University of Otago in New Zealand. Photo © Tomas Sobek/123rf.

A Student’s Perspective on Studying Abroad in New Zealand

U.S. student Melanie Harsch studied abroad for a year in New Zealand, and then returned to take on a PhD researching climate change through its effect on the tree line. Expert author Michelle Waitzman talked to her about her experience, from why she choose New Zealand to advice for other students on how to make it happen.

Vegas Alta and Baja are on the north coast of Puerto Rico. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Things to Do in Vega Alta and Vega Baja

The highlight of the Vegas is definitely Punta Cerro Gordo, a gorgeous piece of coastline that boasts one of the island’s best publicly maintained beaches and a great camping area, but remember to take time away from the surf and sand to explore the history, culture, and beautiful sights of the area. Expert author Suzanne Van Atten talks festivals, cultural hotspots and exploring the outdoors in Vega Alta and Vega Baja.

A boy studies a preserved specimen in the San Ramón Museum.

San Ramón and the Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden

San Ramón is a gateway to Costa Rica’s northern lowlands via a mountain road that crests the cordillera, then begins a long sinuous descent to La Tigra. This agricultural and university town is known for its Saturday feria del agricultor (farmers market). A mere nine miles north is the Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden, where superb hiking trails and truly wonderful places to stay.

Even experienced divers will be blown away by the diversity of sea life in the Santuario de Flora y Fauna Malpelo. Photo © Fundación Malpelo y Otros Ecosistemas Marinos.

Diving Santuario de Flora y Fauna Malpelo

Santuario de Flora y Fauna Malpelo is the largest no-fishing zone in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, making it one of the top places for diving in the world. There are 11 main dive sites, including the most important site, La Nevera, where it is common to see scores of hammerhead sharks. Malpelo is for experienced divers only; to get there you must coordinate with one these authorized outfitters in Colombia.

Unitec New Zealand campus. Photo © Ingolfson at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

New Zealand Student Visas

If you want to study in New Zealand for longer than three months, you will need a student visa. Expert author Michelle Waitzman reviews the entire process from application to graduation, including renewals, health insurance, working restrictions, and what to do if you want to bring your family with you.

Higo Chumbo Cactus on Mona Island. Photo © U.S. Fish & Wildlife Southeast Region, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Mona Island’s Colorful Past

Oh, the tales it could tell if Mona Island could speak. Its past is a drama full of marauding pirates, thriving Taínos, and many a shipwreck. Today, in addition to enjoying the island’s great hiking, diving, and bird-watching, visitors can explore the faint remains of the Taíno civilization and mining operations. Petroglyphs, stone walls, cabins, and graves are enduring reminders of Mona’s colorful past.

Playa Las Flores. Photo ©

Where to Go on El Salvador’s Pacific Coast

The secret is out. For years, the beaches of El Salvador’s coast were strictly the terrain of fearless surfers, some who came in the 1970s and dug the waves so much they never left. Today, more and more curious travelers are showing up, discovering beaches interspersed with quaint fishing villages and large coral reefs, white sand beaches perfect for relaxing and swimming, mangroves teeming with colorful birds, beautiful bays, volcanic gulfs, and otherworldly estuaries.

Iximché exhibits much more of a Mexican influence than other Maya sites in Guatemala. Photo © Michal Zak/123rf.

Iximché, Guatemala’s Most Accessible Highland Mayan Site

Iximché is the most easily accessible of Guatemala’s highland Mayan ceremonial sites. It makes an interesting stop for those with an interest in Mayan culture and history because of the differences it exhibits from the lowland Mayan sites of Petén, which date to much earlier times.