Travel Writing and Costa Rica - KU Honors Program

Image of Water and Land
Explore the natural beauty of Costa Rica on this 12 day winter break program.
Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Winter Break
Program Type: Faculty-led

  • Experience the natural beauty of Costa Rica 
  • Earn 3 credit hours in English or Honors 
  • Co-led by English professor Mary Klayder

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.

This Spring course and overseas twelve-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.

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 2022 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 2–13, 2022: 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, Hacienda Orosi hot springs, and a variety of museums and national landmarks.

Program Itinerary (tentative)

Day 1 - Arrival in San José.
Day 2 - Visit Irazu Volcano, Orosi Valley, and Hacienda Orosi hot springs.
Day 3 - Guided tour of San José. Evening dinner and dance performance.
Day 4 - Travel to Monteverde. Visit the Monteverde frog pond.
Day 5 - Monteverde. Morning visit to the cloud forest. Afternoon lecture given by members of the local Quaker community.
Day 6 - Travel to Arenal. Visit hot springs.
Day 7 - Explore Arenal. Tour Arenal Volcano National Park.
Day 8 - Arenal free day.
Day 9 - Travel to Manuel Antonio.
Day 10 - Tour of Manuel Antonio National Park.
Day 11 - Travel to San José. Farewell group dinner.
Day 12 - 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 Director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at KU and faculty member in the Department of English. She was born in Canada to Cuban immigrant parents who were American Citizens.

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 arrival.

June 2021: Passport processing times for U.S. passports are currently 18 weeks for routine service and 12 weeks for expedited service. Students who don't have a valid passport should apply for one immediately. Read more information about applying 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 arrival. Please carefully read the information on the website.