Where is Belize and what's the weather like?

Belize is south of Cancun on the Yucatán peninsula, which protrudes into the Gulf of Mexico. Belize 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, (though sometimes it can be over 100) and it gets cool enough for a light blanket at night. Although we are 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.  No prior coursework is required, though ANTH 213 Intro to Archaeology, ANTH 250 Latin American Archaeology, or ANTH 374 The Maya are useful.

What kind of places will we stay in?

You will share a tent or a room in a dorm building. Tents are on small platforms beneath zinc roofs. Other buildings include a shared latrine and a shower building (with refreshingly cool showers). These are all part of a larger field camp that includes an indoor lab and a dining hall. When we travel we will stay in local hotels with running water.

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’ll be in a 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 Belizeans 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 German. 

What’s a typical day like?

We get up early in the morning, have breakfast by 6:00 a.m., leave for the field at 7:00 a.m., and get back at about 4:00 p.m.  Dinner is at 6:00 p.m. and lights out at 9:00 p.m. During the day we are hiking, excavating, mapping, interacting with native Belizean workers in a rainforest setting, and discovering new aspects of ancient Maya life. We are scheduled to 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’s the food like?

Typically 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. We have meat for dinner every night, and vegetarian option is ALWAYS provided.

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

The food you will be served in camp is safe to eat. When shopping in local markets, avoid all foods you can’t peel. Our drinking water, from a local well, 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 for the course?

There will be one class before and after the trip (dates to be determined), plus a textbook on field techniques and a minimal list of required personal excavation equipment.

Do I need immunizations?

Recommended immunizations include Hepatitis A and B, up-to-date tetanus shots, and anti-malarial pills.

Is Belize a safe country?

It’s as safe as they come! The people are extremely friendly and love Americans. A large number of Belizeans have been to the U.S. or have family members living here.  Chicago has one of the largest populations of Belizeans living outside Belize.

What does it cost?

Costs for the field trip are $3,695, including all pre-arranged travel, site entry fees, and room and board in Belize. Tuition and fees for Illinois residents is $2,169, and $3,994 for non-residents. Financial aid can be applied toward all trip costs.

 How do I apply?

Contact Dr. Jon Hageman, the field instructor, at (773) 442-5863 or jhageman@neiu.edu for an application form.  A deposit of $1,000 is due Jan. 24 to Student Payment Services.  Make a copy of your receipt and submit it to International Programs (LWH 0007).

Why should I consider this class?

Because it is the experience of a lifetime!