NOTE TO APPLICANTS: All EEI policies complement and supercede the code of conduct at your home institution. Please familiarize yourself with those policies and read this page carefully before signing the participation agreement. If you still have questions after reviewing that information, please contact us.
A. Academic Performance
Because this is an academic program, academic requirements take precedence. Thus, you will be expected to behave accordingly: Attending classes, keeping up with readings, turning in assignments when they are due, and taking your classes seriously. The courses will be similar to coursework at the university (or other appropriate) level. You will also be expected to maintain an acceptable academic performance during your participation. This typically means maintaining a minimum GPA of 2.00 to remain in good standing. Failure to achieve the 2.00 GPA or complete course credits may result in your dismissal from the program. Because much of course time is spent in the field, the participant is offered a rare opportunity to learn by doing in the real world. This format is exciting and offers an opportunity to learn through hands-on activity. However, you may also be more easily distracted from academics. Please remember that although we may not be in a classroom, we are meeting required 'contact hours' calculated based upon credits offered. Thus, for all practical reasons, you are 'in-class' while we are in the field, and thus must act accordingly. By doing so, you, and others, will be able to get the most out of this unique learning opportunity.
B. Attendance & Participation
Participants are expected to attend all class sessions for all courses and program functions including group activities, field study trips, service-learning activities, guest presentations, etc. This applies equally to participants who may be auditing classes (not for credit).
There are a variety of reasons for this including receiving academic credit for associated activities, facilitating program dynamics, assisting with culture shock and other personal adjustment issues, and contributing your effort toward group assignments so that others do not have to make up for you. Unexcused absences will thus result in the final grade for any course being lowered accordingly. General program guidelines are as follows: Unexcused absences from class meetings will subject the final course grade to a reduction of 1% (for 1 days missed), 2% (for 2 days missed), and 5% per day thereafter (for three or more days).
Also note that excessive tardiness to class may be counted as missed class meetings as indicated above.
Missed field study, volunteer work days, or other course activity days will result in a 5% reduction in the final grade per day missed, and a 10% reduction per day thereafter (this is also considered class time). These program policies apply to ALL courses as a minimum, but may be superseded by more stringent course-specific policies. Not attending other official program functions for any reason without prior approval from the Director or appropriate faculty is equally unacceptable and may lead to final grades being lowered for ALL program courses. Acceptance of non-students to any course or program is conditional upon demonstrated sincere interest for the duration. Excessive absences, tardiness, or demonstrated lack of interest may lead to expulsion.
C. Field Study/Service-Learning Guidelines
There are a number of important guidelines that must be followed during field study/service-learning activities. Certain guidelines are for required for safety, whereas others are for program efficiency. The following guidelines apply to all field study (except item c, which applies only to overnight trips):
1. Academic responsibility. Please remember that when we are in the field, we are fulfilling 'classroom' time-equivalent contact hours (see 'Academic Performance' above). For this reason, to the extent possible, all participants must behave as they would under similar circumstances in the classroom. This means following instructions given, attending and paying attention during appropriate activities, and not being disruptive during activities.
2. Required equipment and supplies. Because access to medical equipment and supplies may be limited or unavailable entirely when we are in the field, each participant must have basic safety items available for unforeseen circumstances. These include Required Health Protocol items, which participants must have with them AT ALL TIMES (see also 'Health Protocols' section below), and Required Field Study items which must be on-hand when in the field.
3. Designated 'field site'. For safety reasons, participants may not leave the established 'field site' without authorization from the director or other designated faculty member. The 'field site' is normally defined as the lodging facilities area (often a field station for remote sites), but may also be defined as the town in which we are staying for certain sites (e.g., San Ramón). Please ask if in doubt.
D. Recreational Travel (Semester Programs)
Although this is an academic program, you will also have opportunities for recreational travel on your own. You should seek to establish an appropriate balance between academics and personal recreation.
For safety reasons, all participants must:
1. Inform your HOST FAMILY of your whereabouts at all times, and
2. Inform the DIRECTOR (or other designated faculty/staff member) of all travel WHICH INVOLVES AN OVERNIGHT STAY OUTSIDE OF SAN RAMON. Please do so by completing & submitting an EEI Personal Travel Form prior to departure. Additionally, contact us by any means necessary with any changes to your travel itinerary en route. Also see the personal travel section of the 'In-Country Information' page for more information.
A. Program Fee
Participants typically pay a comprehensive program fee,
which varies according to the offering (see the appropriate page for details and costs).
In most cases the fee is paid (and application made) directly to EEI as outlined on the 'Admission' page, but in some cases this is done through one of our partner institutions. See the web page of the course you are interested in for details.
Although the comprehensive fee may upon first glance appear somewhat high, please note that it typically includes all lodging, in-country transportation, field study and volunteer work, tuition, use of local university facilities, travel medical insurance, in-country support, field site entrance fees, translation, accompaniment, and various other program activities and cultural events.
Not typically included in the fee are international transportation to Costa Rica, personal expenses for such things as books, some food during program travel, and any non-program travel.
B. Supplemental Fees
The program director, or other faculty, may ask that you pay supplemental charges for costs associated with travel, meals, or special events. This may happen for a variety of reasons including program efficiency, taking advantage of learning opportunities (i.e., each person paying their own local transport), optional special events, and the like. Please be aware of, and prepared for, such possibilities.
C. Fee Payment & Refund Policy
Payment of the application fee and the minimum deposit (which will be applied to offset the program fee) are NON-REFUNDABLE, except in the event that the program is cancelled by EEI. However, if you make full payment for the course or program upon notification of acceptance, but for some reason must withdraw at a later date before arrival, EEI will refund all fees except the application fee and minimum deposit. If only the minimum deposit is paid upon notification of acceptance, the remaining course/program fees must be paid no later than two-weeks prior to the start of the program to avoid late fees. Please note that because of the extensive delay in clearing international checks, they CANNOT be accepted in Costa Rica. Acceptable methods of payment once in Costa Rica (LATE FEE CHARGED) are by traveler's checks only. The following refund policy applies to participants who withdraw or are expelled from the program for not maintaining academic performance, or for violation of program policies or Costa Rican law:
1) Half (50%) of the total course or program fees will be refunded if within the first five days of a short course, or first week of a semester program.
2) All program fees (and academic credit) will be forfeited if beyond the time frame indicated in #1 above.
Additional information is available in the Payment section of the 'Admission page,' as well as outlined in detail on the application form.
A. Participation Agreement
All participants are expected to behave in an acceptable and legal manner at all times. To be sure that participant's are aware of their responsibilities, all applications must sign a participation agreement form (short courses), or the last page of the application form (for semester programs when application is made directly to EEI). These policies, which have evolved from many years of experience, are important for the success of the program. Failure to behave accordingly may lead to expulsion from the course or program as identified in 'Disciplinary Sanctions' below. The signed statement also includes a release of Earth Education International, its staff, faculty and any of its cooperating partner agencies or individuals from any and all claims or liability as a result of participation. Additionally, all participants will be held accountable to general code of conduct policies at your home institution.
B. Participant Cooperation
Because international field study involves unique risks and conditions, the need for quick and efficient administration by the director, staff, or faculty members may arise. Thus, full and immediate cooperation on behalf of all participants is expected-and required-in all academic, administrative and disciplinary matters. Refusal to cooperate may result in dismissal from the course or program without refund or academic credit.
C. Alcohol Use
Legal consumption of alcoholic beverages, in moderation, is acceptable while on the program, provided participants abide by related program policies. Violation of these policies, however, may result in this privilege being revoked, and/or dismissal from the program. The following conditions apply to alcohol consumption while on the program: a) Unless otherwise specified, no drinking is allowed while on designated field study/service-learning time, or within 24 hours prior to departure (remember that this is considered 'class time'); b) Participation in program activities while intoxicated, or while suffering the effects of over-consumption of alcohol (hangovers, vomiting, etc.), will not be tolerated. This includes attending classes or any other program functions while intoxicated, or missing any of those meetings as a result of the over-consumption of alcohol; and c) Providing alcohol to minors under the age of 18 (Costa Rican legal drinking age) is illegal.
D. Illegal Drug Use
Possession, use and/or distribution of any illegal drug as defined by Costa Rican law will result in immediate dismissal from the course or program and may result in referral to civil authorities.
Smoking is allowed in any open-air setting, provided it is done with respect for those in the vicinity. However, no smoking is allowed during any class session (indoors or outdoors), inside any classroom, office, or any other enclosed university facility or field site location where classes are being held. It is also not acceptable to leave program functions for the purpose of smoking. Please ask if in doubt about specific locations or circumstances.
F. Damage/Destruction of Property/Theft
Intentional or malicious damage, destruction, or defacing facilities, or theft from any of those facilities, is against Costa Rican law. Any participant determined to have been involved in such activities, depending on the severity of the action, is subject to disciplinary action and/or referred to the civil authorities. They will also be responsible for the full cost of repair or replacement of damaged or stolen property.
G. Respect for Others
Participating in experiential learning programs differs substantially from other circumstance that you may be accustomed to. You will be spending a great deal of time with other participants and faculty. It can be very intense and lead to tension. Nevertheless, harassment of any kind, including (but not limited to) gender, race, sexual preference, or disabilities will not be tolerated. Any such incidents should be reported to the faculty in charge.
1. Host culture. Although you may not agree with how things are done in Costa Rica, you must strive to respect that it may simply be different than what you are accustomed to, and accept it without judgment. Expressing such judgment through public ethnocentric remarks or other inappropriate actions is not acceptable.
2. Program Director & faculty. Participants must treat the program director and other faculty with respect at all times. This includes the following: a) Participant recommendations, questions, clarifications, or complaints are always welcomed, but must be brought directly to the person in charge by the affected individual/s; b) Flagrant neglect, tardiness, or disruption of classes or other program activities will not be tolerated; c) Participants must accept and implement the final decision of the person immediately responsible (director or other faculty) at any given time whether or not they are in agreement with the decision; d) Although every reasonable effort will be made by the director or other faculty to be available for consultation and to attend to participant needs, students will respect limitations of availability which may require attention to other program business or personal matters at any given time; and e) For safety reasons, always inform the person in charge (and your homestay family if applicable) when you leave San Ramón or the designated field site for any reason. At a minimum, this must consist of leaving a message of where you are going and how you may be contacted in the case of an emergency.
3. Other participants. At times, participants may not agree with how other participants in the program behave. Depending on the severity of the action (and it's legality, or whether program policies prohibit it) there are acceptable manners of addressing this situation. Minor issues may not warrant your attention (e.g., individual personality differences), whereas more serious issues might. Should this happen, you may either respectfully communicate your concerns directly to the concerned individual (if appropriate), or to the director or other appropriate faculty. At no time are the following behaviors acceptable in the program: a) Yelling at, putting down, making fun of, hitting, or any other physical conflict with another group member; b) Gossiping about third-party group members and/or intentionally spreading rumors or false information; or c) Passing judgment about the acceptability of the behavior of other group members. Such concerns should be brought to the director's attention.
4. Host families (if applicable). Whether or not you are in agreement, the customs of host families should always be respected. Of course, you are always free to choose which family activities you partake in (or even to choose a new homestay family). However, inappropriate activities that offend host families are not acceptable (see residence policies above). Also, for both safety and cultural reasons, always inform your family as to your whereabouts; especially in the evenings, when you will not be home for meals, on weekends, and anytime you leave San Ramón.
H. Health Protocols
In an effort to protect the health of all participants, staff, and community partners, the guidelines contained herein serve to complement the Earth Education International Emergency Management Plan as it relates to infectious diseases such as Covid-19. Beyond the health & safety of all involved, an infectious disease outbreak among even a single individual has the potential to severely limit the success of the entire program or cause it to cancel entirely. This necessitates adherence to the protocols outlined herein, which are based upon guidelines established by the World Health Organization, U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of State travel advisories, the Costa Rican Health Ministry, and other relevant local government agencies. Noteworthy in this regard is the possibility that in-country government restrictions may limit our ability to implement the program as scheduled through such things as restrictions of movement or quarantine requirements.
1. Pre-departure precautions. Because program safety begins prior to arrival, please: a) TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS 7-10 DAYS PRIOR TO DEPARTURE by: Avoiding socializing indoors (e.g., enclosed bars & restaurants), wearing a mask when within 2 meters (6 feet) of individuals outside of your regular 'social bubble,' following standardized hygiene protocols (e.g., physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, use of hand sanitizer, mouth covering when coughing), and b) PERFORM A PRE-DEPARTURE COVID TEST 24-48 hours prior to departure (PCR or rapid test, laboratory or self-administered). A picture of a negative pre-departure test result should be emailed to the course instructor no later than 24 hours prior to departure.
2. In-country precautions. Due to increased risk of exposure for all of us during the course, safety precautions are to be observed at all times as follows: a) PERFORM A COVID TEST (self-administered rapid test) upon arrival in Costa Rica, and show proof of a negative test to a course instructor. Individuals must bring at least four (4) self-test rapid Covid test kits with them for this purpose (and in case of an outbreak) since they are not available locally. If a participant fails to bring sufficient test kits, they will be required to perform tests at a local laboratory at their own cost (~$50-60 USD per test); b) DAILY TEMPERATURE CHECKS to be performed each morning at breakfast; c) USE OF FACE MASKS (surgical or N95 masks recommended) that covers both nose and mouth when indoors or in outdoor situations when less than 2mts (6 feet) of distance from others can be maintained (see exceptions below). This includes common areas of the hotel, on the bus, during all indoor & some outdoor field site visits, and when going into town on your own (open air restaurants highly recommended). Since hotel rooms are to be maintained as ' safe spaces ,' only individuals assigned to their room are permitted. Accordingly, meetings or socializing with individuals from other rooms should take place in common areas and properly masked. Exceptions to the face mask requirement include: 1. While inside your assigned hotel room (only roommates permitted), 2. Outdoors when 2mts (6 feet) or distance from others can be maintained, and 3. When eating or drinking in common areas of the hotel while maintaining social distance to the extent possible or while seated at a restaurant (though not when entering or leaving the facility); d) SANITIZING HANDS before entering the group hotel, facility we are visiting, and before getting on the bus; and e) Following OTHER STANDARD HYGENE PROTOCOLS at all times (e.g., physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, increased sanitation after touching public or high-impact surfaces and covering one's mouth when coughing or sneezing). Although some individuals or establishments may not abide by all of such precautions, these are established best practices and outlined by Costa Rica Health Ministry guidelines. Also note that not all establishments will have antiseptic gels/alcohol available, and what is available may or may not meet the 70%+ alcohol content requirement needed to kills Covid germs. Thus, participants should carry a small bottle of antiseptic gel or alcohol for personal use.
3. In-country symptomatic response. Individuals who develop illness symptoms must report them to the faculty in charge as soon as they appear. The most important early indicators of infectious disease (e.g., Covid) include: 1. Fever or chills, 2. Fatigue/tiredness, 3. A persistent dry cough & 4. Loss of taste or smell. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Participants exhibiting illness symptoms must implement preventative distancing for a period of 3-5 days as needed. This includes maintaining extra distance from others in the group, wearing a face mask at ALL times (even in assigned hotel rooms), and more frequent hand washing/disinfection. Depending upon the severity of the symptoms, participants may also be required to test for Covid-19. In case of a positive result, participants will be required to quarantine in accordance with Costa Rica Ministry of Health rules (issuance of a 7-day mandatory sanitary quarantine order). This order cannot be appealed, even if subsequent tests are negative. Please note that shorter quarantine times established by the CDC apply only in the U.S., not Costa Rica. NOTE: For safety reasons, quarantine is expected to take place in a separate area of the primary lodging site. Alternative academic assignments and logistical support will be made available as needed, but participants will not be able to participate in any group activities. Also note that PARTICIPANTS WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY AND ALL COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH QUARANTINING (e.g., lodging, food, medicines, etc.).
4. Returning home. ALL persons flying into or through the United States (regardless of nationality or vaccination status)
are required to have a negative Covid test administered by a Costa Rican government-authorized laboratory within 24 hours of boarding the flight (or proof of recovery). Logistical assistance will be provided in this regard. However, COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH TESTS ARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PARTICIPANT (~$50-60 USD). Returning home elsewhere varies by country. Please verify requirements prior to travel.
I. Disciplinary Sanctions
Earth Education International reserves the right to remove participants from courses or programs for violation of policies as outlined here without refund of fees or granting of academic credit. The standard disciplinary procedure for violation of polices is as follows: a) Verbal warning; b) Written warning; c) Probation; and d) Expulsion. However, depending on individual circumstances, severe violation may result in immediate expulsion. Examples of circumstances which may lead to immediate dismissal include, but are not limited to, the following: a) Behavior threatening the safety of self or others; b) Intentional damage, destruction, or theft of property; c) Participation in program activities while intoxicated; d) Possession, use, and/or distribution of any illegal drugs as defined by Costa Rican law, e) Any form of harassment including sexual, racial, ethnic, national, or religious; f) Criminal sexual conduct; or g) Persistent, flagrant disregard for program policies. Please note that we do not anticipate any of these problems. On the contrary, we are intending to clearly inform participants of acceptable and unacceptable behavior so that problems may be avoided.
Earth Education International faculty, staff, volunteers, and any other individuals, organizations or partner institutions with which we cooperate will be held to the same standards of conduct identified above and in the participation agreement. In particular, they:
1. Agree to being committed to fulfilling to the best of their ability agreed upon responsibilities for the duration of the contract.
2. Acknowledge that their contract may be terminated for any of the following reasons: a) Violation of any of the program policies outlined herein, or b) Violation of Costa Rican law.
3. Agree to be responsible for their own safety, in addition to participants' safety, at all times. This includes maintaining personal health insurance, being prepared for pay for any emergency care AT THE TIME OF ATTENTION or any other expenses not covered by insurance, having a sufficient amount of any and all prescription and/or over-the-counter medications necessary, and self-administering those as directed by their doctor.
4. Recognize that international field study involves unique risks and conditions, and thus release Earth Education International, its staff, faculty and all cooperating partner agencies or individuals from any and all claims or liability. This includes, but is not limited to, damages, loss or destruction of property, personal injury, or death. This release shall bind the individual, their estate, personal representatives, heirs, and legal guardians. Any and all legal proceedings, either civil or criminal, arising from or in connection with their involvement will be governed by the laws of Costa Rica, and thus expressly submit to the jurisdiction of the Costa Rican court system in the event of any such proceedings.
Homestay Policies (Semester Program)
NOTE: For both cultural and safety reasons, always inform your homestay family of your plans and whereabouts.
The following are recommendations to help adjust to life in the homestay:
1. Always notify your family as to your whereabouts, for both safety as well as cultural reasons. This is especially important in the evenings, when you will miss meals, or if you leave town.
2. Always ask your home stay family's permission to make phone calls, or use a pay phone. Most Costa Rican phone contracts are on a per-call basis; every call costs money. If you make a long distance call, it is especially important to ask for permission. If dialing directly from the home phone, write down the number, date, and place of call and pay your bill promptly. Another option is to use your phone card (AT&T, MCI, and Sprint all offer these cards, as well as locally-available calling cards in Costa Rica).
3. Plan ahead for meals and washing laundry. Your family will provide 3 meals per day, a room, and laundry services. It is respectful to advise them of your plans in advance (especially for meal planning). Also, most houses do not have dryers. Laundry is hung on the line to dry. A pair of jeans may take a couple of days to dry. If you wear jeans a lot, we recommend that you take at least two pairs.
4. Keep your money and any other valuables locked in a safe place at your Costa Rican home. Do not leave large sums of money lying around.
5. It is advisable not to walk around the house barefoot. Feet can get very dirty, very fast. Also, walking barefoot around the house is not considered 'clean' in most of the middle-class families with which you will be staying.
6. Accept insects as a part of the environment. A tropical climate invites them into the house.
7. Do not store clothes in a tightly closed drawer or closet. Dampness or mildew is often a problem.
8. Be open minded to local foods. Rice and beans (e.g., gallo pinto, arroz con pollo) are commonly served at homes and restaurants. Many fruits and all kinds of juices are also part of the menu. There are many reasons why you should make a major effort to try foods you've never heard of, let alone ever imagined.
9. Do not invite other people to your home without permission from your host family mother first.
10. Accept invitations to do things with your family, especially early in your stay. If you keep turning them down, they'll stop asking.
11. Give home remedies a try. Often your families will be able to suggest such remedies, and many of them are very effective.
B. Participant Rights
Each participant in a homestay living arrangement possesses certain rights and responsibilities. These include: a) The right to read and study free from undue interference in one's room. For example, unreasonable noise and other distractions inhibit the exercise of this right. As a general rule, if the noise you make can be heard outside your room, it is too loud; b) The right to sleep, the right to one's personal belongings, the right to free access to one's room and the right to a clean environment in which to live; and c) The right to redress of grievances in the case of a dispute. Participants also have the right to be free from intimidation, physical and/or emotional harm, and imposition of sanctions apart from due process.
C. Participant Guidelines
The following guidelines should always be followed by participants, unless the individual family has clearly informed you otherwise: a) Respect the customs and habits of the family; b) Adjust yourself to the established meal times, or inform them of meals you will not be there for; c) Bring only your own towels and other gear on trips; d) Wash your underclothing if the family so requires; e) Receive guests only when the family has given their permission; f) Do not have parties in your room or invite guests to stay overnight; g) Practice common hygiene; h) Inform the family of your whereabouts, especially if you are going to come back late, miss a meal, or if you are not coming back until the next day.
D. Family Guidelines
The following guidelines should always be followed by homestay families, unless you clearly inform the family otherwise: a) Offer service to only one participant at a time; b) Provide each student with a private bedroom that contains a bed, a closet, a nightstand with a lamp, a trash can, a mirror, and a private bathroom; c) Offer three meals per day to the student; d) Provide linens for the student's bed, which should be changed at least once a week; e) Offer washing and ironing to the student at least once a week; f) Let the participant use the phone for at least two (two-minute) local calls daily. The participant can also receive international calls, but he/she cannot make long distance calls without a calling card.
E. Having Visitors
Parents, relatives, and friends may be interested in visiting you in Costa Rica if you are here for an extended time. This is a wonderful idea, since it will allow you to share your living situation with them. However, we do not recommend that vistors stay with your homestay family, and urge that such visits be scheduled during break periods or after program completion. Prior experiences in the program make clear that visits during the course or program are disruptive to the participants receiving the visit, as well as to the program itself.
F. Receiving Paper Mail
Because there are no street addresses in Costa Rica, participants should use the mail services of the host university in San Ramón to receive mail rather than that of their homestay family. Further detail on receiving packages in Costa Rica is available here.
The address you should give to friends and family is as follows:
Programa Earth Education International Universidad de San José-Sede San Ramón
150 Norte de la Iglesia El Tremedal
San Ramón, Alajuela, Costa Rica
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