High School Summer Abroad Program: Biology in Central America

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About

Why Study Biology and English in Central America?

Pairing the grade 12 Biology and English courses, students are exposed to the scientific background as well as the literary context. This allows them to gain a more holistic understanding of a rapidly changing world. The MEI Biology and English program immerses students in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world - Central America.

While traveling through the hidden gems of Belize and Costa Rica, students encounter adventures such as swimming with manatees, zip-lining through forest canopies, exploring Mayan ruins and collecting specimens beneath an active volcano. The Backpackers program includes five weeks of overseas travel and learning to Caye Caulker, San Ignacio, Placencia, Curu, La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 19 reviews
  • Growth 9.6
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.8
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 15 of 19
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Ben
10/10

Most Memorable Experience of my Life

For me, the single best aspect of the trip was the connections and friendships that I made over the 35 days. I believe that this trip attracts some of the best people, but I must give credit to the teachers for creating the family aspect and feeling that each and everyone of us felt while on the trip this summer. The teachers encouraged us to get to know, and spend time with every person on the trip. With a group as large as ours (32 students) it would have been easy to get to the end of the trip and realize that there are people that you have never talked to. I am glad to say this didn't happen.
In terms of the school work, it was busy. It was most defiantly not a free ride as some people had predicted it to be. It was busy for an obvious reason. We completed two grade 12 courses in 35 days instead of the normal 5 months. It was challenging, but the teachers were incredibly helpful and approachable, which made the workload manageable. The teachers not only had these qualities when it came to school work, but you could also talk to them about anything and they were always helpful and made you feel comfortable.
I enjoyed the freedom of having free time over lunch and in the evenings, but having structured activities and excursions were also a ton of fun and allowed us to get to know people better. Some of my favourite excursions were the cave diving, the zip-lines, and the Jaguar Park hike!
From the trip one of the biggest take aways that myself, and most people had, was how to be more independent and how to manage time better. Due to how fast pace the course is, time management is crucial in order to get all the work done on time, as well as leaving time to take in the unique surroundings that you are in.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Olivia
10/10

The Best Experience of My Life!

After being apart of MEI Backpackers 2018, I feel that I must recommend it to everyone I meet! It was the most incredible adventure I have ever experienced. I met some fascinating people on this trip that I now consider lifelong friends. The teachers are some of the best I have ever had, truly caring about what they were teaching and doing their best to help each and every student succeed. Approximately three weeks later and I am still in shock that I was fortunate enough to experience this. I look at pictures of the different adventures that we did as a group and it fills me with so much emotion. I can remember every sense from each of the locations we stayed at and the amazing feeling of looking up from your studying to see the vast ocean in front of you. The rainforest’s mists soaking you just enough to cool you off. Dancing to music under the stars after a delicious meal. Work never seemed to get in the way of a good time. The first class I had on this trip was Biology. It was held on a covered dock with ocean surrounding us. Breeze spilled in through empty spaces and cooled us off in very high Belize temperatures. This class was the first moment I was truly in, “awe.” I just couldn't believe that this is where my life had taken me, studying population dynamics, sitting on a dock, on an island in Belize. There would be times when we were stressed out, however those feelings would be evened out by a jaw dropping excursion the next day. The friends I made on this trip also prevented me from becoming stressed because their presence would always lighten the mood and our belief in one another drove us to succeed. Words cannot describe how much meeting these people meant to me and how much they mean to me today. At the beginning, the teachers informed us that this group would soon become family. At the time, we were to anxious and therefore, awkward to believe it. They surly did not lie, as all of us became the closest of friends. This trip has been more rewarding than I could have ever have imagined. I learned so many new things not only about Biology and English, but about myself and this amazing, gigantic world that we live in.

Yes, I recommend this program
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rae
8/10

Rae Mazzei

This experience was truly amazing. Although it did get very stressful at times, that all would just go away when going to the beach. This really helped me narrow down things for university and really showed me a new way of learning. It was amazing to be able to have this experience and learn all the things i did. Being able to study on the beach was probably one of the nicest feelings there was. All those late night crams were always forgotten about the next day when we would go hike to swim in waterfalls or go swim with sharks. I truly do not take away one negative thing from this trip

How can this program be improved?
I think that monteverde would have been a better place to go than the solstis centre but overall i wouldn’t change anything else
Yes, I recommend this program
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Thomas
10/10

Best Summer Ever

From Day 1 to Day 35, I lived a once in a lifetime opportunity. Personally, the best part of the trip was the group. The different people you meet will possibly become life-long friends, for me they did. Although one month does not seem like the longest period to get close to friends, it really is. Doing all the activities you do, such as different hikes, snorkeling, cave spelunking and more, you learn to start trusting the people around you. I'm also extremely glad I got biology and english out of the way for grade 12. The education on the trip was amazing, and the teachers managed to provide amazing support for any concerns or issues the students had.
To future participants, this may be the best summer trip you ever experience. The school work may get a little tough, but keep to it and it will pay off! The different expeditions will leave you wanting more.

How can this program be improved?
Maybe a bit more free time, but I do believe it was a perfect trip. No need for much improvement.
Yes, I recommend this program
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William
10/10

Do This Program

Restlessly wrestling my parents to let me go on MEI has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made, because this program as been one of most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. I was mostly drawn in by the unique study experience in the wilds of Central America. My dream for this program was to study biology in lush, tropical jungles, immersed and connected with the wilderness, in contrast to the harrowing classroom setting. This, and many other hopes for this program came true as time went on. This program is very expensive, I know. But this truth forced me to push myself academically, and socially, to make every single moment count. There is no better feeling than working hard, and getting the results you want. This program has a very demanding course load, so using your time efficiently is vital to getting the most of your experience. My 35 days felt like a dream, and for that I give thanks to the amazing people I met, being a student or a teacher. Not everyone’s experience will be the same on this trip, but everyone’s experience will be absolutely phenominal. Visiting different countries and exploring their culture while interacting with locals on a daily basis is something very rare in a school setting. I loved this program, and I love all of those I did it with. Jump right in, step out of your comfort zone, and get ready to have your mind blown.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Brynna
10/10

Amazing Trip!

I originally looked into MEI as a more exciting way of completing summer school however from this trip I gained so much more than an education. Not only are you surrounded by supportive teachers, you also meet incredible people in incredible places. Originally I was scared to go on this trip alone but the atmosphere makes it easy for you to bond quickly with the people around you and turns the class into a family. The ability to travel the world with such an amazing group of people has helped me to grow as a person in ways i could have never imagined. I am so thankful I chose the backpackers program it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!!

Yes, I recommend this program
Ella
9/10

Amazing Summer Trip!

I went on the Central America Backpackers trip this summer and can honestly say it was one of the most inspiring and life-changing experiences I have ever had. From the amazing teachers and students I met from across Canada, to studying english and biology on the beach, I could not think of a better way to have spent my summer. I loved how close and comfortable everyone was around each other, especially having not known anyone going into the trip. I would highly recommend studying abroad with MEI Academy!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jenna
10/10

MEI Backpackers 2018

I went on this trip and did Grade 12 Biology and English and it was the best decision I ever made. It was such an amazing experience, we got to apply the knowledge that we were learning in class into real life situations which helped us further our learning but still kept us engaged. We had our classes outside all the time which was absolutely amazing. Learning in a different environment then a classroom is so engaging, we were having lecture styled classes where we could get up stretch our legs if necessary and we were able to stay engaged in what we were learning. In a classroom it’s very easy to lose yourself in your thoughts or lose interest in what you’re learning but in this environment it’s next to impossible. The academics aspects are great as well as the teachers. I was also able to better develop myself as a person and I wish I could go back! It was such a great experience I would 100% recommend it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jenna
10/10

Mei Backpackers 2018

Was an amazing experience with great people. The teachers are amazing and everything about it was great. They go out of their way to help you and support you. I wish I could go back it was a great experience. It was great as I had my own independence and felt myself develop as person into who I will be as an adult. The locations were beautiful and excursionss were some of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. We went zip lining in Costa Rica which is something I’ve been dying to do for as long as I could remember. We went snorkeling in the second biggest barrier reef which such exotic creatures. It was something you’ve never seen before

Yes, I recommend this program
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Robert
10/10

Review

It was an amazing trip. I really enjoyed the locations, education, and the teachers on the trip. What is really important to me on a trip is that everyone feels at home and safe. Our teachers made us feel safe and gave us a lot of freedom that we cherished. If we broke that trust, however, the privilege would be revoked. They were fair judges and really connected with the students. The meals provided were quality and gave us enough energy for the day. That is very important as some of our excursion days require a lot of energy. Overall, the experience I had on the trip was fantastic and I would recommend.

How can this program be improved?
The program was excellent, the only improvements I can think of was that the trip was too short. To fully experience the places we were in, and go more in depth into the subject, more time was needed. Although, the amount of time we had on the trip was in itself fantastic. More time is only needed to improve the experience I had.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sophia
10/10

Experience of a Lifetime!

As expected this trip was amazing. The different places and experiences involved were truly incredible and could not be compared to anything else. Not only did this trip give me these experiences but it gave me growth, as a student and as a person. I developed time management skills, it showed me the usefulness of peer editing and I became more confident with making friends, and taking care of myself, which will all be helpful for when I go to university. When I came back everyone asked me how my trip was and I could only say spectacular. There are so many different experiences from sitting on a dock learning about dna and exploring the town to people watch to develop characters for our short stories to snorkelling with sharks and white water rafting. The relationships with the teachers are so different, you feel comfortable telling them anything and it is easy to go and ask them questions about the classes, which is distintive from school, you could also tell that the teachers knew what they were doing and were eager to help in any way needed which was advantageous for the high paced classes. Coming home was difficult, I miss the places, the activities and most importantly being surrounded by my 2nd family all the time. I am coming back with so many new friends and experiences and I will never forget anyone or anything from this. This trip is the experience of a lifetime and I loved every minute of it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Caroline
10/10

An unforgettable experience!

My MEI trip was hands down one of, if not, the best experience of my life. I was hesitant at first to go, having fears about meeting new people and about the schoolwork, but I’m so happy I went! I met some incredible people who are now some of my best friends, explored new places, tasted exotic foods, and learned a ton. School abroad is much different than regular high school, and although it is quite the adjustment at first, it has truly been beneficial to my life as a student. Plus, the beautiful sights seen along the way allow for a level or personal reflection I’ve never had before. I was also surprised with how strong my connections were with people after only knowing them for a few days. The bonds I made are life-long. All in all, I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves the outdoors, and who’s looking for a life-changing experience unlike any other!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Hailey
9/10

Backpackers Central America 2018

The Backpackers trip to Central America was the best experience of my life! Studying biology in such a biologically diverse setting made learning so much more interesting. Swimming with sharks and stingrays and seeing unique animals like sloths, was not only beneficial to biology studies, but also gave inspiration for English creative writing. Despite the stressful and heavy work load, there were many amazing excursions and opportunities to de-stress. All teachers were very helpful and supportive in times of need. They were approachable and encouraged every one of us to get outside our comfort zones. By switching room mates each location, everyone got the chance to get closer to someone new. By the end of the trip, we all felt like a family and goodbyes have never been so hard. It was the trip of a lifetime that I would highly recommend to everyone.

Yes, I recommend this program
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jadyn
9/10

Such an amazing experience!

This trip provides a truly unique experience that can't be replicated by much else. I was able to make so many meaningful connections with the other students despite not knowing anyone on my trip beforehand. I loved that what we were learning was integrated into the different locations, allowing for most of the projects to be very hands on and unique. My favourite memories definitely come from the activities like snorkeling, zip lining, white water rafting and the cave walk. The trip teaches you a lot about independent living and was I found that it helped me to become more prepared for leaving home for university. It was up to you to manage time, get assignments done and find your way around new locations, which is something I've never really gotten to to to that scale.
Future participants should know that at times the work can be very stressful because you are moving at such a fast pace to cover everything and that you will be immediately thrown outside your comfort zone. Despite that, you'll make friends and learn how to deal with the various stressors on this trip very rapidly.

How can this program be improved?
Better communication with students about assignments and schedules in areas where wifi is not strong, a larger variation of food (we had a lot of the same meals) and a larger food budget for per diem meals and better scheduling for some of the tests
Yes, I recommend this program
Ali
9/10

The most amazing experiences.. all put into one trip!

My MEI experience through the Backpackers Central America program was one worth sharing. So many items checked off on my bucket list, while simultaneously learning and excelling in two complex subjects, made effortlessly enjoyable throughout this trip. Going into the adventure, not knowing a single person, and coming home after a month or so having made 30+ new best friends was gratifying beyond comparison. It was important for me to see the person in myself that was able to make friends easily, and have fun while doing it. This will impact my life in new ways to come as I will be willingly open to new experiences and meeting new people. If you decide to go on this amazing adventure, take time for your work, your success, and yourself!!

Yes, I recommend this program

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With MEI International Academy you'll need to bring your passport, because the world is our classroom. Rather than a typical exchange program, high school students and recent graduates from around the world travel from city to city and country to...