But although most students are heading home, several are staying behind. Through no fault of their own, they haven't fulfilled the minimum time limit needed or the requirement of a successful in-country visit that needs to be completed before a home visit can happen.
The holiday season is obviously a big time for family gatherings and connection. Being unable to go home for Christmas because of being at NSA has been a worry for students who are staying here during the break. Being here for Christmas isn't the most desirable option, but students are trying to think positively about it.
"I mean, I'd rather be home, but we're not always where we want to be when we want to be there, so I'm going to make the best of it," Jack, a student sticking around over Christmas, said.
Determined to make the holidays a pleasant time for everybody, NSA has organized several activities that will keep the students busy over the break. After graduation,, the students staying in Costa Rica during the holidays will load up a bus and depart for Arenal Volcano, located a few hours north of Atenas.
"I've heard Arenal is going to be a more chill week, relaxing at hot springs, hanging out by pools, stuff like that," Nico said. "It should be a good time to chill out a bit after the end of the quarter."
During this mini-aventura the week after graduation, students will spend time visiting Arenal Waterfall, standup paddleboarding on Lake Arenal, hiking across the lava flow, rafting on the Balsa River, and soaking in hot springs. (Click "Read More"...)
The students return from the Arenal Aventura on December 22nd. The following week will include day trips off campus doing activities such as a ropes course, dinners out, the amusement park, and movies.Students will spend Christmas day here on campus.
"I'm pretty stoked for it, it should be really fun," Nico said.
Next, the students will head to Boquete, Panama, for a week of ziplining in the cloud forest, an organic coffee farm tour, horse-back riding, hot springs, viewing ancient petroglyphs, hiking, rock climbing, and swimming in a natural rock spring.
"I'm really excited for Panama. I've been twice already, and it was pretty fun. I'm most excited for rock climbing there," Nico said. "I really enjoy rock climbing, and I've heard it's really good at the place we go to."
Even though most students won't be here on Christmas day, the holiday spirit at NSA hasn't by- passed them. Christmas themed events have been happening since the decorations went up the week after Thanksgiving.
Earlier in December the children from Hogar De Vida came over for a Christmas party and spent some time playing with the children. "I liked spending time with the kids around Christmas. It was cool because they wouldn't have had as fun a time without us." Joey said about the day.
Apart from organized events, Christmas music can be heard frequently around campus, holiday themed photographs have been shared through email, sugar cookies in the shape of Santa hats and stockings were baked in the cooking class, and students have been excitedly discussing their plans for the home visit with each other.
The Christmas spirit also hasn't been lost on the larger community. Shops in Atenas and San Jose have shown their enthusiasm for the holiday by covering their buildings with lights, wreathes, trees, and other colorful decorations.
For some students though, the abundance of decorations is a bit disconcerting, because of the heat and lack of snow. "It's a little different because I've always known Christmas to be cold and rainy with a little bit of snow when those decorations are up," Hugh said.
Whether staying here or going home, the holiday season has been a lively and upbeat time on campus. The holidays have done a swell job bringing the students together, with students flying home making sure to check in with students staying about how they feel about it and offering support. Andre surmised, "During the holidays you get closer to people because you hear more about their personal lives."