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Study Abroad + Options
Designed for American students, this program at the Instituto San Joaquín de Flores offers student unparalleled insight into the biodiversity of Costa Rica and the country’s efforts to promote sustainability. Students will experience firsthand the beauty of Costa Rica’s flora and fauna while interacting with “ticos” (as Costa Ricans refer to themselves) within their host families, during a 4-week internship placement, and while enjoying cultural activities.
*Please note that the Spring Semester session will not be offered in 2021.
API students in the Sustainability and Environmental Studies program participate in extensive academic field trips and excursions designed to expose them to as much of Costa Rica’s biodiversity as possible. All excursions are subject to change.
Students will explore a variety of sites in the Central Valley as well as the Pacific Coastal region prior to starting courses. Cartago, one of the sites to be visited, as Costa Rica’s first capital until 1823 and is home to Costa Rica’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Angels “Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles” or “La Negrita.” Students visit the most important sites in the city, as well as the Orosi Valley, founded by the Franciscan monks in 1561. It is home to the country’s oldest church still in continuous use, built in 1735.
Students will participate in 6-day trips to visit volcanoes, grasslands, high forests, mangroves, and an indigenous reserve. Possible sites to be visited include: Paso de Las Lapas, Finca de Rodeo, Volcan Poás, Sarapiquí, and Cerro de la Muerte.
Students will participate in 3 overnight trips to 3 distinct types of rainforest. Possible national parks to be visited include: Parque Marino Puntarenas, Parque Nacional Tortuguero, and Parque Nacional Los Quetzales-Monteverde.
The archipelago of Bocas del Toro offers white-sand beaches, lagoons, and incredible opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, diving and sunbathing. It is also an area rich in wildlife. Students may visit the Bastimentos Island National Marine Park, featuring incredible coral reefs and marine life, and a nearby bird sanctuary with a variety of local and migratory species. Four species of endangered sea turtles still visit the waters of Bocas and the turtles come ashore in great numbers during certain seasons.
During this international trip, students will absorb the Nicaraguan culture by trying the typical foods and interacting with the locals. Students will also learn about the local history by visiting Granada city and islands – Masaya and San Juan del Sur.
Internationally recognized for its outstanding collections of epiphytes (air plants), the Jardín Botánico Lankester was established in 1973 as a center for the display, education, conservation and research of tropical plants. Almost 3,000 species of plants live in its 27 acres of gardens.
Students will spend one night in the historic capital of San José and will visit local attractions such as the Museo Nacional, the Museo de Oro Precolombino, and the Museo de Jade.
Cartago was Costa Rica’s first capital until 1823 and is home to Costa Rica’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Angels “Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles” or “La Negrita.” Students visit the most important sites in the city, as well as the Orosi Valley, founded by the Franciscan monks in 1561. It is home to the country’s oldest church still in continuous use, built in 1735.
Arenal Volcano National Park is located in central Costa Rica. The park is surrounded by rainforests and cloud forests with waterfalls and hot springs (heated by the volcano) nearby.
TOTAL CREDITS - 12-14 semester credits (including internship credit)
Intensive Travel Period
Students will spend the first two weeks of the program (prior to beginning formal classes at the Instituto) traveling to a variety of sites within Costa Rica’s central valley and exploring one of Costa Rica’s renowned national parks and beaches.
Once the academic session begins, students will continue to explore the biodiversity of Costa Rica and complement classroom discussions by participating in three-weekend excursions throughout the country and six day trips.
The program culminates with the completion of a 4-week internship, upon which students receive a certificate that can be presented to their home university for credit evaluation. Students can choose to focus on one of the following themes:
Most students will not stay in SJDF during the internship period, but will most likely be working and staying in national parks or other natural areas.
API students receive a transcript of their coursework from U.S. – accredited Fairfield University upon completion of the program. The Instituto San Joaquín de Flores will issue students a certificate of their internship hours.
Esteban Lopez will be your Resident Director in San Joaquin de Flores and a resource for you on-site.
Laura will be your Program Manager and prepare you to go abroad!
Students will complete coursework with a cohort of other U.S. students at the Instituto San Joaquín de Flores. All students will take either an intermediate or an advanced-level “Spanish for Environmental Studies” course. The language course will be paired with three additional courses taught in English, each equivalent to 3 U.S. semester credits.
The Instituto San Joaquín de Flores operates on the contact hour system; the number of credits earned depends on the time spent in class with a professor. To determine the conversion of Costa Rican contact hours to U.S. credits, divide the contact hours per course by 15. Almost all courses at the Instituto are the equivalent of 3 U.S. semester credits.
Students in San Joaquín de Flores live with local host families. Host families serve as a unique introduction into Costa Rican culture and may be made up of a married couple with children, a divorced or widowed woman with children still at home, or a family with some members living at home and others living outside of the city during the work week. As API places one student per family, all students have a private bedroom. Students are provided with 2-3 meals per day, as well as laundry service once per week.