Puntarenas, Costa Rica
USAC
1-866-404-USAC1-775-784-65691-775-784-6010studyabroad@usac.unr.edu

Course Information

Puntarenas, Costa Rica | 2017 Fall

Studying abroad can be a more meaningful and invigorating learning experience than at home—both inside and outside of the classroom. You may be more curious and alert than you usually are so use this heightened energy to enhance your studies as well as your cultural and geographical explorations. You may also encounter different teaching styles and course processes; be prepared to adapt and to learn.

Academics

You will enroll in 12 to 18 credits per semester comprised of a language track plus electives in literature and language, Latin American studies and ecology. Course availability is contingent upon student enrollment and is subject to change.

Spanish Language Tracks

USAC offers intensive language courses grouped into tracks in which courses are taught sequentially (back to back) within one semester. If you have already taken the first course in a track, you do not have to take it again for credit, but you must audit it to be prepared for success at the next level. Language courses are small and typically have a maximum enrollment of 15 students each.

Track I (14 credits total)—Prerequisite: none

Track II (12 credits total)—Prerequisite: two semesters of college Spanish

Track III (9 credits total)—Prerequisite: four semesters of college Spanish

Track IV (6 credits total)—Prerequisite: six semesters of college Spanish

Fall Semester

Language and Literature Electives

Taught in Spanish

Latin American and Ecological Studies

Courses are taught in English unless noted in Spanish; courses taught in Spanish are for students in Track III or above unless otherwise indicated.

Spring Semester

Language and Literature Electives

Taught in Spanish

Latin American and Ecological Studies

Courses are taught in English unless noted in Spanish; courses taught in Spanish are for students in Track III or above unless otherwise indicated.

Field Studies

Deepen your academic experience through the optional Cuba Field Study which helps you explore the historical, cultural, and natural features of the region. Students who enroll in this 1-credit course will select a particular topic of interest to examine as part of the field study, and complete a research paper drawing from their field study experience as well as from additional readings, research, and written assignments.

Internships

USAC internships are rich resources for your academic and professional development. Students are placed in a Spanish-speaking environment, with high exposure to culture and language, and must be able to communicate at an advanced language level. Interns earn credits but no financial compensation. The schedule and the number of work hours will be determined by the schedule of USAC courses.

Puntarenas internship opportunities fall into broad categories; previous placements have included: the Marine Biological Station and Marine Park, local schools, or teaching/tutoring English. Other internship sites are possible. Placement is not guaranteed by USAC, rather it will be determined by your application and supporting materials and an interview onsite with the internship sponsor.

Eligibility: enrollment in the Puntarenas program, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and junior standing at the time of the internship. A refundable fee of $100 is charged and returned upon successful completion of the internship.

US Professors

Local faculty teach most USAC courses; however, the following US professors are also teaching as Visiting Professors.

Spring Semester:

Dr. Kristen Waring, Northern Arizona University

Courses offered:

Dr. Waring has a background in forest health, forest ecology and natural resource management. Her research program focuses on solving critical forest health problems such as invasive species and climate change. She has taught a variety of courses and frequently employs learner-centered teaching approaches.

Course Descriptions

Advanced Spanish I

Fall (Spanish; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Spanish; 400-level; 3 credits)

This advanced level course of Spanish has been designed for students who have completed three years of Spanish and although they may manage in completing daily tasks and interactions, they still need to improve their control over different oral and written registers. In addition, this course offers the students the opportunity to enhance their vocabulary in specific and technical areas, and to improve their grammatical accuracy in oral and written production.

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Advanced Spanish II

Fall (Spanish; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Spanish; 400-level; 3 credits)

Advanced Spanish II (SPN 411) has been designed for students who have completed more than three years of Spanish and although they may manage in daily tasks and interactions, they still need to improve their control over different oral and written registers. In addition, this course will offer them the opportunity to enhance the coherence and cohesion of their production, and to improve their grammatical accuracy.

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Advanced Spanish Writing and Stylistics

Fall (Spanish; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Spanish; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course is designed as a writing workshop for students with an advanced-superior level of Spanish. Its final goal is that the student develops personal and effective writing strategies. The composing process is broken down into different stages: an analysis of the communicative situation, brain storming, idea organization, composing, proofreading, editing and evaluating.

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Business Spanish

Spring (Spanish; 300-level; 3 credits)

The objective of this course is to enable students to develop competence in an area which normally does not constitute a part of language learning. You will become familiar with the terminology and syntax of the world of economics, business administration, markets and related topics, in order to enable you to communicate correctly in the target language. Business writing, correspondence, oral and written translation of business related material is also practiced. Prerequisite: six semesters of college Spanish. Taught in Spanish. (Spring semester)

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Cuba Field Study: History and Society

Fall (Anthropology, History, Spanish; 200-level; 1 credit)
Spring (Anthropology, History, Spanish; 200-level; 1 credit)

Cuba was a key factor in the colonial Americas—its history exemplifying the impact of slavery and imperialism. Physically close but politically isolated from the United States, Cuba was also pivotal in twentieth-century events impacting the US, from the Spanish-American War to the Cuban Missile Crisis. As a result, Cuba has maintained a cultural and mythic presence in the history of the US and surrounding region. The Cuba Field Study course will give you the opportunity to experience the layers of history and culture in Cuba firsthand—the past, present, and future realities of Cuban society and its fusion of Spanish, African, and American flavors to create a rich culture all its own. The Cuba Field Study offers an unmatched opportunity to visit this enchanting island and culture, and provides a rich layer of understanding to your time living and studying in Costa Rica and Latin America by examining the contrasts and similarities between two former Spanish colonies and their histories since independence.

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Dances of Latin America

Fall (Dance; 100-level; 1 credit)
Spring (Dance; 100-level; 1 credit)

The Latin American Dances class is addressed to those students who enjoy dancing and want to learn how to relate traditional Latin American dances like “Cha chachá”, “Son”, “Bolero” “Merengue”, “Salsa”, “Guaracha”, “Cumbia” and so on. At the same time, the students have the chance to practice Spanish and become more acquainted with the Latin American culture.

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Elementary Spanish I

Fall (Spanish; 100-level; 4 credits)
Spring (Spanish; 100-level; 4 credits)

Elementary Spanish I is a four-credit language course offered to students who are enrolled in USAC and have not taken any Spanish courses at college-level before. This course is designed to help non-native speakers of Spanish to acquire basic communicative competence by providing the opportunities to develop the basic skills of a language: listening, speaking, interacting, reading and writing. The main emphasis of this course is on communication and, therefore, class attendance is essential.

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Elementary Spanish II

Fall (Spanish; 100-level; 4 credits)
Spring (Spanish; 100-level; 4 credits)

Elementary Spanish II is a four-credit language course offered to students who are enrolled in USAC and have taken one course of Spanish at college-level or its equivalent before. This course is designed to help non-native speakers of Spanish to acquire basic communicative competence. It provides opportunities for the development of the basic skills of a language: listening, speaking, interacting, reading and writing. The main emphasis of this course is on communication and, therefore, class attendance is essential.

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Forest Ecology

Spring (400-level; 3 credits)

Forests are critically important for plants, animals, and people. The world has incredibly diverse forests from rainforests to high mountain forests to vast savannas dotted with trees. This course is a non-technical introduction to the ecology of forests and a survey of the valuable services provided by forest ecosystems: clean air, clean water, wildlife, forest products. We will cover ecological concepts such as disturbance and succession, tree recruitment, growth and mortality, and forest sustainability. Throughout the course, we will discuss and apply course concepts to local Costa Rican forests.

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Government and Politics in Latin America

Fall (Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

A comparative analysis of the constitutional foundations, governmental institutions and changing political ideas, processes and group dynamics in selected Latin American countries including Costa Rica.

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Intermediate Spanish I

Fall (Spanish; 200-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Spanish; 200-level; 3 credits)

Intermediate Spanish I is a three-credit course offered to students who have completed a year of college Spanish or its equivalent. In this course, the students will learn to narrate in the main time-frames, as well as to recognize the different uses of the subjunctive mood in the expression of different degrees of certainty, of wishes and of advices.

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Intermediate Spanish II

Fall (Spanish; 200-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Spanish; 200-level; 3 credits)

Intermediate II is a course designed for students who have completed a year and a half of college Spanish or its equivalent and want to learn how to use the language with increasing syntactic complexity and grammatical accuracy, paying special attention to the change of time-frames, as well as the expression of hypothesis and different degrees of certainty.

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International Political Economy: North-South Relations

Fall (Economics, Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

Theories of Third World development emphasizing the role of the state will be covered with a special focus on the relationship between the state and national/international corporations. A discussion of selected current and future political-economic issues dealing with aspects such as North-South relations with particular emphasis on Latin America. Prerequisite: six semesters of college Spanish. Taught in Spanish. (Fall semester)

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Introduction to Conservation Biology

Fall (Biology, Environmental Science; 200-level; 3 credits)

This course is intended to give students a firsthand knowledge of conservation biology. It does so in the context of an intensive foreign study tour in Costa Rica. (Fall semester)

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Introduction to Conservation Biology Field Study

Fall (Biology; 200-level; 1 credit)

This field study course consists of three field trips to different habitats (One day field trip and two overnight field trips). The objectives of these visits will be to better understand the topics covered in the lectures such as biological diversity and the sustainable use of natural resources, and the maintenance of natural resources in Costa Rica. A fee of $200 is charged to help pay for transportation, entrance fees, ecology guides, lodging in biological reserves or national parks and some meals. Concurrent enrollment in Conservation Biology is required. (Fall semester)

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Introduction to Tropical Marine Biology

Fall (Biology; 200-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Biology; 200-level; 3 credits)

This course is a general introduction to tropical marine ecosystems and their inhabitants.

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Introduction to Tropical Marine Biology Field Study

Fall (Biology; 200-level; 1 credit)
Spring (Biology; 200-level; 1 credit)

This field study course consists of three field trips to different habitats. (One day field trip and two overnight field trips). The objectives of these visits are to better understand the topics covered in the lectures such as: General Oceanography, Tropical Oceans, Coral Reefs, Mangrove Ecosystems, Grass Bed Ecosystems, Invertebrates and Tropical Marine Conservation. A fee of $200 is charged to help pay for transportation, entrance fees, ecology guides, lodging in biological reserves or national parks and some meals.

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Latin America and its Cultures

Fall (Anthropology, History, Spanish; 200-level; 3 credits)
Fall (Anthropology, History, Spanish; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Anthropology, History, Spanish; 200-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Anthropology, History, Spanish; 300-level; 3 credits)

This course is a introduction to Latin American cultures from a historic point of view, as well as in contemporary societies: indigenous, religion, cinema, clothing, food, family, music, women's roles, politics, economy, environment, etc. The course studies the case of Costa Rica and its culture, but also emphasizes other countries such as: Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Haiti and Dominican Republic.

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Latin America and its Cultures Field Study

Fall (Anthropology, History, Spanish; 200-level; 1 credit)
Spring (Anthropology, History, Spanish; 200-level; 1 credit)

Three field trips to different places in Costa Rica in order to illustrate topics that are studied in class, .such as contemporary society, education, the role of gender, traditions, religion, and other cultural manifestations. A fee of $200 is charged to help pay for transportation, entrance fees, guides, lodging and some meals. Concurrent enrollment in Latin America and its Cultures or previous completion of an equivalent culture course is required

One day first trip to a sugar and a coffee plantation, a traditional sugar mill and a coffee processing plant in the area of San Ramón, Alajuela. One day second trip to San Lucas Island or Island of Lonely Men, a famous former Penitentiary of Costa Rica in The Gulf of Nicoya.Fishing, mangroves, congos, swimming, culture and nature. A three days, two nights trip to San José, the capital, and Cartago. National Theater and National Museum in San José. Basilica of Los Angeles in Cartago and Colonial Church and Religious Museum in Orosi Valley, Cartago.Visit to monuments and parks in San José. Two free nights for theater, cinema or dancing with a costa rican guide.

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Latin American Cuisine

Fall (Nutrition; 200-level; 1 credit)
Spring (Nutrition; 200-level; 1 credit)

The Latin American Cuisine class is addressed to those students who enjoy cooking and want to learn how to prepare traditional Latin American dishes like “ceviche”, “picadillo”, “empanadas”, “tres leches”, and so on. At the same time, the students have the chance to practice Spanish and become more acquainted with the Latin American culture.

This is a program that changes depending of the time of the year and the products available in the market. For that reason, the menu varies every session. The dishes are based on sea food products, beef, cereals, home made pasta, and dressings.Traditional Latin American cuisine does incoporate, meat, dairy, eggs, and gluten. Students with specific dietary restrictions may not be able to eat all the food prepared in class.

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Latin American Social Revolutions

Spring (History, Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course examines the major social revolutions that occurred in Latin America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Beginning with the only successful slave rebellion that brought forth the independent Republic of Haiti (1791-1804), through the Mexican and Cuban Revolutions and going to the Nicaraguan Revolution. The cases of Chile and El Salvador will also be studied. Students will analyze the causes, nature and consequences of these revolutions in America.

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Plants and People

Spring (Biology; 200-level; 3 credits)

This class is an exploration of the methods by which humans have adapted to their local environments through the production and use of plants. With an emphasis on food systems in Costa Rica and other areas of the world, this class will examine traditional plant production and uses. It will also explore current food and fiber systems and the challenge of how plants may continue to be used to promote healthy people and communities. Discussions will include examination of organic food production, globalization, and genetic manipulation. Students will gain an understanding of the resource requirements, nutritional content, and ecological consequences associated with their own plant use.

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Spanish Composition I

Fall (Spanish; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Spanish; 300-level; 3 credits)

This is a third year couse for students who have completed two years of Spanish at the college level or their equivalent. Emphasis is placed in improving the students´ writing abilities with the analysis first, and the subsequent production of different types of texts. In addition, a number of grammatical topics are reviewed in order to enhance and improve learners´ grammatical competence. The extensive reading of a short novel will accompany and strengthen the formal instruction.

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Spanish Composition II

Fall (Spanish; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Spanish; 300-level; 3 credits)

Composition II is designed for students with 5 semester of college level Spanish language Study. The focus of this course is to improve learners´ written abilities through the analysis first and the subsequent production of different types of texts. In addition, a number of grammatical topics will be reviewed in order to enhance and refine the learners´ grammatical competence.

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Spanish Conversation and Oral Skills

Fall (300-level; 1 - 3 credits)
Spring (300-level; 1 - 3 credits)

Optional three-credit course that complements the development of linguistic competences facilitated at the two/three-hundred level courses, focusing in the oral skills in particular.

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Surfing

Fall (Recreation / Physical Education; 100-level; 1 credit)
Spring (Recreation / Physical Education; 100-level; 1 credit)

This course is offered by a surf school at one of the world’s best surfing locations in Costa Rica, Jacò.

For both the Fall and Spring semesters, students will meet once per week for 10 weeks in order to complete the course. The programmed order of sessions is subject to changes for reasons beyond our control, such as inclement weather, very big waves, strong rip currents, etc.

The surf school will provide all necessary equipment and insurance, as well as showers and a locker room.

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Survey of Art I: Pre-Columbian Art and Cultures

Fall (Art; 200-level; 3 credits)

It is intended that the students know and understand the variety of the cultural history of human occupation before the first American contact with Europeans. To do this, we will study topics such as the antiquity of man in America and the artistic and intellectual achievements.

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Survey of Art II: Colonial Period to the Present

Spring (Art; 200-level; 3 credits)

Once Spain conquered and subdued the indigenous peoples of America, Spaniards proceeded to eliminate the cultural manifestations of pre-columbian cultures. Instead, they implemented in short the cultural elements of Spain in the New World. It is clear that many elements and traditions of indigenous cultures survived. However, in most cases indigenous people intermingled with Iberian traits forming a syncretic culture in America.

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Survey of Latin American Literature I

Fall (Spanish; 300-level; 3 credits)

This course offers the student a historical view of Latin American literary production, until the period of Modernism and furthermore, to the period where the new Narrative emerges.

Previous to the analysis of literary texts, this course has a introduction to help the students find the propose of this class, recognize the foundations of literature and learn how to analyze from a social, political and cultural point of view.

Beyond a simple university requirement, the class tries to encourage the pleasure of reading and, therefore, a cultural enrichment.

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Survey of Latin American Literature II

Spring (Spanish; 300-level; 3 credits)

This course is an invitation to the student to enjoy literature.

It emphasizes in the duality: history-literature since, it is known, that in this case, the history of Hispanic-America, is reflected in this literary production. the texts, therefore, should not be seen by themselves; since their analysis transcends from a simple structuralism, to a link of the text with the society of its time, its culture, its politics and ideology.

In the extent that this is accomplish, the course will have achieved its propose.

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Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Latin American Cinema

Fall (Art, Film, Spanish; 400-level; 3 credits)

Analysis of the form, content, directing, editing, social relevance, and history of recent films from or about Latin America. Special emphasis in contemporary tendencies of Art Cinema and the Latin American Documentaries. Prerequisite: six semesters of college Spanish. Taught in Spanish. (Spring semester)

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Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Latin American Novel

Spring (Spanish; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Spanish; 600-level; 3 credits)

To study systematically the principal forms of aesthetic-ideological tendencies of Hispanic American novel from the XX and XXI centuries, analyzing the criteria of segmentation (literary and historiography) of these events manifestations.

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Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Latin American Short Story and Essay

Fall (Spanish; 400-level; 3 credits)
Fall (Spanish; 600-level; 3 credits)

This course focuses on the development of Latin American fiction and nonfiction prose from the beginning of the 19th century to the present. Emphasis is on key texts and authors, aesthetic and historical contexts and special attention will be given to the particular issues raised by Latin American tradition and to the critical models available for reading individual texts. Prerequisite: six semesters of college Spanish. Taught in Spanish.

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Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Latin American Theatre

Spring (Spanish, Theater; 300-level; 3 credits)

The objectives of the course are to develop a vision of the literary devices of the Latin American theater of the 20th century, and to appreciate and interpret the creative elements in the formation of dramatic space. Finally, some of the theatrical and dramatic tendencies of Latin America will be studied: such as the Teatro Opresivo and its Brazilian influence, Teatro de la Burla and Teatro Surrealista Latino Americano. Author selection has been made by taking into account the relevance that each one has provided in the contribution and innovation of artistic and dramatic creation. Prerequisite: six semesters of college Spanish. Taught in Spanish.

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