K-State students start off the New Year in Costa Rica

Where will YOU spend the first 2-weeks of 2019?

For the past six years, the Spanish program at Kansas State University has been offering a 2-week study abroad trip to Costa Rica during the first two weeks of January, prior to the start of the Spring semester. Originally a CAT community developed by Dr. Laura Kanost and Angelique Courbou, this particularly trip is ideal for students wishing to improve their spoken Spanish and listening comprehension. Additionally, this relatively short trip abroad is organized by K-State Spanish faculty and can easily accommodate the schedule of even the most busy double- or triple(!)-majors. During these two weeks, students live with host families (individually or in pairs), work on a service project in Atenas, Costa Rica, complete a community research project, and visit several beautiful and unique locations in Costa Rica. They also get to drink LOTS of some of the world’s best coffee, enjoy “the best climate in the world” in Atenas, and return to Kansas in January with a nice tan! #PuraVida!

K-State Spanish students Tyler Brelsford, Elizabeth Harper, Daniel Pankratz, and Morgan Zupan on campus in Atenas, Costa Rica (Jan. 2017).

Below are some pictures and details about the most recent trip, which was led by Dr. Rebecca Bender from January 2-14, 2018. If you’d like to participate in January 2019, start by following the group’s Facebook page, then contact Angelique Courbou (angeli) for details. The course prerequisite is Spanish 301 (Spanish IV) or above, and students earn 3-credits towards their Spanish major or minor.

Service project: In January 2018 students painted playground games outside of a local day care center. They first scraped the pavement, put down a base coat, then got creative and artsy with hopscotch (Rayuela) games and colorful murals.

Before (Antes…)

During (durante…)

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After (Después…)

Sightseeing: When students aren’t in class or with their host families, excursions included a day trip to Costa Rica’s capital city, San José; a visit to Irazú volcano; a stop at the “haunted” Durán Sanatorium — unfortunately no ghosts appeared in our photos(!); a guided visit to a local exotic animal sanctuary; a tour of Coopatenas coffee mill; and a final trip to the beach, for zip-lining and relaxation!

Sightseeing in San Jose
#KStateSpanish selfie at Irazu Volcono (image: Daniel Pankratz)

Ghost-hunting at one of the ‘most-haunted places in Costa Rica’

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Learning how to make empanadas in Atenas

Community research project: Each student selected a topic that was related to their major field of study, or that interested them for another reason. This year, students looked at obesity rates, primary and pre-K education, food security, and daily meals.


Do YOU want to go to Costa Rica in January 2019? Start by following the group’s Facebook page, then contact Angelique Courbou (angeli) for further details.


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