Nicaragua Study Abroad


Be a part of a life-changing experience!  In Summer 2017, The Burnett Honors College will offer its highly successful study abroad program in Nicaragua.  Inaugurated in 2014, this program cultivates an understanding and appreciation of Nicaraguan society and culture through crucial service-learning projects that are developed in collaboration with our international friends and partners.  Knowledge of the Spanish language is not a requirement for this program.

The primary projects will involve developing and refining sustainable agricultural practices in farming communities located in the north-central mountains of Nicaragua and on the volcanic island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua.  One project involves increasing the capacity of tilapia fish farms to provide a healthy and cost-effective protein source in these regions.  Another project will promote the cultivation of avocado seedlings for sale in Nicaragua.

Other projects focus on water management on a large farm near Matagalpa, Nicaragua.  There is a need to divert free-flowing spring water into a series of catchments so that vegetable fields can be irrigated during the dry season and to draw water mechanically from a nearby river to the farm.  Also, many of the farmers will bring their families to this facility and we should look into developing educational/health programs that could meet some of the needs of these families.

We may develop additional projects based on the interests and backgrounds of our participating students.  For instance, we welcome ideas for service-learning projects involving disciplines as diverse as engineering, health care, business, anthropology, and education. 

Student Eligibility

Each year, TBHC selects on a competitive basis up to ten Honors students for participation in this program.  All majors are encouraged to apply. Eligible candidates must be University Honors or Honors in the Major students in good standing who will not graduate prior to Summer 2017.  Students are selected on the basis of their academic achievement, campus and community involvement, evidence of initiative-taking, and their commitment to engaging in study-abroad as a transformative experience. Knowledge of the Spanish language is not a requirement for this program.




Program Costs

The cost of the program includes airfare, in-country ground transportation, lodging, most meals, and some excursions. The total program cost for UCF Honors students is between $500 and $1,500 depending of scholarship eligibility (see below).  The program will cover the costs for most breakfasts and dinners and students should bring some pocket money for snacks, non-group meals, and souvenirs during our weekend excursions.  In addition, students must pay tuition for the 1-credit hour course IDH 3955H that is scheduled for the spring in preparation for summer travel.  Please note that while unlikely, the program cost is subject to change due to changes in airfare and exchange rates.

Participating students will enroll in the 1-credit hour service-learning course during the Spring and Summer A semester (IDH 3955H.0203). This class counts as an interdisciplinary seminar for Honors graduation and will have regular class meetings during the spring semester in preparation for the trip that will occur in Summer A.  In spring, the class meeting times are MW 4:30-5:45pm in BHC 126.  In addition, there will one or two required, follow-up class meetings toward the end of the summer.   All charges will be posted to your UCF student account by the Office of International Studies.


The stated program cost is $1,500.  Participants may be eligible to apply for the President's Scholars Program which provides a scholarship of up to $1,000 for Honors students who are accepted in the Nicaragua program.  For more information about the President's Scholars Program and the application click here.



The trip will be almost three weeks long and we are tentatively scheduled to depart Orlando on May 11 with a return date of May 29.  We will travel as a group for our international flights as well as in-country excursions.  Students must find their own transportation to and from Orlando International Airport.  Weekend excursions will include the Spanish colonial city of Granada, the large market at Masaya, Selva Negra near Matagalpa, and the volcanic island of Ometepe located in Lake Nicaragua!  This link is an article on the 2014 program in Nicaragua.   See What Students Are Saying at


Important Dates:

    October 26 -- 3pm application deadline (bring material to the front desk of Honors)

    October 31 (week of) -- group interviews

    November 10 -- acceptance letters are sent to students

    December 5 -- 12 noon deadline for students to accept offer

    January 9 -- classes begin

    May 11 -- depart from Orlando International Airport

    May 29 -- return to Orlando International Airport


Class Meetings:

During the spring semester, class meetings will be held from 4:30-5:45 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays in BHC 126.

In addition, there will be a few class meetings in the summer after the group has returned to Orlando.


Honors Study-Abroad Scholarships

President's Scholars: Honors students who meet the following requirements can apply for the President’s Scholarship.  This scholarship has two award levels depending on program costs.  For South Africa, the scholarship award is $2,000.  For Nicaragua and Mexico the scholarship award is $1,000.  To be eligible for a President’s Scholarship, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • President's Scholarship has not been awarded before.
  • No more than 80 credit hours completed by the end of the spring semester prior to travel.
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.6 (freshmen grades will be looked at in December)
  • 500 word essay commenting of the following quote from Paul Theroux: “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”


The President’s Scholars scholarship program is made possible in part by the generosity of the Sonny’s Endowment for the President Scholars Program and the Yarmuth family.

Honors Short-term Study Abroad Scholarships: Honors students who are not eligible for the President’s Scholars Program can apply for a $500-$1,000 Honors Study Abroad Scholarship.  These scholarships are awarded competitively and the award level depends on program costs.



Click here for an application form


Resource Links:

   Nicaragua Dispatch Online News

   Moon Travel Guide

   Wait…is that Anthony Bourdain in Nicaragua?  Why yes it is!

   CIA Factbook on Nicaragua (click the "Worldbook" link)

   US Department of State webpage Explore Nicaragua online using this link.


Factoid 1

The name Nicaragua comes from a combination of two words, "nicarao" and "agua". The Nicarao are the Indian tribe that occupied the shores of Lake Nicaragua when the Spaniards arrived in the 1500's. "Agua" is the Spanish word for water.  The Nicarao tribe originally immigrated to Nicaragua from Mexico, after the fall of the Aztec empire.


Factoid 2


In 1856 William Walker, an American, declared himself President of Nicaragua and tried to turn Nicaragua into a slave state for the United States.  Walker was chased out of Nicaragua in 1857 by Nicaraguans and fellow American Cornelius Vanderbilt before being executed by Hondurans in 1860.  The movie "Walker" starring Ed Harris is a biopic of this megalomaniac mercenary.

Factoid 3

19—the number of active volcanoes in Nicaragua.  Lago de Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America.  It is so large that the Spanish conquistadors originally thought it was an ocean.  In size, Nicaragua is larger than New York State.   Granada is the oldest inhabited city in Central America. It was founded in 1524 by Hernandez de Cordoba, who gave his name to the national currency – the Cordoba.




Factoid 4

The national sport is baseball (not soccer) and the national food is gallo pinto (rice and beans). The national bird is the turquoise-browed motmot and the national flower is the madrono (calcyphyllum candidissimum).   

The Flag of Nicaragua is based on the former flag of the United States of Central America. The colors of originate from the flag of the former federation of the United Provinces of Central America. The two blue stripes represented the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea ; while white symbolizes peace.


This year's study abroad program to Nicaragua was made possible by the generous support of the Social Enterprise Fund and the MacKay Trust.