Mexico Spring Break: Local Communities and Development

Join us for an immersive spring break experience in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. We will be learning about how local communities in this region are dealing with an explosion of international tourists and investments. Spend a week moving between small Mayan communities, coastal tourist destinations, and amenity migrant hubs, critically thinking about how the local landscape is changing and how identity in the area is utilized in these decisions. We will see how beach access has been restricted for locals, how bio-reserves compete for protection and funding, how Mayan cooperatives are forging new economic paths, and how amenity migrants are living in and with the communities they now call home.

  • Travel Dates:  February 22- March 2, 2024
  • Course Dates: February 10 – March 20, 2024
  • Application Deadline: November 17, 2024
  • Deposit Deadline:  November 30, 2023
  • Earn 3.5 credits (3 in HASS, .5 in P.E.)


Students must enroll in minimum 2 Credits, Max 3.5 

SS 3960 Cultural Immersion (2-3 Credits)

Cultural immersion in the Yucatan peninsula requires students to think critically about the types of development occurring there, and the impacts that development surrounding tourism and tourism-driven migration has had. Students will learn about how tourism development harnesses and changes national, regional, and indigenous identities, as well as who is in control of the narratives surrounding tourism in the region. The class will travel from small Mayan villages to mid-sized colonial cities, to rapidly developing coastal tourist spots to encounter how development and migration is impacting communities in the Yucatan on multiple scales and through multiple lenses.

Students taking the 3-credit option will be required to develop a project, collect data, and present a report 2 weeks after returning to Houghton.

Students taking the 2-credit option will be able to choose a shorter project option, and will choose 2 of the three labs while on location.

PE 0210 Open Water Swimming (.5 Credits)

Students will demonstrate fundamental knowledge and skills for the safe participation in and enjoyment of open-water swimming as a lifelong outdoor recreational activity. Swimming will occur in cenotes (open and closed limestone caves), lakes, and the ocean. Intermediate to advanced swimmers only. Swim testing will occur during pre-departure.


We will leave Houghton in vans on the morning of February 22nd to catch a flight to Cancun, and return via air travel and vans to Houghton on March 2nd. Once on the trip we will visit 5 locations in the Yucatan, staying up to 2 nights in each place. 

Day Location
February 22-24 Ek Balam
February 24-25 Valladolid
February 25-27 Nuevo Durango
February 27-29 Tulum
February 29-March 2 Puerto Morelos
March 2 Return to Houghton


Students pay a $800 deposit by December 1, 2023. Students then register for Spring break course credits with MTU as normal and pay the associated tuition.  Tuition will include a "lab fee" of approximately $2,000.  The deposit plus the lab fee covers the costs of the program in addition to the instruction. This includes transportation, lodging, activity expenses, tips, program administration, travel insurance, and an average of two meals a day while in country.


This course will take you out of your comfort zone and into situations which are new and exciting! You should be prepared to walk several miles a day, be outside in the heat, and interact respectfully with people of different cultures. You should also come to the program with an open mind and a flexible, positive attitude – which will yield unexpected encounters and rewards while traveling! 

Study Away Information

Have more questions about studying abroad? Study abroad staff can help you with your pre-departure. Here are some other resources that will help you with your visit: