P O W E L L, W y o. - Costa Rica is known for its beaches, giant sea turtles, volcanoes and mountains, and Northwest College is offering an opportunity for area residents to experience them first hand through a Spanish field studies class to Costa Rica Jan. 3-17.
Mary Ellen Ibarra-Robinson, an assistant professor of Spanish, will lead the three-credit class, which is open to students and the public with all levels of Spanish language skills. Participants must have previous language study or previous travel experience abroad.
Unlike many other NWC foreign field studies classes, this one is very language focused - participants don't visit the country as tourists; they live the life of a Costa Rican, with a significant part of their time spent in a family home. Participants live with a family and eat breakfast at home with them before heading to a language institute where they'll spend their mornings studying Spanish at a level appropriate to each individual's skills.
They'll eat lunch, the main meal of the day, back at the family home, taking several hours for the noon break as is the custom in Costa Rica. Afterwards, they're free to attend more language classes, join group excursions to popular attractions or just hang out with the family. Weekend options include longer site-seeing excursions or more time with their family.
"There is absolutely no better way to enhance your mastery of a foreign language than to immerse yourself in it," Ibarra-Robinson said. "Living and studying in another country involves learning at varying levels all day long. It is a wonderfully fun way to learn and to experience another culture."
Each day begins with four hours of instruction focused on conversation, vocabulary, grammar and reading. Optional afternoon classes cover such topics as socio-political issues, grammar, Latin dance and Costa Rican cuisine.
Organized weekday afternoon activities include visits to a coffee plantation, a butterfly farm, a museum, the capital and surrounding cities or cultural sites. On the weekends, the group chooses a travel destination from among such attractions as one of the coasts, a cloud forest, Arenal or Poas Volcano, a Tortuga Island Pacific Cruise with possible snorkeling or kayaking, Turubari Park for hiking and cable riding or Tortuguero National Park, the hemisphere's most important nesting ground for giant sea turtles.
Registration and deposits must be made by Monday, November 3. To register, or for more information about Field Studies in Costa Rica, e-mail Mary Ellen Ibarra-Robinson or call toll-free (800) 560-4692, ext.6430, or (307) 754-6430. Early registration is suggested.