About Central Veracruz: Many Crossroads

Our “site” of study is Central Veracruz. This region is not large—from a distant aerial view, not counting the ups and downs of mountains and canyons, it appears to be a slice that is less than 50 square miles—but its complexities have defied simple conquest, and they defy simple summaries. Its urban areas have been part of the global economy since the Spanish landed here in 1519—they include the Port City of Veracruz; the beautiful green state capital, Xalapa, home to the University of Veracruz; the city of Coatepec—which during the 19th and 20th centuries was known as “the coffee capital of the world,” and continues to host a thriving coffee culture, with street-front cafés and the aroma of roasting in the air; and the small towns of Xico and Teocelo, where people of the countryside connect to larger systems and traditions. The geography of the region ranges from tropical beaches of the Gulf Coast—part of the Caribbean—to the volcanic peaks of the Sierra Madre Oriental, with tremendously varied, biodiverse micro-climates in between.  During our visit, we will travel to pay homage to the ancient Totonac remains of Quiahuixtlán, atop the basalt column where people first saw the fleet of Spanish ships led by Hernán Cortés in 1519, headed for their beach below. Throughout most of our stay, we will be able to see the snow-topped Pico de Orizaba, or Citlaltépetl—"Star Peak”--the highest volcanic summit in North America; and el Cofre de Perote, or Nauhcampatépetl, which translates to “Mountain of the Lord of Four Places.” Since before Europeans arrived, this region has been a place of many crossings, mixtures, and negotiations; its beach-to-mountain geography and geo-spatial location have helped produce tremendous vibrancy and high stakes. This zone continues to “belong” to many overlapping cultures, places, ecosystems, and circuits, and to be both relevant and inspiring in regional capacities to communicate and develop solutions in what is now a 500-year history of invasion, extraction, resistance, creation, and renewal.


This program is designed as a regional field study program that will require multiple transitions throughout the trip. We will be studying and living in hotels or dorms a week or two at a time, primarily in double-occupancy rooms. 


Some group meals are included; these are covered in your program fees.


Some locations in this program are remote; many days include excursions that are dynamic. Some activities can be strenuous physically and emotionally. These environments, along with the educational activities conducted and the living and traveling conditions encountered require each student to be fully committed to, and capable of working hard, taking responsibility for themself, and working effectively in the group to achieve the goals of the course. Each student plays an important role in the success of the program. Physical activities may range from walking tours to long day hikes. As a field study program, personal preparation for excursions is one of the skills you will practice and discuss with the group, including a daily check of adequate clothing, sunscreen, and insect repellant; and verbal check-in on physical and emotional status. Please email globallearning@ucsc.edu with any questions and visit our resources here.


Currency: Pesos Mexicanos

Official Language(s): Spanish is the primary language spoken in Mexico, but there are 62 indigenous languages that are also considered National languages. 

Weather and Climate

Please note that the semi-tropical climate in this region is humid, and changes dramatically during a single day--with both high temperatures and sudden downpours (monsoons).  Experiential learning in this coast-to-mountains will take you into several altitude-climates, from “muggy” lowland-tropical conditions at sea level, to the famous “Forest of Fog” in the highland coffee-producing zone. Most of the time spent in this program will be at mid-level, temperate zones. The city of Coatepec is located in one of these zones.

Learn more about the weather and climate in Coatepec here.

Research your Destination

Global Learning Advisory of Student Risk

Participation in this UCSC Global Learning program requires travel to and extended living in a foreign location(s) abroad. UCSC Global Learning endeavors to reduce and mitigate risk wherever possible. However, the environments and risks associated with living in these locations are substantially different than those found during a regular course of study at UC Santa Cruz. Any questions should be directed to the Global Learning Team at globallearning@ucsc.edu.

Students with Disabilities

If you need support abroad, notify your UCSC Disability Resource Center (DRC) Coordinator for a needs assessment immediately so that services can be requested and Global Learning can investigate the availability of accommodations abroad. Support services similar to those available at UCSC might not be available.

Identities Abroad and Away

UCSC Global Learning encourages all students to consider global learning as a part of their academic plan. Our office is committed to inclusion and equity in our various program options as well as striving to make everyone’s experiences abroad enriching, positive, and safe. It is important to consider and anticipate the possible challenges you might face. For example, if your major identifying characteristic is race at home, it may surprise you that the people around you, while you are abroad/away, could find your nationality (perhaps US citizen) to be more significant. What rights do Queer people have in your host community? Will you be a minority or part of the majority abroad/away? Please visit our Identities Abroad and Away resource page to learn more about important questions to consider and how to prepare for studying abroad/away.