Inside Costa Rica

New study-abroad option offers cross-cultural experience for scholar-athletes

Designed with the student-athlete in mind, Wittenberg's newest study abroad option in Costa Rica aims to provide a comprehensive cross-cultural experience. Based in the nation's capital of San Jose and beginning in spring 2017, the unique program will combine opportunities for student athletes to train and condition in their sport with intensive language instruction, general education courses and community service.

Wittenberg is partnering with Veritas University and Beyond Sports, an international education and service-learning organization that uses sports as a vehicle to create meaningful, relationship-based global engagement opportunities, to offer the semester-long program tentatively scheduled for Jan. 1 - May 1, 2017.

Open to all majors, the program is designed to make study abroad more accessible to students who might otherwise find these opportunities difficult to pursue due to sports schedules, academic requirements, language barriers or cost.

Unlike many study abroad programs, the Wittenberg in Costa Rica program will allow student athletes, depending on the availability of their sport, to train with student athletes from all over the United States, and to have access to strength and conditioning facilities three days per week.  In some cases, students may be able to train with professional athletes.

The program fulfills several requirements for graduation from Wittenberg, including foreign language, some general education and community service. Participants will take an intensive Spanish course for the first month, followed by a course on the geology and geomorphology of Costa Rica taught by John Ritter, an award-winning professor of geology and the program's inaugural director. Course topics will range from the country's green energy infrastructure, which consists of hydroelectric and geothermal energy, to ecotourism venues that include beaches, caves, volcanoes and rain forests.

Students can meet two general education requirements by taking two electives from Veritas University that are taught in either English or Spanish. Available courses include international business, international relations/environmental policy, and photography, as well as advanced Spanish courses.

Students will complete Wittenberg's community service requirement by volunteering in a local day care, in after-school programs in nearby schools, or with the Special Olympics. Opportunities with an urban community gardening program may also be available.

No prior Spanish is required to apply for the program. The intensive Spanish course - taught at all levels, as well as the community service and home-stay experiences, will give students ample opportunities to practice speaking Spanish and interact with local residents. Host families will provide private bedrooms, breakfast and dinner for participants.

Because the program is hosted by Wittenberg, all Wittenberg financial aid and scholarships may be applied toward the cost of the program. Students are responsible for airfare, personal expenses and one meal per day.

Additional program benefits include access to a variety of activities at Veritas University, including yoga, tropical dance, self defense, Costa Rican cooking, Bible study and Conversation Club, all of which are included in the program fee. An on-site travel agent can help students arrange trips to other areas of the country.

Located in the Central Valley region, San Jose is the largest city in Costa Rica with a population of 1 million. As a group, students will visit Manuel Antonio Beach on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast, Arenal Volcano in the volcanic mountain ranges to the northwest of the city, and Bocas del Toro, Panama.

To be eligible for the program, students must have completed three semesters at Wittenberg. Applications are due in October 2016. For more information or to apply, contact Director of International Education JoAnn Bennett at or 937-327-6185.

Debbie Ritter
Debbie Ritter
Writer and Content Editor

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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