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Costa Rica



Session 1 Course Dates

Sunday, May 22, 2011 through Saturday, June 4, 2011



Instructor - Alejandro "Alex" Ramirez, DVM, MPH  Diplomate, ACVPM

Assistant Professor, Veterinary Diagnostic & Production Animal Medicine

Expertise/Research area:  Zoonotic diseases and public health, swine production medicine

ramireza@iastate.edu   Office phone: (515) 294-7463.



This course is for you if you want to:

  • Improve your Spanish, especially knowledge of veterinary terms
  • Care for rescued animals in a local wildlife rehabilitation facility and volunteer center
  • See how small and large animal medicine is practiced in another country
  • Stay with a family and really see how the local "tico" people live





Day 1     Arrive in Costa Rica and transfer to Proyecto Asis, settle into homestay

Day 2    

  • Morning - Spanish classes (placement is based on Spanish proficiency)
  • Afternoon - Cultural Brief: An introduction to the Costa Rican lifestyle, customs, and traditions

Day 3

  • Morning - Spanish classes
  • Afternoon - Visit local small animal veterinary clinic

Day 4

  • Morning - Spanish classes
  • Afternoon - Volunteer at Asis wild animal rescue center

Day 5

  • Morning - Spanish classes
  • Afternoon - Briefing:  Importance of the cattle industry in Costa Rica
  • Evening - Salsa classes

Day 6

  • Morning - Spanish Classes
  • Afternoon - Castration Orientation/practice suturing techniques

Day 7

  • Castration Day - Work with Asis veterinarian Don Jaime to spay and neuter local animals at a discounted rate
  • After castration day have a group dinner at Happy Land restaurant

Day 8

  • Spend the day in La Fortuna:  Activities can include ziplining, canyoneering, horseback riding, shopping and a volcanic hike

Day 9

  • La Fortuna

Day 10

  • Morning - Visit La Subasta (cattle auction) and horse barn
  • Afternoon - Costa Rican cooking classes:  Tamales

Day 11

  • Field trip to a dairy farm
  • Evening salsa classes and enjoy tamales from yesterday

Day 12

  • Morning - Visit el matadero (slaughterhouse, beef and pork)
  • Afternoon - Volunteer at Asis wild animal rescue center

Day 13

  • Field trip to a local cattle operation
  • Farewell party

Day 14  Return to the US




Host Family

You will stay for two weeks with a local Tico family and will share a room with one or two of your classmates.  Your Tico family will feed you three delicious meals a day, do your laundry, and teach you all about the culture and daily life of Costa Rica.  Chances are no one in your family will speak English, so you will be able to practice your Spanish and use what you learn in your classes in your every day life. 



Spanish Classes

Your Spanish classes are taught outside in a rain forest setting.  You will be placed in Spanish classes according to your claimed proficiency so beginners will not have the pressure of learning with near-fluent speakers.  You'll learn veterinary terminology and other useful words and phrases.  Anything you want to learn, your teacher will tell you, so ask plenty of questions. 






Work hard, play hard

You'll have an opportunity to do some hiking and choose from activities such as canyoneering, ziplining and horseback riding during your free weekend in La Fortuna.  You'll also have time to shop in the local markets, explore the souvenir shops and hang out in local establishments to mingle with the Ticos and Ticas.





This 3-credit elective course is comprised of a 15-hour pre-departure course in Spring 2011 in addition to the two weeks in-country.  Students will be graded on their class participation, a presentation on a topic of the instructor's choosing, and a post-trip interview.  In order to be considered for this trip, students must have a 2.5 minimum GPA at the time of application and departure.

Cost Breakdown (Estimated*)

Program fee**: $3000

50% Tuition + Fees: $1100***

*Please Note:  All costs are estimated and could change based on airfare, currency conversion rates and increases in tuition and fees.  The College of Veterinary Medicine is able to provide a 50% tuition reimbursement to VM2 and VM3 students and VM4 students do not pay any additional tuition for study abroad.

**Program Costs include all lodging, meals, airfare, entrance fees, and incidentals.

 ***Please note that non-residents going on more than one trip per summer will pay non-resident tuition rates but will receive the 50% tuition reimbursement on that amount.

For more information on this program or any of the Group Study Abroad opportunities offered by the College of Veterinary Medicine, contact Katie Davidson at katied@iastate.edu or call (515) 294-1501.