Office of International Programs

Travel-Costa Rica

Costa Rica: An Immersion in Culture, Community, and Language

May 15-28, 2016

SWO 344 (3 undergraduate credits)

SWO 544 (3 graduate credits)

REC 399 (3 undergraduate credits)

Waterfall Grecia

This travel course is for anyone who is interested in learning more about Costa Rica, its people, culture, and language. We will spend two weeks in Costa Rica, where you will be immersed in Spanish and Costa Rican culture. You will explore and participate in cultural activities like Costa Rican dance and cooking. Please note that you do not need to know Spanish to participate in this class.

Through this course, you'll be introduced to colonial heritage, indigenous cultures, and the contemporary socio-political, ecological, and economic issues facing developing countries of Central America in general and Costa Rica specifically.

Spanish-speaking people constitute the largest minority group (soon to be a majority) in our country. The ability to learn another language along with the ability to develop cultural competency will give you the tools necessary to be culturally sensitive when working with different populations in the United States.

The language school where we will have our base, ACCE (Central American Spanish Academy), is located in Grecia, 28 miles from the capital, San Jose, and is widely used by other social work programs in the US such as Adelphi, Portland State University, University of Wisconsin, Fordham, and Pacific University in Oregon:

You will have four hours a day of language learning in groups of four at one of three levels (beginning, intermediate, or advanced Spanish) for a total of 40 hours. The rest of the day will be spent in lectures, and visiting agencies, organizations, and cultural sites.

One all-day Saturday orientation will be held at USM prior to our time in Costa Rica. Please set aside Saturday, April 30th to prepare yourself for this course and the travel it involves.

Although designed by Social Work, this course is open to and suitable for students of all majors throughout the USM campus.

Download the program flyer here.


Stacia Fitch, LCSW is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine School of Social Work and received her master's degree in social work from Boston University. Stacia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 30 years of clinical experience working with addictive and co-occurring disorders. Stacia has had extensive training and practice in addiction and mental health in all levels of social work practice.

Holly J. Bean, MS, CTRS is an alumna of the University of Southern Maine. She holds an undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation and earned a dual master's degree in Mental Health Counseling and Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling. Currently, Holly is the department chair for Recreation and Leisure Studies at USM. Recreation and leisure have proven to be her life passion. It is in living this life passion that Holly works to inspire others to find theirs.


The application deadline is March 18, 2016, along with a $200 deposit.

A complete application includes all of the following items:

  • Signed, completed application form*
  • $200 non-refundable deposit (applied to the program cost)
  • Typed 200-word essay
  • A letter of recommendation from a faculty member or academic advisor (recommendation cannot come from the faculty member(s) leading the program)
  • Official copies of USM transcript

Incomplete applications will not be accepted. You will be notified by e-mail of your application status. If your application is not accepted, the nonrefundable deposit will be returned. If the program is canceled for any reason by the USM, all deposits will be returned.

*If you are having trouble downloading the application, please contact us at (207) 780-4959 or and we will send you one. You may also want to try upgrading to the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Tuition and Fees

The estimated program fee is $2,075. The cost of three credits of tuition and fees at the in-state rate are in addition to the program fee. The program fee includes accommodation, ground transportation, site visits, field trips, breakfast and some dinners, departure tax from Costa Rica, and emergency medical and evacuation insurance through iNext.

Not included in the program fee is the cost of international airfare, tuition, fees, books, academic supplies, some meals, or other personal expenses. Three credits of undergraduate tuition and regular university fees is $843, and three credits of graduate tuition and regular university fees is $1,224. All participants on USM travel programs receive the in-state tuition rate regardless of residency.

All participants will be automatically registered for a payment plan. The $200 deposit will go towards the cost of the program and the remaining balance will be due as follows:

50% of the balance due April 2016 TBD

Remaining balance due May 2016 TBD

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Federal financial aid and loans are available to matriculated students who participate in travel courses. In order to receive the benefit of financial aid, students must be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credits during the summer for a summer travel course. If financial aid does not cover the full cost of the program, students are responsible for paying the remaining balance according to the payment plan schedule.

Include the costs of this course in your FAFSA application. If you have questions about financial aid or completing your FAFSA, please contact the financial aid office at (207) 780-4166. If you are not a matriculated student at USM, please check with the financial aid office at your institution.

USM's Office of International Programs offers small scholarships for students enrolled in summer travel courses. Scholarships are competitive and awards are up to $500. The application deadline is March 18, 2016. Students applying for the International Summer Scholarship must apply to a travel course before or at the same time as submitting a scholarship application.

Students applying to this course can also consider the Dorothy Padula Memorial Scholarship to Latin America. To be eligible for this scholarship, you must have at least a 2.5 GPA. Preference is given to students who have taken or are currently enrolled in a college-level Spanish course. Applications for this scholarship are reviewed twice in the spring: March 8 and April 8.