Programs During the School Year: Term 3 in Central America

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Term 3

Central America: BioInquiry

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Why Take this Program?

This program finds you travelling through Belize, Guatemala and Costa Rica to experience first-hand some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Studying Biology is the ideal way to make beaches, rainforests, and reefs your classroom as you earn your senior English and Biology credits and get into the best shape of your life. Snorkelling Shark Alley, zip-lining through rainforests, trekking through jungles, hiking volcanoes, and swimming the coastlines of Central America make this program an outdoor adventure infused with scientific exploration and learning.

What People Are Saying

This program absolutely blew me away. It’s truly life-changing to experience a place you’ve never been to with people you’ve never met. Being pushed outside of my comfort zone is what allowed me to realize that I’m capable of more than I thought, and I’m a lot more adventurous. Travelling opens your eyes to what the rest of the world has to offer, and I don’t think there’s a better way to do it than with people who are at the same stage in life as you are. We became a family on this trip, and that’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything!

Sarah Mann
Student, Backpackers: Central America 2017

 Program Photos

Program Preparation

Foundation Work

Days 1–10: Our online session is designed to connect students with their teachers and classmates, and to help prepare students for their term abroad. Students have access to the course website, where reading lists will be posted and are required to complete all prep work prior to departure to ensure they are ready to hit the ground running overseas.

Departure

Day 11–12: All of our programs begin at our study-abroad departure hub, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. A short meeting is held at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, Terminal 3, to distribute course packs, T-shirts and MEI Journals, and to clarify travel procedures. All students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel.

Caye Caulker

Days 12–17: A sandy pathway through the centre of town leads students to a harbour flanked with boats, waiting to take them out to one of the most extensive coral reefs in the world. Here students have the chance to immerse themselves in an unmatched aquatic habitat, home to tropical fish, stingrays, and turtles. Our morning workouts introduce students to the benefits of yoga, martial arts, and Frisbee, while the afternoons are ideal for the class to begin examining the art of the short story, as well as delve into our first long-form academic writing assignments.

San Ignacio and Placencia

Days 17–23: While officially an English speaking country, Belize is home to an incredibly diverse population, with a unique blend of Mayan, Mestizo, African, European, Arabic and Asian heritage. In this setting, students investigate a variety of writings, including both ancient Mayan texts, and contemporary regional literature. Over dinners of fried plantain and fresh ceviche, class discussion turns to the clash of scientific method with the romantic interpretation of the cosmos. Additionally, excursions take us to the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves, where students can swim through the ancient chambers and explore the spectacular Xunantunich Mayan ruins.

Flores—Ruins of Tikal

Days 23–27: As we enter the extraordinary Tikal Ruins, students reflect on the rise and fall of the Maya, as we compare and contrast their story with parallels in modern civilization. The descendants of the Maya migrated to our next location, the Petén area, after the collapse of the great Mayan cities in the Yucatán. This isolated area is a perfect location for students to begin to pair their study of English with that of Biology. Students will have time to reflect on the relationship between humanity and the natural world while enjoying all that the lake has to offer, including swimming, boating, fishing and hiking in a small nature preserve.

Antigua

Days 27–31: In Antigua, once Guatemala’s capital city for more than 200 years, our academic focus turns to analyzing the work of the literary giants of Latin America. Students do a close analysis of the sub-genre of magic realism and examine how environments contribute to the evolution of art forms. Known as one of the best-preserved Spanish colonial cities in Central America, students spend afternoons exploring the city’s cobblestone streets and hiking up to catch spectacular views of the volcanoes that overlook the city.

La Fortuna and Monteverde

Days 31–39: From Guatemala, we travel to La Fortuna, Costa Rica. During the day, students have the opportunity to zip line across rainforest canopies, hike through the jungle to find waterfalls, and unwind in the natural hot springs. Located at the base of a volcano, La Fortuna, as the temperature cools in the evenings, students focus turns to critical analysis and essays, as well as their creative writing presentations. From La Fortuna, students venture to the mountain village of Monteverde where we reside in an Ecolodge perched high in the Cloud Forest. Here the natural world serves as their foundation for their biology studies. Students might very well spot an Emerald Toucanet or a family of playful kuatis from their own back porch.

Montezuma

Days 39–45: From high up in the Cloud Forest, students travel down to the coast, settling in the laid-back town of Montezuma, one of the hidden gems of Costa Rica. This is an ideal location to balance work with play as students complete their major projects, and final biology units while also taking time to swim in the ocean. In the evenings, we complete our final BookChat discussions with our toes in the sand, and students showcase select pieces from their creative portfolio, illuminated by tiki torches on our quiet stretch of private beach.

Manuel Antonio

Days 45–55: The final stop on our journey through Central America is Manuel Antonio. Its National Park is often considered by travellers to be the most beautiful location in all of Central America, and it is easy to see why. Here, we reside high on the clifftop with a spectacular view of the lush forest canopy and the ocean stretching out beyond. From whitewater rafting the rapids on the Naranjo River to strolling along the palm-lined beaches, and decompressing in a relaxed atmosphere, students have time to reflect on their experience and complete their final assignments and Individual Study Units. After our finals, students enjoy a beach celebration before preparing for their journey home.

Departure from Manuel Antonio Airport Day 60

Caye Caulker

San Ignacio

Placencia

Flores

Antigua

La Fortuna

Monteverde

Montezuma

Manuel Antonio

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.

I just want to say a HUGE thank you!

This past summer, I went on the English Through the Ages program through Europe. This experience was better than I ever could have imagined. The friends I made taught me so much and the teachers we had were so helpful and supportive. The places we went, the people I met, and the adventures we had will be things that stay with me for the rest of my life. I love going to school, but this summer I learned that even more than that, I love being able to learn in the real world. I found it fascinating how every place we went, there were new things to discover, whether it be part of the curriculum or something about the local environment or culture. The time I spent with MEI truly was an experience of a lifetime.

Thank you so much for starting this program and sharing it with students, whom like me, want to travel, explore, and learn as much as possible. I will always smile back on this summer with such fond memories, and I will tell all of my friends about this wonderful opportunity.

Thank you so much, MEI! I just want to say a HUGE thank you!

Kiersten Mikkelsen, Student
English Through the Ages, 2019

Beautiful Education

I felt as though the education was almost as beautiful and interesting as the cities we were in. I never struggled to focus on, nor to understand the lessons. Each individual assignment felt like a piece of scaffolding that eventually allowed us to build and complete our exam and final assignment to the best of our ability.

Emma Hood, Student
English Through the Ages, 2019

Changed My Understanding of the World

MEI was something I’ll never forget; it changed the way I learn and changed my understanding of the world and the curriculum. Learning on-site is a truly valuable thing that I was lucky to have experienced. In a short 35 days, I learned more than I would in an entire semester. I made friends that will last a lifetime and gained incredible knowledge and skills I’ll always have with me.

Maya Chan, Student
Trek Through Europe, 2019

The Best Preparation

Our son chose to complete not just one but two summer school programs with MEI International Academy because the experience was truly so amazing that it warranted going back again for a second course. As a parent, I think giving him the opportunity to attend MEI Academy has been one of the best things I have done for his personal growth and development. I am so impressed with how much more independent, resilient and self-aware he has become as a result of his MEI experiences. The MEI teachers are phenomenal, and they bring a contagious energy and enthusiasm to what they are doing so that students can’t help but be excited and engaged in their learning. The academic bar and expectations are high. The close connections between the students and teachers that are established by travelling together allowed my son to have a great dialogue with them and be comfortable in putting himself out there to take more risks. The teachers provided continuous support, gave meaningful feedback, mentored and challenged him in a way so that he could reflect, improve and produce his best work. With so much activity packed into a day he had no choice but to get better at time management, working efficiently and prioritizing tasks. Ian discovered his passion for business on this last trip and it has become clear that this is what he wants to pursue at university. Travelling and studying with peers has been the best preparation both academically and personally for his postsecondary studies. His time with MEI allowed him to gain the confidence and belief that he can successfully achieve any of his goals. I can’t thank Joe and his staff enough for leading Ian on another unforgettable adventure that will undoubtedly have a positive impact on all of his future endeavours.

Ian Brander, Parent
English Through the Ages, 2018
International Business, 2019

Amazing!

My experience with MEI was amazing! The help I received was excellent. Travelling abroad has changed my perspective on life and the world around me, and I recommend it for anyone! It was the best decision I have ever made.

Katie Edwards, Student
Trek Through Europe, 2019

Always Wiling to Go the Extra Step

I really enjoyed how the assignments and projects all had a different format and allowed us to try new things. I was also super impressed with all the detailed feedback I received and found it to be very helpful with improving my English skills. The teachers were very supportive and approachable at any time and were always willing to go the extra step.

Rebecca Clark, Student
English Through the Ages, 2018

It Felt Like I Was with Family

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

Opportunity to Demonstrate Improvement

I liked how the academics were more contemporary. I had 2 other kids attend the MEI summer program and I really value the quantity of writing that is expected, the quick feedback from teachers, and the opportunity to demonstrate improvement. Learning how to write takes practice and MEI provides ample opportunity to practice writing skills.

Cheryl Irwin, Parent
English in Western Europe, 2019

Surpassed All of My Expectations

The concept of learning in a different country outside a classroom surpassed all of my expectations. I learned much more than what I would have learned in a regular classroom setting. The people I met were amazing, and the teachers were fantastic. Definitely a great experience that I’ll never forget!

Christian Ouellet, Student
English Through the Ages, 2019

Empowering Atmosphere

This past summer I had the opportunity to take one of Mei’s life-changing excursions. From beginning to end, I felt myself grow as a student and a person. The atmosphere MEI creates is empowering. Being part of a group encompassing some of the smartest, most driven peers I’ve ever met, compelled me to raise my own performance. Passionate teachers motivated me to push myself. The demands of the incredibly fast-paced Business program, and my ability to meet them, has given me confidence that I can take on my upcoming challenges and succeed!

Maggie Smart, Student
International Business, 2019

Seeing Where Things Actually Happened

We were talking about visual learning in class today and this summer, I learned that visual learning isn’t just using building blocks to understand multiplication in math…it is SEEING the Theatre of Dionysus while you learn about it. Visual learning is WALKING THROUGH the Colosseum while you talk about gladiators. I miss seeing where things actually happened.

Caeley Mei, Student
Ancient World Odyssey, 2019

Changed My Life

This summer I travelled with the international business program. We went to New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Beijing. I learnt so much about English and Business from doing things such as visiting the Globe Theatre and the New York Stock Exchange As someone who already appreciates school this trip really fuelled my love and appreciation for education. The main takeaway however, was getting the opportunity to see the world and learn how to live in it. In addition to this, I have learnt so much about myself. This experience filled with hard work, good friends, and being apart of the MEI family has changed my life. Mei truly cares about their students’ educations and works very hard to give them the best that there is.

Nick Dingle, Student
International Business, 2019

Lasting Friendships

My time abroad with MEI academy allowed me to make lasting friendships with other like-minded students as well as help me visualize my learning more than a classroom setting could ever do.

Lindsay Stroz, Student
Footsteps to the Modern World, 2019

Outstanding Mentors

The teachers continually went above and beyond. They were not only exceptional teachers, but they were outstanding mentors, advocates, role models and friends. They have made such a positive impact on my daughter’s life.

Melanie Jaeger, Parent
Expedition to Tanzania, 2018

Exceeded Expectations

My MEI summer on Trek Through Europe completely exceeded the expectations I had before the trip. Not only did I make amazing new friends that I’m still extremely close with, but I got to experience a whole new way of learning that would have never been available in a normal classroom setting. The teachers were so supportive, and they were amazing role models. Their love for teaching enabled me to become engaged in the curriculum, and apply the topics we were learning to the different places we travelled. For me, the best part about this trip was that not only was it academically focused, but the experiences, responsibilities, and independence earned while travelling abroad allowed me to gain life skills that I will take with me forever. This was hands down the best experience of my life, and a summer I will never forget!

Ellie Thomas, Student
Trek Through Europe, 2019

In Brief

She returned a different kid. Confident, happy, and proud.

Jim Nelson, Parent
Expedition to Tanzania, 2019

An Experience that I Will Forever Hold On To

I thought that going to a foreign country for the first time with 35 strangers would be absolutely terrifying, but I was extremely wrong. Considering your teachers as friends, meeting people and feeling as if you have known them your whole life when in reality, it’s been 35 days is what MEI is about. Being immersed in a history rich place like Europe with teachers that are truly passionate about what they do, makes you want to learn. Not only do you learn about the world wars, Napoleon and valuable writing skills, you also learn unteachable life skills. I could never list all of the memories I have from this trip, but between seeing your teacher perform on the stage of the Globe theatre in London (our first stop), and listening to heartfelt poems we all wrote about each-other at our last day in Prague, I am sure you can see how amazing the trip was. Overall, my MEI trip was an experience that I will forever hold on to.

Abby Bartoshewski , Student
Trek Through Europe, 2019

Epic

Every morning I woke up with a zest for life because I knew each day would bring something incredible. This trip has completely redefined the way I feel about education. MEI is school in the most epic way possible.

Chloe Jackson, Student
Big Year, 2018 / 2019

A Second Family

I feel so lucky to have spent the most incredible summer of my life, surrounded by like-minded people who became a second family to me within a few short weeks. Aside from the academics, and a deep understanding of the French language and culture that no textbook ever could have given me, I made so many lasting friendships and memories. I returned home a more independent and overall changed individual.

Halle Pelletier, Student
France and Switzerland, 2019

Truly Broadened My Worldview

On MEI, the world truly is your classroom! From exploring the intricate streets of Europe’s most historic cities to climbing the beautiful mountains in the Alps, MEI truly broadened my worldview and gave me countless treasured memories. This past summer I met so many incredible people who I’d have likely never had the chance to know! As well, the teachers surprised me with their level of dedication to teaching and their ability to connect with their students! They challenged us to really take an interest in the world and our place in it. I would highly recommend MEI, because the decision to study with MEI was easily the best choice I have ever made!

Madison Loh, Student
Trek Through Europe, 2019

The Leap is Something I will Never Regreat

I had the experience of a lifetime. I loved every single minute of my trip. Taking the leap to take grade twelve courses while abroad isn’t an easy decision, yet, the leap is something that I will never regret taking. My experience with MEI was life-changing. I never thought I could learn so much about the world and myself in thirty-five days. The teachers were incredible; they were always there to support us whichever way they could. Every day there was a new experience, whether it was watching Bastille Day fireworks in Paris, or dancing in the English Gardens in Munich or even writing an essay in the peaceful Swiss Alps. In the end, I have grown so much from this trip, and made friendships that were deeper than I could have ever imagined.

McKayla Wolfer, Student
Trek Through Europe, 2019

Some of the Best Teachers I Have Ever Had

MEI was the most amazing way I could have ever achieved two high school credits. I honestly can not remember the last time I was really captivated in the classroom. I had very positive and kind teachers who were always willing to give extra help and feedback. They were some of the best teachers I’ve ever had and made learning so much more fun because they taught with such enthusiasm.

Alexandra Ignjatic , Student
Ancient World Odyssey, 2019

Different Perspectives

I really enjoyed the coursework. It was very relevant and interesting. I loved the interactive presentations in the World Issues course; the open discussions opened my eyes to the world around me and gave me different perspectives.

Julia Turliuk, Student
Expedition to Tanzania, 2019

So Grateful

MEI was a life changing experience that I am so grateful for. The teachers were incredible and willing to help with anything, academic or personal. Mei gave me the opportunity to travel to new countries with an amazing group of students that I know I will have as friends forever.

Kayla Solway, Student
English in Western Europe, 2019

Best Summer Ever

I had an amazing experience on the Adventure Down Under program. The teachers helped everyone throughout the entire trip and always kept us excited for what is going to be happening. This trip was the best thing I have ever done in my life, and I am so happy to have made such amazing friends. MEI taught me how to connect with others and live every day to the fullest. Thank you MEI for making this the best summer ever!

Eric Perez, Student
Adventure Down Under, 2019

Life-Changing is an Understatement

To say that MEI was life-changing is an understatement. My trek was unbelievable, and I did so many incredible things that I never imagined I would have the opportunity to do. I learned how to advocate for myself, get out of my comfort zone, and make lifelong friends, all while being pushed academically. MEI really pushed me to become a better writer and I now feel prepared for university-level writing assignments. The quality of education at MEI is unparalleled, and I am forever thankful that I got to experience Europe with so many wonderful peers and teachers.

Cassie Wood, Student
Trek Through Europe, 2019

Nothing Short of Exceptional

My experience with MEI was nothing short of exceptional. The hotels we stayed at offered comfort and culture, connecting us to the cities we stayed in and the culture of the country, not that we spent much time sitting still! This summer, I formed meaningful friendships that I will carry with me well into adulthood. The excursions we went on were fantastic: zip lining through the Costa Rican jungle, white water rafting, cave diving and seeing Mayan ruins and snorkelling in the Belizean barrier reef to name a few were led by qualified guides who not only lead us on the activities but helped us to appreciate the experience.

As students we were given time to explore the cities ourselves and bring back souvenirs for our friends and family to remember the trip by, not that any of us would need a keychain to remember our life-changing, 5 weeks together as the friendships and experiences were more than enough to remember our time together.

Grace Hill, Student
Backpackers: Central America, 2019

An Experience Like No Other

MEI Academy is an experience like no other, living with a group of students as you travel and learn about the world is incomparable to anything else. This trip has the power to change you for the better. I’ve gained so many experiences and I can’t wait to share them with my friends and family. When I left home, I was a tourist, looking to see the wonders that awaited us. I returned a traveler, and became one with the places we’ve travelled while trying to learn from them to better ourselves.

Maxwell Ryan, Student
Big Year, 2018 / 2019

Friendships that will Last a Lifetime

This summer, I had the experience of a lifetime and visited six major business capitals within 35 days. Not only did I learn about the important aspects of business, such as investments and real estate ,but also about myself. I created friendships that will last a lifetime and created unforgettable memories with them. One of my favourite things about MEI is how we used the locations as an interactive workplace so the world truly was my classroom. I would recommend this program to anyone who wants a challenge and to see the world from a different perspective.

Sama Russel, Student
International Business, 2019

One of the Best Experiences of My Life

Being able to travel to the other side of the world was one of the best experiences of my life. I was able to explore a whole new part of the world as well as earn credits for my grade 12 year. My teachers and the people around me opened my eyes to so many new things about myself that will stick with me forever. I came back from my trip with a new appreciation for learning and the world. I will forever be grateful to MEI for this amazing experience.

Taysia Byam, Student
Adventure Down Under, 2019

Amazing to See How I Improved

My entire life I have been stuck in a classroom where 40 students scramble to copy notes from a whiteboard. Travelling this summer with MEI gave me the opportunity to experience hands on learning, while immersed in many unique cultures. The low student to teacher ratio insured that I was always getting direct feedback on all my work. It was amazing to see how I improved my writing skills far more in this one summer than the last three years of high school.

Lachlan Mahan, Student
International Business, 2019

More Confident and Independant

MEI changed my life. It helped me open up, learn to adapt to a fast and constantly changing environment, and gave me an opportunity to learn in the world’s most beautiful places. Before the trip, I was anxious about the program and questioned my ability to do it. However, even after just the first two days, I started to feel more confident and independent and was able to enjoy the experience fully. Throughout the program, the teachers were always reaching out and trying to make the trip as great of an experience as possible. They were kind and helpful and overall made Trek Through Europe one of the greatest times of my life.

Rose Knetsch, Student
Trek Through Europe, 2019

Opened My Eyes

Travelling to the other side of the world was one of the best experiences of my life. I explored a whole new part of the world awhile earning grade 12 credits. My teachers and those around me opened my eyes to so many new things about myself that will stick with me forever. I returned with a new appreciation for learning and the world. I will forever be grateful to MEI for this amazing experience!

Bailey Miller, Student
Adventure Down Under, 2019

You Have to Go Beyond

I experienced so much in just three months. I travelled to six countries, met new people and learned about the world. It was absolutely surreal to have a World Issues lesson at the Forbidden City in Beijing and to ride in a Tuk Tuk to get to class. School is so much more than the four walls of a classroom; you have to go beyond, see the world and experience your learning firsthand. That is what education is. I am so grateful for these moments. I know I have grown so much from this experience and I will carry this knowledge of the world with me for the rest of my life.

Sasha Hasick, Student
Fall Semester Program, 2018

Excellent Staff

The staff on this trip were excellent. I certainly never felt, at all, that I was buying this mark. They challenged our son, provided excellent feedback, and the one time we contacted them with a concern, they were quick and supportive in answering us, and in speaking with Liam. Liam certainly raved about them. In particular, he enjoyed the one-on-one FPT discussion with Sabrina. He felt that during that time she was engaged and interested in what he had to say.

Amy Kovich, Parent
English Through the Ages, 2018

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