UCLA Travel Study

Spanish: Spanish in the Mexican Context

  • Dates


  • Location

    Mérida, Mexico

  • Participation Advisory

    COVID-19 vaccine may be required by some venues in Mexico

  • Program Fee

    UC Undergrads: TBA

    UC Grad Students: TBA

    Visiting Students: TBA

    Fees are subject to change by action of the UC Regents: View full fee disclaimer

*Program not offered for Summer 2023*

Spend a summer in one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico! Mérida is one of Mexico’s safest and cleanest cities and provides the perfect setting for your study of Spanish language or Mexican literature. The streets of Mérida are lined with colonial mansions and you can still take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

Mérida’s residents, who are proud of their colonial roots and their Mayan heritage, will welcome you warmly as they host you and invite you to enjoy the celebration of their cultural pride. You will participate in a number of cultural excursions to the most important Mayan ruins, the Yucatecan cenotes, and protected wildlife reserves. Mérida is a half hour from the sea and features a tranquil lifestyle with all of the modern-day conveniences.

Its cultural offerings, size, and safe character make Mérida the perfect place to study the Spanish language and Mexican culture, as well as Pre-Hispanic and modern Mayan culture.

This program also includes a multi-day excursion to the Caribbean coastline to visit the Mayan ruins of Tulum, among other cultural attractions.


Program Courses

All students will enroll in one of the following curriculums while attending the program:

  • Curriculum I – Elementary (8 units)
    • SPAN 2A
    • SPAN 3A
  • Curriculum II – Intermediate (8 units)
    • SPAN 4
    • SPAN 5
  • Curriculum III – Advanced (8 units)
    • SPAN 150
    • SPAN 170

Course Descriptions

Curriculum I

Spanish 2A & 3A: Intensive Spanish (Elementary) (8 units)

Prerequisite: One-quarter of college-level Spanish with a grade of B or better, or 1 year of high school Spanish with a grade of A- or better, or placement exam.

Spanish 2A and 3A are introductory courses in Spanish language and culture. The approach is proficiency-oriented, communicative and task-based in order to help you develop communicative competence in all four skill areas (listening, speaking, reading and writing) as well as cultural competence. Spanish 2 and 3 are conducted completely in Spanish.

Curriculum II

Spanish 4 & 5: Intensive Spanish (Intermediate) (8 units)

Prerequisite: One year of college-level Spanish with a grade of B or better, or three years of high-school Spanish with a grade of A- or better, or placement exam.

Spanish 4 and 5 emphasize advanced conversation and include a review of major grammatical points and vocabulary expansion. Courses cover reading and writing skills as well.

Curriculum III

Spanish 150: Displacement & Encounter, travel writings in Mexico (4 units) 

Spanish 170: Mapping, Travel and Writing in Mérida (4 units)

Prerequisite: Spanish 25 or 27, or placement exam (or the equivalent for Non-UCLA students).

SPAN 150 is a study of travel literature with a special focus on Mexico. From the moment the first European travelers set foot in this land the foreigners become obsessed, and their imagination begins elaborating a series of interpretations that reinforce the unprecedented curiosity over this territory. Whether the traveler is the leader of an expedition, a member of the church or a castaway the encounter with México shapes what travel-writing can be: contact, violence, negotiation, acquisition, adaptation, limits, difference, incomprehension, etc. We will focus on the different contexts in which the studied works –as well as their authors– are immersed, with the purpose of evaluating the extent to which these contexts are realized in the literary works in question. Travel literature has been considered an intrinsically “subject-to-reality” form. However, we will observe that the representations of the traveler can never be equal to the geography and culture that is visited. The trip in the text is adjusted, nuanced, focused and put into perspective. The travelogue is not the duplicate of a realized trip, but rather a trip that is only possible within a particular story. We will also approach the concept of travel in the pre-hispanic context: Were you aware that the Mayas were exceptional navigators? Did you know they traveled along the coasts while trading with Central America and the southern hemisphere? How many of you know the Mayas built a complex traveler-assistance system along the Yucatan cost? Traveling always entails much more than mere movement. This class is complemented with SPAN 170 “Mapping, Travel and Writing in Mérida,” which is a writing class focused on your personal journey. Whether you are looking at the Maya pyramid; mapping your itinerary across the city to get to class on time; learning about the ingredients in a new dish at the local market, or simply asking for directions because you got lost while contemplating the beautiful architecture, all these experiences will shape your own personal trip. In this class personal narratives will be used to concretize subject matter and establish connections between the classroom and students’ life experiences.


Grades are based on attendance, class participation, journals, and examinations. The instructor reserves the right to vary this format.


All schedules, itineraries, and group activities are subject to change at the discretion of the instructors.


You are responsible for purchasing your own textbooks.

Budget and Financial Aid

Budget UC Undergrads UC Grad Students Visiting Students
Program Fee TBA TBA TBA
Textbooks (estimate) $150 $150 $150
Airfare (estimate) $800 $800 $800
Meals (estimate) $500 $500 $500
Spending Money (estimate) $800 $800 $800

Program fee includes registration and course fees, accommodations, and program excursions.

Airfare, textbooks, optional courses, meals, optional excursions, and any COVID-19 testing required for travel are additional.

Fees are subject to change by action of the UC Regents. View full fee disclaimer.

Document Fee
Non-UCLA students will be charged a $50 Document Fee. This is a one-time document fee which covers fees for first-class mailing of official transcripts, diploma and much more. Please visit the Registrar’s Office Website for more information.

All undergraduate students will be charged a $61 IEI fee per summer. The IEI (Instructional Enhancement Initiative) fee is a course materials fee that is charged in order to support the use of technology in undergraduate education at UCLA.


We recommend that you budget accordingly to cover optional sightseeing, laundry, Internet cafes, emergencies, etc. How much to budget depends on your travel, entertainment, and souvenir choices. It is always best to overestimate your spending. Take the time to research the cost of living in your destination and the activities you want to participate in while abroad.

Purchasing Airfare

Please do not purchase airfare until instructed to do so by your Travel Study Program Coordinator.

Financial Aid
Financial aid for Travel Study programs is available to qualified UCLA students. All other students should inquire about financial aid at their home institution. For details about the financial aid application process, please visit the Financial Aid section of this website.

On Location

Update for 2022: Students will reside in a hotel for the summer of 2022 instead of homestays to abide by COVID-19 rules. 

Update for 2022:Students will reside in a hotel for the summer of 2022 with fewer meals included.

Tentative Excursions
The program includes substantial cultural excursions, including such world-renowned sites as Uxmal, Chichen-Itza, Celestun, Izamal, and a multi-day excursion to visit Puerto Aventuras and Tulum.

Originally constructed on Mayan ruins, Mérida was the center of prosperity during the 19th-century hacienda boom. In the historic center, you will find one of the oldest cathedrals in Mexico dating back to the colonial period as well as the Municipal Palace, destroyed and rebuilt after the Yucatan’s surge for independence in the 19th century. You will be able to visit the mansions and elegant Paseo de Montejo and appreciate the elaborate architecture that reflects the prosperity of the owners of the henequen haciendas. Throughout Mérida, you will be surrounded by the rich Mayan cultural heritage and the Mayan languages still spoken. Mérida is a city that delights in the celebration of its roots and you will be able to enjoy Mérida en Domingo, las Vaquerias, las Serenatas and other weekly celebrations throughout the city.

Program excursions for summer 2022 are subject to change.