bring shoes with good treads so that they won’t slide on the slippery sidewalks during rainy season. Crocs, Chacos, or Keens are good. There are several malls and large department stores that have reasonably priced shoes here. However, large, narrow or wide sizes are difficult to find, and name brand shoes for children are very expensive.
Each adult will need a good umbrella, which can be purchased in Costa Rica for $5 - $15.
A lightweight poncho is advisable for the rainy season; especially if you plan to push a stroller to and from school. A rain-cover for strollers is useful. Shoes that can be worn in the rain are not only advantageous but also advisable; or, you can waterproof your shoes prior to coming.
I attended the Institute in 2006 for a month when I was studying abroad in Costa Rica
through the Latin America Studies Program (LASP) with Anthony Chamberlain.
My courses at the Institute were an invaluable help for me as I transitioned from learning Spanish in the classroom setting to speaking with native-speakers. I still remember many of the things I learned from those classes.