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Mayan Culture and Spanish in the Guatemalan Highlands

Note (3/10/2020)

We are very sorry to announce that we anticipate all Summer 2020 Study Abroad related travel to be canceled. See the full announcement for details. For more updates in regard to the COVID-19 incident, please visit the CSUSM Incident Response page.


Summer 2020:  July 11-26

Guatemala Highlands

Program Highlights:

Travel this summer to the beautiful Guatemalan mountain town of Nebaj for an interactive stay with the local Ixhil Maya community.  Under the direction of faculty leader/researche Dr. Michael Hughes, experience the practical benefits of Spanish language instruction while enjoying a taste of the traditional Mayan way of life. 

During your time abroad you will:

  • Learn basic Maya and opt to perform linguistic fieldwork
  • Discover traditional weaving and handicrafts
  • Be introduced to Maya farming techniques and medicinal healing

Planned excursions include the following:

  • Colonial Antigua
  • The bustling market town of Chichicastenango
  • A cruise on lovely Lake Atitlan, situated amidst a volcanic basin
  • Visits to the mountain towns of Cotzal and Chajul
  • Hike to Acul to observe a dairy cooperative
  • Concluding field trip to Guatemala City
  • Day hikes to local natural waterfalls and ruins
  • Day trips to local villages to interact with political/cultural figures

Check out these great articles about our Guatemala program!

Academic Calendar: 

July 11-26

Academic Focus:

Spanish taught at multiple levels: 101, 102, 201, 202, or 366

MLAN 331:  World Languages & Their Speakers; satisfies upper-division Social Science General Education (DD) requirement

Language of Instruction:

Spanish for the intensive language portion; English for MLAN 331


  • Preparation for appropriate level of Spanish
  • GPA:  2.75 and above; good academic standing to departure
  • Upper-division standing (60 units or more) for enrollment in MLAN 331 for DD credit
  • Ability to keep up with physical demands of daily hikes in and around the Maya community


Up to 6 units, comprised of the following:

  • Spanish 101, 102, 201, 202 or 366 = 3 units
  • MLAN 331/DD (upper-division standing required for enrollment):  3 units
Making Music


Participants will stay in shared rooms at a local lodge near the Ixhil community center.  Wifi access will be available, though connection speeds are considerably slower than U.S. standards.  Bathrooms are shared.

Healthy, traditional food will be prepared by local families.  Special dietary restrictions can be accommodated.

Estimated Cost:

$2,495 + Extended Learning Fees (estimated at $252-$492)

All fees include tuition, room and board, medical insurance, and local area excursions.  Airfare and personal expenditures are NOT included in the program cost, but estimated at $1,150.

Some useful airfare search engines:

Please await notification from Global Education before purchasing your airfare.  Ideally, we enjoy holding a pre-departure meeting once the application deadline closes, then participants may plan their travels together.  Always read the fine print concerning change fees, taxes, luggage restrictions, before booking.  Whenever possible, book directly with an airline.

To Apply:

  1. Attend an information session led by faculty leader, Michael Hughes.
  2. Fill out the online application materials via the link below. All application materials must be received by noon on Friday, March 20th along with your non-refundable $300 deposit to the Office of Global Education. Online payment preferred through CashNet.  Please be advised to choose E-check and enter your checking account details to avoid the 2.65% convenience fees applicable to all non-checking account payments.  Cash, checks, and money orders made payable to CSUSM will also be accepted.
  3. Final payment of $2,195 program fees is due by noon on Friday, May 15th to the Office of Global Education, following the payment guidelines set forth above. Payment of tuition related expenses (estimated at $252-$492) will be billed by Extended Learning and appear on your Student Center, following the payment guidelines set out for Summer Session.
  4. Submit your flight details to Global Education here:  Flight Information Form
  5. A mandatory pre-departure orientation will be held with Professor Hughes to discuss arrival instructions and the upcoming courses.

Attend an Info Session to Learn More:

Info Sessions
Day Time Location
Thursday, February 13 12:00-12:50pm MARK 201
Thursday, February 20 12:00-12:50pm MARK 201
Thursday, February 27 12:00-12:50pm MARK 201
Thursday, March 5 12:00-12:50pm MARK 201
Thursday, March 12 12:00-12:50 pm MARK 201
Thursday, March 19 12:00-12:50 pm MARK 201