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  • Locations: Merida, Mexico
  • Program Terms: Spring, Winter
  • Restrictions: DPU applicants only
  • Click for Tuition + Program Fee: Spring Quarter, Winter Quarter
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Term-long Academic Level: Undergraduate
Recommended GPA: 2.5 Living Arrangements: Homestay
Language of Instruction: English, Spanish Prerequisite: SPN 101 or equivalent
Liberal Studies Domain: EL, SCBI
Program Description:


Immerse yourself in Mexican culture by studying Spanish and engaging in community service in Mérida, the state capital of the Yucatán, located in southeastern México. The Mérida program is centered around community engagement and service-learning, in addition to Spanish language learning. Mérida students volunteer with local public school children in the Emiliano Zapata Sur neighborhood, take a culture course from DePaul faculty, and deepen their experience of Mexican life by living with families in homestays.

This program is designed to offer an immersive experience that heightens students' critical understanding of the history and life of Mexicans, particularly as it relates to this region of the country. Students will take courses in Spanish and community engagement at a local university, along with a course taught by a DePaul professor who accompanies the group. In addition to class sessions, students will also participate in a number of excursions in and around Mérida that complement their coursework and highlight the region's unique features.

Established by the Spanish in 1542 among the empty buildings of a Mayan classic city, Mérida is a city steeped in history and culture. It illustrates the rich dynamic between the Mayan and Spanish colonial history in the Yucatán. As one of the centers of the Mayan people, Mérida sits minutes away from some of the world's most incredible anthropological sites, such as Chichen Itza, a major Mayan city; and Tulum, the site where the first Spaniards shipwrecked and encountered the Yucatec Mayans in 1511. The city is home to a major national university and several important regional museums. The natural beauty of the nearby coastline, which includes world-renowned beaches like Cancún and Progreso, accentuates the historical, anthropological, and cultural wealth of this region and city.

Read stories from past Mérida students in Spanish and English, about their time in Mérida, an excursion to Chiapas, and what you need to know to study abroad in Mérida.

To apply to this program, students must submit two (2) academic recommendation forms from faculty familiar with your academic work (one must be from a Spanish language instructor).


In Winter 2020, the program will be led by Marisa Alicea, a Professor and former dean of DePaul’s School for New Learning. She is an expert on U.S. Latinos and immigration. Her course will explore regional immigration issues and make strong connections to life in Mérida.


Students earn 16 quarter hours of credit: eight credits in Spanish language, four credits in Community Service Studies (taught in English), and four credits for a course taught by DePaul faculty member (usually taught in Spanish, but may be taught in English depending on the year). The following courses are required:

Four required classes DePaul Equivalency Credits per course
Spanish Language Courses: SPN 198/SPN 298/SPN 398 Elemental I = SPN 198
Elemental II = SPN 198
Pre-Intermedio I = SPN 198
Pre-Intermedio II = SPN 198
Intermedio I = SPN 298
Intermedio II = SPN 298
Intermedio Alto I = SPN 398
Intermedio Alto II = SPN 398
Avanzado I = SPN 398
Avanzado II = SPN 398
8 credits (2 courses)
CSS 201/CSS 390: Critical Community Engagement CSS 201/CSS 390; Experiential Learning (EL) 4 credits
LST 311/SPN 397: Contemporary Issues and Social Engagement: A Regional Perspective on Mexican and Central American Immigration; Note: SCBI pending approval
LST 311/SPN 397/HON 208 4 credits

Completion of at least Spanish 101 is a prerequisite for participation in the Mérida program, though competion of Spanish 103 is highly encouraged.

Spring Quarter Service Internship Option
A select number of students have the option of staying in Mérida for the Spring quarter and conducting a service learning internship while continuing their Spanish language study. Coordinated by the Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning and DePaul University's local program director in Mérida, students will remain in Mexico until June to work in a credit-bearing internship with local community organizations with which DePaul has formed relationships. Participants will augment their internship by taking language courses to strengthen their language skills and enhance their learning during the internship. Students who wish to participate in the Winter/Spring option must have at least Spanish 104 or demonstrate proficiency above this level before going to Merida.

Students will, therefore, take a total of 12 DePaul credits during the Spring quarter component. Eight credits (two courses) will be in Spanish language, while the remaining 4 credits will be for the internship. The following courses will be offered during the Spring quarter:

Four required classes DePaul Equivalency Credits per course
Spanish Language Courses: SPN 198/SPN 298/SPN 398 Elemental I = SPN 198
Elemental II = SPN 198
Pre-Intermedio I = SPN 198
Pre-Intermedio II = SPN 198
Intermedio I = SPN 298
Intermedio II = SPN 298
Intermedio Alto I = SPN 398
Intermedio Alto II = SPN 398
Avanzado I = SPN 398
Avanzado II = SPN 398
8 credits (2 courses)
CSS 395: Community Internship: Mérida Experiential Learning (EL) 4 credits





Students live with Mexican host families from a variety of backgrounds and professions. This allows them to practice Spanish learned in class and to gain a unique insight into Mexican culture and lifestyle. Hosts are carefully screened and most have hosted students for years. The housing coordinator in Merida arranges placements, based on information students provide about their needs and preferences. The homes are located close to the university. Three meals per day are included in the program fee.


All students participating in study abroad will be charged both tuition (billed at the regular DePaul tuition rate, based on the number of credits enrolled) and a program fee. Click for the Winter quarter fee or the Spring quarter fee for your program. Please read the program fee details carefully to understand exactly what is included, as this can vary from program to program. If the program fee is posted, be sure to note whether the fee is current or from a previous year (past program fees may serve as a guide until the current program fee is available). If the current program fee has not yet been posted, please check back closer to the application deadline. Read the details carefully to understand exactly what is included. Please also note the withdrawal policy.

DePaul offers several types of scholarships for students studying abroad, and students should visit the scholarship page early in the application process for information on eligibility and deadlines. Students are also encouraged to speak with the DePaul financial aid office for more information about financing their study abroad experience.


If you are planning to study abroad and do not have a passport, apply for one immediately. Some programs require students to obtain student visas. In that case, contact the country's local consulate or embassy for up-to-date instructions. As of this publication, students on the Mérida program who are U.S. citizens traveling on a U.S. passport DO NOT need a visa. To find out more information about the visa process for your select country(ies), visit our Visa Information page. Please note that visa requirements can change quickly. Study Abroad will update this website to reflect changes as they become available.

DePaul University is committed to student safety. Although Mexico has been put on the State Department Travel Warning list at the country-level, the areas in which DePaul operates study abroad programs are considered by the State Department to be stable and safe. Click here for the complete report. Please note that much of the warning is about the northern regions of Mexico along the U.S.-Mexico border, so make sure to scroll down the page to the section on the state of Yucatán, in which Mérida is located. More than 7,000 U.S. students study abroad in México annually (IIE, Open Doors). If students or their parents have any questions regarding the safety of study abroad in México, please call our office at 312-362-6962.


Here are some helpful tips from former students who have participated in this program:
  • Obtain moderate to advanced Spanish language skills. You will find yourself greatly improving your Spanish throughout this program, but the service learning would be greatly improved if someone were to have great language skills.
  • Train prior to departure in lesson-planning, classroom leadership, and international service do's and dont's.
  • Be sure to take time for yourself whenever possible, as this program is packed with excursions, service and academics. It is very important to stay grounded, reflective, and healthy.
  • Don't be afraid to reach out to your resources for whatever you might need! People are here for you and want to see you succeed.
  • Create a budget and stick to it. Although things are significantly cheaper in Mexico, it is fairly easy to overspend on personal products and at restaurants. It is also imperative to set up alternatives for credit/debit cards in the event that you lose it while abroad.
  • Always carry at least 200 pesos in cash, and get the Uber app if you do not already have it. It's cheap, convenient, and can help when public transportation fails (during late night hours, etc.)
  • Communicate with your phone company to work out a reasonable global plan to Mexico, at least for internet data.
  • Free wifi is all over Mexico and everyone uses WhatsApp to communicate, but it can be highly unreliable.
  • To help improve language skills, read the daily paper and watch news outlets every day. Also, take advantage of the home stay and talk as much as possible. Even if you're a more introverted person, always take the initiative to start a conversation. If you cannot understand anything, never be afraid to ask for clarification (No entiendo, Por favor, repitelo).
  • On Google maps, download the map of Mérida so that you can have access to it without needing an internet connection.
  • Attend as many social/cultural events that you can and speak to the locals. If you're ordering a coffee, spark up a conversation, if you're waiting at UWADY for the bus, talk to the teachers, other students, and just be open to making friends.
  • Take homework with you when you go one overnight excursions. The program is packed with activities and trips, and finishing work on a 4 hour car ride really makes a difference.
  • Embrace the fact that you will be uncomfortable at times, but use that to learn and grow from the experience.

 

Questions about this program? Contact Martha McGivern at martha.mcgivern@depaul.edu or visit during open advising hours.


Testimonials from past Mérida students:

“The experience that I had studying abroad in Mérida was one of the most powerful and transformational experiences I’ve had in my life. I consider studying abroad a major highlight of my university education at DePaul. I think I learned more during the quarter I spent in Mérida than I did in any other quarter. The things I learned, the people I met, the places I saw – these are all things that I still think about and reflect on regularly, and I feel very privileged that I was able to take part in this program. The rigorous curriculum provided at the UADY (Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán where we took Spanish classes) helped me improve my Spanish immensely within a few weeks. This program helped me get over some of the hurdles I had been unable to get over previously in regards to producing and comprehending spoken Spanish. When I returned to Chicago I continued to seek out opportunities to practice and learn more, and the Spanish skills that I’ve developed have proven to be immensely useful in work and in life.” - Connor, Winter 2014

“The Merida trip was the BEST part of my college experience. It was so fun and I experienced new things and got to explore and learn. I can’t WAIT to go back. Today I have a son and I am teaching him Spanish because my Spanish grew so much while I was there! You have no choice but to learn and understand the language. I went from like a 3 to an 8 (in Spanish)! The food is the bomb, the city is beautiful and I found a community there at a local Christian Church that I still talk with today via Facebook. Go and make a great memory for your life.” - Dasia, Winter 2014

Contact program alumni to learn about the student experience:

Name Email Term Attended
Jennifer Dixon j.lynnedixon@gmail.com Winter and Spring 2018
Joseph Folsom joefolsom7@gmail.com Winter and Spring 2018
Grace Hebert gracenhebert@yahoo.com Winter and Spring 2018
Elizabeth Woodruff ewoodruff.mail@gmail.com Winter and Spring 2018


DePaul University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or handicap in admissions, employment, or the provision of services. Inquiries regarding this policy should be addressed to the Director of Human Resources, 1 East Jackson Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60604.

Circumstances, such as an unexpected event abroad or a curriculum change, may require DePaul University to make changes to the program. DePaul University reserves the right to cancel or alter programs and courses without notice.


Dates / Deadlines:

Thank you for your interest in this program! We are not currently accepting applications. In general, applications open about 6 months before program application deadlines.

This program is currently not accepting applications.