yucatan dona isable
Yucatan, Mexico

Spanish Language & Mexican Culture

Language & Culture

Dates

-

4 weeks

Costs

$5,450

Extended Deadline

Enroll Now

Request Information

Dates

-

4 weeks

Costs

$5,450

Extended Deadline

Enroll Now

Request Information

Program Overview

Strengthen your Spanish immersed in the modern and Mayan culture of Merida. 

Grow your Spanish with four weeks of language immersion in one of the safest and most scenic cities in Mexico—Mérida. After language classes, engage in conversations with locals at bustling markets and on visits to cultural centers, like The Palace of Music and The Great Museum of the Mayan World. Dive into the vibrant atmosphere of lively squares, such as the iconic Plaza Grande, and meet local teens while taking part in Yucatecan customs, like the Mayan ball game Pok ta Pok or the jarana dance during La Vaquería’s celebrations. 

Living with a host family will immerse you in the rich traditions of Mexican life. Experience weekend excursions to awe-inspiring places, such as El Corchito, where you’ll dive into refreshing cenotes among lush mangroves, and el pueblo mágico (magic town) of Valladolid, where you’ll find Chichén Itza, a large pre-Columbian city built by the Mayans. In Mérida, you’ll take your Spanish to the next level and unlock a world of adventure among Mayan ruins and history.

The Take-Aways

Language Growth and Cultural Competence

Come home with a higher level of Spanish and a greater understanding of Mexican culture. Use your STAMP 4S language proficiency pre- and post-test scores to demonstrate your language growth and help you earn a Seal of Biliteracy.  

College Credits

Choose to earn 4 college credits toward your future college degree. Take advantage of the credits to stand out on your college applications or to satisfy college language requirements.

Lifelong Skills and Friendships

Return with greater self-confidence, independence, and adaptability. Enjoy a broader worldview and diverse friendships from across the U.S. 

60

Hours of instruction with a native spanish teacher

4

College credits

1

Life-changing experience

The Destination
  • yucatan cenote water plants
  • yucatan large tour group
  • yellow building in yucatan mexico

The Destination

Welcome to Mérida, a small city known for its Mayan treasures, colonial buildings, and centuries of tradition. 

Named the 2nd safest city in the American continent (after Quebec City), calm and clean Mérida provides a student-friendly environment buzzing with things to discover. This small capital is in southeastern Mexico, in the Yucatán peninsula, about 20 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico. Famous as a tourist destination, the city of 995,000 has the highest percentage of indigenous people (60%) in Mexico, making it a perfect place to study the history and culture of the country. Several highly-ranked universities and research institutions are based in Mérida. 

The Mayan ruins are the main attraction, but there’s so much to love. Vibrant buildings, grand plazas, and beautiful churches are at every corner. Nearby, there are botanical gardens, biodiverse nature reserves, white-sand beaches, and pueblos mágicos, villages that look like something out of a storybook. Mayan influences are alive in Yucatán’s traditions and food. Papazules (rolled crisp tortillas covered in a creamy cheese sauce), aguas frescas (juices made from the local rambutan fruit), and champola (ice cream made with coconut milk) are a must-try! 

Cultural Awareness

CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. Local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter in Yucatán.

Daily Life

Daily Life

Monday–Friday 

Each day offers a balance between interactive instruction and cultural activities with time on your own, too. Morning classes and afternoon activities may swap places. 

  • Breakfast at your homestay 
  • Engaging Spanish classes with expert language instructors, all native-speakers  
  • Bagged lunch with your fellow Global Navigators 
  • Out and about for authentic conversations in the community and a cultural activity 
  • Dinner and evening discussions at your homestay 

Weekends  

  • Overnight or day excursions to top sites 
  • Quality time with friends and your host family 

Check out the blog posts to discover more about daily life and excursions on program. 

Housing

Carefully-Screened Homestay

24/7 Support

1 Program Leader for every 12 students and support from local staff

Weekly Learning Goals

In CIEE classes, Level 1 is for students acquiring basic Spanish, Level 2 is for those who can carry on everyday conversations, and Level 3 is for those who can participate in discussions on social and academic topics. In the spring before you depart, you’ll take a language proficiency test and when you arrive on site, you’ll participate in an oral interview. How you do on the test and in the interview will identify the level that is right for you. 

Each week, you’ll explore a Theme and create a Project. Each day in class, you’ll learn Spanish through engaging activities and then, in the community, try out your new Spanish in conversations with locals.  

WEEK 1: Settle in and meet your classmates as you explore the Identity Theme. Ask and answer questions, give information, describe your favorite things and your family at home and in Mexico. For your Project, create and present a Personal Profile

WEEK 2: Take in the local scene as you explore the Community Theme. Describe places, attractions, and events in Mexico. Tell what you want to buy in shops, and express your likes and dislikes in food and fashion. For your Project, create a Photo Gallery of Life in Mérida and share it in a conversation.  

WEEK 3: Continue improving your Spanish as you delve into the Discovery Theme and, for your Project, create and present a Travel Flyer for a destination in Mexico. Give and follow directions, give details of a trip itinerary day-by-day, and describe the destination, the weather, and what to do there.  

WEEK 4: Consider the impact of your summer in this week’s Personal Growth Theme. Tell what you experienced in Mexico, make cultural comparisons, and participate in study abroad interviews. For your Project, create a Study Abroad Album and share it in a panel discussion.

Each week, you’ll explore a Theme and create a Project. Each day in class, you’ll learn Spanish through engaging activities and then, in the community, try out your new Spanish in conversations with locals.  

WEEK 1: Settle in and meet your classmates as you explore the Discovery Theme. Ask about and describe family members, discover and describe exciting things to do in Mérida, and compare daily routines and customs in Mexico and the USA. For your Project, create and present a Memory Book of Your Life in Mérida

WEEK 2: Explore Mexican culture during this week’s Creativity Theme. Compare musical performances, express opinions on art, tell what happened in movies, and persuade a classmate to attend a cultural event. For your Project, create a Photo Gallery on Mexican Culture and share it in a conversation.  

WEEK 3: Delve into Mérida in this week’s Community Theme. For your Project, create and present a Neighborhood Tour in Mérida. Describe the city and what happens there. Role play scenes in a market and a restaurant. Report on Mérida’s past and future. 

WEEK 4: Consider the impact of your summer during the Personal Growth Theme. Tell what happened in memorable moments and how you felt about it. Make cultural comparisons and persuade a friend to study abroad. For your Project, create a Study Abroad Album and share it in a panel discussion.

Each week, you’ll explore a Theme and create a Project. Each day in class, you’ll learn Spanish through engaging activities and then, in the community, try out your new Spanish in conversations with locals.  

WEEK 1: Settle in and meet your classmates during the Cultural Encounters Theme. Tell what happened on a first encounter abroad. Summarize past and current events in Mérida. Express your opinions as you compare cultural norms and stereotypes. For your Project, create and present a Field Report on Mérida.  

WEEK 2: Explore Mexican culture in this week’s Creativity Theme. Describe street art and profile artists, express opinions on magazines and movies, and compare musical performances. For your Project, create an Arts & Culture Magazine and share it in a conversation.  

WEEK 3: Continue advancing your Spanish as you delve into the Discovery Theme. For your Project, create and present an Awareness Campaign about a global threat. Give information on its causes and effects, explain solutions, and persuade others in debates, justifying your arguments. 

WEEK 4: Consider the impact of your summer in this week’s Personal Growth Theme. Conduct a class survey on experiences in Mexico and make cultural comparisons. Tell an original story about a memorable moment and speculate on what’s next for you. For your Project, create a Study Abroad Album and share it in a panel discussion.

Program Blogs

From CIEE

For all the high school teachers

By Angel Fross at CIEE

Now that it's been over a week since I returned from Mérida, I want to talk a bit more about what this experience meant to me as a high school... keep reading

From CIEE

Salsa in Mérida: Students Take a Piece of Mexico Home

By Amanda Hall at CIEE

On Monday, students enjoyed a salsa dance class with professional instructors. With every twirl and sway, the students couldn't help but revel in the joy that salsa brought to their... keep reading

From CIEE

Student takeover: My Final Weekend in Merida - Karl Alan

By Niamh O'Sullivan at CIEE

After 3 amazing weeks, we finally come to the last week of this amazing trip. I’m Karl, a student in level 2B, and this trip has been truly wonderful. This... keep reading

Activities

Sample Activities

high school group at pyramid yucatan

Just imagine all the fun you’ll have!

  • Experience the real Mexico at the pueblo mágico of Valladolid. Step in front of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá. 
  • Live an adventure safari-style at the Animaya Zoo and recognize the richness of Yucatán’s nature. Spot monkeys, ostriches, emus, flamingos, and more! 
  • Try your hand at making traditional and beloved Mexican dishes with expert tips from a Mexican chef. 
  • Hop on a lancha (small boat) and head to El Corchito ecological reserve. Have a refreshing swim in freshwater cenotes surrounded by mangroves. 
  • Dive into the warm and clear turquoise water at the Progreso Beach in the Gulf of Mexico sea. Play beach volleyball or just relax under the sun listening to the calming waves. 
  • Cheer for your team as you watch a match of the Mayan ball game Pok-ta-Pok—one of the oldest team sports in history that’s been played since at least 1650 B.C. 

Please note activities are based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE's discretion to adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when arranging activities is always to enhance your experience.  

What Students Are Saying

  • “My favorite memory is the Mayan pyramids. I was going to give up halfway up but was proud of myself at the end!” 

    Isis H., CIEE Global Navigator Alum

  • “I loved when my friends and I visited Chichen Itza and got to learn about the culture behind it. I also loved when we accidentally stumbled upon a store that also happened to be a galería. The lady in charge spoke to us about the history of clothing and the different types of sacred stitching!” 

    Yasmeen H., CIEE Global Navigator Alum

  • "It’s honestly a once in a lifetime opportunity you can’t let pass by. I didn’t know anyone in my Mexico program and wasn't sure what to expect, but it was mind-blowing and I enjoyed every minute of it!” 

    Brenda H., CIEE Global Navigator Alum

  • “I learned far more than just Spanish language and culture from participating in the program!”

    Jessica B., CIEE Global Navigator Alum

Dates & Fees

Dates & Fees

Eligibility

  • Participants must be 14 years old and above.
  • Program open to all current high school students—Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors—who have completed at least one year of high school Spanish. Students who have completed at least two years of high school Spanish may qualify for the Honors Language & Culture program in Madrid or Seville
  • For scholarship eligibility requirements, please check our scholarship page.

For more information, refer to the detailed Program Essential Eligibility Criteria.

Application Fee

$25

Optional College Credit Fee

$150

Learn more about how to get college credit for your future college degree.

Program scholarships and tuition include iNext Travel Insurance, but do not cover the cost of flights. Find additional details about what’s included with your tuition.

More questions? Find answers, get application support, sign up for virtual presentations or contact us!

Program

Application Due

Start Date

End Date

Costs

Program Summer Session I 2024 4 weeks Start Date End Date Costs $5,450
Program Summer Session II 2024 4 weeks Start Date End Date Costs $5,450

What’s Included

Interactive Classes

Housing

3 Meals/Day

(Dietary Needs Accommodated)

All Ground Transportation

(Once In-country)

Optional Flight Chaperone

(Flight Cost Not Included)

Pre-departure Advice and Orientation

Access to Local Phone and WIFI

All Cultural Activities and Excursions

Comprehensive Medical and Travel Protection

24/7 Emergency On-site Support

Our Staff

Our Staff

Karla Zarco

Center Director

Karla is the Center Director of CIEE in Yucatán, and she brings to CIEE more than 20 years of experience working in the international education field.

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