Mexico - Language, Culture and Society

Lorena in Mexico

Summer II  (6 Credits)

Travel Dates: July 8 - August 6, 2016

THE PROGRAM         

This is a unique opportunity to spend four weeks studying language, history, culture, and society in Mexico. Students enroll in six credits of IUSB courses. The Spanish courses are taught on the campus of  the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca. The institute is located in a lovely 19th century estate surrounded by private gardens in the colonial center of the city. 

Minimum 2.75 GPA or permission from Director. Students admitted to the program will need to register for one course in Spanish for Summer Session II. Depending on level of proficiency, students will take SPAN-S102, SPAN-S203, SPAN-S204, SPAN-S317 or SPAN-S496. Special course work at the advanced level may be available. Students must have completed SPAN-S101 or its equivalent to participate in the program.

Students will also enroll in ENG-T190 or ENG-T390: Literary and Intellectual Traditions, a humanities general education core course focused on the history, culture and society of Mexico, or ENG-W 250, Writing in Context. (As needed, students may also request to substitute an upper-level English course or a graduate course for this requirement.)



Upon arrival, all students are evaluated in order to determine their levels of proficiency in Spanish. Programs of study are then individually adapted to help students achieve the proficiency needed for successfully completing the IUSB language course in which they have enrolled. Students are placed in small groups with a native speaker for intensive study and conversational speaking. Spanish classes meet five hours daily on Monday through Friday and the final grade is determined by IUSB faculty on the basis of weekly quizzes and final examination along with the instructor’s evaluations.

Mexican Culture and Heritage

The faculty considers learning a foreign language to be the first step in understanding the people who speak that language. A second step is cultural awareness and analysis. While living in Mexico, students have the opportunity to explore how the people represent their culture through public displays of national heritage. 

Classes are taught in English by an IUSB faculty member or guest lecturers (interpretation is provided when necessary). Workshops cover cultural topics ranging from indigenous food to prehistoric architecture to the role of sports in Mexican pride. There are also several weekend field trips to archaeological sites, museums, and major cultural events. Course requirements include attendance at all lectures and field trips, short responses to assigned readings and experiences in Mexico, and a final paper. 

These two courses of study are intended to complement each other in a synergistic fashion not possible through normal classroom experience. By living and studying in Mexico, students gain   insights into Mexican culture which are invaluable to cross-cultural awareness and understanding.

Largest piece of art made of maize; in Oaxaca, Mexico
Largest piece of art made of maize; in Oaxaca, Mexico


Total cost of the program is $3,000 plus tuition for 6 credit hours and $28.90 for insurance. This includes round-trip travel between Chicago or South Bend and Mexico, transportation within Mexico, room and board, and all field trips and instructional services provided by ICO.

Deadlines: Applications are due by April 1st. A $300.00 deposit is due from all successful applicants by April 15th, with the balance to be paid in full or by commitment from Financial Aid by June 1st. Trip costs are posted to student accounts upon acceptance and may be non-refundable after April 15. Apply early — spaces are limited.


The program provides accommodations, including meals, in the homes of Mexican families. This experience is an invaluable way to learn about Mexican culture on a personal level, as well as an important step towards mastering Spanish.


Parents of older children (10 and above) who would like to have a child accompanying them should discuss the options with the program leaders. Additional costs apply, but children may be able to study Spanish and participate in all excursions by prior arrangements. 


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


Competitive scholarships are available in the Spring Semester and can be applied to program costs. Visit the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships Study Abroad page for more information.

On top of a pyramid in Cholula, Mexico. photo by Professor Elaine Roth

On top of a pyramid in Cholula, Mexico. photo by Professor Elaine Roth


“I had an amazing time in Oaxaca! The city is a blend of multiple cultures that combine to form an absolutely incredible experience - there was so much to see, learn, eat, and explore, that the time flew by. I think Oaxaca is a fantastic place to improve your Spanish while simultaneously having a great time and creating irreplaceable memories." - Alycia Gondocs 2012

“An opportunity of a lifetime…. I will never hear the word Mexico again without thinking of my Mexican family and friends.” - Donna Crispen 1996

“If I was to tell a friend, I would tell them it is an experience of a lifetime and that they should ‘seize the day." - Andre Anderson 1999

“I think everyone should include themselves in other cultures because there is a lot to learn.  You will not only be learning about other people and their cultures, but you will learn about yourself." - Valerie Suggs 2005      


Oaxaca is a beautiful and historic city ringed by mountains in southern Mexico. The city is famous for lovely colonial architecture that includes the cathedral, the ornate church of Santo Domingo, a former convent turned museum, a shaded central square with sidewalk cafes, and a pedestrian walkway past shops and restaurants, many with secluded courtyards and gardens. Oaxaca City is the capital of the state of Oaxaca, one of the most diverse in Mexico with villages that retain strong Zapotec and Mixtec indigenous influences. On a flattened mountain right outside the city is the great archeological site of Monte Albán, with others a short drive away. The current indigenous vitality is celebrated every July with the Guelaguetza, a dance festival highlighting the music and dress of the region. Oaxaca, with its wonderful year-round pleasant climate, its mix of Spanish and indigenous influences, and a mix of old wealth with rural populations and new middle classes, is the perfect location in which to study Spanish along with Mexican culture, literature and cinema. 


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

2016 Trip Leaders:

Professor John B. Davis
Department of World Language Studies
Wiekamp Hall, Room DW3235


Department of English 
Wiekamp Hall 3147

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All information is subject to change. This is neither a contract nor an offer to make a contract. If you have a disability and need assistance, special arrangements can be made to accommodate many needs.