Host Family Protocol
If you would like to bring your host family a gift, we suggest that you keep it simple. Things like chocolates, pens, pencils, caps, t-shirts, postcards from the U.S. and children's books in Spanish are always appreciated. Gifts that reflect where you are from are also very good. A couple of examples are; Maple syrup from Vermont or Smoked Salmon from Washington. You might also like to bring pictures of your hometown and your family because they are a great way to begin the cultural exchange.
It is important to keep in mind that you are a guest in their home. Let them know if you are not planning to have dinner. Give them an idea what time you may be coming home. You will be given a key to the house, try and keep it safe and don't loose it. The key will give you the ability to come and go as you like, but always be considerate of others in the family.
It is cheaper to make a local call from a pay phone than from the home. Ask before using it and use a calling card to make calls home.
The families are receiving financial compensation for being hosts so, if you feel like things are not working out, don't feel bad about asking the school for a change to a new family. If you feel at all uncomfortable, do not hesitate to inform the school. Also, be honest with your evaluation of the family. It will help the school and all future students that stay with the same family.
Lastly, the host families are mostly professionals who welcome students into their home because they are interested in the cultural exchange and are proud of their country. Costa Ricans are justifiably famous for being extremely courteous and friendly. The best way to get to know the real Costa Rica and its culture is to live with one of its families.