Spring in Costa Rica

Seeking Sustainable Development and Wellness

March 13-22, 2015.  3 credits

This spring-break program offers 10 days studying culture, society, and environment in Costa Rica, including home stays with families in Nicoya. The partner institution is Academia de Español Nicoya

Exciting Trip Videos:

Monteverde zip line 

Tarzan swing

Palo Verde National Park and Guaitil Pottery Village 

Deadline for application: December 1, 2014

Spring in Costa Rica

THE PROGRAM         

The department of Sociology and Anthropology, in cooperation with the Office of International Programs and Center for a Sustainable Future, offers this unique opportunity to spend two weeks studying culture, society, and environment in Costa Rica. The program is based at our partner institution, the Academia de Español Nicoya, in the small city of Nicoya with programs at Samara Beach and service projects in the rural highlands of Nosarita. Excursions are an integral part of the program and will include visits to coastal environments, dry, tropical rain and cloud forests, and volcanoes.

Students admitted to the program register for Spring 2013 for SOC-S 362: World Societies and Cultures: Costa Rica, a non-Western culture course, or SOC-B 399 Sustainable Development, a general education core course. Graduate options are also available.


  • To use the vivid contrasts of another culture and society to broaden students’ understanding of key social science concepts and the search for social justice in Central America.
  • To provide students with an overview of the culture and history of Costa Rican  society from its indigenous origins, through its colonial period and its democratic transformation to the present, as well as to examine future possibilities.
  • To explore the human ecology of development, the interaction between people and their environment, and to explore and   assess Costa Rican efforts toward sustainable development in urban and rural economies, agriculture and business, tourism and ecotourism.


There is no Spanish prerequisite for the course, yet language is an important part of understanding a culture. Students will receive small group Spanish instruction with native speakers. In Costa Rica all levels are available from basic Spanish to advanced instruction and conversation.


Total cost of the program will be approximately $2500, plus tuition for 3 credit hours in the Spring Semester and $27.85 for international insurance. This includes round-trip air travel South Bend/ Costa Rica, transportation within Costa Rica, room and board, and all field trips and instructional services provided by the Academia de Español Nicoya.

Deadlines: Applications are due by December 1.  A deposit of $300.00 is due from all successful applicants by December 15, 2014.  Trip costs posted to student account for Spring Semester on acceptance and full airfare may be non-refundable after Jan. 12, 2015.  Apply  early, spaces are limited.


The program provides accommodations, including meals, in the homes of Costa Rican families.  This experience is an invaluable way to learn about  Costa Rican culture on a personal level and an important element in learning  the Spanish language. Homes are small, clean, and comfortable.


Older children may be able to accompany a parent for extra an cost if arranged with the program director and the institute.


All loans, grants, and scholarships for which participants are eligible at Indiana University can also be used for the Costa Rica program.


The small country of Costa Rica is home to coral reefs, magnificent beaches, glowing volcanoes, lush tropical forests, open savanna and misty cloud forests, and has more species of plants and animals than the entire United States.  It has done more to preserve its land than almost any country on earth. Yet, it is also struggling to preserve its heritage and its unique Latin American Culture amidst the pressures of  economic development and globalization.

For ten days, students will stay with Costa Rican families off the tourist path in the historic town of Nicoya, and delve into Costa Rican culture, society, and environment. Learning will take place in small classes and informal discussions, and students will explore the countryside, via vehicle, boat, on foot, (and by horse, kayak, forest canopy cable, and snorkel for the adventuresome) with local environmentalists and educators. Students will also work with the people of the small mountain village of Nosarita on a community development project.

Academia de Español Nicoya

Located in on a quiet street with a wooded backdrop, yet near the town square with restaurants and shopping, the academy has comfortable classrooms, open space for music and dance, and rockers on the open porch for studying or relaxing (watch for birds and iguanas).  The school day always begins with fresh tropical juice and Costa Rican coffee.

We are based in Nicoya, the cultural capital of Guanacaste Province, just steps from the town square with outdoor cafes and its colonial church built in 1644, a country setting away from the congestion of the big city and the tourist crowds. Guanacaste Province is hemmed in by mountains to the east and the Pacific to the west. It is a place of dry tropical forests (a rare habitat), mountains, beaches, rivers, and rural towns.



“The trip to Costa Rica was amazing!  The families were awesome and the school was fun, but the excursions were the best. I will probably be going back after I graduate to enjoy the country again….I loved it! Take advantage of the trips available and do all that you can while you’re there..… it is such a blast! “  - Caitlin Brown

“My trip to Costa Rica was one of the best learning experiences of my life. I got to experience a totally new culture, place, and language.  The people were very friendly, and my homestay family treated me like a good friend. I have never seen a more beautiful place in all of my life, I hope to go back someday.”  - Chantelle Lynn Stacy

“ My experience in Costa Rica was phenomenal.  The IUSB professors and the directors at the Academia de Español Nicoya took care of every detail so that all we had to do was enjoy the beauty surrounding us and learn as much as we could.  All of the people we met there were very generous and willing to struggle through the language barrier with us.  The family I stayed with was generous with their home and was very interested in getting to know about my family and my life.  The sunshine and weather were beautiful.”  - Calla Couch


Applications are available online and from the Office of International Programs. Any student desiring to participate in the program should contact:

Prof. Scott Sernau
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology
Wiekamp 2277
(574) 520-4402


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All information is subject to change. This brochure is neither a contract nor an offer to make a contract.  This is a physically as well as intellectually demanding program. If you have a disability and need assistance, special arrangements can be made to accommodate some needs