Fall 2017 Course: BIO 301: Tropical Ecosystem Assessment (6 credits)
Study Abroad: June- July 2017
June 12th: NYC Pre-Departure Session
9:00am-4:00pm: Academic and Study Abroad Orientation at Pace NYC
Overnight stay in NYC campus dorm (students must bring own linen)
June 13th: Depart for Costa Rica
July 2nd: Group return, course will end at NYC campus after all equipment is brought back
Course Description: Through this research course, the students will examine the differences in, and the relationships between, three specific tropic levels and C and N nutrients within intact and managed tropical lowland forests in Costa Rica that are at risk due to land management and a changing climate. They will begin to characterize the ecosystem effects that various management practices and/or environmental conditions may have on these forests in regions where there have not been sufficient studies. Thus, the student projects for this course will have the potential to advance the fields of ecosystem assessment, ecological restoration, tropical forest ecology, and provide new diversity and abundance information for microbial, vegetation, and arthropod communities. Through this “early start” Fall 2017 Biology research course, students will receive 6 credits of upper division BIO electives that fulfill 2 of their 3 required courses in the BIOLOGY MAJOR ELECTIVES category, as they live in the jungles of Costa Rica and examine the differences in biotic communities, and the relationships between these and carbon and nitrogen cycle nutrients.
If approved, student will be registered for 6 credits in BIO301 Tropical Ecosystem Assessment for the Fall 2017 semester.
- 2.5 GPA
- Good disciplinary and academic standing
- Faculty approval
- Additional program requirements
During the NYC orientation on June 12th, students will be housed in Pace University dormitories. Students are required to bring their own linens.
While in Costa Rica, students will be housed at the Laguna de Lagarto Lodge
Meet your faculty leader
Program Cost and Itinerary
The program fee is in addition to tuition and the $100 study abroad fee and includes the following:
Payments and Deadlines
All payments must be completed by the stated deadlines below via the travel payment system.
For undergraduates, $1,000 honors scholarship can be applied once a deposit payment has been made.
2017 estimated program fee $3,900 (in addition to tuition and $100 study abroad fee)).
$1,000 deposit: May 1st
$2,900 balance: June 1st
Requesting Financial Aid
You may request that your financial aid package be extended for your study abroad program.
We will work with you if you have special circumstances and cannot meet the established payment deadlines. Please contact email@example.com for payment plan request.
Please be advised of the Pace University Cancellation Policy below:
"I hereby acknowledge that the University reserves the right to make cancellations, changes or substitutions to the program at any time and for any reason, with or without notice, and that the University shall not be liable for any loss whatsoever to program participants as a result of such cancellations, changes, or substitutions. I understand that the University reserves the right to cancel, terminate, and/or discontinue the program at any time. Any refund of tuition and fees, if appropriate, shall be issued pursuant to the University’s and University program’s policies. "
Passport and Visa
It is important to obtain the necessary documents before you depart for your study abroad program. In order to cross international borders, you must be able to prove your identity and nationality.
What is a Passport?
A passport is a document issued by your national government that certifies your identity and nationality for the purpose of international travel. Almost all international travel requires that you have and carry a passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after re-entry to the United States.
For citizens of the United States, passports are issued by the US Department of State and provides many uses:When presented abroad, it is a request to foreign governments to permit you to travel or temporarily reside in their territories and access all lawful local aid and protection.
It allows you access to US Consular services and assistance while abroad.
It allows you to re-enter the United States upon your return home. It is important not to confuse a Passport Book with a Passport Card. A Passport Book is valid for international travel by air, sea, or land. A Passport Card is valid when entering the US from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossing or sea ports-of-entry. A Passport Card is not valid for international travel by air.
How Do I Apply for a Passport?
First time applicants should follow the instructions listed on the State Department’s website. Applicants must bring their completed application, photos, required documents, and form of payment to one of many acceptance offices, which can be found using the State Department's passport acceptance facility search page.
Those looking to renew an adult passport should follow the instructions listed on the State Department’s website. For citizens over 16 years of age, a passport is valid for 10 years.
The fee to receive or renew a passport is available on the State Department's full chart of costs. It generally takes 4 to 6 weeks to process, so apply for a passport as soon as possible. You could expedite the services at an additional charge.
What is a Visa?
A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter another country generally must first visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport and allows you to travel to, from, and within that particular country or region legally.
Countries typically break visas down into types that reflect the purpose of your visit—tourism, studying, and working, among many potential others.
Each visa has different requirements necessary to obtain them depending on country, type, duration and nationality of the applicant. A country’s consular office should be able to provide you with a list of requirements based on these factors.
A visa is a privilege, not a right. A consular office may deny your visa application, so it is best to adhere to their requirements as much as possible.
How Do I Apply for a Visa?
Obtaining a visa is your responsibility. It is important that you know what is required of you before attempting to enter a country. Failing to obtain a visa (or the correct visa) could result in a denial of entry into a country, and even criminal charges.
You can find the most up-to-date visa information by contacting the consulate or embassy of your host country. US Citizens can also find current visa information on the US State Department website.
Non-resident students must reach out to International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.Check if you will be able to keep your SEVIS record active while participating in the study abroad program.
Inquire about re-entry to the US at the completion of your program. Will you need to renew your US visa? Will your travel signature be valid?
If it will be your final semester, ask whether study abroad will impact your ability to apply for Optional Practical Training (F-1s).
How to Apply
To apply, click on the "apply" tab at the top or bottom of this page. Be sure to read all information carefully, as each program has different requirements and instructions.
For most programs it will take 2-3 weeks after the application deadline has passed to know if you’ve been offered a spot on the program. This will vary depending on the type of program.
After the initial application has been processed by Pace Study Abroad, students will receive an e-mail regarding their application status and instructions on the next steps including program specific applications.
Coming from the US, you will generally not need an adapter or converter for Costa Rica. However, there are two potentially very important physical differences you may come across: grounding (the third round prong below the two flat prongs) and/or polarization (the left prong is taller than the right). If your plug has one or both, and the socket doesn't, then the plug may not physically be able to fit into the socket without an adapter. Check your appliances before leaving the states.
WiFi vs. International Phones
International cell phone options vary depending on your individual wants and needs. Some students choose to disconnect from their home using only local WiFi to keep in touch, while others want to use their phone to keep in touch with family and friends, post to Instagram, Facebook, or surf the web. Be sure to talk with your family before choosing an option.
International Cell Phone Plans
You can use your own cell phone with an international calling plan. These plans vary depending on your cell phone provider. These plans can be complex so be sure to call your provider for detailed information such as roaming charges, international dialing and receiving of calls and international sending and receiving of texts.
International Sim Cards
Purchasing an international or global sim card allows you to use your own cell phone at reduced rates around the world. Sim cards are best for travelers who are either visiting many countries and/or going to be in a country for a short period of time. You will keep your own cell phone number, have access to voice, text, and data, but spend less on your call service. You pay as you go and reload your sim card when you need to. In order to do this option, you must have a GSM carrier unlocked cellphone for the sim card to work. To find out if you can unlock your cellphone you must contact your cell phone provider.
Buying or Renting an International Phone
Another option is to buy or rent a cellphone for your time abroad. There are many services that offer cell phone plans from basic, very inexpensive cell phones to expensive smartphones.
Below are a few websites where you can purchase and international cell phone. Keep in mind there are tons of sites for you to find a phone. Make sure they are legitimate sites (read the reviews).
Wifi and Apps
Turning off your cell phones data and roaming and relying on WiFi is the cheapest way to keep in touch with family and friends. However, with this option you do not have the ability to google directions, food or find a place to listen to a live band. Students can also use WiFi, which us usually available in large chain cafes, hotels, hostels and some restaurants. There are many apps you can use to communicate with family and friends such as Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Line and more.
Both July and August typically have nicer weather than the months on either side. The majority of the rain falls in the afternoon or overnight in Costa Rica. The hot August sun evaporates moisture from the sea and rain forest canopy creating a layer of warm moist air that rises as the day progresses. As the air rises it expands and cools causing the water to condense out forming clouds. Later in the day as the temperatures fall the air can hold even less water and some of it falls as rain.
August is in the middle of the rainy season but many years there is a lull in the rains (especially in Guanacaste) usually starting in July and ending in August. Costa Ricans call this little dry season veranillo (how does it happen?) and if you’re lucky you won’t need your umbrella at all on a visit to the northwest.
Tico attire is typically casual. They dress in clean and unwrinkled clothing but nothing too flashy. Men generally wear jeans, despite the warm weather but if you wear shorts, no one would look at you differently. Many people wear jeans, t-shirts, skirts, nicely pressed pants and other common clothing. Remember, keep it casual or you will stand out.
Health & Safety
Your health and safety are Pace International's top priority and it should be yours as well. Always be aware of your surroundings, travel in pairs and when you are out at night, stick to licensed taxi’s only. Always have your identification, your insurance card, your hotel card, a debit or credit card, and some cash on you at all times. Do not carry your passport with you unless specified by your professor. Keep your passport, large sums of money, prescription medication, any important documentation and electronics in your hotel room, preferably in a safe at all times.
While walking around Costa Rica, be conscious of your belongings. Though Costa Rica has the lowest crime rate of any Central American country, crime in urban centers is common. Pickpocketing and mugging is unfortunately very common in crowded, touristy areas. Pickpockets are usually experienced and you will not know something was taken until possibly hours later. To avoid getting your personal items stolen, wear bags with small locks for the zippers, keep your important documents in a separate compartment from everything else, and do not keep anything valuable in your pockets. You may also want to invest in a money belt.
The establishment of a Policía Turística (tourism police) in 2007 has alleviated petty crimes against foreigners (you’ll see them patrolling in pairs around San José). These officers can be helpful in the event of an emergency since most of them speak at least some English. But, if you find yourself the victim of a crime, you’ll have to file a report in person at the Organismo de Investigacíon Judicial in the Supreme Court of Justice building on the south side of downtown.
Before traveling to a new country, it is important to do your research. Learn about the history, politics, dress, language, norms, faux pas, food, etc. This can be accomplished with a quick google search. Below are some examples of the Tico culture that are important to know before departing on your study abroad program.
The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. If you are unfamiliar with the Spanish language that is okay, however it is important to learn key words and phrases before you depart. Knowing these key words will help you if you are lost, trying to find a restroom, trying to buy something or simply saying hello. Where ever you travel, it is courteous to learn the native language. It will show you care about their culture and in turn Tico's will be more willing to help you. If you are unsure of the pronunciation, try it anyway or show them what you are asking for. Tico's are very patient and helpful when it comes to learning the language.
Tico's do not use the same Castilian Spanish that is spoken in Spain, and what is usually taught in American schools. The Spaniards lisp their c's and z's and they use the "vosotros" person, while Tico's use for "you" the antiquated form of "vos", and the more formal "usted." Here is a helpful article.
You can also download a translation app that will speak what you are trying to say for you. This is especially valuable if you need help quickly.
Key Words and Phrases:
Tico's like their coffee strong and black, you will rarely see someone asking for cream or sugar to go along with their coffee, though it is available if you ask for it.
The main, and largest meal of the day is lunch.Tico's take their lunch very seriously. Typically lasting 2 hours, families gather together to share a big meal, which usually includes black beans and rice (gallo pinto), stews and soups, tortillas, empanadas, and more. Tico meals are generally light and high in fiber.
Norms and Faux Pas
Tico's never eat too much. They look at being overly full as being greedy.
Do not ever slam doors, especially taxi car doors. The drivers do not like it and it could end dangerously.
You will find yourself being approached by an array of people, from vendors trying to sell you something, to beggars asking for some change. Refuse politely with a “no gracias”. Politeness goes a long way in Costa Rica.
Life is slower in Costa Rica. If you are waiting for a long time and feeling impatient, do not complain. Take a deep breath and realize that everyone around you is also waiting. Rushing Tico's will get you nowhere.
A sure way to get robbed is if you flaunt your wealth. Not only will you get robbed, it is just bad form to show off. Don’t wear flashy jewelry or brand names.
Tico's in general have good manners. They are not vulgar, yell across a room to one another or even worse burp in front of people; not even their family members. Be courteous and watch your language.
If someone asks you where you are from, remember, you are still in America (Central America), just like USA. So, when in doubt say you are from USA.
The best means of local transportation in Puntarenas is to take a taxi or the local bus. Make sure the taxi is a licensed taxi, all red taxi are licensed. You can call ahead for a taxi, which further verifies the validity of the service.
Most locals ride bikes or walk. You can easily rent a bike from any of the bike shops for a good rate. Just make sure you keep the bike locked wherever you leave it. Note that helmets may be hard to find.
Remember that everything you pack you will need to carry. If you are unable to carry it on your own, then you are packing too much!
Leave some room for any new items you may purchase while abroad.
Inquire about airline luggage regulations and pack accordingly.
Find out about dress customs in your destination and pack clothes that will help you blend-in with the locals.
Pack a nice outfit for special occasions.
Do not pack anything that you are not willing to lose.
If you are going to a place where the temperature will vary, pack clothes that you can layer.
Pack clothes that don’t require special wash.
You will probably walk more than the usual, bring comfortable shoes! In some destinations closed-toes shoes may be recommended due to possible injuries or infections.
Power adaptors and converters as applicable http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/world-electricity-guide.html
If you know your roommate, see if you can share some items.
Backpack or tote bag for day field trips
Find out if you really need to bring a laptop. Keep in mind that a laptop can be stolen, so you may need to carry with you at all times.
Visa (if applicable)
Airline tickets (round trip)
Letter of acceptance in your study abroad program
Address where you will need to go as well as arrival instructions
Important phone number(s)
Prescription medications appropriately packed and identified
Toiletries and a change of clothes in case of baggage or flight delays
Flying internationally can be an expensive purchase. As a student there are many discounts you can take advantage of. Remember to do your research and compare prices. If you have a credit card that as a point system, you may be able to use those points towards your airplane ticket.
Below are some websites we feel have the best prices for student travelers:
Thank you for supporting studying abroad as a significant opportunity in the student's life. Studying Abroad is closely linked with higher grade point averages, shorter time to graduate, and a key to a successful early career as global companies as seen as a high priority by many employers.
Study Abroad Programs have a variety of different financial models, and time commitments. Study Abroad is affordable. Study Abroad is committed to high academic standards and the student will work with the Study Abroad and their respective school/college and department to meet the academic needs.
In addition, the Pace Internationals believes that studying abroad should provide participants with a significant cultural as well as academic experience. Whether it is through a homestay living arrangement, an in-country internship or other planned cultural and social activities, your participant will be given an opportunity to interact with the peoples and cultures of their host country.
The Study Abroad team will with each participant to insure that their individual needs and concerns are addressed before, during and after their learning abroad experience. Whatever type of program your family member or friend has chosen, I hope that this information helps you understand their unique experience and helps you provide the support at home that your participant needs to enjoy a rich and profound experience abroad.
Please reach out to us with questions or concerns, big or small, regarding your student's studying abroad: email@example.com
Student Identity Abroad
Pace Education Abroad recognizes and supports a diverse student population on its study abroad programs. Matters of personal identity can impact all students on a study abroad program. For some, it may be the first time you are a minority in your community. For others, you might notice that you are getting attention based on your identity either positive or negative. It is important to remember that you have control over your response to that attention.
We encourage you to do some research into social norms, cultural norms, and local practices before choosing and beginning your program. You will want to participate as much as possible in the host culture and should be prepared for the experience, which can be both personally challenging and rewarding. Please consult the Education abroad website as you consider and prepare for your experience abroad.
Keeping in Touch
Keeping in touch with family and friends is becoming easier as WiFi is more prevalent in international cities. You no longer need to spent a ton of money to call home or go to an internet café. Downloading apps on your smartphone is becoming an essential resource for travelers. Some apps that you will find yourself needing:
Money, money, money… It is an important component to your study abroad program to have all your money matters taken care of before departing. From contacting your banks, to creating a budget and obtaining local currency, this is a step you should begin as early as possible.
It is important to contact your banks to let them know you are traveling internationally and for how long. If you do not let your banks know, not only will you not be able to use your credit cards or debit cards, your accounts will be frozen. Unfreezing accounts take time, time in which you will not have any money available for you to use.
Creating a budget for yourself is essential to not running out of money abroad and having to call friends or family for additional funds. Below is a budget worksheet to help you stay on track with your money.
Taking your credit card abroad is very common and probably the easiest way to make a purchase. Be aware of interest rates and international charges. Some credit cards charge you a lot for a single purchase while others have no international transaction fees. Call your bank to find out what the international transaction fee is on your card. Please note: International cards vary by card, not by company. For example, some Chase cards have zero fees, while another may have a very large fee. Read the guidelines carefully before deciding on a card.
Make sure your credit card has a designated pin number. You will need a pin number to make any purchase. If you do not have a pin, or if you are unsure, a quick call to your bank will clear up any confusion.
Currency exchange rates can be high and the interest rate at many shops, especially near or in airports or train station, can really hurt your budget. You will generally receive the best exchange rate at your bank. You should being $100 to $200 dollars in the local currency with you. Some banks have the most popular currency, like Euros on hand, while others have to be ordered. This process can take up to 2 or 3 weeks so be sure to do this in advance. If and when you need more cash, an ATM is your best option, but again be aware of transaction fees. Not only will the bank whose ATM you are using charge you, your bank will most likely charge you as well.
Below are a list of international credit cards we suggest:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
Discover it® 12:12
Wells Fargo Propel World American Express
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business (all Capital One cards have zero international transaction fees - these are our favorite)