Backpackers Central America:Two Course Summer Study Abroad Program

Overview | Courses | Itinerary | Calendar | Map | Program Fee

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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.

Courses Offered

Biology – Grade 12

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.

English – Grade 12

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

English – Grade 11

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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Travel Overview

Prep Session 1: Early May, 2018
Prep Session 2: Late June, 2018
Travel Dates: July 11 – August 14, 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 (Day 1)

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 hit the ground running and dive straight into the adventure that awaits us.

Caye Caulker, Belize (Day 2–5)

A sandy pathway through the centre of town flanked by seafood stands leads us to the snorkel and dive boats where we take excursions to the second longest coral reef in the world. This area offers remarkable sights including coral canyons and an astonishing range of tropical fish, manta rays, sharks and barracudas. Biology students find Caye Caulker an ideal location for research into theories on the mechanisms of evolution to current ideas in molecular genetics.

San Ignacio, Belize (Day 6–9)

From the town of San Ignacio, opportunities abound for exploring Belize’s inland scenic wonders of Mayan ruins and ATM caves. In this setting students investigate a variety of writings including both the ancient and modern Mayan texts, as well as those that demonstrate the clash of scientific method and the romantic interpretation of the cosmos.

Placencia, Belize (Day 10–15)

Settling in on a long expanse of white beach, students kick back and rejuvenate along the coastline of Placencia. The relaxing environment provides an atmosphere conducive to poetry workshops and studies in human physiology.

Curu, Costa Rica (Day 16–19)

A short flight takes students to San Jose where we spend our first night in Costa Rica. The next morning we make our way to Curu, and after a short ferry we arrive in paradise: Costa Rica’s first private National Wildlife Refuge. Here we experience an example of a successful sustainable development program. Surrounded by calm, pristine waters and an abundance of wildlife, students settle into a pace that allows for one-on-one biology tutorials and essay writing, interspersed with beach volleyball tournaments.

La Fortuna, Costa Rica (Day 20–23)

From the calm waters of Curu, we travel to La Fortuna where students have the opportunity to zip-line across rainforest canopies, hike through waterfalls, and unwind in natural hot springs. Located at the base of a volcano, La Fortuna is where students immerse themselves in the study of the diversity of biological environments.

Monteverde, Costa Rica (Day 24–28)

In Monteverde, students spend seven days in an Ecolodge amidst the Cloud Forest. Here they utilize the on-site lab to examine the abundance of samples collected from the surrounding environment.

Manuel Anotnio, Costa Rica (Day 29–35)

The final stop on our journey is Manuel Antonio’s spectacular National Park. In the backdrop of this relaxed atmosphere, students have the opportunity to decompress in a tranquil beach setting to conclude their journey. Students have time to reflect on their diverse experience in order to prepare for their final culminating assignments and exams.

Departure from San Jose Airport (Day35)


Travel dates subject to change.



Program Fee

All prices include international student fees.

Program Fee Includes

  • Ministry-approved credit(s) upon successful completion of the course(s)
  • 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
  • Transportation between hotel locations via private coach
  • Transportation for all listed program excursions
  • Flight from Belize to Costa Rica

Sites and Excursions
  • 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
Program Fee Does Not Include

  • Lunches
  • Travel Visas
  • Insurances
  • All airline taxes, charges and fees
  • Gratuities
  • Registration fee
  • Course texts
  • Medical Insurance and Cancellation Protection*

*All students travelling with MEI Academy are required to purchase Medical Insurance.

NEW! Pay Using Points

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 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

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