Learning a new language might not be all that easy, but if you can study it in a country that speaks it, then it might be a different story. Not only will you pick up the language faster, you get to learn about the country, interact with the people and immerse yourself in a different culture. Traveling as an educational experience – what better way to do it?
I loved my semester abroad in Japan when I was in college. That was probably one of the best decisions I have made in my life. It had made me realize my interests and opened up new possibilities for me. Even though I am no longer a college student, I can still enjoy a study abroad experience.
I spent three weeks studying Spanish in Guatemala two Summers ago and absolutely loved everything about it.
After extensive research and reading of all the reviews out there, I went with San Pedro Spanish School in San Pedro La Laguna in the southwest shore of Lake Atitlan. I chose the school and would recommend it for the following reasons:
Beautiful school by the lake
The school is located right on the shores of the stunning Lake Atitlan. Imagine having lessons outdoor, where you are surrounded by nature – with the breath-taking view of the lake, the chirping of the birds, the nice breeze of the wind and the warmth of the sun to accompany you.
And even better, you get a different “classroom” each day. If it is too windy outside for you, there are also indoor study areas.
Professional and experienced teachers
I was impressed with the quality of their course -how the school has a set curriculum and how well-trained the teachers are. And did I mention that the classes are man to man?! Yes, you get your own personal maestro! Each class was filled with different engaging activities that help you to learn grammar, practice reading, listening and speaking. Since you are the only student, you get to go on your own pace and you can also let your instructor know what you would like to focus more on, for example, grammar or speaking.
Many after-school activities
There are many fun activities you can attend after school – salsa dancing, movie showings, cultural and history classes, and language conversation groups.
Its own restaurant with delicious food
I love the fact that the school has their own restaurant, where you can grab a smoothies and a snack during your break or after class. It also makes a great place to talk to your classmates, do your homework or just to relax.
Reputable homestay program
The school can also arrange for you to stay with a local family. It is an excellent way to fully immerse yourself in the culture. I was lucky to be placed with a lovely family with two young children and a host mother that is a good cook.
Even though the school placed two other American students with the same family when I request to be alone (so that way I am forced to speak only Spanish), it still worked out well. We all tried our best not to use English.
The homestay includes three meals a day! I love the desayuno tipico.
I chose to study in San Pedro La Laguna over Antigua City because I like the simple and quiet life of the locals here. It is a safe and the locals are friendly.
It is a small town so you can go everywhere by foot. My homestay is only 5 minutes away from the school.
There are many cool artworks around town.
Many travelers come, fall in love with San Pedro La Laguna and decide to call it home. Because of this, many restaurants, bars, yoga and massage centers run by foreigners are popping up in this lake town.
Not that I was bored with eating my host family’s home-style cooking but with all the nice cafes and restaurants around town, I sometimes had to skip a meal or two with them.
This is my favorite restaurant in town. It is run by two Italian brothers. They make the best chocolate croissant I have ever tasted – freshly baked daily! I also love their typical Guatemalan breakfast.
If you ever want to study Spanish in Guatemala, consider San Pedro Spanish School at Lake Atitlan. You won’t be disappointed.
School website: http://www.sanpedrospanishschool.org/
Tuition cost: US$130/week for 20 hours of study
Homestay: US$105/week for a private room with bath, and three meals a day
I spent US$705 for my three weeks there! It’s a great deal!
❝If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.❞
❝One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.❞