SPAN 499: The EcoCulture of Costa Rica. Sustainability and Ecotourism (TBA)


Department: Latin American and Iberian Cultures.

Director: For more information contact Professor Ivette Miriam Gómez at

Dates: July 17 – August 11, 2023.

(Students will spend 1 week at USC and 3 weeks in Costa Rica).

Location: San José and Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Course Description:

This course aims to explore the culture of Costa Rica, a country known for its biodiversity, its abundance of wildlife and for its pioneering posture about ecotourism and sustainability. Through this program, students will learn more about Costa Rica’s history, culture, and will experience how Costa Ricans live their ecoculture in the rural area and wildlife sanctuaries of Monteverde, an area full of eco-lodges, sustainable farms, and home to Monteverde Cloud Forest.

The students in the program will spend a week in San José and visit the National Museum, artisan markets and the National Theater. They will also visit natural parks, such as Volcán Poas, Cataratas Jardínes de la Paz, Puerto Caldera, National Reserve of Curú, Volcán Arenal and Parque Manuel Antonio.

As one of the most important parts of the program, students will spend ten days in the little and rural town of San Luis (Monteverde region), where they will homestay with local families and practice their Spanish with their host families and locals.

The program incorporates a community service component, where students visit two elementary schools and collaborate in the teaching of an English class for Spanish-speaking students. As part of this experience, there is also the possibility of collecting funds and/or donating school supplies to these rural schools.

Lastly, students will also experience a hands-on cooking class of Costa Rican food and take a dancing lesson of Costa Rican cumbia.

CLICK HERE to view the tentative syllabus.

Course credit:

This is a 4-unit English or Spanish-taught course that counts as an elective for most majors. Based on demand, a number of applications and applicants’ proficiency, the course may be taught only in Spanish so that students can receive appropriate credit towards their Spanish major or minor.

Application Deadline: March 8, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

*Please note: You need to fill out both, the LAIC Department Application Google Form and the USC Dornsife Maymester Application (Terra Dotta) in order to complete the application process. Please access both of the links below:

1. CLICK HERE to access the LAIC Department Application Google Form for 2023.

2. CLICK HERE to access the USC Dornsife Julymester Application (Terra Dotta) – in process.


This is a class open to Spanish majors and minors. Knowledge of Spanish is required.


CLICK HERE to access the flyer.

Estimated Costs (Excluding Fall Tuition):

International flight (International flight (LAX to SJO): $600-$800.
Room & Board* $1,100 (Includes: 6 nights at Wyndham Garden hotel in San José, 1 night at Parador hotel & Spa in Manuel Antonio Park, 1 night at Magic Mountain hotel in La Fortuna, 2 weeks homestays in Monteverde).
Meals (not covered by the program): $150-$200.

PLEASE NOTE: A $500 non-refundable deposit is due upon student acceptance of a Julymester course. While most fall courses allow for an add/drop period, Julymester courses require immediate commitment due to travel arrangements and budgeting.

If a student cancels his/her participation after being accepted into the program, the $500 deposit will not be refunded under any circumstances, even if there is still time to drop the course according to the regular fall semester schedule.

Top Image: Orchid Canna, flower found in Costa Rica. Photo Credit: Jaclyn Beck, 2020.