JU 101 in Costa Rica:

Expand your horizons, explore new shores

 Freshmen students study abroad for the first time

  One week before fall 2012 classes started at Jacksonville University, eight incoming freshmen and their professor, Nina Gonzalez, ventured to Costa Rica for seven days.

In collaboration with JU Academic Affairs, the trip was embedded into the JU 101 course, an introductory one-credit course that teaches new students the essential behaviors, skills and practices for creating success in college. The study abroad experience’s goal in this inaugural venture was to introduce these students to all things “new” – new culture, new language, new people, and new adventures; compare them to the many new experiences they will encounter as they start college and provide them with tools to successfully deal with differences. StudyAbroadJanuary2013.JPG

The students also benefited from the strong peer support network that developed within the cohort and received a brief introduction to study abroad and service learning.

While in Costa Rica, the group lived in pairs with local families in San José and was based at the Costa Rican Language Academy. The excursions were complemented by four lectures that introduced and expanded upon the activities and issues in which they participated in and encountered on the trip: “Costa Rica – The Rainforest,” “San José – The City,” “Coffee and Costa Rica,” and “Conservation – Biodiversity in Costa Rica.” Excursions included a zip-line course through the rainforest canopy, a tour of a coffee plantation, a walking tour of San José, and a visit to La Paz waterfalls.

As an introduction to service learning, the students spent a day at a local day care center doing arts and crafts and playing games with the students, while teaching each other some new words in their respective languages along the way. Throughout the week in Costa Rica, the students were guided through meaningful reflection on their experiences via journal entries and discussions with the professor. The transformation we witnessed in many of them in one-short week was inspiring. The program was extremely successful and JU International Education Programs will plan to offer this annually.

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JU in Costa Rica 101


o Explore San José

o Visit La Paz Waterfalls

o Zip-line through the canopies of the rainforest

o Tour a coffee plantation

o Learn Spanish and Latin cooking and dancing


Accommodations are provided with a local family in San José with 2-3 JU students per homestay. Breakfast and dinners are provided by the families. All families have been vetted by our partner in San José and have hosted JU students in the past.

Program Dates

August 14-21, 2013

August 13: Move into on-campus housing (if applicable); pre-departure meeting with students and parents

August 14: Depart for Costa Rica

August 21: Return to Jacksonville

August 22: JU Freshman Orientation begins

(A more detailed itinerary will be available to participants prior to departure)

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o Round trip airfare JAX - San José

o Airport transfers at both ends

o Housing with fellow JU freshmen in local homestays

o All breakfasts and dinners

o All program related excursions

o Community service project

o Pre-departure orientation at JU for students and parents

o Extensive staff support throughout all phases of the program

o 24 hour emergency access to support staff and offices

o Health and travel insurance for all participants

o Accompanying JU faculty and administrative staff

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How to Apply

o Fill out the IEP Application and review information on the Apply page. (Enter Program Dates as August 15-22 and add "JU 101" in Program Notes).

o Pay a non-refundable $200 deposit to International Education Programs.

Send the materials listed above to the JU Study Abroad Office - Gooding 105.

Deadline: June 1

What the Students Say

You can read more about the students' experiences in an article written for the school newspaper, the Navigator, here.