Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Montevideo City Highlights in Photos

Uruguay is a small but diverse country. Montevideo is its major urban center that is much smaller than its massive neighbor of Buenos Aires. However, it has many similarities in culture including a large European influence, a love for Tango, as well as a voracious appetite for Beef. There is also much easier access to the beaches from the school.

Most of the students we have living in Montevideo are looking for something off the beaten path and less touristy than other beach locations. They also tend to be of a higher age range such as 23-35 rather than your typical college age.

We ran across this great slide show representing some of the key sites you can see while studying Spanish in this great city. 

Related Posts:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Picasso Museum: Malaga, Spain

Malaga's Picasso Museum
Photo by Martin F.
Many viewpoints on Malaga consist of Sun, Relaxation, night life and urban living. Few give much thought to the more cultural aspects of this beautiful city on the Southern Tip of Spain. However, as the birthplace of the world renown painter Pablo Picasso, the city of Malaga brings a special place to the culture of Spain.

While some of his major works are in different Museums around the world including Guernica at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, Malaga pays homage to their hometown artist with its own Picasso Museum. 

The building consists of three levels with many of his works on display. This is a great way to beat the heat and see some of his pieces that are not as main stream as seen in massive museums such as the Prado in Madrid, the Louvre in Paris, or MOMA in New York City.

The Picasso Museum is open 6 days a week with varying hours and is only closed on Mondays. Much like many museums in Spain the fees are very low at less than $10, so the value is a steal. If you are really cheap as I can be, you can catch a free ride to these amazing works of art on the last Sunday of every month, but get there early as lines can stretch during these free days, especially during peak tourist seasons.

The Museum is located downtown in the Palacio de Buenavista, which is about 15 minutes by public transportation, with a fairly direct route from our Spanish school in Malaga. It first opened its doors just 8 years ago and holds over 200 works by the master painter. A permanent exhibition is supplemented by regular travelling temporary displays on loan from other museums. When studying Spanish in Spain, you can take in a lot of sun and fun, but sometimes it is relaxing to take in the finer arts and experience some true Spanish culture.

Related Posts: 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Antigua, Guatemala Spanish School Highlights

Our Spanish School in Antigua is one of our most popular programs due to its low costs and beautiful relaxed small town setting. At only 45 minutes from Guatemala City it is easily accessible and flights are considerably lower when compared with alternative options further south. 

With exclusively Private instruction, you can also get the individual attention you need at the most affordable rates available. We have included the overview for our program and the Antigua location below, so you can quickly peruse the key details about the attending a Spanish school in Guatemala. Utilize the zoom features for easier reading. 

Related Posts:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Savings in Playa del Carmen for Latecomers

I think the saying goes, "He who procrastinates saves 20% in cost on their courses and shared apartment accommodations". I think this was written in the annals of history, but not credited to anyone just yet.

Well this wise proverb has come true and our Spanish school in Playa del Carmen is offering a 20% discount on all courses and a 20% discount on the shared apartment option. 

The host family cost will remain the same, but your course portion will be reduced if you choose this housing option. After all it isn't going to cost any less to feed you. This special is only being offered to those slackers that will be attending classes during the remaining month of May and June. 

Here's to you last minute shopper. After all, you managed to get out of bed to read this post and to save some much needed  cash on your trip to the Sunny Mayan Riviera. We will arrange your airport pickup if requested, but you will need to purchase the plane tickets. Just don't wait too long. Airlines are not so friendly with pricing when you put it off for Manana. 

Please put the promotion code "Tardy" next to your name on the registration form to recognize the discount offer. Promotion is only valid for those students that register after this is posted on today's date. This means you Chad, such a slacker, do you need me to move the mouse around for you to and type your phone number too.

Related Posts: 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making Good Use of Living Space

When it comes to condensed urban environments, many residents make due with the space they have available. Large cities like Beijing, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires make good use of real estate space by having high rise apartments with many units. Big cities bring better paying jobs, but also mean making due with tighter living quarters due to high rents.

A lot of times entire families of multiple generations will live in one apartment, so it is quite important that no corner is left untouched when making use of your living space. When studying abroad this fact can become apparent very quickly for American students who are often accustomed to large homes, and can find it interesting to see that some people can live in an area that fits into some garages. 

We came across this video that shows how innovative urbanites can make great use of the space that they can afford for big city living. This architectural engineer in Hong Kong is certainly the exception in expertise with crafting his apartment with the best layout. However this touches on some of the concepts that people use to have the comforts of home while living quite spartan. 

Finding Peru in the American Heartland

When someone thinks of the rich culture and history of Peru, one would never have Nebraska cross their mind. However, we have come across a video highlighting the town of Peru, Nebraska and a group of Peruvians from La Marca Peru coming to help them celebrate its namesake by immersing the town with rich Peruvian traditions, Clothing, and food. I was glad to see that they didn't chow down on a Cuy (Guinea Pig) Barbecue, which may have scared the locals. I would have loved to see some Cusquena Cerveca being sampled. Good Stuff!

La Marca Peru is essentially an organization seeking to build the country of Peru as a brand, to promote tourism through demonstrating what Peru has to offer visitors. Peru can definitely be overlooked when vying for attention from other South American Countries with renown capital cities like Buenos Aires or Santiago. This great country has much to offer in terms of their indigenous culture, but there are wide reaching reasons to visit Peru in terms of modern cities, a world wonder with Machu Picchu, amazing food, and much more. 

Related Posts:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Learning Cultural Norms Abroad

Nosy Neighbors by Brian Sawyer
What in the world! As it turns out, I am not perfect.  I have committed a faux pas or two with people I know and have met in the USA. I really don't want to generalize too much, but it is true that there are certain things Latinos do that might be taken the wrong way by Americans. Sadly, after 20 some years I just figured some out.  

First, I call it caring but it is pretty much considered nosiness for most Americans. When I meet someone, I want to know as much as I can about the person. I do so because it is a friendly way to get to know the person without getting into politics or religion. Also, if I like the person, I keep a mental library of what they like. It comes in handy for gift giving or any other emergency.  

Here is an example of what I am talking about. The first time I met the fiancee of one of my colleague, I asked her everything about her wedding plans. I wanted to find out how much her dress cost, what shoes she was going to wear, all about her hairdo, and don't forget the flowers.

She later told me she did not appreciate my questions and that was the reason as to why we never got along. Cultural difference? You think?  Yes, had I known that she thought I was being nosey, I would probably had said nothing. So, now that I realize people may think I am nosey how can I chit chat with people I barely know?  What is wrong with being involved with the people I like? 

Second, unsolicited advice. I stopped giving advice to my American friends since I was told, by many, that I am too opinionated. Yikes! I never meant to offend anyone.  Speaking of unsolicited advice, my sisters are masters in this area.

My sister told my sweet girlfriend that she needed to lose weight  if she was to find a boyfriend.  I can enumerate the many times that my sisters, friends and extended family in Mexico have given unsolicited advice about my personal appearance and life decisions. I always tell my American friends, "When I go to Mexico, I leave the USA confident and I come back with low self-esteem." Yes, we are warm but harsh sometimes. 

So, I get it. I am considered nosey and opinionated, but I am ok with that.  On the other hand,  I think Americans are extremely polite. I love it when I hear my friends say, "don’t take it personally, but." and "don't take it as an offense, but".  Oh and my favorite, "I am not complaining, I am just venting" Can anyone explain the difference between those two? Somehow venting and complaining sound the same to me.

Related Posts:

Monday, May 9, 2011

San Sebastian Spanish Programs for All Ages

Spain is one of our busiest countries of choice during the Summer months. San Sebastian is a location to consider for those students that want a European adventure, great weather, and a vibrant culture. Our Spanish school offers multiple types of program for all ages. Starting at ages 5 and up we offer a children's camp during key dates in the Summer, that can run in conjunction with the standard adult courses. 

Entire families have studied at our school and stayed with a host family or through one of the school's great apartments. We also have a program for unaccompanied teen which offers a full package of courses, host family accommodations, 3 meals per day, activities, and excursions. This too can be arranged in tandem with the parents taking the adult Spanish immersion courses.

We also have many professionals and retirees study in the beautiful city of San Sebastian as most people love a beach location. The surrounding green natural countryside combined with a comfortable European city draw in people from all ilks. Below you can fine the overview of our school, as well as key details about the city. Utilize zoom features at the bottom for easy viewing. 

Spanish Abroad - Spanish School in San Sebastian Spain

Related Posts:

Friday, May 6, 2011

South of the Border Beauty Secrets

Photo by Daniel Paixao Fontes

It is ok if you over did it on the chips and salsa or margaritas for one day. This hot tip will get you feeling fresh in no time. Who says avocados are not one of the best fruits? 

They not only are great in Guacamole and Salads, but they also can be used as beauty aids and in some countries are the main ingredient for tasty milkshakes. 

The use of avocados as beauty aids goes back to pre-Columbian America. It is said that the Aztecs often used them as a moisturizer due to the high fat content. 

Here are some great avocado beauty aid recipes that I have used in the past. I live an the extremely hot and dry city of Phoenix, so avocado facial masks are a regular event at my household: 

Under The Eye Puffiness: 
Peal and cut an avocado in quarters. Lie down and put a few slices under each eye and rest for 15-20 minutes. The resulting smooth moist skin is quite awesome

Avocado Facial Mask:
Blend 1/2 of a peeled cucumber, 1/2 of an avocado that has peeled and quartered, 1 egg white, and 2 teaspoons of powdered milk. The mix should reach a pasty consistency. Apply the mask to your face and neck with a gentle upward circular motion.

Let the mask rest dry on your face for 30 minutes. Proceed to rinse your face and neck with warm water and pat dry. Your face will feel rejuvinated and it doesn't hurt that you took some time out for relaxation. 

Related Posts: 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gordito: Mexican-American Cultural Weight Issues

The other day while visiting with my girlfriend, I noticed that her 11 year old, Susana, had lost weight.  I told her how proud I was of her accomplishment. 

I did not know much about Susana's situation until she told me that her doctor recommended dieting and exercising, because she had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

It was surprising but unfortunately that she is not an isolated case.  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Mexican-American children/teens are more likely to be overweight  and to be prone to illnesses such as diabetes vs non-Hispanic children/teens of the same age. 

While living in Mexico, about 25 years ago, I remember women in the rural areas often believed that a fat baby was a healthy baby. Back then, I  thought it was kind of funny, but now that I see the statistics of our overweight population, I wonder if the belief of a fat baby is a healthy baby is still ingrained in the Mexican-American culture. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying this is the only reason as to why Mexican-Americans might be overweight. There are several factors that influence the growing numbers of overweight children in the Latino communities.  Among those factors include a lack of exercising, unhealthy eating habits and socio-economic status.

However, it is always interesting to think how much of this belief plays a part of the decision making of what to eat and do. So the question I ask is would mothers who think chubby children are healthy be more reluctant to make drastic changes in their lifestyle, than those who do not think the same way?  I must admit it was not easy for me to stop eating tortillas until my heart's content and to get up at 5am to go running, but I had a motivator. My mother suffered from diabetes. So even as a young child I was aware of the importance of a good diet and a good exercise routine. 

Susana is lucky. She found out at a young age of the importance of eating well and exercising regularly.  She gave me some tips and even recommended the book she often used as a reference. "Gordito-Doesn't-Mean-Healthy" by Claudia Gonzalez and Lourdes Alaniz. This best part of the book, she said, is that it includes a Food Pyramid diagram that includes foods like tortillas, jicama, mango, etc. Therefore, it was easier to incorporate into her daily lifestyle. 

I recommend this book for those Latina mothers and any mothers who are looking to prevent obesity in their children.  For more information about the book check it out at Amazon

Related Posts:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Translation Tools On the Road

Photo by Portland Afoot
When travelling it can at times be embarrassing to be "that guy" who is referencing a Spanish to English dictionary to hold a conversation in public, or look up some key words in a restaurant.

However, with 21st century technology you can just be "that savvy guy" that is constantly checking his/her Smart Phone or reading a Kindle. 

With new translation applications for these space age devices, you can smoothly key in words that are slipping your mind or have never seen before for easy translation. Cnet's Crave blog recently covered this aspect pointing out three top apps for download on different media.

You can download a Miriam-Webster's Translation Dictionary on your Kindle and have an easy guide for reference, all the while it looks like you are just an avid reader catching up on your latest novel while catching the metro.

They also mention Google Translate for Android, but this must be used with internet access, which certainly may not be covered in your phone plan depending on the locations you are visiting. It is a great tool when wifi is available. Their top choice was Jibbigo which can be downloaded on your phone and utilized without internet access. It is only $5, which is well worth the mobility and easy concealment of your language tool.

Just be sure that you utilize these devices with full attention of your surroundings and personal belongings. You don't want to walk out into traffic while trying to figure out, "What is a Milonga". You also want to avoid driving public transportation while reading your Kindle as is this gentleman in the photo here. This could certainly get you deported.

Read the full cnet Article mentioned at Crave Gadget Blog

Related Posts:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ecuador Activity Tour in Photos

Our Spanish language school in Quito, Ecuador offers a wide range of activities for students year round. We like to offer our students well rounded Spanish immersion programsm that in addition to Courses and housing, include extracurricular activities to learn about the local culture and see the major sites of the country you are visiting. 

Ecuador is a very diverse country with many types of scenery including beautiful beaches, lush jungles, massive volcanoes, bustling Indian markets, the equator, and much more. Here are a few great photos of places that students visit after classes and on weekends. Many people exploring South America start off in Quito, so it is only naturally to see the highlights while in Ecuador.
Indian Market

Cascada de Peguche

Museo Etnografico - Mitad del Mundo

Vulcan Pululahua

Related Posts:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Salud! Michelada/Chelada: Cerveza Preparada

Photo by David Berkowitz
The Michelada is the perfect summer drink for those who like beer and are adventurous.  I can't deny that at the beginning, I thought  it was sort of strange to add chile sauce and lime to my favorite beer. However, I was hooked the minute I took the first sip.

I highly recommend trying the drink. Here is the recipe.

  • Ger your favorite Beer (12 Oz.) and a Large Glass (20 Oz.)
  • Ice
  • Lime wedges
  • Kosher or Margarita Salt
  • Hot Chile Sauce (Tapatio)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Maggy Seasoning 
Wet the rim of the beer glass with a lime wedge then apply the salt to the rim.  Mix the following: Ice, 1 to 2 limes, a dash of salt, and Maggy seasoning.  A splash of Worcheshire and Soy sauce. Hot chile sauce to taste. Once mixed, pour the beer in to the mixture slowly. Salud!

Notes: You can add Spicy V8 or Clamato if you want to add tomato/clam flavoring.

Related Posts: