Merida, Mexico

IFSA January in Mexico

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Program Overview


Why follow your interest in history, humanities, or social science to sunny, welcoming Mérida? Because learning about Mayan history in a classroom is one thing. Experiencing it on the tropical Yucatán peninsula, amidst contemporary Mayan communities and the echoes of ancient achievements, is quite another.

Highlight: A visit to the Mayan community of Yaxunah and Chichén Itzá, one of the world’s seven wonders.

Students attending select Australia universities are welcome to participate in this program.

This is an exclusive IFSA-Designed Program. Learn more about these affordable programs here.

Details at a Glance

Application deadline

Winter: Nov. 1

Minimum GPA


Credit load



Single Room Option, Homestay

Instruction language


Language prerequisites

Class taught in English. No Spanish required.

Visa required?

Not in most cases. Learn more.

Apply Now


History of Mayan Culture and Civilization
Language of Instruction: English
This class provides a historical perspective of the main characteristics of the Pre-Hispanic Mayan Civilization, including detailed information about the level of development reached by the Mayans from a historical, ethnographic, and ethno-archeological perspective from pre-colonial times through contemporary Mayan groups. Develop a framework of understanding and analysis with an emphasis on achievements such as architecture, writing, art, and cultural manifestations. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)

Australia Outbound Program
Students enrolled at select Australia universities are invited to participate in this program. The program is open to students of all year levels and all fields. Students will earn 45 contact hours credit; the equivalent of one subject.

Please see the Australia Outbound term below in the Dates and Fees section for program fees and expected expenses in Australian dollars. For more information on the Australia Outbound program, please reach out to us at



  • You must be at least 18 years of age. Students under 18 may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
  • You must be currently attending or recently graduated from a U.S. or Canadian community college, technical college, two-year college, four-year college, or four-year university. Students attending select Australia universities are also eligible.
  • You must have completed at least one (1) full-time semester of study at your home institution before the beginning of the term.

Recommendation Letter
Not required.


Upon completion of your program, IFSA will send an official Butler University transcript to your home university with your coursework converted to the U.S. semester credit hour system. You will also have access to an unofficial transcript in your IFSA Student Portal. The transcript reflects classes taken, credits attempted, and grades earned during your term abroad. This service is included in your study abroad program at no additional cost. See our Transcripts page for more information.



Activities and excursions are designed to pull you into the communities you visit and encourage cultural connections of every kind. There’s no extra fee to participate in these optional outings—everything is included in your program fee.

Below are a selection of activities and excursions from previous terms; options may vary for your program. Due to the seasonal nature of many of program activities, we cannot guarantee a specific activity or excursion will be available in a given term or program.

  • Mérida City Tour: Get to know the city from a relaxing perspective during this 60-minute bus tour to see the first neighborhoods that make up the historic district.
  • Mayan World Museum Tour: This visit is designed to provide you with the cultural and historic context needed to fully appreciate the excursion to Chichén Itzá and Uxmal. The museum exhibits a magnificent collection of more than 1,160 items: textiles, ceramic, sculptures, religious elements, and daily life objects from Mayan culture.
  • Yaxunah Trip: Yaxunah is a Mayan community of approximately 150 families just two hours from Mérida. The economy of this community is based on the agricultural system known as milpa, it also has a community cultural center, and various projects focused on sustainability. This community works regularly with groups of students and is a great opportunity to share and learn.
  • Uxmal Trip. Uxmal is a fascinating archaeological site with its Puuc style of architecture showcasing the pinnacle of Mayan population design and art. You won’t soon forget the impressive Pyramid of the Magician, constructed more than 1,000 years ago. Additionally this excursion includes swimming in the cool waters of Yaal Utzil cenote.
  • Chichén Itzá Trip: Just an hour from Mérida is Chichén Itzá, one of the world’s seven wonders and one of the most visited places in all Mexico.

Housing and Meals


Single Room Option, Homestay


All Included


In Mérida, students live with local families in what’s known as a homestay. Homestays make it easy to immerse yourself in the region’s rich culture. They also provide many opportunities to build your Spanish language skills, if that’s part of your plan.   

Homestays: Who’s at home?  

We place students with carefully screened families, many of whom have been hosting IFSA students for nearly 20 years. Many have grown children who have left home and enjoy having young people around. Families host up to two IFSA students at a time.  

You might live with a retired couple and their beloved terrier, with frequent visits from their young grandchildren. Your hosts might have high school-age children and a grandparent living with them. Or you might join a single mom who shares her home with her adult daughter and grandson, with another adult child living nearby.  

  • Location. Host families live throughout the city. You might live close to downtown within easy walking distance to the IFSA Program Center—or 45–60 minutes away via public transportation (that’s just 15 minutes away via Uber).
  • Living space. Each student has their own bedroom. Bathrooms are sometimes private but could be shared with other family members. Your hosts provide a desk or other suitable place to study.  
  • Meals. Three meals a day included. Your homestay family understands that you also need time out to be with friends and explore—they’ll appreciate a heads up when you plan to eat out. Students buy their own snacks.   
  • Language. Few families are fluent in English, but most can communicate. We do our best to place students without Spanish skills with English-speaking families. 
  • Other details. Internet included. Air conditioning is limited to eight hours at night, so expect to adjust to heat and humidity in this tropical environment. Most homes have a washing machine that students can use once a week. In some cases, the family offers to do the laundry. If the family does not have a washing machine, they will take the student once a week to the laundromat.
  • Nearby. Cafes, restaurants, and public transportation. 

Dates and Fees

Term begins
Term ends
Program costs
Application deadline
January 2025
January 2, 2025
January 18, 2025
$4,375 (estimated)
Nov. 1, 2024
January 2025 (Australia Outbound)
January 2, 2025
January 18, 2025
$6,250 AUD (estimated)
Nov. 1, 2024

Get Started

Selena Rincon

Selena Rincon

Enrollment Counselor