MACON, Ga. — Mercer University has developed a unique study abroad program that will take students to the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to spend three weeks engaging in adventure sports and studying photography or archeology. Dubbed, the Mercer Caribbean Experience, the first program participants will study in the tropics during Mercer’s first summer session, May 31-June 21.
The pilot program is being coordinated through the Study Abroad Office. The program is open only to current Mercer students who are in good academic and disciplinary standing and in good physical condition. According to Eric Klingelhofer, professor of history and co-sponsor of the program, St. Croix is to become a permanent summer school location.
Students may take a three-credit academic course, either photography or historical archaeology. The remaining three credit hours will be earned in physical activities, which will consist of group and individual instruction in sea kayaking, snorkeling, horseback riding, sailing and SCUBA diving. Students will be expected to participate in no more than 10 hours in any single activity.
“We want to offer unique educational opportunities, unavailable on our Georgia campuses,” Klingelhofer said. “Making an archaeological discovery, drawing or photographing a colorful tropical scene, sailing and swimming in coral reefs, all these open up a world for students that is overseas, but still safely under U.S. currency, laws, and health services.”
Students will be housed in Christiansted, the historic capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and will live in historic Danish colonial apartment buildings. Groups of two to three students will share apartments on Queen Street, located in the heart of colonial Christiansted and two blocks from the National Park’s Fort Christiansvaern and the harbor. Rental for the accommodations is included in the summer school fee, but meals will be self-catered. Apartments have standard American kitchens and utensils. Initial food supplies will be provided and access to grocery shopping will be available. A Program Assistant will act as accommodation Resident Advisor and 24-hour contact.
During the program, students will have Sundays free for religious observances and a half-day on Saturdays for rest and relaxation. During the week students take a three-hour class of instruction averaging two-and-a-half hours per day, for a total of 40 hours. They will also spend and average of two-and-a-half hours per day doing physical activities. The adventure activities will be paid for by Mercer.
Mercer will provide transportation on the island. All students will need an official photo ID and non-U.S. citizens must have a valid passport and visa. The Caribbean Experience program uses a reduced Mercer College of Liberal Arts Summer School rate of $550 per credit or $3,300 per six credits. Accommodations for the Caribbean Experience will cost only $300 for the three weeks. The combined payment of $3,600 covers not only tuition and room, but also all books, equipment, and local transportation. Students are responsible for their food, and airfare to and from St. Croix.
For more details see Dr. Eric Klingelhofer, professor of history, Dr. Gary Blackburn, associate professor of art, or Dr. Eric Spears, director of international programs at (478) 301-2573.
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