Backpackers Central America:Two Course Summer Study Abroad Program
Why Study Biology and English Together?
Pairing the grade 12 Biology and English courses provides students with the scientific background and the literary context to gain a more holistic understanding of a rapidly changing world. The MEI Biology and English program immerses students in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world- Central America. While traveling through the hidden gems of Belize and Costa Rica, students encounter adventures such as swimming with manatees, zip-lining through forest canopies, exploring Mayan ruins and collecting specimens beneath an active volcano.
This program focuses on in-depth biological analyses, field studies, metabolic processes, and molecular genetics, as well as various branches of the life sciences. By studying regional literature, as well as completing biology reports, students refine their analytical, critical and communication skills.
The core English course focuses on the refinement of literacy, communication and analytical skills. Students build on their understanding of academic language and practice using it confidently in discussion and argumentation both in oral and written forms.
Students can substitute Studies in Literature—Grade 12
The core English course gives students the opportunity to hone their presentation, analytical and critical thinking skills through assignments and activities that incorporate both oral and written communication.
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Prep Session 1: Early May, 2018
Flight and hotel details are available on individual program sites, available to registered students and their parents.
Preparation and Course Work
In order to ease into the program, students have access to the course website, where reading lists will be posted. Course preparation is spread out over four weeks: our first two-week preparation session begins in early May, focusing on novel studies; the second two-week session begins in late June, focusing on completing small assignments. These online sessions are designed to connect students with their teachers and classmates and help complete short tasks to alleviate the workload during the summer. Students are required to complete all pre-departure work prior to departure to ensure they are ready to hit the ground running while overseas.
Departure From Toronto
Our North American departure hub is Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Five hours prior to our departure, a short meeting will be held at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, Terminal 3, to distribute course packs and maps and to clarify travel procedures. All students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel. Students making alternate arrangements must contact MEI before March 31.
Toronto (Days 1–2)
We commence in Toronto where we get to know one another and settle into our program. Here, we conduct our first biology lab and review foundational course material before setting off for Belize. This preparation allows us to dive straight into the adventure that awaits us.
Caye Caulker, Belize (Days 2–6)
A sandy pathway through the center of town flanked by seafood stands leads us to dive boats that take us snorkelling in the second largest coral reef in the world. This area offers remarkable aquatic diversity, including an astonishing range of tropical fish, manatees, sting rays and sharks. Students will find this an ideal location for the class to explore theories on evolution and biochemical adaptations. Additionally, our morning workouts introduce students to various activities such as yoga, handball and frisbee.
San Ignacio, Belize (Days 6–11)
From the town of San Ignacio, opportunities abound for exploring Belize's inland scenic wonders of Mayan ruins and the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves. Students engage with archeologists as they discuss the cultural significance that the caves hold for locals, past and present. This tranquil setting affords time to reflect on ancient Mayan texts and modern Latin Literature, as well as debate controversial topics such as human genetics.
Placencia, Belize (Days 11–16)
Next, students travel to the coastline of Placencia where we reside along an expansive long white beach. Here, we explore one of Belize’s largest conservation areas—Cockscomb Jaguar Sanctuary. After enjoying breathtaking views, invigorating swims and waterfall baths, students use this atmosphere as a wellspring for creative writing. During dinners, students engage in book chats and storytelling and also flush out debate topics for the biology course.
La Fortuna, Costa Rica (Days 16–22)
Located at the base of the Arenal volcano, students engage in daily adventures such as zip-lining across tree canopies, hiking through the mist forest and relaxing in natural hot springs. These activities are balanced with academics that focus on the study of the human body, physiology, and the reproductive processes. In the English course, students refine their academic writing and conduct workshops in the cool evenings, which are often enhanced by tropical storms and impressive lightning shows.
Monteverde, Costa Rica (Days 22–27)
In Monteverde, students reside in an ecolodge amidst the Cloud Forest. Here they have access to on-site labs to examine samples collected from the surrounding environment. In this remote location students connect with their surroundings and participate in research, service work activites and night hikes. These activities are integrated into the course curriculum so that students can complete their exploratory and research based assignments.
Manuel Anotnio, Costa Rica (Days 27–35)
The final stop on our journey is Manuel Antonio’s spectacular National Park. Using this idyllic atmosphere as a backdrop, students decompress and reflect on their diverse experiences while preparing for their ISUs and exams. Our last day is spent beachside, before celebrating our experience together over a final banquet dinner.
Departure from San Jose Day 35)
Travel dates subject to change.
All prices include international student fees.
Pay Using Points! (See below for details)
- Ministry-approved credit(s) upon successful completion of the course(s)
- $95 Registration Fee
- Custom course pack
- Student Login
- MEI journal
- Digital yearbook
- Hotels and accommodations
- Breakfast and dinner daily
- Entrance fees to all course-specific sites
- Return airfare from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport
- Approximate airline departure taxes, surcharges and fees
- Transportation between hotel locations via private coach
- Transportation for all listed program excursions
- Flight from Belize to Costa Rica
- Caye Caulker coral canyons
- Canyon and coral reef snorkeling
- Rainforest Ziplining
- Waterfall hike
- La Fortuna hot springs
- Volcano hike
- Costa Rican National Parks
- White water rafting
- All airline taxes, charges and fees
- Registration fee
- Course texts
- Medical Insurance and Cancellation Protection*
*All students travelling with MEI Academy are required to purchase Medical Insurance.
You can now use your points to partially or fully pay for your MEI invoice.
Students can now fund school fees with loyalty points! Aeroplan® Miles or TD Points, to be specific!
MEI International Academy is pleased to announce it has joined the HigherEdPoints.com Program as a Participating Institution. With this new partnership, students are able to convert Aeroplan® Miles and/or TD Points into funds to help cover their fees at MEI International Academy.
You can also convert the Aeroplan® Miles and/or TD Points of family members and friends to help pay for school. Anyone can donate either of these loyalty points to an individual student.
For more information and to set up an account, please visit higheredpoints.com
If you have any questions or concerns about the Higher Ed Points Program, please email info@HigherEdPoints.com