Seeking Sustainable Development and Wellness

Nicoya, Costa Rica – Living in a Blue Zone.  July 6 – August 6, 2017.  

SPAN S160 Spanish for Medical or SPAN T190/390 Costa Rican Culture and Society (3 credits)

This summer-break program offers an enitre month dedicated to studying culture, society, and environment in Costa Rica, including home stays with families in Nicoya. The partner institution is Academia de Español Nicoya

Check out these trip videos!

Monteverde zip line 

Tarzan swing

Palo Verde National Park and Guaitil Pottery Village 

Applications are due by March 10th.

Spring in Costa Rica

THE PROGRAM         

In this new study abroad program, students have a chance to see and experience first-hand one of only five world-wide “Blue Zones” – places where people live measurably longer and healthier lives than in other parts of the world. Course activities include studying healthy lifeways through cooking classes, lectures, readings, and course activities.  As part of the program, students will live with a family and learn Spanish with our partner school Academia de Español Nicoya.  Trip cost of $3650 includes roundtrip airfare from South Bend, accommodation, meals, and excursions to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Baldi Hot Springs, Fortuna Waterfalls, Palo Verde Park, Guaitil Pottery Village, and an overnight at Samara beach. Students will also have a chance to experience the celebrations of Annexation Day and the Chorotega Tribe Festival.

Costa Rica Spring Break 2015  Costa Rica Parrot


  • 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 an examination of 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.

Sustainable Wind Generators   School Gathering


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.

Costa Rica Spring 2015   Costa Rica 2015 School Lessons


Total cost of the program will be approximately $3,650, plus tuition for 3 credit hours in the Summmer Semester and $29.90 for international insurance. This includes round-trip airfare to Costa Rica, transportation within Costa Rica, room and board, and all field trips and instructional services provided by the Academia de Español Nicoya.

Applications are due by March 10, 2017. A deposit of $300.00 is due from all successful applicants by March 24, 2017.  Trip costs will be posted to student accounts for the spring semester upon acceptance. Apply early, space is limited.

Costa Rica 2015 Kayaking   Costa Rica 2015 Surfboarding


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.

Costa Rica 2015 Homestay   Costa Rica 2015


All loans, grants, and scholarships for which participants are eligible at Indiana University can also be used for the Costa Rica program.  Competitive study abroad scholarships are available and can be applied to program costs. Visit the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships Study Abroad page for more information.

Costa Rica 2015 Horseback Riding   Costa Rica 2015 Giant Tree


The small country of Costa Rica is home to coral reefs, magnificent beaches, glowing volcanoes, lush tropical forests, an open savanna, 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 boat, vehicle, and foot, (also 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.

Costa Rica 2015 Monkeys in Tree   Costa Rica 2015 Dragon

Academia de Español Nicoya

Located 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.

The academy is based in Nicoya, the cultural capital of Guanacaste Province, just steps from the town square's outdoor cafes and 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.


Costa Rica 2015 Day at the Beach   Costa Rica 2015 Fresh Fruit at the Beach


“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

  Costa Rica 2015 Making Pottery   Costa Rica 2015 Pottery


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

Bridget “Tammy” Fong-Morgan

Associate Professor of Spanish

Department of World Language Studies

Indiana University South Bend

(574) 520-4852


Costa Rica 2015 Dining under the Trees

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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.