About the Program
Study Spanish and Field Biology/Ecology in Costa Rica
June 20 - July 19, 2012
The Oregon International Education Consortium consists of Central Oregon Community College, Chemeketa CC, Clackamas CC, Mount Hood CC, Portland CC, Linn-Benton CC, and Rogue CC, offering programs in four countries ranging from 2 to 11 weeks.
In the summer Costa Rica program, you begin the biology course studying two ecological zones, first at the Palo Verde Biological Station on the Pacific slopes of Guanacaste Province, followed by three days at the Caribbean-side tropical environment research facility at La Selva, offering birding and natural history tours. Then you move to the Academia Centroamericana de Espanol in Grecia, for two weeks studying intensive Spanish and earn 4 credits of college Spanish at your level of proficiency.
While learning Spanish, students will experience Costa Rican culture via their homestays, salsa lessons, a cooking class, and tours of Grecia, nearby Sarchi, and the capital San Jose. Field Biology classes also continue in Grecia and are highlighted by tours to Zoo Ave, World of Snakes, and INBioparque, After completing the Spanish class, you finish your field biology study at the University of Georgia‚Äôs tropical research station, Ecolodge, in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Earn 4 credits in Field Biology (variously numbered BI 103, 141, 188, or 200). This biology course, designed for non-science majors, is open to all students with an interest in learning more about these three distinct ecosystems of the tropics.
Optional trips (not included in program fee) include a full day visit to Jaco Beach, an excursion to Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall, and a canopy tour with a zipline in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Program fee of $3500 includes airfare, lodging, trip cancellation and medical insurance, all meals (except your lunches in Grecia), transportation by private bus and taxis between study sites, and National Park entrance and tour fees; 8 credits tuition is extra, paid to the consortium student's home college.
The Academia Centroamericana de Espanol (ACCE)
ACCE is in Grecia, in the province of Alajuela, about thirty miles northwest of the capital, San Jose. Homes in Grecia have most of the modern conveniences you are used to. The school is within walking distance from your homestay. It has some computer and WiFi availability.
Before you leave Oregon, register for the level of Spanish that you have not yet studied (SPAN 101, 102, 103, 201, 202, 203, 211, 212, and 213 are available). Some colleges have placement exams if you are unsure, or you may want to speak with a Spanish instructor. At ICLC, you are also tested and placed according to Spanish language ability: Superior, Advanced, Intermediate, Novice. By Tuesday of the first week, classes are taught entirely in Spanish-no translations. This is total immersion! So prior Spanish study is recommended.
There are four students per instructor. Instructors are rotated, and groups can change as conditions dictate. Instructors utilize speaking, listening, music, video, literature and newspapers during the course of a day. Instruction is 4 to 5 hours per day, five days per week. You will accumulate more than the minimum 40 hours of Spanish instruction required by the Oregon college system for one term of college credit. In fact, you can accumulate over 50 hours of instruction, including the optional afternoon Spanish activities.
Family StaysYour host family will meet you at upon your return from the La Selva Biological Station. They will help you become familiar with the area, particularly the area around the school. During your two weeks at the ACCE language school, host families provide you with breakfast and dinner, but not lunch. You may either buy foods at a local grocery store for making cold lunches, or purchase snacks at the ACCE cafeteria.
Costa Rica is a safe country, and you are encouraged to travel on your own. In addition to independent exploration, optional excursions are available. The first is to Jaco Beach on the Sunday, July 7, after the first week of Spanish lessons. The second trip, to Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall, occurs on Saturday, July 13.
The Field Biology course begins on the Nicoya Peninsula, at Palo Verde—an Organization of Tropical Studies research and teaching site. You travel from Hotel Los Volcanes to the Pacific-side Guanacaste Province. Here, you will investigate some of the thirteen different habitats, including mangrove and swampy forests, salty and freshwater marshes, and dryland forests. The marsh in front of the field station is an important feeding ground for 60 species of resident and migratory water birds. You will also take a boat tour of the Tempisque River to observe nesting waterfowl. Bring a small pair of binoculars if you have one!
La Selva Reserve
You will bus to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui to a tropical rain forest reserve run by the Organization of Tropical Studies in the Caribbean foothills. Species diversity is amazing, including more than 1,850 species of plants, 350 of trees, 448 of birds, and 500 of ants! La Selva is one of the world's most important sites for tropical ecosystem research, including projects on forest dynamics, biodiversity, nutrient cycling, and native species reforestation. Tours include an introduction to birding.
Ecolodge San Luis
For the final days of Field Biology tours, you will visit a research station high in the forested mountains northwest of San Jose. Ecolodge is a University of Georgia branch campus, including student union, computers, library, dining hall, classrooms, group dormitories or cabins, and lab facilities. You will spend five days here, learning about tropical ecology. Ecolodge, located near Monteverde--Costa Rica's famous montane cloud forest preserve--also has its own pre-montane forest, rich in plants and animals. Two terrific optional activities that yield a bird's-eye perspective on the rainforest are the Sky Walk Canopy Bridge Tour and Zipline ($55 extra).
For questions, contact your Oregon International Education Consortium Representative:
- Ryan Maple, Spanish Instructor, HEC-201D, 245-7619 or
- OIEC statewide Coordinator, Jon Bouknight, Pence 223, 541-330-4394, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students wishing to apply must download and fill out BOTH the Costa Rica application form.doc (4 pages) and the Costa Rica Release and Conduct form.doc (Word Documents). Deadline for application and full payment: Feburary 17, 2012.