Mérida, Yucatán

Mérida, Yucatán

Challenge your assumptions and study how Mexico balances the needs of a complex 21st-century society with an enduring, multi-ethnic legacy. Mérida offers a case study of a country that has made great strides in providing, for example, a healthcare system that is more inclusive than many of its neighbors. The program facilitates intensive language study through coursework, cultural activities and optional immersive homestays. For students interested in pre-health sciences, global health becomes a lens through which Mexican politics, society and culture can be examined.

the many faces of contemorary Mexico
  • Focus area: Global Health
  • Languages of Instruction: English and Spanish



Strong Academic Program

Adjust the Mérida program to fit your study interests, from total Spanish language immersion to study of content areas like biology, art and communications. Academic offerings break down into two main areas. Mixing and matching is encouraged.

Understanding Contemporary Mexico (required)

Considered the basis for the Mérida program, this course provides the cultural and historical context for understanding your study abroad experience in present-day Mexico with special reference to the state of Yucatán. Taught by the resident director, the course includes excursions, experiential activities, outside speakers and journal writing. Taught in English. (3 credits)

Academic Excursions

Connect the classroom with the world outside through academic excursions that link Yucatecan culture and history with coursework. Past excursions include:

  • Visit the Mayan ruins at Uxmal, Chichen Itza and Maypan
  • Explore colonial history at a hacienda
  • Witness Mayan knowledge of the universe come to life during the spring or fall equinox sunrise at Dzibilichaltun
  • Experience life with present day Mayans in Tinum
  • Observe Mayan customs and culture co-exist with tourism, immigration and globalization in Chiapas


Internships offer hands-on experience (3 credits) in a field related to majors or academic interests. Recent internships include:

  • Art and design
  • Business
  • Communication studies
  • Education
  • Environmental studies
  • Exercise science
  • Health promotion
  • Museum administration
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Pre-health
  • Pre-veterinary

A Día de Muertos display in Merida.


Service-learning connects meaningful service opportunities with academic learning, personal growth and civic responsibility (1-2 credits). Recent service-learning opportunities include:

  • A marketing firm
  • A program for children with disabilities
  • Children’s recreational programs
  • Health promotion/advocacy sites
  • Interpretation/translation programs
  • Sites for teaching and tutoring English

The Central Difference

Opportunities in Global Health

For those interested in health careers, the program helps students gain insights on this critical global issue. In its efforts to address major health challenges Mexico has innovated solutions, like a tax on sugary drinks, that other countries are seeking to emulate. Healthcare in Mexico becomes a lens through which students examine issues of inclusivity and equality in a complex, multi-ethnic society.

Through courses such as Healthcare in Yucatán (taught in English) and Spanish for Health Professionals (taught in Spanish) you will learn firsthand how health professionals work and speak.

Lisa Munro


Lisa MunroAs a historian, Lisa encourages students to think about how and why the past informs the present moment. Using Mexican history as a lens through which to view current issues, she engages students to ask hard questions and search for answers to better understand the world around them. Lisa holds a PhD history from the University of Arizona. Her work examines how international tourism to Guatemala in the 1930s shaped racial stereotypes about the Maya, as well as issues of state violence and the history of Maya archaeology. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala from 2004-2006 and later worked with a study abroad program in Antigua, Guatemala.

She has lived in Mérida since 2015. As director of the Central College study abroad program in Mérida, Yucatán, she seeks to help students gain new knowledge about the world and use it to become informed global citizens to confront the most pressing challenges we face today.

Academic credentials
  • B.A. U.S. History, Fort Lewis College
  • M.A. Latin American History, University of Arizona
  • Ph.D. Latin American History, University of Arizona

Integration with Local Life

The program in Mérida creates seemingly endless opportunities for students to connect with local life, from Spanish language partners who are Mexican peers, to homestays, to classes at affiliate universities, to internship and service-learning placements. Students build relationships with locals that open a window into Mexican culture and lead to lasting friendships.

Residential Program Director

Individualized attention to students distinguishes Central's resident directors from their peers. Starting long before arrival in Mérida, the director works individually with each student, coaching them to maximize their time abroad. Nothing is more central to the work of a resident director than giving students the support they need.

Safety and Comfort

Students on the Mérida program choose the living arrangements that make them the most comfortable. Yucátán State’s tranquil, safe atmosphere combines beautifully with the Central House’s residence-style living to make students feel at home. As a result of the choices offered to students and the support of Central’s staff in Mérida, students regularly report feeling safe during their time in the Yucátan, from start to finish.

Integrated Programming

Holistic programming integrates academics, personal journey and intercultural learning. Program excursions are linked to coursework to help students gain the most complete understanding of the Yucátan possible, while building skills transferable to future experiences in cultures that are not their own. Guided by the resident director, students engage in intentional reflection to process and understand their personal experiences.

What to Expect

On-Site Orientation

Before diving into cultural and language immersion, students benefit from an extensive orientation program that concentrates on the basics of Mexican culture and life in Mérida. Orientation includes language placement testing, preliminary advising and, if appropriate, lessons that prepare students to meet their homestay families.

Before and After Your Time Abroad

Central College offers a pre-departure and re-entry course for credit. The course is led by faculty and staff and is designed to meet student’s needs at the various stages of preparing for (Pre-departure) and reflecting on (Re-entry) their time abroad.

Housing and Meals

Students choose to live with in the Central House, formerly a governor’s residence, or with Mexican host families that are interested in sharing their home, language and culture. Central’s staff in Mérida carefully review and select homestay families, and enjoy longstanding relationships with many of them. Meals are provided Monday-Friday for all students.

Students enjoying a meal with their host family.

Dates and Fees

Fall 2018 dates*

  • Arrival Sunday, August 26, 2018
  • Program begins Monday, August 27, 2018
  • Break Thursday, October 11, 2018- Sunday, October 14, 2018
  • Classes end Friday, November 30, 2018
  • Vacate housing Saturday, December 01, 2018

*All program dates are tentative. Do not purchase airline tickets based on these dates. Please check the official program calendar in your online acceptance account to confirm dates.

Spring 2019 dates*

  • Arrival: Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
  • Orientation: Jan. 21 – 26
  • Spring break: March 11 – 15
  • Classes end: May 2
  • Final date to vacate housing: May 3

*All program dates are tentative. Do not purchase airline tickets based on these dates. Please check the official program calendar in your online acceptance account to confirm dates.

Fall 2017/Spring 2018 fees

Central College students pay the same tuition rate for each of the international programs that they pay on the Central campus, plus the price for accommodations. In addition, students who transfer to Central College from another college or university must complete one semester at Central prior to participating in Study Abroad.

See program pricing information for Central students or for visiting students.


The Mérida program offers many opportunities for students interested in global health, such as veterinary care.

What's Included

  • Tuition
  • Guaranteed housing in Central College Abroad residence or homestay with a local Yucatecan family. Both options include all meals (Mon-Fri)
  • Computer/internet access at the Central College Abroad residence
  • Week-long orientation
  • Excursions and cultural events such as a five-day trip to the state of Chiapas
  • Internship and service-learning opportunities (optional)
  • 24-hour staff and reception
  • On-site resident director and support services
  • Personal Central College Abroad Advisor for pre-departure support
  • Online pre-departure and re-entry course
  • Central College Abroad Student Survival Guide and Parent handbook
  • Supplemental travel insurance, including mental health coverage, emergency evacuation and more
  • International student ID card provided by INEXT
  • Transcript from Central College, a U.S. institution fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

Learn More

Want to find out more about Mérida, Yucatán? Contact us to learn more about this program and other study abroad opportunities.