Thursday, March 31, 2011

Online Colleges and Universities' Top Online Budget Tools

These top 50 online travel budget tools were provided to us by Online Colleges and Universities.  This is a great resource as the different sites can help our students in preparing, or while on their study abroad program. We thought this was a great guide to consider as it narrows down and categorizes some of the essential travel related websites that can help you save money. 

We are all for our customers saving money on their trip. In conjunction with offering this list of budget sites we would like to extend a 5% discount to all readers who attend a Spanish Abroad program. Simply enter the code shown in the image here when you first register for your program, and you will receive the discount on your total program cost. 
Budgeting & Money
Make plans and budget your travel money using these tools.
  1. Quid Universal Currency Converter: Convert daily exchange rates for more than 180 world currencies on Quid.
  2. Mint offers a vacation budgeting tool that estimates how much your trip will cost, and create a savings plan to have enough.
  3. Budget Your Trip: Estimate and plan your travel expenses based on your traveling area with Budget Your Trip.
  4. Prepaid travel cards: Safeguard your personal accounts and stick to your budget by using prepaid travel cards abroad.
  5. Travel Calculator: Plan your travel spending with this travel calculator.
  6. GoPlanit: GoPlanit makes it easy to plan your trip, alone with with friends.
  7. delicious: Build your own guidebook with this bookmarking site.
  8. Trip Little: Trip Little offers complete travel planning and organization on one site.
  9. Google Earth: See any place in the world, including buildings and imagery, to plan your trip.
  10. Tripwolf: Tripwolf offers a travel guide, tips, deals, and planner for worldwide travel.
  11. Dopplr: Share your travel plans and tips socially on Dopplr.
  12. TripWiser: Discover things to do in this travel community.
  13. TripIt: Organize your travel itinerary using this trip planner.

    Check flight status, find deals, and more using these tools.
    1. FlightChecker: Use the FlightChecker to find out when to get super cheap prices on budget airlines.
    2. GateGuru: Turn foreign airports into a fun place using this app that can help you discover food, gift shops, and more.
    3. Airfare Watchdog: Airfare Watchdog will alert you to the top fares available.
    4. Fare Alert: Expedia's Fare Alert will alert you when the best fares come available, right on your desktop.
    5. SeatGuru: SeatGuru offers diagrams and notes on the best airplane seats by airline.
    6. FareWatch: FareWatch shares a fair, unbiased view of average airfare rates direct from the Department of Transportation.
    7. Yapta: Yapta tracks flight prices before and after you buy.

      Hotels & Accommodations
      Stay at a hostel, house-sit, or even couch surf through these travel tools.
      1. The Caretaker Gazette: Find caretaking and house sitting jobs easily on this site.
      2. Hostelling International USA: Stay the night for super cheap and find great locations for a good price using this nonprofit site.
      3. AirBnB: Find accommodations including sublets and private rooms on AirBnB.
      4. WWOOF: Volunteer in exchange for food and accommodation around the world through WWOOF hosts.
      5. Roomorama: Roomorama offers a peer to peer short term rental marketplace for world travelers and more.
      6. HouseCarers: Become a housesitter anywhere in the world through HouseCarers.
      7. CouchSurfing: Open up your spare room or couch to a couch surfer, and enjoy sharing someone's couch in a foreign country later.
      8. ConcertHotels: ConcertHotels offers a great way to find a hotel near the concert or event you're attending.
      9. Growfood: Get connected with farmers who can provide you with room and board in exchange for work on Growfood.
      10. Home Exchange: Exchange your home with someone else to enjoy living in a comfortable house on your international stay.
      11. GlobalFreeloaders: GlobalFreeloaders will connect you with people all over the world that can offer you free accommodation.

        Food & Drink
        Save cash while you dine in a foreign country using these tools.
        1. Find out about the best wines available to you from
        2. OpenTable: Make reservations at restaurants around the world through OpenTable's site.
        3. Urbanspoon: Find good eats for cheap by checking out Urbanspoon's site.

          Getting Connected
          Talk and stay connected on the cheap using these tools.
          1. Google Translate: Google Translate offers automatic translation in over 50 language.
          2. Skype: Even if you're halfway around the world, you can make free or cheap calls to family and friends with the help of Skype.
          3. HazelMail: Hazel sends your photos as a printed and stamped postcard so you don't have to.
          4. Loopt: Use Loopt to find out if your traveling buddies are close by.
          5. Yahoo! Babel Fish: Translate blocks of text and web pages using Yahoo! Babel Fish.

            Experiences & Reviews
            Use these tools to find the best experiences without spending a ton of cash.
            1. IgoUgo: Explore hotels and things to do with other world travelers using IgoUgo.
            2. Viator: Plan your days on Viator, booking tours, planning trips, and more.
            3. Howcast Using Howcast, you can learn about local customs, trip planning, and more.
            4. WikiTravel: WikiTravel is a traveler-written guide to destination cities, helping you get the inside scoop on the area you'll be studying in.
            5. Yelp: Find things to do and read reviews on Yelp, which offers information for a few European cities in addition to its stateside offerings.
            6. The Backpacker: The Backpacker shares the best places to visit, nightlife, and more.
            7. 1000 Ultimate Experiences App: Use Lonely Planet's app (or book) to learn about the best things you can do in any given location.
            8. Virtual Tourist: Get the inside scoop on nearly 60,000 places around the world from the Virtual Tourist community.
            9. TripAdvisor: Get trip ideas, reviews, and plan your trip using TripAdvisor's tools.
            10. Time Out: Time Out will help you find out about what's happening in the world's most exciting cities.
            11. SitOrSquat: SitOrSquat will help you find a bathroom anywhere in the world.

            View their full article with this information at: Online Colleges and Universities

            Wednesday, March 30, 2011

            Top Spanish Schools: Tamarindo, Costa Rica

            The Spanish school we offer at Tamarindo Beach is our most popular program by far. The location combined with word of mouth from past students has drawn many of our customers to this school each year. The variety of programs and attractive arrangements for all ages is a big reason why we see entire families, professionals, and college students study here.

            In addition to your standard group and private Spanish courses, the school offers a top notch in-house surf program. You can also stay at the onsite student residence only 5 minutes from the beach or with host families that are 20 minutes inland. The families provide 2 meals per day and are located in more residential towns with less tourists. This can be more conducive to a Spanish immersion experience. The school provides free shuttle service to and from the host family towns each day. We can also arrange a Bungalow arrangement if you want more privacy and amenities. 

            We have provided an overview of the program from our catalog below, pointing out the key aspects to consider about the program. This school offers programs from ages of Six years and up. 

            Spanish Abroad - Tamarindo - Spanish Language School in Costa Rica

            Related Posts:

            Tuesday, March 29, 2011

            Relive the Golden Years of TV in Spain

            You don't have to miss your favorite shows while studying abroad with the innovations now taking place on the internet. However, you may find an even more enriching experience by finding your old favorite shows from 10-20 years ago in a completely new Spanish format. We found this great trailer of the classic tv show " The Golden Girls" relived with Spanish actors and cultural themes.  

            Monday, March 28, 2011

            ¿Does your Keyboard Speak Spanish?

            Unless you have learned all the codes to type correctly in Spanish, you may find it difficult to write to your pen pal in Argentina or the latest essay due in your Spanish class. In the scheme of things it is simple to learn the key codes such as alt+0241 for ñ or alt+0191 for ¿. However, who wants to keep track considering the vast variety of accent marks needed as well. 

            Now DELL has brought a laptop to the market that incorporates these simple letters along with a standard QWERTY keyboard. It would take a minimal amount of time to learn where they are located and adjust from your usual keyboard, but you won't have to reference a 6 keystroke code for one letter. Below is a great photo of the keyboard provided by FoxLatino. At first glance it looks like a typical English keyboard, but a quick investigation shows you the added Spanish characters needed for speedy typing in Español.

            The laptop is now selling for just under $500 at BrandsMart USA Online. A great buy for all those Spanish Majors out there.

            Sunday, March 27, 2011

            Study Abroad in the News: Spain and Jordan

            Hearing about other peoples experiences while studying abroad can give many the courage to leave the comforts of home and venture out to a foreign world. There are many great testimonials to study abroad, so from time to time we would like to point them out for you, so you can see first hand accounts of the student's experiences. 

            The biggest part of studying abroad is to learn about cultural norms and how to live your daily live in your new host country. It will not help your situation to avoid cultural differences, but best to embrace and modify your outlook to fit in with the general local populace.

            Here is a great article from one of our local high school papers discussing the experience of students studying in Spain and Jordan. See how they adjusted to the encounters they came across and what studying abroad meant for them. Read the full article at study abroad around the world.

            Saturday, March 26, 2011

            Nicaraguan Adventure Excursion

            Our Spanish school in Tamarindo, Costa Rica offers a wide variety of excursions based on student interest. Here is a great montage of photos from one of these student excursions to Nicaragua. Due to Tamarindo's close proximity to the Nicaraguan border, it easy quite simple to venture into the beautiful and unique country on the weekends and be back in time to start your Spanish classes on the following Monday. 

            Students also love to take trips to Monteverde or Arenal, among other beautiful natural settings. Each different location offers a variety of sites and adventures including volcanoes, waterfalls, hot water baths, canopy tours, zip lines, and many animal sightings. Don't just take our word for it. A picture along with several more are worth a thousand words. Experiencing it for yourself is worth a million!

            Friday, March 25, 2011

            New Student Residence In Oaxaca, Mexico

            Street in Oaxaca, Mexico
            We will soon being adding the student residence option to our accommodations options for our Option One Spanish school in Oaxaca. This is our most popular school in the state capital and we are quite excited to be able to offer students an alternative to the host family arrangements. 

            Oaxaca is one of the most culturally rich cities in Mexico due to its indigenous influence. The families are very welcoming and offer a great immersion experience, but we can understand why some students want the added freedom by being away from "home". 

            The new residence is less than a 10 minute walk from the school. It is a fully furnished house with a colonial style architecture. The home includes five rooms that can host up to two students in each with private baths as well as two larger rooms that share an adjoining bathroom. As well as a large dining room and living room with TV for easy entertainment. It also will feature a continental breakfast for all students that choose this option. You will also have kitchen access with the needed tools and appliances to prepare your own meals.

            Outside the home you will find plenty of common area to rest and relax while taking in the warm Mexican weather. There is wifi throughout so it is easy to connect home for free via Skype as well as the convenience of connecting to the web at any time. You must bring your own computer to gain access to this service. 

            Pricing is slightly higher than the host family option, but you can book this option now with private room and bath at an additional cost of $30 per week compared to our currently listed Oaxaca Spanish Program Prices including host family. We are working on getting some photos and will have full details listed shortly. If you are interested in this option, simply state yes next to the residence option on our student registration, and we will confirm availability for the given dates within 2 business dates of registration. 

            Thursday, March 24, 2011

            Buenos Aires Culture in a Glimpse

            Argentina is an amazing country at the end of the Americas and Buenos Aires truly captures some of the greatest cultural aspects of the countries. The city has a rich history with great European influences, and we thought this quick video gave a great inside view at some of the rich experiences to be had in the city and the surrounding countryside. This massive city, being the second largest in South America has a lot to offer in sights and sounds, but what is truly great are the day to day situations you can come across in such a lively urban environment. 

            Is Mexico Safe for Study Abroad?

            Ek Balam near Playa del Carmen, Mexico
            This is a common question that we now receiving on a regular basis as we are still offering Spanish immersion programs in the great country of Mexico. While safety is paramount for Spanish Abroad when sending students to foreign countries, we also want to make the reality of certain situations clear to our students. This way they can take the information and feedback we provide to make an educated decision on what is the right location for them.  

            Apparently many study abroad programs at Universities also receive similar questions from their students. The Michigan State Student newspaper reported yesterday on the effects of travel warnings from the US State Department preventing students from studying abroad in certain countries, while some locations are given waivers by the University for exceptions to the rule. Waivers are given for a lot of the Mexico locations specifically because they are not near, or have not experienced the violent incidents occurring in distinct areas of the country. 

            Spanish Abroad staff understand that the majority of Mexico is safe to visit, while their are key locations to avoid. Much like Michigan state we look to a location in specific to see what the dangers are and mitigate risk by letting our students know what to avoid. The biggest part of Mexico to avoid at the moment are northern border areas where violence is most prevalent. Acapulco and Monterrey have also seen specific violent events transpire, but they are much lower in severity compared to a city like Juarez or Tijuana nor were they targeted at travellers. 

            Beach by Playa del Carmen, Mexico
            Our programs are far removed from border violence and for the most part have not had any incidents where the drug wars have played a factor in crime reports. Nor have tourists been targeted in a disproportionate amount outside of the typical pick pocketing or other aspects that are common in tourist zones. In fact none of our students that we have sent to Mexico have experienced any violent crime or even reported back any minor thefts over the past year or recent memory. 

            While this is amazing and we are lucky that are students have traveled safely to Mexico, you have every right to consider a different choice for many factors. There are various reasons why you might choose to study Spanish in Spain, Costa Rica, Guatemala,  etc., safety is definitely a consideration and no location is 100% safe. In fact you may be safer in some of our locations than your own hometown. I could definitely vouch for this living in Phoenix and travelling to the majority of our locations. 

            So, if you are thinking "Should I travel to Mexico"? Think of all the possibilities available. If your are leaning to a different country  to learn Spanish for other reasons, then you can easily decide by process of elimination. If your heart is set on Mexico, but safety is the only thing holding you back, feel free to give us a call and see what our student feedback has been. We are not set on sending you to any destination. Who knows perhaps we will determine that Chile is what you are really looking for, given your individual preferences. 

            Be sure to check out the article on MSU's policies regarding their students studying abroad in unstable nations.

            Wednesday, March 23, 2011

            Spring Discounts on a Costa Rica Beach Location

            Front of Main School Building in Tamarindo
            You will only see it here and on our Facebook page, so take advantage of this great promotion being offered by our Spanish school in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. The school is offering a $100 discount on any program that is 2 weeks or longer as long as it includes the full program of courses and accommodations, and must start in April or May. 

            The Spanish school is also offering an additional $100 discount for 4 weeks or longer making for a total of $200  in savings. Simply note the promotion code: Tamarindo next to your first name on the online registration form and you will receive the discount. This promotion is only valid for students that register after March 24th. You must mention the promotion code to receive the discount. 

            Be sure to become a friend of ours on Facebook to receive additional discounts such as this on many different programs and locations. 

            Top Spanish Schools: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

            Manuel Antonio is one of our top beach locations where students choose to study Spanish each year in Costa Rica. The experience of the instructors and consistently amazing feedback from our students, has allowed us to suggest this particular program without hesitation.

            Our long standing relationship with this particular school has solidified our confidence in their integrity. They also operate the school we offer at the San Pedro location in the San Jose city area, so they are well established in Costa Rica. The school is located close to the entrance of the famous Manuel Antonio Park with its amazing forest side beaches.

            There are a variety of outdoor activities in close proximity to the school, so you can either relax on the beach or get adventurous with kayaking, boat tours, or much more once you are done with the intensive Spanish classes. Below we have provided a quick overview of the school and location for your quick review of what this Spanish Program and area have to offer. Utilize the tools at the bottom of the page to zoom in/out for easy customized viewing.

            You can view additional details on the program including program pricing with accommodations at the following location along with subsequent links: Manuel Antonio language immersion.

            Tuesday, March 22, 2011

            Spanish Abroad Gearing Up for Summer

            It seems like it was just yesterday that we were sending hundreds of students to study Spanish abroad during winter break and now we already have parents from all over calling to ask questions about our teen and family Spanish programs for the 2011 Summer. In between calls from mom and dad, we are having a lot of College students as well as Professionals asking questions about what would be the right location and program for them for April and beyond.

            We are getting back to updating the blog more regularly to disperse the most current information as programs start to fill up for key dates. The July 4th start date is already turning out to be our busiest week as is typically the case. This also happens to be the start for many of our Teen programs in Spain, while a few start Mid June along with our Teen Spanish Program in Costa Rica. The Children's Camp in conjunction with the Family Program in Tamarindo is already full for the first week, and we are just about full for the next two subsequent weeks. While we can still take children in the general group courses for this location for all Summer dates. 

            All teen programs are open at the moment for the designated dates. Typically around the beginning of April we start to run out of host family spots for the first weeks of July in our most popular Teen program in San Sebastian, Spain. Other popular accommodation options to get a jump on are the student residence for the Spanish program in Tamarindo as well as the shared apartments in Heredia, Costa Rica and Playa del Carmen Mexico, which for the past 3 years have filled up during the month of July. 

            Feel free to give us at call to discuss any of our program options at 1-888-722-7623. We are happy to address any concerns you may have about sending your teen abroad or help customize the best program for you as an individual or for your entire family vacation!