International Programs

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NEIU Field School FAQ


Where is Belize and what's the weather like?

       Belize is on the Yucatan peninsula, which protrudes into the Gulf of Mexico. It is bounded by Mexico on the north, Guatemala on the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea on the east. Since the prevailing winds are from the southeast, the coast is cooled by a sea breeze. It always feels tropical. Daytime temperatures average in the high 80s to upper 90s, and it gets cool enough for a light blanket at night. Although we travel there during the rainy season, we have had trips with lots of rain and trips with no rain.


What are the prerequisites for the class?

       International Programs requires a 3.0 average; a 2.5 average is acceptable with faculty references. Prereqs include one or more of the following: ANTH 213 Intro to Archaeology, ANTH 250 Latin American Archaeology, ANTH 374 The Maya, or consent of Instructor (see below).


Where will we stay?

       You will share a tent or a room in a dorm building with your one or three of your colleagues, respectively. Tents are on small platforms beneath zinc roofs. Other buildings include a shared outhouse and a shower building (with refreshingly cool showers) for our use. These are all part of a larger field camp that includes an indoor lab and a dining hall.


How do we travel around?

      We will go to the field in pickup trucks. When going from camp to the airport or vice-versa, or on the trip to Tikal, we will be in a big yellow school bus.


What language do Belizeans speak?

      The official language is English, but as many immigrants from other Central American countries arrive, the use of Spanish is increasing. The Maya in this area speak Yucatec and Spanish and many speak English. Most Belizeans speak Creole, which sounds like a very fast colloquial English. Mennonites in the area also speak Low German.


What is a typical day like?

      We get up early in the morning, have breakfast by 6:00, leave for the field at 7:00, and get back at about 4:00. Dinner is at 6:00 pm and lights out is at 9:00 pm. During the day we are hiking, excavating, mapping, interacting with native Belizean workers, and discovering new aspects of ancient Maya life. We will work six days per week, with one free day to visit a nearby general store to call home and buy the all-important salty snacks.


What is the food like?

      Typical includes stewed chicken, rice and beans, plantains, and garnachas for lunch and dinner, accompanied by cole slaw and/or potato salad. Breakfast often consists of scrambled eggs, beans, oatmeal, fruit, and marvelous local biscuits. A vegetarian option is always provided.


Is it safe to eat the food and drink the water?

      The food you will be served is safe to eat. When shopping in local markets, avoid all foods you cannot peel. Our drinking water comes from a local well and is chlorinated and filtered. Kool-Aid is also available, as are sodas and the local Belikin beer. Though water and Kool-Aid are gratis, sodas and beer are not.


What are the academic requirements?

      There will be one or two classes before and one class after the trip (May 17 and June 28), plus a textbook on field techniques and a minimal list of required personal excavation equipment.


Do I need immunizations?

      Talk to your doctor. Usually they recommend immunizations for Hepatitis A, up-to-date tetanus shots, and anti-malarial pills, but you should clear these with your doctor.  We recommend chloraquine-based malarial prophylaxis such as Aralen


Is Belize a safe country?

      The people are extremely friendly and love Americans. A large number of Belizeans have been to the US or have family members living here.


What does it cost?

      Projected costs are $2650 for the field trip, including all pre-arranged travel, room and board in Belize. This also covers transportation to and from Tikal, water taxi to the cayes, and your entrance fee to all sites. You will be responsible for your own room and board at Tikal, but the most expensive hotel room there goes for the equivalent of US$40 per night. Field trip is May 19 - June 16, 2011.

       In addition to the travel cost, resident tuition is $1872.90 for the course.  Financial Aid applies to this class; please visit the Financial Aid office for more information.


 How do I apply?

       Contact Dr. Jon Hageman, the instructor, ASAP in SCI 136, ph. 773-442-5863 , or, to let him know of your interest by February 15.  An International Programs application and a non-refundable deposit of $500 are due to International Programs by Mar. 15.


Why should I consider this class?

Because it is the experience of a lifetime!

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