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Merida: Language, History, and Culture in the Yucatan
Merida, Mexico (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Spring,
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Restrictions: DePaul University applicants only
Click for Tuition + Program Fee Spring Quarter,
Winter Quarter
Dates / Deadlines:
Thank you for your interest in this program! We are not currently accepting applications. In general, applications open about 6 months before program application deadlines.
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Term-long Academic Level: Undergraduate
Recommended GPA: 2.5 Living Arrangements: Homestay
Language of Instruction: English, Spanish Prerequisite: SPN 103 or equivalent
Liberal Studies Domain: EL
Program Description:


Mérida, México is the state capital of the Yucatán, located in southeastern México. The Montejos, the first Spaniards to seriously attempt the conquest of the Yucatan, founded Mérida in 1542. The Spaniards established this capital among the empty buildings of a Mayan classic city called Tiho or Ichcaanziho, renaming it Mérida after a city of Roman ruins in Spain.
Mérida is a beautiful city that displays the richness of the dynamic between the Mayan and Spanish colonial history in the region. As one of the centers of the Mayan people, Mérida sits minutes away from some of the world's most incredible anthropological sites: Chichen Itza, a major Mayan city; Tulum, the site where the first Spaniards shipwrecked and encountered the Yucatec Mayans in 1511; and Valladolid, the colonial town where the famous re-conquest of land originated as the Caste War that began in 1847 and established a Mayan free state until the twentieth century.
The city houses a major national university and several important regional museums. The natural beauty of the nearby coastline of the world-renowned beaches, including Cancún and Progreso, accentuates the historical, anthropological and cultural wealth of this region and city.
While in Mérida, students attend classes at the Autonomous University of the Yucatan (UADY - Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán). This program is designed to offer an experience that heightens students' critical understanding of the history and life of Mexicans, particularly as it relates to this region of the country. Immersion into the culture presents the students with an invaluable educational experience, challenging them to consider many aspects of the world they know. Along with class sessions, students will also participate in a number of excursions in and around Mérida to complement their coursework and to familiarize them with the region.
Living and learning in the context of Mexican culture and language, the students can better understand both the problems and possibilities confronting issues related to trade, immigration and development from an international perspective.  In order to best navigate 
Izamal, Mexico Monastery
life in Mérida and make the most out of the experience, students are encouraged to have a Spanish language level that is SPN 103 or above.  However, students with less Spanish ability wishing to participate in the program should contact the DePaul faculty Program Director and the Study Abroad office to see whether they may still be able to participate.

DePaul SoJournal article Reflecting on Chiapas 2016 by Nicole Grinbarg
DePaul SoJournal article Everything You Would Possible Need to Know for Studying Abroad in Merida by Nicole Grinbarg
Washington Post article about Merida: "Mexico beyond the drug violence"
Merida Yucatan by DescargaBuroCreativo

Study Abroad Diaries: Mérida, México by Parker Asmann:


In Winter 2017 the program will be led by Dr. María Beltrán-Vocal, professor in the Department of Modern Languages.

Dr. María Beltrán-Vocal Biography
Dr.  María A. Beltrán-Vocal is a professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages.  In her tenure, she has developed curriculum for Spanish for Heritage Speakers, a track that she created upon her arrival at DePaul University in the nineteen eighties.  She has also created courses dealing with Chican@ and Latin@ literature, as well as contemporary Peninsular literature and oral history.  She is the co-founder of the Translation Minor in the Department of Modern Languages and serves as coordinator.
She is passionate about her teaching, as well as her research, which is interdisciplinary, multicultural, and transnational. Her research interests and teaching include contemporary Latin American Literature, Chican@ Literature, Latin@ Literature, Peninsular literature , as well as oral history and its relation to literature, education, activism, and culture. At the present time, she is working on her oral history project book dealing with Mexican women and activism in the Mexican community in Chicago.  
She is the author of Troublemaker/Peleonera.  Chicago:
March/Abrazo Press, 2005 Collection of poetry,  Leco, Casimiro, Beltrán-
Vocal, et.al.   Latin@/American Images//Transnational Identities: Imágenes
Latinas y Latinoamericanas: Identidades Trasnacionales.  Morelia:
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2014, and has also published
in the Americas Review, the The Oral History Review,  Letras Femeninas, and Puentes, Revista Mexico Chicana de Literatura, among others.


 Students earn 16 quarter hours of credit: eight credits in Spanish language, four credits in Community Service Studies (taught in English), and four credits for a course taught by DePaul faculty member (usually taught in Spanish, but may be taught in English depending on the year). The following courses are required:
Course: Spanish Language Courses: SPN 198/ SPN 298/ SPN 398
Credits: 8 credit hours (2 courses)
Term registered: Winter 2018
Taught by: Instructors at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán

Course Description:  Students will take two Spanish language courses. The level will be determined by an onsite placement exam. If you place into advanced level language courses and earn credit for SPN 298 or 398, these would be applicable toward the Spanish major/minor requirements. 
Principiante/Básico  I --> SPN 198
Principiante/Básico II --> SPN 198
Intermedio I --> SPN 298
Intermedio II --> SPN 398
Avanzado I --> SPN 398
Avanzado II --> SPN 398
Course: CSS 201/CSS 390: Critical Community Engagement
Credits: 4 credit hours
Term registered: Winter 2018
Liberal Studies Domain: Experiential Learning (EL)
Taught by: Faculty member of the Universidad Marista (taught in English)
Course Description: 
This course is an interdisciplinary experiential learning course that offers a context for critically reflecting on the practice of community service in a international setting. This is a service learning course, and students will be challenged to integrate perspectives from readings, films and class discussions concerning their own experiences working with children of a public school and with community members from the Emiliano Zapata Sur (EZS) neighborhood in Mérida, México. All students receive CSS201 credits for this course, with the exception of those students who have already taken CSS201; Students who have already taken CSS201 will receive credits for CSS390.   Both CSS201 and CSS390 can be counted toward a CSS minor.
**Please note that it may be possible for this CSS course to be counted for SPN major/minor requirements if (1) the student requests the CSS course to be counted for SPN major/minor requirements, (2) the student completes all of their work in Spanish, and (3) the program director is from the SPN program or is a fluent Spanish speaker who can verify this work.  Students interested in such an option should talk with the program director, and the program director will need to send a list of students pursuing this option to the MOL staff advisor.

Course: Spanish 317
Credits: 4 credit hours
Term registered: Winter 2018
Liberal Studies Domain: Arts and Litertaure (AL)
Taught by: Dr. María Beltrán-Vocal
Course Description: Spanish 317 is a critical survey of the Latin American and Peninsular short story in the twenty and twenty-first centuries. The course offers an overview of the intellectual, artistic and socio-political aspects that have shaped the writing of short stories in Latin America and Spain.  Students will read the works of writers such as Juan Rulfo, Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Gabriel García Marques, Rosario Castellanos, Nuria Labari, Soledad Puértolas, Benjamín Prado, Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes, and Isabel Allende, among others.

This course will provide the students with an introduction to the writing of short stories, and its importance within Latin American and Peninsular literature, culture, and politics. Through the short stories, their themes, and their adaptation to films, the student will be able to approach culture, society and politics of the countries as presented by the different writers.  The course aims to increase the student’s understanding of Latin America and, through readings, analysis, oral presentations, and class discussions, students will be able to improve their oral and written skills of the language.

**Merida Program participants may be eligible to apply two of the three SPN language courses through this program toward two learning domain requirements per the Modern Language Option. Interested students should contact their primary college advising office for additional details.

Courses will meet at these university campuses in Mérida:
UADY - The Autonomous University of the Yucatan


A select number of students have the option of staying in Mérida for the Spring quarter and conducting a service learning internship while continuing their Spanish language study. Coordinated by the Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning and DePaul University's local program director in Mérida, students will remain in Mexico until June to work in a credit-bearing internship with local community organizations with which DePaul has formed relationships. Participants will augment their internship by taking language courses to strengthen their language skills and enhance their learning during the internship. Students who wish to participate in the Winter/Spring Option must have at least Spanish 104 or demonstrate proficiency above this level before going to Merida.

Students will, therefore, take a total of 12 DePaul credits during the Spring quarter component. Eight credits (two courses) will be in Spanish language, while the remaining 4 credits will be for the internship. The following courses will be offered during the Spring quarter:

Course: Spanish Language Courses: SPN 198/ SPN 298/ SPN 398
Credits: 8 credit hours (2 courses)
Term registered: Spring 2017
Taught by: Instructors at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán
Course Description: Students will take two Spanish language courses. The level will be determined by an onsite placement exam. If you place into advanced level language courses and earn credit for SPN 298 or 398, these would be applicable toward the Spanish major/minor requirements. 

Course: CSS 395: Community Internship: Mérida
Credits: 4 credit hours
Term registered: Spring 2017
Course Description: Using their internship site as a source of information, students will identify transferable skills and hone personal and professional traits that will keep them gainfully employed regardless of the state of the economy.

Please note that although some courses are registered in a particular term, some coursework or final assignments may be due in a different term. E.g. Course registered in winter quarter, but coursework is due in spring quarter once the travel component of the program is complete.


Students live with Mexican host families from a variety of backgrounds and professions. This allows them to practice Spanish learned in class and to gain a unique insight into Mexican culture and lifestyle. Hosts are carefully screened and most have hosted students for years. The housing coordinator in Merida arranges placements, based on information students provide about their needs and preferences. The homes are located close to the university. Three meals per day are included in the program fee.


To participate in this program, students must have completed at least Spanish 101 or demonstrate proficiency above this level by including proficiency exam results along with the application. To apply to this program, students must submit two (2) academic recommendation forms from faculty familiar with your academic work (one must be from a Spanish language instructor).


All students participating in study abroad will be charged both tuition (billed at the regular DePaul tuition rate, based on the number of credits enrolled) and a program fee. Click for the Winter quarter fee or the Spring quarter fee for your program. Please read the program fee details carefully to understand exactly what is included, as this can vary from program to program.  If the program fee is posted, be sure to note whether the fee is current or from a previous year (past program fees may serve as a guide until the current program fee is available).  If the current program fee has not yet been posted, please check back closer to the application deadline.  Read the details carefully to understand exactly what is included. Please also note the withdrawal policy.

DePaul offers several types of scholarships for students studying abroad, and students should visit the scholarship page early in the application process for information on eligibility and deadlines.  Students are also encouraged to speak with the DePaul financial aid office for more information about financing their study abroad experience.


If you are planning to study abroad and do not have a passport, apply for one immediately. Some programs require students to obtain student visas. In that case, contact the country's local consulate or embassy for up-to-date instructions. As of this publication, students on the Mérida program who are U.S. citizens traveling on a U.S. passport DO NOT need a visa. Please note that visa requirements can change quickly. Study Abroad will update this website to reflect changes as they become available.

DePaul University is committed to student safety.  Although Mexico has been put on the State Department Travel Warning list at the country-level, the areas in which DePaul operates study abroad programs are considered by the State Department to be stable and safe. Click here for the complete report.  Please note that much of the warning is about the northern regions of Mexico along the U.S.-Mexico border, so make sure to scroll down the page to the section on the state of Yucatán, in which Mérida is located.  More than 7,000 U.S. students study abroad in México annually (IIE, Open Doors).  If students or their parents have any questions regarding the safety of study abroad in México, please call our office at 312-362-6962.



Questions about this program? Contact your study abroad advisor, Martha McGivern.

DePaul University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or handicap in admissions, employment, or the provision of services. Inquiries regarding this policy should be addressed to the Director of Human Resources, 1 East Jackson Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60604.

Circumstances, such as an unexpected event abroad or a curriculum change at a host institution, may require DePaul University to make changes to the program. DePaul University reserves the right to cancel or alter programs and courses without notice. 

This program is currently not accepting applications.