By Gina Glantz

Kutztown University is sponsoring a study abroad program in tropical Belize during the Winter 2024 semester. The program will run from December 30 until January 13.

Students can take one 3-credit science course to satisfy a general education elective, a free elective, or a biology major requirement. A letter grade will be given upon completion of a course.

Students can choose between two courses being offered: BIO 125 Exploring Biodiversity taught by Dr. Chris Habeck and BIO 342 Herpetology taught by Dr. Matt Stone. 

Exploring Biodiversity fulfills the C1/C3 general education requirement, and Herpetology is only being offered to biology majors. Students majoring in biology may take BIO 356 Conservation Biology instead of the Exploring Biodiversity course. 

Belize is located in Central America. It is an English-speaking country with protected tropical forests, savannas, and the second-largest barrier reef on Earth.

Students will have the opportunity to view different biological species, such as epiphytic orchids, leaf-cutter ants, fer-de-lance, boa constrictors, howler monkeys, tapir, kinkajou, harpy eagle, and possibly a jaguar. 

Students will also experience the Mayan culture, as Mayans contribute largely to the Belize population. Students will see how Mayans interact with their environment to create materials, clothes, medicines, and food. 

Classes will take place in formal and informal locations. Informal locations include the Belize Zoo, Bladen Nature Reserve, the coral reefs near South Water Caye, and Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve.

Students will have one free day for travel, where they can play on the beaches or explore the forests of Belize.

Students should note that Belize is located in a tropical climate, meaning they will encounter animals and insects they may find distressing.

During the trip, students and faculty will go on hikes in the forests, snorkel off the coast of Belize, and sometimes will have to walk in undeveloped areas without sidewalks. Additionally, students and faculty will go on a six-mile hike, however, students have the option of riding in a pickup truck.

Faculty will try their best to accommodate anyone with mobility issues. Dr. Habeck states, “I would work to make sure that they could participate in as many of the activities as possible, or come up with alternate activities for them if they felt uneasy participating.”

Kutztown requires all study abroad students to be in good disciplinary standing and good academic standing, with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. 

The estimated total cost of this trip is $4,791.40. This includes in-state tuition and fees, a faculty-led program fee, airfare, study abroad insurance, and a US Passport.

Fees include rooms, ground transportation, site entrance fees, program excursions, and all meals. 

Tuition is determined based on in-state students. If interested students are not in-state students, they must contact the Office of Student Accounts for the non-resident tuition and fees rate.

Financial Aid may help finance the study abroad program. Students can review aid information here. Students may also apply for scholarships. 

Additionally, the honors program is hosting a $1,000 scholarship for honors students who wish to study abroad. 

Students can apply for the trip here and must submit the $200 non-refundable deposit to the Office of Student Accounts by September 23, 2023. The deposit is included in the cost of the program. 

The total tuition bill will be due October 13, 2023.

Prior to the trip, students will participate in a mandatory participant orientation program. The date is to be determined.

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