Study Abroad Program Cut Short after Robberies

August 10, 2007

A summer study abroad program in Costa Rica was cut short for 20 U.S. students after three of them were robbed here and they decided to head home early.

The group of international business students from MississippiStateUniversity in Starkville was attending classes at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) in San Pedro, east of San José, living with families and working, according to director of university relations Maridith Geuder.

During a four-week period, three students were robbed in two separate incidents, one of whom was then treated for minor injuries and released, said Geuder, who did not have any more details about the robberies.

The U.S. university has brought students here “for 16 years through the Study Abroad department and we’ve never had an incident like that. I can tell you this is the first time,” Geuder told The Tico Times by phone last week.

Upon learning of the robberies, the university sent the head of the Foreign Language department and a language teacher here to “assess the situation.”

Together with the students, they decided it was best to cut the trip short rather than complete the final two weeks. The students still received full academic credit for the program, Geuder said.

One student, Tyler Hardin, told The Clarion Ledger he chose to stay in Costa Rica and finish the program.

“I haven’t had any problems here, and it’s been a month,” he said. His father Andy Hardin told the daily his son wanted to stay through the program’s final weeks to continue improving his Spanish.

The other 20 students flew from San José to Atlanta in late July and traveled by bus from Atlanta back to Starkville.

University officials are now reviewing the process through which they select countries for study abroad programs and may consider opting for another Spanish-speaking country instead of Costa Rica next year, Geuder said.

 

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