Everything you need to know about learning Spanish abroad
- Get travel insurance.
During your study abroad program, you should have basic medical coverage of at least up to $100,000 in case of illness or injury. In addition, you may want to look for coverage for stolen, lost or damaged possessions like a laptop or phone; 24-hour emergency service and assistance; and a zero deductible. Sometimes an individual’s private insurance or their home university provides a travel insurance option, so be sure shop around and compare.
- Keep an open mind.
Have a positive attitude so that you’re ready for new experiences. This means having fun, but it also means stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing new places, foods, customs, and traditions. Plus, it means being open to new ideas and people from different walks of life, using new forms of transportation, or going about your daily routine in an entirely different way than you did at home.
- Respect local life.
You are visiting another country to learn Spanish and to have fun and adventure. Nonetheless, always keep in mind that while you may be on vacation, others are living out their everyday lives. The more respect and consideration you display in your daily interactions, the more likely it is that you will make valuable contacts, which will make your stay even more rewarding and enjoyable.
- Stay with a host family.
The best way to interact with locals while studying Spanish abroad is to select a school that offers a homestay program. The most reputable schools have a list of experienced host families that interact daily with their homestay guests, providing them with friendship, advice, and occasional opportunities for meeting new friends and attending local events. Living with a local family also provides more opportunities to learn and practice Spanish.
- Don’t miss the small stuff: Look for cultural nuances.
Learning Spanish in another country does not just mean learning the lingo — it means paying attention to the social mores and non-verbal communications that set the awkward tourist apart from the savvy traveler. When you study and travel abroad, pay attention to how social circumstances shift rapidly: For instance, people will dress differently, act differently, and adapt their speech as they change venues from the informal neighborhood bar where your local friends hang out, to a family dinner that those same friends just invited you to. In short, you’ll want to embrace the dynamic learning laboratory that comes with immersing oneself in another culture.
At Costa Rica Language Academy (CRLA), we have over 25 years’ experience providing short- and long-term Spanish immersion programs to participants across the globe. We offer group and individual classes, provide homestay with our trusted, reliable host families, and can assist with weekend travel arrangements. To find out how we can make your Spanish study abroad experience the memory of a lifetime, please contact us.