Health and Wellness in Costa Rica

Language Requirement: N/A
Academic Standing by Program Start: Sophomore
Location: Americas, Costa Rica
GPA: 2.5
Program Overview

Learn firsthand about health and wellness in the blue zone community of the Nicoya Peninsula, which is one of five regions worldwide with a high number of people living to over 100 years of age. Learn about why this region is known for longevity by studying their culture and lifestyle, as well as the physiology of aging and stress.  

The program begins with a week in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, where you will begin your coursework, study Spanish, and visit local experts and health and wellness organizations. The next two weeks are in the Nicoya Peninsula, a blue zone, where you will finish your coursework and work on an environmentally focused service-learning project. There will also be a weekend field trip to the beach and Manuel Antonio National Park. 

** GEO programs are under continuous review during this period of global uncertainty and limited travel. All program details outlined on this page, including program cost, are subject to change if global or location-specific conditions require modifications to the program structure.

Academic Details

This program offers two courses for 6 quarter credits and is open to all majors.

HPHY 399 – Four credits. This course involves both lecture and practical experience. Lectures will work on cultural orientation, blue zone lifestyle, and research. Practical contact hours will include meals, homestays, and shadowing of blue zone locals, volunteering, and completing local dance, fitness, and excursion movement experiences. Practical assignments will include self-reflection and comparison of western health and wellness lifestyles to Central America and specifically blue zone locals, physiological concepts, and application of sharing experience with the University of Oregon community. 

*UO Students - This course satisfies 4 credits of the List A, Upper Division Electives for the HPHY Major.

SPAN 188/288 – Two credits. Depending on your Spanish level, you will earn two credits of 100 or 200 level Spanish during your first week in Costa Rica.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.

Faculty and Staff

Jessica Campbell is the Assistant Director for Fitness in the Department of Physical Education & Recreation. Her responsibilities include teaching and overseeing the academic fitness credit courses, programs such as group exercise, personal training, and serving on campus-wide wellbeing initiatives. Jess’s passion is mentoring students to explore and learn how they can thrive as Ducks when focusing on their wellbeing.  

Christopher Minson is an environmental physiologist and is the Kenneth and Kenda Singer Endowed Professor of Human Physiology. The overarching goal of his work is to better understand how stress impacts cardiovascular health and to find novel ways to utilize environmental exposure (natural environments, heat, cold, altitude) in the prevention and treatment of disease. Particular areas of interest for Dr. Minson include topics related to women’s health, aging, and hypertension.

Ashley Walker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Physiology. Her research focuses on the effects of aging on the cardiovascular system. In particular, she is interested in how the aging vascular system impacts the brain, potentially contributing to Alzheimer’s disease. Her research laboratory also tests lifestyle and pharmaceutical interventions aimed at maintaining vascular health in old age.  

Housing Description
You will live in a shared homestay in San Jose and the Nicoya Peninsula.
Dates and Deadlines
Term Year Priority Deadline Deadline Arrival Date Departure Date
Summer 2022 2/15/2022 3/15/2022 6/19/2022 7/11/2022

*Complete all pre-decision application materials by the Priority Deadline to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once. 

Travel Advisories

For current health, safety, and travel advisory information, search the US Department of State country webpage.