ICADS
96% Rating
(16 Reviews)

ICADS

It's ICADS 30th Anniversary!

Offering a variety of study abroad programs in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, ranging from semester-long, month-long, and summer programs, ICADS has over 30 years of experience providing quality, hands-on immersion programs to connect students with Central Americans. We focus on economic development, politics, environmental studies, sustainable development, public health, women’s issues, education, human rights, and conservation. Earn academic credit while exploring this unique cultural context and perspectives.

Most Recent Program Reviews

Default avatar
Katie
Female
21 years old
United States
Eckerd College

ICADS

10/10

ICADS was an incredible experience. I got to travel and see more of Costa Rica and its people than I could have with any other program. Their dedication to hands-on learning is evident and David, Gabo and Kat are some really incredible people! There was very little time for self-care such as alone time, exercise and diet but it was all worth it for everything that we were able to be a part of. This experience changed me completely. Thanks so much!!

How can this program be improved?

We really just needed some more time to ourselves to care for our bodies/minds and to experience some of CR on our own.

Default avatar
Margaret
Female
21 years old
Matagalpa
University of Massachusetts- Amherst

Margaret Reynolds

10/10

I very much enjoyed my time during ICADS this spring. I learned about the topics I had been wanting to, gaining a general understanding of the ecology, economy, history, culture, and politics of the area. I felt that there was a lot of work at times, however I did want to learn all that I learned and I am glad that the courses were so comprehensive. They gave me a better understanding of the United States and the importance of the decisions being made in Washington for the country and the world. At the very least I can say this helped with debates with conservative relatives, but I also recognize that some of my actions actually did change as a result of learned impacts and that my life direction could have been altered significantly based on what I came to understand. The day trips we took were a huge part of that. I loved visiting the farms and the businesses, conducting interviews in San Jose.... Also nearly all of the guest speakers were very useful and engaging. I never felt that I could miss a class or not take notes because I wanted to know everything that was being discussed. ICADS has a great selection of material.
My biggest issue when I was abroad was that I felt a bit lonely at times because I wasn't given as much of an opportunity to connect with the people or the place that I was in as I would have liked. The internship was very valuable for me. I loved being away and not with others that are my age or from the US. This seems a bit counter-intuitive considering what I just said, but I valued being on my own and making connections with the people that I worked with or the people in town. That is where a majority of my personal development came from. I learned the most from the friendships that I was able to make in the initial time when I had not looked at the rule manual in a while and forgot some regulations (curfew). These friendships I continue to learn from, as I am still talking via Skype or Facebook to the people I spent my time with.
That paragraph sounds like a complaint but to be clear I absolutely loved my experience here. I got to do so much with my internship- I got to help directly with the workshops that the group conducted to change the oppressive/ violent culture towards women and to give them a more powerful voice, I had a say in designing them and was trained like the facilitators on the issues at hand, I made national news three times for being at different feminist events (playing the drums and singing in one, which I NEVER do but was fun), and I was able to attend many similar (non televised) events that helped with my understanding of the situation in the region and of my place in the world. I was also trusted with the task of teaching an English class informally, which I did not expect and which ended up being great for comprehension of both Spanish and English and for experience designing lesson plans or homework to get points across. I was also given the opportunity to paint (a hobby of mine) and to conduct my own research. Honestly, my internship was fantastic and unlike anything any of my peers on other study abroad trips could have experienced. I am so very glad that I chose ICADS and that I landed in the program that I did. I would highly recommend the program to anyone interested.

How can this program be improved?

see above, less work more freedom
part I cut out:
I didn't love the curfew I had in Nicaragua just because it limited my ability to do this (part on forming connections with people). I was a bit uncomfortable having to tell adult friends that I had to be in the house by a certain hour when we were out at dinner or at someone’s house; they would cut their plans short or plan their trips around places I would be able to go to and still be home in time. I felt that if the family would be awake and I had a safe way to get home it should be acceptable to return later, or that if the family was not going to be awake and I had a definite place to stay for the night that I should be able to do so. I understand the reason for this curfew and for these rules, as it could be dangerous for us or for the program if anything were to happen outside of our plans; for this I felt bad about my indignance. However, I must say that this lack of freedom obstructed my efforts to form the connections that help with whatever disconnect I was feeling from myself and my situation.

Default avatar
Anders
Male
22 years old
Ann Arbor, Mi
University of Michigan

My Favorite Form of Study

10/10

The ICADS field camp program was definitely my favorite time period spent studying in my life. It combined my passion for adventure and individual exploration with practical skills and education that one might achieve in a traditional educational setting. During the first month of study we spent a good amount of time in classrooms receiving lectures and engaging in discussion about the history of Costa Rica to give context to the new world we were living in. These along with the Spanish classes were much appreciated as they were applicable in my life outside of school and it a mostly if not completely relevant to my experience in San Jose and throughout Costa Rica. You will take a few field trips with class to demonstrate specific examples of your learning and it is fun to take some weekend excursions with your classmates to experience more of Costa Rica. I found the work load to be less than that which I usually have at my university. During the second portion of the course your class gets a bit smaller but you embark on longer field trips to study different parts of Costa Rica and their development as well as environmental regulations. You get many opportunities to do outdoor environmental activities for class and outside of class as well as bond with your field program classmates. Finally the last portion of the class is great for personal growth. As you embark on an individual journey to live with a host family in a much more rural area and work on your individual project. This tests your self-reliance, communication skills, and patience to achieve your project goals. It also allows you to organize your life how you want in order to finish your project and do more learning and adventuring just for fun. I loved this program and it was definitely the highlight of my college career.

Default avatar
Kerri
Female
22 years old
Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of Michigan

Becoming a more independent and passionate person in the world's most beautiful country

10/10

My three month experience in Costa Rica with the Field Program of ICADS was the most adventurous, challenging, and thought-provoking period of my life thus far. And I humbly thank the motivating and supportive professors and staff at ICADs for giving me such a diverse and authentic experience through their teaching and their ability to step back and let the experience of Costa Rican living teach us on its own. The three weeks I spent independently following my passion for research as part of the final segment of ICADS' programming took me completely out of my comfort zone, but with the tailored guidance and preparation provided by ICADS, the experience was able to be extremely eye-opening and empowering while also being safe and effective in its goals of making us better researchers. I would absolutely recommend ICADS' field program or intern program (since I studied with many intern students as well) to anybody who loves learning and living unconventionally while gaining critical skills in the interdisciplinary fields of sustainable development and social justice. Most of all, I look to ICADS as the place where i became a true global citizen, and I believe any and all can benefit from such an experience.

Default avatar
Melissa
Female
24 years old
Maryland
Other

An Amazing and Valuable Experience

9/10

ICADS is a wonderful program that takes learning outside of the classroom. The program is divided into 3 major blocks. The first block is month long classes where you study Spanish in the morning in small classes based on your skill level. (I was in a class of 2.) In the afternoon there is a more structured class on sustainable development and social justice. During this period we went on many field trips and a study tour to Nicaragua. It was during this tour that I fell in love with Nicaragua and decided to do my study tour there instead of in Costa Rica (where the classes were held).

Once I decided to do my internship in Nicaragua, the program coordinators worked with me to find an internship that would fit what I was looking for in a program. I was interested in a public health setting although there were options for many other fields such as nursing, homeopathic medicine, teaching, environmental studies, etc. If they didn't already have an established relationship with an organization that interested you, the program coordinators worked hard to find you a new placement.

In Nicaragua, all the intern in my cohort lived in Matagalpa, this darling little town/city in NW Nicaragua. I lived in a modern house with modern conveniences. My host mom was a wonderful cook (too wonderful! I gained 5lbs!) and I was never hungry. I would spend time watching telenovelas with my family, or playing cards with my host siblings.

My internship was with the Nicaraguan Communal Movement (Movimiento Comunal Nicaraguese) (MCN). I worked with a wonderfully patient supervisor on a program that brought basic nutrition information to surrounding communities. I made different visual props and prepared a "charla" or mini, informal speech that I gave in tandem with my supervisor. It was really rewarding work.

In my time at MCN I also supported local protests against public transportation fare increases, domestic violence, and an international minery. I also made murals for a vaccination campaign that would be hung in local clinics around the area. I was really integrated into the organization even though my time there was short.

In the afternoons I went to a dance studio to work out. They had a very reasonable priced Zumba-styled class where I met both locals and foreigners like myself. The studio staff were friendly and I got a good workout.

I felt very safe in Nicaragua and had no trouble walking around by myself, although I didn't quite feel comfortable running there. On the weekends, my cohort would go dancing at Artesanos, a local bar.

I love Matagalpa and can't wait to go back. My internship helped prepare me for my public health career and was a key component to getting two jobs back in the states. I think that my time in Nicaragua was invaluable as it really shaped who I am as a professional and a person.

How can this program be improved?

I wish there had been more planned events to get us involved in the community. On the weekends the city was basically asleep. I didn't have much to do on the weekends. In Nicaragua, people relax and visit with family on the weekend. Being an American from the NE I had a hard time relaxing and as a foreigner I didn't have any family to visit.

Program Listings

Costa Rica

ICADS
The Field Program explores the connections between the social sciences and the natural sciences in community's strategies for...

Nicaragua

ICADS
Costa Rica is perhaps best known for its ecological diversity and the abolition of its army. In lieu of a military, it has an...

Nicaragua

ICADS
Gain hands-on experience and knowledge; move beyond the theory into the practice, and put your views of development and justi...

Costa Rica

ICADS
This challenging hands-on internship program has it all: intensive Spanish preparation prior to the internship placement; pro...

Costa Rica

ICADS
Learning Spanish at ICADS isn't just about conjugating and grammar: language here is seen as a tool to connect with real Lati...

Costa Rica

ICADS
Fourteen weeks divided in 3 blocks: - Five weeks in San Jose living with a Costa Rican family and studying Spanish. In the af...