IFSA: Study Abroad Program in Mexico

Video and Photos

students sitting under palm trees
students sitting under palm trees
Stone building in France
Stone building in France


Come study abroad next summer, semester, or academic year in Merida, Mexico at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán with IFSA. In Mérida, Yucatán, explore how Mexico balances 21st century realities with the enduring influence of the pre-Hispanic Mayan empire. Through the Mérida Universities Program, which includes multi-day excursions to Mexico City and San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, you will interact with complexities of the local culture and learn how the Mayan influence is thread differently throughout Mexico.


IFSA Scholarships
IFSA Scholarships and Financial Aid

We believe that study abroad should be within reach of every student, so we offer a wide range of scholarships and funding opportunities for all our participants.

$500 - $2,500

Questions & Answers


based on 5 reviews
  • Academics 5.6
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 8.6
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Program

I had an amazing time in Mérida through this program and really improved my Spanish!

The opportunity to take classes at the local university (or universities) was integral to the significant improvement I saw in my Spanish and really allowed for a deeper understanding and integration into the culture. At the same time, the program classes give you a minute to step back and reflect in a more familiar environment. The program staff are also incredible and super supportive, so you always have a space where you can be comfortable sharing any concerns or issues you may run into.

As for living in Mérida, the host families are all incredible and really welcome you into their homes. Mérida is a beautiful and very safe city and I loved getting to know it throughout the semester. The surrounding area is also full of interesting and gorgeous places to visit, and the program does a great job of organizing excursions to expose you to different parts of Mexico and the Yucatan while also leaving time for individual travel.

Living in Mexico also gave me a totally different perspective on the relationship between our two countries that I think is really valuable and unique.

Overall, it was an unforgettable experience--the main drawback is how much you'll miss it when it's over (and yes, it is very hot).

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Since we picked classes right in the beginning, when I was still getting used to everything, I stuck with one or two IFSA kids in each of my UADY classes. While this was nice to some extent, I wish I would have taken the leap to take a class by myself, since I think that would have really forced me to get to know other Mexican students at the university better.
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful semester

I loved being abroad in Mérida. The best part was studying at the local university and being in class with students who were all from the area. I was the only English speaker in my classes so my Spanish improved a ton. I learned so much from my peers and made friends that will last a lifetime! Mérida has a lot to offer and the prices can't be beat. The food I ate in my host family was some of the best I've ever had and they always made an effort to incorporate me in their activities.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have enjoyed group trips outside of México.
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Yes, I recommend this program

You should probably pick this program

First and foremost, had some of the best times of my life here. Let's enumerate some pros of the program first:

-It's designed to favor those seeking independence and personal enrichment via being able to form a cohesive identity in a different culture.
-Fantastic location: you want cenotes, beautiful beaches, arresting landscapes, fascinating archeological sites, you've got it. You've also got Cuba + Guatemala + Belize (plus the rest of México, which compared to the Yucatán peninsula is like a separate country) within striking distance.
-Extremely immersive homestay. Without exaggeration, I was treated like (and eventually became) another member of the family.
-Gracious and engaging program leaders (shout out to Francisco + Diana!). Individually tailored support system.
-Nice balance of different locales for the in-program excursions (Mexico City and San Cristobal de las Casas were highlights).

However, Mérida can be very polarizing. This paragraph merely serves to check your expectations; I personally found none of the following to be a turn off. However, if you have issues dealing with the daily grievances of living somewhere quite hot (it was already 102 degrees Fahrenheit in March at one point), want to take public transportation everywhere (the bus system is horrendous but Uber is very cheap and ubiquitous in Mérida), seek academic rigor comparable to that of a respectable U.S. institution (in my experience, classes at the local universities [those of the Modelo in particular] were reminiscent of high school classes), or prioritize studying in a more "mainstream," or stereotypical, segment of Mexican culture (i.e. in the central/northern part), maybe you should reconsider studying in Mérida.

All in all, if you want an atypical study abroad experience that will challenge you in very rewarding ways, look no further. You're bound to come back changed for the better.

Yes, I recommend this program

Merida, MX

I would recommend the program to anyone who is very independent, motivated to learn spanish, and wants to travel outside of Merida on weekends. I didn’t find Merida to be that exciting of a city and it’s very hot so i would go for the Yucatan and en travel to other areas, but i found Merida to be a little too “tranquilo” for my liking. Also, the location for the program isn’t great—it takes about 40 mins or more to get downtown on a bus and at least 20 to get to school on a bus and there isn’t really anything in the neighborhood.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Best time of my life

Made great friends, learned a terrific language and developed a close relationship with a terrific host family that I still have today. My only complaint is that it got too hot too quickly (May is 110+ degrees every day) but you figure it out. Merida is very close to tons of things to do (best beaches ever, ecotourism, visit the pyramids, and more) and is a very safe place to be. I would live there if I could.


Mexican Peso
79 F / 43 F
81 F / 52 F
73 F / 54 F
72 F / 45 F
Mexico City International Airport
( MEX )
Cancún International Airport
( CUN )
Guadalajara International Airport
( GDL )

Mexico is one of the most touristed places on the planet, due to the vast amount of activities and travelers it can cater to. The most prevalent areas in Mexico are the beach resorts; however, there is a lot more depth to this country than the cruises and all-inclusive resorts that are typically frequented. To see the real Mexico, explore areas that encompass the charming and eclectic Mexican vibe like Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guanajuato.

About Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)

The Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988. Our primary goal is to provide quality study abroad opportunities, plus academic and personal support services, for qualified North American undergraduates seeking to...