CIEE Tropical Ecology + Conservation in Monteverde

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About

Explore the biodiversity in Monteverde’s Cloud Forest Reserve, beaches, waterfalls, coral reefs, and more – all while building on your Spanish language skills. Take courses on tropical ecology, and a Spanish language course appropriate to your skills at CIEE Global Institute – Monteverde. Work on an independent research project in tropical ecology or conservation, from observation and data collection to a presentation of your findings. All courses are complemented with CIEE co-curricular activities and excursions beyond the city to enhance classroom learning and provide intercultural understanding.

Highlights
  • Explore beyond Monteverde with two extensive trips including visits to Costa Rica’s mangroves, lowland rainforest, dry forest, turtle nesting beaches and many others, including the coral reefs of Panama’s Bocas del Toro Islands.
  • Join a Spanish-speaking family for a month and fast-forward your language skills as you learn about native culture.
  • Put new skills into practice as you complete an independent research project that gives you an in-depth look at local flora or fauna.

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Scholarships

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We know cost is one of the biggest barriers to studying abroad. At CIEE, we dedicate real resources to help break down the cost barriers so every student who wants to study abroad, can do so.

Value
$500 - $2,500

Questions & Answers

The program is very academically intensive and structured which means that personal travel/free time is limited. If you want to make independent travel plans please plan to do so once the program has ended.

There is a shorter summer option than condenses the semester program! A coworker has done it and had a similar experience to my semester program.

Reviews

9.83 Rating
based on 24 reviews
  • Academics 8.8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.4
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 8 of 24
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April
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

CIEE Monteverde- Tropical Community Ecology

I absolutely loved this program and I would highly recommend it to anyone. The sheer amount of biological diversity that you get to witness and learn about firsthand is unprecedented. The first two weeks you get to go on a field trip all along the pacific coast of Costa Rica and learn about every type of ecosystem that exists. In Corcovado, you wake up to the calls of howler monkeys and Scarlet Macaws out in search of breakfast. The campsite is absolutely beautiful- I would call is glamping because there is a private beach and bar at the place we stay (its called Jungla de Jaguar if you wanna check it out). Here we saw lizards, sloths, toucans, spiders, and someone even had a very up close encounter with a tapir! In Santa Rosa- my personal favorite place, we saw three different species of monkeys on the walk to breakfast alone. We also frequently saw Tamanduas, agoutis, parrots, snakes, frogs, etc. Definitely bring your camera. The teaching staff and TAs are the best people I have ever met in my life, and they will become your best friends. They know the answer to any question you could have, and are the friendliest people in the world. If you love the outdoors, and waking up in paradise, and making amazing friends, 100% do this program!

What was your funniest moment?
The first night camping out in Santa Rosa I was going to the bathroom and a frog jumped on the back of my leg and scared the crap out me (I screamed), but then we all had a good laugh about it. To be fair, I genuinely thought it was a snake, which was why I was so scared.
Default avatar
Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

J-term Costa Rica

Even though my time in Costa Rica was only three weeks, I was able to explore and learn about Monteverde and the rest of Costa Rica. The campus is BEAUTIFUL!! You will be able to see lots of wild life and experience incredible sites. The staff was incredible. They were extremely friendly and always there for anyone that needed help. The class was interesting, we were able to have many hands on experiences. I was able to meet a wide range of people, some of them have become my very close friends in such a short amount of time. I highly recommend this program.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be pretend for challenges. Being in the rainforest there will be animals, insects, weather changes, food changes, etc. You have to be easy going and try your best to adjust because it will be an amazing experience, and help you grow.
Jessie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

In the Clouds

Amazing program if you’re looking for a balance of sustainability and development lectures/excursions and cultural/language immersion (mostly through homestays). So welcomed by my homestay family and felt like we had lots of time to get to know Monteverde while still having work and classes almost every day. Not academically “rigorous” but incredibly insightful- exposure to multiple places within Costa Rica and the cloud forest, perspectives on green issues, and the chance to do mini research survey projects.
Strong support and guidance from instructors. Would have liked more immersion activities, but able to be independent and find them on our own. Monteverde and Santa Elena all very walkable. So many hikes!
Will be dreaming of the amazing ficus trees and people here for years to come.

Sidney
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Quiet Monteverde

This is not the study abroad program for someone looking to hop around central america, or even Costa Rica. This is the study abroad program for the student who wants to find a second home. Monteverde and Santa Elena are two very quiet towns, with small populations. There is one bar and a handful of coffee shops scattered around the area, and lots of hilly sidewalks in between them. Since Monteverde is so far away from other cities, it is difficult to plan trips or excursions to other places from here, but, you really should not want to leave.

CIEE gave me an excellent school to work from, with an incredible staff who was dedicated, caring and excited. They connected me to a wonderful host family, where I got to learn what it was really like to live in Costa Rica. I spent so much time in the small town, learning it, and learning how to get around that I would feel comfortable showing it off to my family or friends back home; the coffee shop with my favorite smoothies, the best place to get pizza, or my favorite lookout spot. I felt incredibly safe here, I was worried that I would have an issue with Machismo culture but thankfully I experienced no such thing. People here are humble, gracious and friendly, and they love to share their town with you. I learned so much about my own culture, and what it is like to live in another country.

Monteverde is beautiful, I felt lucky getting to walk to class every day, in awe of the cloud rain forest that surrounds the city. I came during the rainy season, but thankfully I got to experience a different climate than I would at home. I have so many favorite memories to chose from here, touring the cloud forest with my class, going zip lining, learning Spanish, sitting in Stella's Cafe, watching a monkey climb on top of a building, seeing toucans in the tree by my house at dusk. Wear shoes you know you can walk forever in, bring a rain jacket, and a good attitude.

What would you improve about this program?
NA
Raven
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An engaging course in a beautiful city

My time in Monteverde challenged me academically, socially, and mentally in all the best ways. The course is designed such that everything we learned, we had hands on experience with as well. Instead of simply talking about different types of agriculture, we visited various farms and spoke with the people who ran them. On the energy unit, we took a 3-day field trip to investigate the most prominent energy sources in Costa Rica. In our free time, my peers and I explored the city, enhancing our Spanish and learning about the culture as well. The staff on the trip were all very friendly and helpful. We felt independent in that, because we are college students, they were not tracking our every move. However, we knew that if we ever needed anything they would be there.

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Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Beautiful Sights, Wonderful People, Hands-on Learning

Studying abroad with the CIEE Monteverde Tropical Ecology and Conservation program was truthfully one of the best decisions I ever made. I deliberated long and hard over several different semester long programs, but ultimately chose this one because of the price, the focus on seeing many diverse ecosystems, and the educational topics.

First of all, I would like to emphasize the quality of teaching on this program; all of the professors and TAs were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about ecology, conservation, animal and plant diversity, how people interact with their environment, etc. The director of the program is an American who has lived in Monteverde for decades, and the remaining professors and TA's are all native Costa Ricans. This provides a unique local perspective. Having been in Costa Rica for all or most of their lives, the teaching staff can give firsthand anecdotes about how climate change is affecting the cloud forests in Monteverde. All of the staff, especially the TAs are very helpful and caring-- they will gladly help you with any physical or emotional troubles you may have during the program.

Next, this program approaches learning from a hands-on perspective. We learned about different plant and animal species, while looking at those species in their natural habitats. We also devoted several days to field ecology techniques: in Tirimbina, we marked and recaptured leaf-cutting ants, in Bocas del Toro, we did point-counts of fish while snorkeling, in Corcovado, we measured tree above ground biomass, etc. Spanish class occurs in Monteverde and is an immersion program, meaning the Spanish class is all in Spanish. They will place you in the correct level and put you in a small interactive class. At first, I was very nervous since I hadn't taken much Spanish, but my professor was endlessly helpful, kind, and funny, and Spanish class ended up being very fun and engaging. The Humans in the Tropics course takes students to different places to learn how people affect their environment. We visited many places including coffee farms, a pig farm, wind turbines, and tree plantations. The Tropical Ecology and Species Diversity courses have a strong focus on reading and comprehending scientific papers, which is useful for anyone going into scientific fields. I also cannot stress how valuable the independent research projects are in giving students the opportunity to design and carry out their own research (with guidance from professors and TAs) and then draw conclusions, write a scientific paper, and present their work. I worked with Lesson's Motmots, which helped me to get another internship with bird research this past summer.

This program includes two field trips, one on the Pacific coast and one on the Atlantic coast. These trips take you to many different ecosystems, from coral reefs, to dry forests, to rainforests. These were, for me, the most rewarding part of the program. Here's a very brief list of some of the amazing experiences we had on the field trips: we saw a wild puma in Corcovado National Park, hiked a very remote part of the Children's Eternal Rainforest and stayed in a small lodging there, snorkeled in coral reefs in Bocas del Toro, Panama, had many sing-alongs around campfires, saw a massive leatherback turtle at Pacuare National Park, and swam in beautiful waterfalls.

The housing in this program includes two longer stays at the Monteverde Biological Station, a month long stay with a Costa Rican host family, a few short stays in hotels and hostels, and some time camping. The Biological Station gives you a space to hang out with friends, and be a few steps away from a beautiful cloud forest that you can hike at your leisure. The food there is very tasty and eating meals with the other students and the staff is enjoyable. The month with a Tico family is also incredible. I got to practice my Spanish and spend time with locals. My mamatica even invited me to a family party, where I had a blast! Students in this program will get to know the places and people in rural Monteverde well.

Because this program allows a good amount of independence, you will also have multitudes of opportunities to do what you want in Costa Rica and Monteverde. I spent much of my time birding, went to local restaurants and bars, went zip-lining, bungee jumping, and even participated in a 10k in the cloud forest! The other students I met on this program were tirelessly interesting and wonderfully motivated. I have truly made fifteen new friends for life. It must be emphasized, however, that this program is A LOT of work, and you will have to spend a lot of time studying and writing, but it is certainly worth it. Be prepared to work hard, but play hard too.

Cristina
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing

Highlights:
-field experience: being able to travel all over the country and learn about the different ecosystems and species first hand was incredible
-homestay: immersing fully by living with a Costa Rican family both allowed me to finally be comfortable speaking Spanish and build a strong connection with my Mama Tica
-independent research: being able to fully choose and implement my own research project with full support from staff (thanks Moncho and Alan) was instrumental in deciding what I want to do with my future... I will be continuing my research in Oregon this fall
-location: Costa Rica is absolutely gorgeous and we got to experience places that very few others get to - Corcovado National Park (saw a puma!), Eladio's Refuge (10 mile backpacking hike to get there), Pocosol (another 10 mi hike through the Children's Eternal Rainforest)

I have neither seen nor heard of any program that gets to experience all of these: homestay, language immersion, field experience, independent research, travel, challenging academics (science) and more!! The program has everything, and while it was a physical, academic and emotional challenge, I would highly recommend to people who are looking for that. Know however, that it is very academically rigorous and science-based so be prepared for that.

What would you improve about this program?
Space out the academics more so there aren't weeks of overwhelming amounts of work and then weeks of hardly anything
Default avatar
Jeffrey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience

This program fulfilled and exceeded all of my expectations. I extensively researched programs before going abroad and this program showed potential to cover a variety of interests, and it delivered. There were parts of the program I was worried about, such as the month-long homestay, but every aspect of this program ended up being extremely valuable to me. The way this program implements academics in nature's true elements is impressive. I have never had such a valuable academic and cultural experience. If you have a love for the environment, want to go on the adventure of a lifetime, and want to change the way you view the world in a positive way, this is the program for you. It is unlike any other in a beautifully unique way. You will go on hikes in the middle of no where, sleep in the heart of Costa Rica's nature, and experience a truly hands on learning environment.

What would you improve about this program?
This program does not have any sort of break in the middle, but this ended up being fine as I instead traveled for a week after the program. You will also travel a lot throughout the program with two field trips (about 2 weeks long each) and will experience Costa Rica in a way you wouldn't be able to on your own.