UCA Occupational Therapy Abroad: Keys to Well-Being in Costa Rica 2023


Program Description

Through this international education abroad experience, students will learn how well-being, health, and longevity stems from lifestyle and occupational patterns made along the life course. The Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica is one of five areas designated as a “Blue Zone”, a place where people reach age 100 at rates up to 10 times greater than in the United States. The longevity of “Tikos” (native Costa Ricans) in this region is due in large part to their lifestyle, which centers around having a reason to live, a focus on family, meaningful social connections, healthy diets, hard work, physical activity, sunshine and spirituality. Using these lifestyle dimensions as a guide, students will explore contributing occupational factors that promote longevity and “pura vida” (the pure life). At specific locations, students will focus on infusion of occupation throughout the occupational therapy process. Students will acquire unique insight regarding multicultural healthcare through hands-on activities, tours, observation and dialogue with local residents, health care professionals and researchers who promote the peninsula’s healthy/happy lifestyle. Students will spend meaningful time at select locations where they will engage in occupation based evaluations and interventions. Outside of the scope of coursework, all students will enhance their cultural competency by visiting sites of historical, cultural, and contemporary significance. This experience will meet the profession’s related educational fieldwork accreditation standards.

Health and Safety 

Students registering for programs agree to the following: I understand that UCA does not control requirements of vendors, universities, and other stakeholders for study abroad programing. Should a vendor or organization require masks, vaccinations, quarantine, or other measures regarding COVID 19, I agree to follow these requirements. While UCA and its partners will work to update students, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to take measures to protect themselves from the spread of disease.

Students must attend one health and safety meeting in the spring semester. Meeting dates will be announced after the program deadlines.

Participants will be enrolled in comprehensive international insurance for the duration of programming. It is the student’s responsibility to extend insurance cover if they extend the UCA program dates abroad.

Course Offerings

Brittany Saviers, PhD, OTR/L, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Clinical Instructor II, Department of Occupational Therapy

OTHY 6112 Level I Fieldwork: Analysis of Human Occupational Performance

Important Dates

Tentative Travel Dates:  5/7/2023 to 5/16/2023

Application Open Date: September 15, 2022

Application and Deposit Deadline: Friday, January 13, 2023

Mandatory Health And Safety Meeting for Study Abroad (TBA)

Faculty Leaders

Brittany Saviers

Dr. Brittany Saviers is the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for the UCA Department of Occupational Therapy.  Dr. Saviers’ expertise is in pediatrics and the lifelong value of play and creativity. Understanding the importance of fieldwork to the occupational therapy curriculum, Dr. Saviers is excited for the opportunity for students to develop a greater cultural awareness and appreciation through this international experience that is necessary when working as an occupational therapy practitioner in diverse settings with diverse client groups. All faculty leaders of this international experience look forward to learning with the students about the persons, culture, environment, and occupations that contribute to the longevity of the people of the Costa Rican Blue Zone!


Deborah Gangluff, ScD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor


Doyne 308C

(501) 450-3334



Program Cost

The 2023 program cost for UCA Occupational Therapy Abroad can be found here.

Email studyabroad@uca.edu to request past budgets for reference.

Each student will be covered in international insurance with the program, for more details see this link: https://uca.edu/globalstudy/health-and-safety/

Learn Spanish

Practice some Spanish before your trip with our Basic Spanish Translations cheat sheet. Also, check out Mango Languages, a language learning resource free for UCA students.