Travel Writing and Costa Rica - KU Honors Program

Image of Water and Land
Explore the natural beauty of Costa Rica during winter break.
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, Honors, or Latin American Studies 
  • Visit diverse areas of Costa Rica including the Central Valley, a cloud forest, and two coasts

On this program, students will investigate a variety of current issues in Costa Rican politics, culture, ecology, and tourism through lectures, excursions, and individual writing projects. During the second half of the Fall semester, the group will meet regularly to prepare for their time in Costa Rica.

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.

Additionally, the group will travel to several other parts of Costa Rica including Puerto Viejo, La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. Puerto Viejo is on the Caribbean side of the country and is heavily influenced by indigenous and Afro-Costa Rican culture while Manuel Antonio National Park is on the Pacific side and boasts several beaches and one of the most biodiverse landscapes. La Fortuna is near the Arenal volcano and a waterfall that is over 200 feet tall and the Monteverde cloud forest is situated at 4,662 feet above sea level and home to a vast diversity of animals.

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 will enroll in HNRS 492, ENGL 390, 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 program and will be posted to the student’s KU transcript as a Spring course.


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

December 28, 2023-January 10, 2024: 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. Planned 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 Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Garden
Day 3 - Travel to Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast, to learn about Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous Bri Bri culture
Day 4 - Hike to the Kekoldi waterfall and visit an indigenous iguana preserve
Day 5 - Visit the Cahuita National Park or go snorkeling
Day 6 - Travel to La Fortuna
Day 7 - Plant a tree, hike in Arenal Volcano National Park, and go on a chocolate tour
Day 8 - Free day in Arenal
Day 9 - Travel to Monteverde and go on a coffee tour
Day 10 - Visit the Monteverde cloud forest and sloth sanctuary
Day 11 - Travel to Manuel Antonio
Day 12 - Tour Manuel Antonio National Park
Day 13 - Travel to San José. Farewell group dinner
Day 14 - 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.

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. Contact Professor Caminero-Santangelo at

Harry Swartz is the Assistant Director of Admissions for the University Honors Program. He previously served as a Spanish instructor and international advisor at KU and has taught English abroad in Chile and Spain. Contact Harry at


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.