High School Study Abroad
Program in Central America

Backpackers:
Central America

Summer 2023

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Dates

Travel Dates

July 4th — August 7th, 2023

Program Dates*

June 25th — August 17th, 2023

*Program dates include online sessions to prepare students prior to travel and synchronous interviews to complete final assessments after travel. Dates are subject to change.

Locations

  • Caye Caulker
  • San Ignacio
  • Placencia
  • Monteverde
  • La Fortuna
  • Manuel Antonio

Courses Offered

Science

Mandatory

English

Choose One

Contact us for course equivilencies in your school board.

Staffing

9:1 Student to Staff Ratio

Refunds and Cancellation

We've made it easier to plan your education while minimizing your financial risks.

Scholarships

Up to $5,000 in Scholarships Available

Availability

Open

Why Take this Program?

Make rainforests, reefs, waterfalls and beaches your classroom as you travel across Costa Rica's diverse landscape and study senior English and Biology courses. Snorkelling along the Gold Coast, zip-lining through rainforests, trekking through jungles, hiking volcanoes, and whitewater rafting on the Ticos River makes this program an outdoor adventure infused with scientific exploration and literary development.

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Program Photos

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What People Are Saying

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I was really nervous to leave my home for such a long time, but my anxiety quickly dissipated; within hours, it felt like I was with family. The teachers were always there for me no matter the time or reason. The activities we participated in together daily helped enrich and enhance our biology lessons, which were always engaging. Never would I have thought that the beach would make such an amazing classroom!

Bridget Patterson

Student, Backpackers: Central America, 2019

Program Itinerary

Explore this program's detailed itinerary for a sense of the journey ahead!

Students reading together
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Online Foundation Work

Program Preparation

Reading lists will be posted on your program site in early May. Online pre-departure sessions with your teachers and classmates begin one week prior to departure. These virtual sessions are designed to introduce you to your classmates, teachers, and course work. Our goal is to prepare you to hit the ground running and reduce your workload onsite.

Plane leaving Toronto
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Departure

Day 1: On the day of departure, we meet at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Here, we unite as a group to distribute coursepacks, T-shirts and MEI Journals. After a meet and greet, we board a flight to our first location.

Snorkeling in the reef
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Caye Caulker, Belize

Days 2 — 6: Our journey begins in Caye Caulker. We arrive on this tranquil island ready for adventure. A sandy pathway through the centre of town leads to a harbour flanked with boats, waiting to take us out to one of the most extensive coral reefs in the world. Caye Caulker offers us the chance to study unmatched aquatic habitats, including a vast range of tropical fish, stingrays and sharks. It is an ideal locale for the class to explore theories on evolution and biochemical adaptations.

Beaches of San Ignacio
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San Ignacio, Belize

Days 6 — 11: From the town of San Ignacio, options abound for exploring Belize’s scenic inland wonders, from the Mayan ruins to the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves. We engage with archeologists as they discuss the cultural importance the caves hold for locals, past and present. Here, we have the time to debate complex topics such as human genetics.

Student ziplining
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Placencia, Belize

Days 11 — 17: Next, we settle in on a long expanse of white beach, where we kick back and rejuvenate along the coastline of Placencia. Here, we explore one of Belize’s largest conservation areas—Cockscomb Jaguar Sanctuary. The Sanctuary affords us a breathtaking view over the park, followed by an invigorating swim in the waterfalls below. This location is ideal for the class to delve into our creative writing inspired by our excursions. Dinners will be spent engaging in heated debates about controversial genetics issues.

Students in the Lab
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Monteverde, Costa Rica

Days 17 — 24: In Monteverde, which means “green mountain”, we reside in an ecolodge built in a cloud forest. Here, we have access to a state-of-the-art, on-site lab to test samples collected from the surrounding environment. In this remote location, we connect with the local ecology and participate in research, service work, and night hikes. These activities are integrated into the coursework so that we can find a balance while completing our research-based assignments.

Student ziplining
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La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Days 24 — 31: From the San José International Airport, we travel by private coach to Arenal volcano in La Fortuna. We will reside at the base of this volcano, where we enjoy daily adventures such as zip-lining through tree canopies, hiking the mist forest, and testing out the natural hot springs. We balance activities with studies of the metabolic processes and how it affects environmental issues. Tropical storms and impressive lightning shows often enhance evening masterclasses while we engage in lessons.

Class photo
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Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Days 31 — 35: Our destination takes us to the rainforests of Manuel Antonio’s spectacular National Park. This location offers us a good look at one of Costa Rica’s 12 ecosystems famous for its wildlife sightings. The park is made up of primary forest, mangrove swamps, lagoons, and coastal habitats. There are over 100 types of mammals and nearly 200 varieties of birds which makes it an ideal location to study how environmental factors can affect homeostasis. In addition, our morning workouts introduce the benefits of physical activities such as yoga, beach Frisbee, and body surfing. This is an ideal location to delve into your academic studies and utilize your teachers’ guidance to develop major assignments. We’ll experience one last dinner watching a picture-perfect sunset while listening to Latin music lingering in the air.

Departure from Manuel Antonio Airport on Day 35

Studying for Finals
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Online Final Evaluation Week

Upon your return, you have time to complete additional research and pull your work together before your final one-on-one online assessment. This week allows you to reflect on your travel experiences and integrate them into the course material. MEI staff have found this style of evaluation enjoyable and the most authentic way for students to demonstrate their knowledge and academic skills.

manuel antonio

la fortuna

monteverde

caye caulker

san ignacio

placencia

What's Included

Fee Breakdown

Program Costs

  • Ministry-approved credit(s) upon successful completion of the course(s)
  • Custom course pack
  • Student Login
  • MEI journal
  • MEI T-Shirt
  • Digital yearbook

Travel Costs

  • Hotels and accommodations
  • Breakfast and dinner daily
  • Entrance fees to all course-specific sites
  • Return airfare from Toronto's Pearson International Airport
  • Approximate airline departure taxes, surcharges and fees
  • Airfare between countries
  • Transportation between hotel locations via private coach
  • Transportation for all listed program excursions

Program Fee Does Not Include

  • Lunches
  • Insurances
  • Gratuities
  • Local Transportation
  • Course texts
  • Medical Insurance and Cancellation Protection†
  • Non-refundable $95 Registration Fee

† All students travelling with MEI Academy are required to purchase Medical Insurance.

**Program cost does not include non-refundable $95 registration fee or any airline taxes or fees. Please note the possibility of increases in airfares and land costs prior to departure. Any increase must be borne by the individual participant.

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