Travel Writing and Costa Rica - KU Honors Program

Image of Water and Land
Explore the natural beauty of Costa Rica on this 13 day winter break program.
Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Winter Break
Program Type: Faculty-led
Open to non-KU Students: No
Fulfills KU Core 4.2: No
Fulfills KU Core 5: No

  • Experience the natural beauty of Costa Rica 
  • Earn 3 credit hours in English or Honors 
  • Co-led by English professors Mary Klayder and Marta Caminero-Santangelo

This Spring course and overseas thirteen-day program offers students the opportunity to investigate a variety of current issues in Costa Rican politics, culture, ecology, and tourism through lectures, field trips to sites of interest, and individual research projects.

Costa Rica is known for its natural beauty, extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna, social and political stability, high educational levels, and efficient infrastructure and services. San José, Costa Rica’s capital, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. It lies in the Central Valley on a plain surrounded by large forested mountain ranges, some of which include active volcanoes, green savannahs, and working coffee plantations.

The course will meet weekly during the fall semester beginning mid-October. The first half of the class will focus on the history and genre of travel writing. Students will examine the interdisciplinary range of the genre from botanical classification and cartography to adventure account and personal reflection. The second half of the course will focus on Costa Rica in particular. Students will study everything from urban culture to ecotourism as they get to know this beautiful country. During the semester students will benefit from the many Costa Rican experts on this campus. There will be reading, writing, and research assignments relevant to both travel writing and Costa Rica. The final project will combine the two aspects of the course.

All students on this program must enroll in HNRS 492, ENG 360, or LAC 302: Travel Writing and the Costa Rica Experience (3 credits) during the Spring semester. Credit is granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the course and overseas program and will be posted to the student’s Spring academic record at KU.


Mid-October - early December: Program participants will meet from approximately 5:30–6:30pm once a week on the Lawrence campus.

January 2–14, 2023: Study abroad program in Costa Rica.

March: Final project due and public reading.

Students will be housed in double or triple-occupancy rooms at Costa Rican hotels with breakfast daily. Many group lunches and dinners are also provided

In Costa Rica, students will explore major sites of interest related to the academic themes. Site visits include Monteverde Cloud Forest, Manuel Antonio National Park, Irazu Volcano, and a variety of museums and national landmarks.

Program Itinerary (tentative)

Day 1 - Arrival in San José
Day 2 - Visit Irazu Volcano, guided tour of San José, and a cooking class
Days 3-5 - Travel to Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast, and learn about Afro-Caribbean  and Indigenous Bri Bri culture; travel to La Fortuna
Day 6 - Visit Arenal Volcano National Park
Day 7 - Free day in Arenal
Day 8 - Travel to Monteverde and learn about Quakers in Costa Rica
Day 9 - Visit the Monteverde cloud forest and sloth sanctuary
Day 10 - Travel to Manuel Antonio
Day 11 - Tour of Manuel Antonio National Park
Day 12 - Travel to San José. Farewell group dinner
Day 13 - Return to the U.S.

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Additional Resources

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

Requires membership in the KU Honors Program or permission of instructor. Minimum 2.5 GPA required (exceptions considered after submission of a petition). There are no language requirements, though students with previous exposure to Spanish will find it helpful.

Mary Klayder is Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of English, a University Honors Faculty Fellow, and an avid proponent of study abroad. She has led more than 50 study abroad programs at the University of Kansas.

Co-director Marta Caminero-Santangelo is the Chair of the Department of English and the former Director of the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies. She is Cuban American.

For More Information, Contact:

Mary Klayder, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Undergraduate Studies
Department of English
Honors Faculty Fellow
3059 Wescoe
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers


University Honors Program students can apply for an Honors Opportunity Award and English students can apply for the Mary Klayder Scholarship Fund.

Passport and Entry Requirements

All U.S. citizens must have a passport to enter Costa Rica; no tourist visa is required. It’s recommended that the passport is valid for six months beyond the return date. For students who need to apply for an adult passport, please view the processing times and request one soon. KU Study Abroad & Global Engagement has a Passport Center where students can apply for a U.S. passport.

Non-U.S. citizens are responsible for understanding their entry requirements. Read more about visas and entry requirements on the website of the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington D.C. Most students will meet the visa waiver requirement of having a visa issued from the U.S., but also must meet the requirement of having a valid passport for six months beyond the return date. Please carefully read the information on the website.