The program starts at 9:00 a.m. on January 6 and ends on January 15. Students should plan to arrive on January 5.
There will be a mandatory meeting on the Cornell campus in November to prepare you for the program. At this meeting we will address purchasing airline tickets, coordinating travel with other students, what to pack, course materials to bring, behavioral expectations, emergency contacts, in-country travel, and forms to be completed. You will also be given your first assignment, which is due the first day of the course. Attendance at these meetings is required.
We strongly advise you to purchase travel cancellation insurance in case the program is cancelled or you find you are unable to attend.
In addition, the Cornell Study Abroad office has prepared a handbook for Cornell students studying abroad during the fall or spring semesters. Although much of the information in this publication does not apply to Summer/Winter Session students, you may still want to check out the more general sections on money, health and safety, and international travel.
Passports and visas
You must have a passport to enter Mexico. If you don't have a passport, we encourage you to apply for one immediately. If you do have a passport, please check it to be sure it has not expired. For information and passport forms, visit the Office of the Tompkins County Clerk in downtown Ithaca (320 N. Tioga Street) or the U.S. State Department website.
U.S. and Canadian passport holders do not need a visa. Students from all other countries should check with their embassy about visa requirements for Mexico. Please do this immediately upon acceptance to the program.
We suggest that you make two photocopies of these and other important documents before you leave home. Bring one copy with you (stored separately from the originals) and leave another copy at home with your family and friends in case of an emergency.
Money and bank cards
The unit of currency in Mexico is the peso. The current rate is about eighteen pesos to the U.S. dollar. Most restaurants will take credit cards, but they will not divide the check for each person, so it is good to have cash if you are joining a big group for a meal.
Consider taking the equivalent of about $200. This may be all you need for the entire trip, depending on your choice of restaurants. Options for obtaining money while abroad can include ATM cards and credit cards with PINs. ATM cards are the most common method for getting cash, but you will pay usage fees. Check with your bank and/or credit card company before leaving to find out more about ATM locations and fees. Let your ATM and credit card company know you will be in Mexico so they don't block your purchases.
Many carriers have international policies that are quite affordable for Mexico. This will allow you to call home or text with group leaders and other students in-country, and with family and friends back home, without incurring huge charges.
Health matters and medications
If you take prescription medications, bring enough to last for your entire stay, plus extra. Some programs suggest making sure that these medications are clearly marked with your name, your doctor's name, refill instructions, and the drug name, dosage, and purpose.
Although many non-prescription medications and toiletries will be available, you may want to take favorite brands of some items.
In addition to your usual toiletries, consider packing an extra pair of eyeglasses and a small first-aid kit.
Cornell Study Abroad offers the following safety tips:
- Be inconspicuous in dress and behavior.
- Do not walk or travel alone. Always use a buddy system, so that at least two students are together at all times.
- Stay in touch with the staff of your study abroad program/university.
- Be careful about divulging information about yourself and your program to strangers.
- Be aware of the people and circumstances around you and report any suspicious behavior to the program staff.
- When you travel, leave your itinerary and contact information with the program staff, your family, or someone who can be contacted in case of an emergency.
- Have sufficient funds to purchase a ticket home.
- When traveling, do not leave your bags unattended and do not transport a package or suitcase for anyone.
- Avoid political demonstrations.
- Keep copies of your credit cards, passport, and other important documents to expedite cancellation and replacement in the event they are lost or stolen.
We also remind students to familiarize themselves with the International SOS information they will receive after registering for their program.
Computers, cell phones, cameras, and other electronics
You must bring a laptop or tablet for this course. You will be writing daily. Mexico's electrical system works with U.S. appliances so no need to buy adapters for hair dryers, etc.
It's also helpful to take extra batteries and USB flash drives/SC cards for computers or cameras.
The hotel has good internet in rooms and in the central areas.
We suggest you pack about a week's worth of clothing that is appropriate to the weather and cultural norms. It will be warm but there may be some cool nights. Puerto Morelos is a small fishing village. It is not a party town. Classroom attire is appropriate in town.
We recommend that you bring water shoes, sandals or flip-flops, and walking shoes. On one field trip, we will be hiking on a jungle path, and open-toed shoes are not advised. Also, bring swimsuits.
Pack lightly, label everything, and leave anything at home that you'd hate to lose.
In your carry-on luggage, include important documents (passport, visa, arrival instructions, itinerary), medication, toiletries, maps, phone, valuables such as laptop, camera, and jewelry, and a change of clothes in case your luggage gets lost. And don't forget your airline tickets!
Other items to bring:
- small backpack for day trips
- travel alarm clock unless you plan to use your phone
- laptop or tablet you can write on and use for internet research
- notepad or paper and a pen for notetaking