Overview | Academics | Cost | Location | Life Abroad | Student Voices
This exciting spring break study abroad program will provide you with the opportunity to explore the road-less-traveled in Costa Rica. As a part of the spring course, LACIS 440, you have the opportunity to spend spring break exploring Costa Rican organic and sustainable farms involved in coffee, pineapple, cassava, papaya and vegetable production. The 9-day spring break study abroad program, led by Professor Jim Nienhuis from the Department of Horticulture, will provide you with hands-on field experience in production and marketing of organic and sustainable vegetables and commodity crops.
In Costa Rica, you will study in and around the Tecnologico de Costa Rica (TEC or ITCR) in the humid region of San Carlos and will have the opportunity to visit with growers at various farms in the surrounding area. You will then visit the dry region of Guanacaste and have the opportunity to compare and contrast the organic and sustainable agriculture of both regions.
A charming and quiet town, San Carlos is easily accessible from the capital city San Jose, and offers some panoramic views of the spectacular Arenal, Costa Rica's most active volcano. San Carlos is located in Alajuela province, and connects the Volcan Arenal area with the cloud forests of Monteverde and Santa Elena and the northern lowlands of the country.
Guanacaste is a province of Costa Rica located in the northwestern part of the country, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. To the north it borders Nicaragua.Guanacaste's climate and culture are unique among Costa Rican provinces. The province experiences little rain and consistent heat from November to April.
Getting to Your Program
You will be traveling on a group flight for the program. Because of the short duration of the program and the program activities, travel on the group flight is required. More details about the flight and confirming your reservation will be shared with program participants at a later date.
A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for this program. U.S. citizens must have a U.S. passport valid for at least six months beyond the end of the program.
IAP expects you to be an active participant in preparing yourself for your study abroad experience. As a participant on an IAP program, you will receive a pre-departure orientation, either in-person or online. The type and format of this orientation will vary by program and will be provided to you upon acceptance to the program.
During the first few days of the program, you will be housed in dormitories of the TEC located in San Carlos, Costa Rica. The dorms are located on-campus, which is a gated community with a security guard. You are housed in double or triple rooms and share a bathroom facility on their floor. You will eat at local cafeterias on-campus.
For the remaining five days of the program, you will stay with host families in the village of Sardinal de Carrillo in Guanacaste. You will take some meals within the village.
Excursions and Activities
Many excursions and activities are built into the program so that you can explore and get to know Costa Rica. You will have the opportunity to visit a natural hot springs at Ecotermales Spa in La Fortuna de San Carlos (Botanical Garden), near Volcan Arenal. You will also have the opportunity to snorkel at Playas del Coco and participate in a canopy tour in Nuevo Colon. Finally, you will visit the Parque Nacional Palo Verde in Rio Tempisque.
You will be enrolled in the UW System required health insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) and the cost of the insurance coverage is included in program fees.
Professor Jim Nienhuis is the Resident Director and will accompany the group.
Use the links below to find out more information on academics, daily life and student impressions for this program.Costa Rica Program Handbook
(Spring break module - 2012-13)
Returned Student Network
to see testimonials from students abroad or to contact a returned student.
"The other group participants and the professor really made the trip special. The travel locations were wonderful and it was really great having a opportunity to do a study abroad program over spring break."
"What I liked most about the program was that I got immersed in a completely different culture, lived with a family I've never met, and wound up forming some of the most beautiful friendships Ive had in my life thus far (in Costa Rica). In addition, my eyes were awakened by the different means of commerical/organic agriculture, interesting landscapes, and historic architecture."
"It was very personal and felt like we truly were immersed in the culture."
Participation on this study abroad program requires that you enroll in LACIS 440 for the spring semester. The semester-long colloquium focuses on topics in organic agriculture with an emphasis on tropical America. Invited speakers will give presentations on topics relevant to organic sustainable agriculture to prepare you for the program in Costa Rica.
You will receive 1-credit of LACIS 440 upon completion of the study abroad component of the program, and will receive 1-credit of LACIS 440 for the UW-Madison classroom component.
TEC is a public educational institute in Costa Rica with the mission of "Contributing to the integral development of the country, by means of the formation of human resources, research and extension; keeping the scientific-technical leadership, the academic excellence and the strict attachment to the ethical, environmental and humanists norms, from a state university perspective of quality and competitiveness at national and international level". TEC is one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in Central America. Its main campus is in Cartago, Costa Rica, 24 km east of San Jose, Costa Rica, the capital of the country. TEC offers both undergraduate and graduate studies in a wide range of fields, including engineering (construction, industrial production, electronics, industrial maintenance), computer science and business management.
Instituto Tecnologico de Costa Rica (ITCR)
Use the links below to see a list of courses that students have taken on this program before and the UW equivalents. Note: this list only includes pre-approved courses for your program and may not be an exhaustive list of courses or departments. You will get instructions on the course equivalent process after acceptance.
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