Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Your Flight Through Spanish Abroad

View from Guatemala City Airport by Jeff Cenna
We try to make your pre-trip planning as seamless as possible. We have many extra services in addition to arranging Spanish Courses and Accommodations.

Most locations offer an airport pickup service, which we arrange in advance ad we also provide an online flight booking system for many locations in Latin America and Spain. These flights can be set up to departe from many cities in the U.S. and Canada. 

This system is powered through Exito Travel's booking system, which does a great job in providing affordable rates and an easy booking process, so you can clear your flight tickets as soon as you are confirmed for the Spanish program location of your choosing.

Below we provided a quick view of the start page for choosing your cities and flight dates and other easy applicable data. You can click the Flight information link for a direct transfer to our Flight Booking home page. 


Below you can find flight information. For Latin America you can check fairs and book your tickets online.
Find and Book Flights To Latin America

Departure from:

Why can't I find my departure city?

Departure date:

Arriving in:

Return date:

Later date?
Flight Type / Options

Round Trip One-Way 
Passenger Info
Adults [12+]     Children [2-11] Infants             
Do we have the cheapest flights available through our system? Not all the time. The airline reservation business is a very competitive industry with rates changing constantly. Should you shop around? Most certainly. The internet has provided us with the means of searching for available flights and pricing within a matter of minutes.

Exito Travel does an amazing feat at finding great prices from available airlines, but there may be other carriers or travel agencies that may have cleared a special that is just too good to beat. Just make sure any hidden fees are quickly realized before booking an "amazing" rate. Baggage fees or other service charges may bump up the overall price to make it not so lovely. 

Spanish Abroad, Inc. does not try to be a travel agency. We focus on providing the best Spanish language schools possible for the locations our students love to visit. This allows us to give the best advice for this particular specialty rather than being jacks of all trades and masters of none. 

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Arenal Volcano is an Activity Extravaganza

Photo by Richie Diesterheft
If you ever get the chance to visit the beautiful country of Costa Rica, as a good portion of our students do each year, you can't miss out on the variety of activities offered around the Arenal Volcano.

The stunning mountain is reason enough to visit the small town of Fortuna located at the base of this fiery beast. This is the best jumping off point to visit soothing hot water baths, majestic hikes, rumpus four wheeler rides, and towering zip line tours. 

There are a variety of affordable hotels right in Fortuna, or you can stay outside of town at expansive resorts that feature pools warmed by underground magma, villas, in-house canopy tours, butterfly exhibits, all inclusive meal plans, and much more. Our schools often arrange excursions for students to Arenal when group consensus points North. There are many travel agents within Fortuna that offer all types of adventures you an think of, including visits to Lake Arenal on the opposite side of the volcano where you can get great views of lava pouring from the crater. It is also a very popular location for windsurfing.

This area North of the Arenal Volcano is also home to Sky Trek which features one of the most impressive Zip lines in the country. It is 2 miles in length when combined, and you definitely get a fulls day worth of activity at a great rate of under $70. The highest zip line puts you 650 feet in the air and you really fly down the cord through the trees canopy. There are stunning views of the lake, volcano, and animal life. This is certainly an activity I could not pass up on all my trips to Costa Rica. Visit Sky Adventures for additional information and more adventures. 

Arenal Volcano is approximately three hours by private shuttle at around $40 from San Jose or directly to the Pacific Coast, so it is easily accessible from many of our schools for weekend trips. You can also take the public chicken bus for a more affordable, but less "private ride". Even if you have to walk, don't miss this opportunity when in Costa Rica.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Learn Spanish in Costa Rica's Metropolis: Heredia - San Jose

Photo by Ever Jean
Our Spanish school for Heredia, Costa Rica is located practically equidistant between San Jose and Heredia proper in the quite residential suburb of Santo Domingo de Heredia. This location provides a tranquil urban environment for full Spanish immersion with few tourists with distractions of English speaking.

At the same time, you can easily walk to and from the school and your host family or student apartment accommodations. You are also within 15 minutes of Downtown San Jose or the University Town of Heredia. These are just two of the great cities that the school explorers during their weekly city tour of one town within the metropolitan area. 

We have provided our full catalog overview for the Heredia Spanish Program below, so you can see the key points of the program. This is one of our most affordable programs starting at $330 for a week of Group classes with 4 full hours of instruction, Monday to Friday, as well as Host family accommodations, and 2 meals per day. The school offers free wifi internet access, spacious facilities, and a full activity schedule so you can enjoy the sites and culture of Costa Rica while learning Spanish. 

We strongly recommend the Costa Rican families due to their welcoming presence and a great opportunity for practicing your Spanish skills outside of class. Both the host homes and the shared apartments are very modern for Latin America standards. The San Jose area is also a great means for jumping off to other parts of the country with all routes of transportation leading from the centrally located capital. You can easily see the natural side of the country on the weekends, which is popular with tourists, while living in a more authentic immersion environment during the work week. From our personal experience, Costa Rica can be a life changing adventure for many. 

Zoom features at the bottom of the page provide for easier reading. 

Heredia, Costa Rica Spanish School

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Las Pampas: Learn Spanish in Gaucho Country

Just less than a month from now on July 17th we will have our special Spanish program where you can live on an Estancia in Argentina for a week. These are ranches that are located in the countryside, a little over an hour outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is a great program to combine with your weeks of study in Buenos Aires. 

Study Spanish in the Pampas is an all inclusive program where you will live onsite at a guest house that was once a colonial mansion. This is a shared room arrangement, you will have all meals included, and have the chance to sample authentic gaucho fare, as well as world famous Argentinean Wine. 

Photo by JMAGE
The Spanish courses will consist of the standard 4 hours per day in a group setting. Instructors will come and live onsite to take part in the program. You will also have the opportunity to take part in daily activities and utilize the amenities at the ranch including horse access for riding, sports facilities, pool and ping pong tables, and other games. There will be cooking classes, guided hikes, and excursions to sites of interest in Las Pampas.

You must have a Spanish level above complete beginner to qualify. There is a minimum of six students required to run the program and transportation will be provided with a Sunday departure and Saturday return from/to Buenos Aires. In the event that there are not six participants for a designated start dates, students can take their program in Buenos Aires and be refunded for the difference in cost. Reserve your spot in advance to show your interest in this unique Spanish immersion experience in Las Pampas.  

There is a flat rate fee of $775 for the entire program as mentioned with some snacks supplemented in addition to standard meals. Fresh air and stunning views are free of charge. If you miss the next start date, there will be another opportunity on August 28th. Contact Spanish Abroad by phone to register or check on additional dates for this program at 1-888-722-7623, Monday to Friday 8AM to 4PM Pacific.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Surfing for All Ages in Tamarindo

Our Tamarindo, Costa Rica Spanish program brings in students of all ages. It turns out that age also doesn't predict if someone will take Surfing lessons or not as we have children up through adults taking part in the Surf program at this great beach location. We have provided some great photos below of our Spanish and Surf students

Tamarindo is by far our most popular location as it harbors beautiful views, diverse activities, and the school has programs for students of wide ranging ages. Our Family program has many parents visiting Tamarindo with their children and stay with local host families as well as the Bungalow option across the street from the school. Surfing is huge in this town and many competitions take place at Tamarindo Beach or Playa Grande each year. The school also arrange shuttle transfers on occasions to neighboring beaches that are not within walking distance but offer great surf.

Different levels of proficiency are available for the surf program and the instructor utilize the varied surf to differentiate the student's skills. An orientation is given to cover safety as well as surf basics before entering the water. It is of the utmost that fun be had by all while maintaining a secure environment for all surfers. 

Children's Summer Camp
Adults Surfing in Tamarindo
Teens Surfing in Tamarindo

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Keeping Fit While Studying Abroad

Here at Spanish Abroad, our favorite way to keep fit is running. The majority of the year it is warm and sunny in Phoenix, so it is a natural way to take in the outdoors and much more affordable than the gym. All you need is a good pair of running shoes, some basic clothing, and you are good to go. Running is also a great activity that you can do no matter where you are, weather permitting, but a little rain or snow won't kill you.

Runners in Retiro Park by Baby Dinosaur
Running is perfect for general travel as well as vacations, where a fitness regiment may fall by the wayside among busy schedules and trying to find a gym or the proper equipment to work out. You can also take in a lot of the scenery in a very personal perspective, in a much quicker amount of time than walking. You definitely see a lot more from this intimate view point in comparison to a stuffy tour bus. While it can have its limitations with some areas having limited space for running amid busy car or foot traffic, most cities or towns in Latin America or Spain have parks or other natural settings with some type of foot path for easy running routes. 

If you are an avid runner and have trained for a half or full marathon, you may have run into a circumstance where a vacation or business trip fell right in the middle or in some cases towards the end of your training schedule. This means running in a totally different environment which may have different hilly terrain, higher altitudes, or weather that can make the change in scenery less pleasant than what you have become accustom. 

When I have had this situation befall me, I threw caution to the wind and let the road take me where it led. This turned into some of my greatest running experiences including running along the Oregon Coast, sprinting through the beautiful Retiro park of Madrid, and probably the most challenging course was braving the hilly streets of Lisbon, Portugal. I may have thought I was going to die while climbing a never-ending hill in Lisbon, but I am still kicking and it is a fond memory I hope to repeat some day. 

A great resource we have come across is the Travel Section of Runner's World. While in its infancy, it is rather limited in travels to Spain and Latin America. We hope that through submissions from our Spanish students as well as other world travelling runners, this can develop to a very interesting reference point for great places to run no matter where you may be travelling to study Spanish Abroad. It certainly has a lot of content for the United States given its key readership, but we hope they spread the world and gain valuable information on running in Buenos Aires, Santiago, Quito, San Jose, Barcelona, and beyond. 

One thing I like to do is pick a destination specifically for targeting a half or full marathon. What better way to take in a city than run through its streets for 13.1 or 26.2 miles without the worry of traffic or walkers blocking your speedy path. The Marathon Guide has a great resource with it's International Marathon Calendar. If you want to take the guess work out of choosing the "right" location to learn Spanish, you still have time to train for the 2011 Buenos Aires Marathon coming up on October 9th. 

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spanish Cerveza Commercials are Serious Productions

Estrella Damm clearly wanted a full out love story to go with their beer commercial. At over three minutes, I don't know how many people are willing to sit through any commercial, but this does have some great views of the Mediterranean Sea, and amazing Spanish crowd scenes, among other tidbits! In many countries including the United States, I don't think many alcoholic beverage companies could get away with such promotions, let alone any other product given the imagery seen here. 

In the age of TIVO this may get skipped over with a quick draw on the fast forward button, but it is definitely worth a quick watch to see what one of Spain's most popular Cerveza brands put together to promote their product. Maybe they will start putting out full length movies or a weekly TV show if this is a hit.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Island Hopping: Bocas del Toro Spanish Immersion

Many of our students are looking for a location that is a little off the beaten path and offers stunning natural views and activities. Our Spanish program in Bocas del Toro definitely fits the bill for these preferences. The Spanish school on this Panama island chain is located on the big island of Isla Colon and is easy to access by a quick flight from Panama City. We have provided the key details for this program below.

If you are real adventurous and are looking to see as much of the country as possible, you could split your program between the capital city and this island location with any number of weeks in each location. The flexibility of choosing multiple locations in which to study Spanish is just one of the reasons students choose Spanish Abroad to coordinate their Spanish Immersion experience. 

When reviewing this document, you can utilize the zoom tools at the bottom of the page for easier reading. 
Bocas del Toro, Panama Spanish School ~ Spanish Abroad Inc.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Busy Summer Season Upon Us

Photo by Izuen Gordelekua
Its definitely heating up in our hometown of Phoenix where summer temperatures reach 110+ on a regular basis. This can also be a hectic time for our office as we coordinate programs for all of the children, teens, college students, and professionals that attend our programs during the summer months. 

The last week in June and first week of July are typically our busiest weeks given the start of many teen programs combined with peak program start dates for College students well rested from a few weeks of lazy summer days and heading off for intensive Spanish immersion. 

We also receive a large amount of families this time of year as the kids are out of school and parents are looking for a long awaited break from the daily grind. While we strive to fit all of our customers into programs, once accommodations run, we cannot conjure additional host families out of thin air.

Sometimes it is hit or miss on availability but as of late many of our programs still have openings for all dates. The Summer is by far the most popular time to be outside in many locations. Sunny warm days can provide for enhanced viewing of architecture, people watching, and sometimes it is fun to just be one person in the thick of the masses. 

No matter what the circumstances may be it never fails that are constantly pushing to keep your Spanish programs coordinated this time of year. We strive for top notch customer service and hope to give the most prompt responses no matter what the question may be. All of our staff have at least 5 years in the industry, so we have answered almost any question you can think of, but we are surprised at times when something new pops up. Feel free to test us!

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

President Practices Spanish in Puerto Rico

Not since John F. Kennedy visited Puerto Rico in 1961 has a sitting U.S. President visited the territory of Puerto Rico. We are sure that many Puerto Ricans found this to be a momentous occasion for President Obama to visit their Island. While its voters don't have any influence in Presidential elections they were able to vote in the Democratic primary where the president lost to Secretary of State Clinton. 

San Juan has grown to be one of our most popular destinations especially since U.S. Citizens do not need a passport for entry and it is relatively affordable to fly there. Tourism makes up a great part of the island's economy and has amazing outdoor activities including visits to stunning beaches and vast tropical jungles that you don't find on the mainland. 

While the Presidents Spanish ability was not put to the test too much in this speech, we hope he had the opportunity to get out a few more words to local leaders and those that visited this address to the island of Puerto Rico. 

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Amazing Footage of Chilean Volcano

With a long reaching Coast and wide range of environments Chile is known for breathtaking views and the many wonders that mother nature has to offer. Unfortunately some of these wonders come in the form of Natural Disasters. 

Below is an astonishing video of the Puyehue Volcano that erupted last week in Chile. Fortunately it was far removed from Santiago and did not effect our students studying there, however it certainly made an impact for the locals living in the surrounding towns. Volcanoes are a fact of life for many people living around the world. While many times these are slow moving lava flows that are rather predictable like you find in Hawaii, but sometimes you can have major eruptions such as that at Mt. Saint Helens in Washington State.

While visiting Hawaii, Guatemala, Mexico, Italy and Costa Rica I had the opportunity to visit many volcanoes and they are definitely a must see when you are in there area. Its an awe inspiring experience the danger of  molten lava rock is ever present. But it is also an experience you have to take in as you would any activity that  involves some risk. These are once in a lifetime opportunities for most and it is what makes travelling very rewarding. After all if you have to always be in your comfort zone, then you may as well stay home. 

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

National Drink of Chile: Pisco Sour Hour

Pisco Sour Hour in Santiago
Several of our schools have a welcome cocktail for those students that are of age. This gives them a great opportunity to take in some local libations and get to know other students that are in the same Spanish immersion boat as they are. 

This photo is a great example of one of these moments where students at our Spanish school in Santiago are taking in a Pisco Sour and some sandwiches as a snack. It is quite common for instructors or directors to take part as part time server.

The Pisco sour is particularly a unique drink in that it utilizes egg whites and an acidic citrus such as lime or lemon as the main ingredients. Of course you have to have to Pisco to make the drink as well, which is a Brandy that garnered its name from the popular Spanish colonial port town of Pisco in Peru. 

It made its way to Chile, which is greatly known for its vineyards and great skills of turning grapes in to very tasty fermented beverages. Chileans have made Pisco their own and there is much consternation between the two countries as to who makes the best Pisco Sour. We have provided a recipe below if you want to try it from home to prepare for a trip to Chile or Peru to taste the real deal. 

Pisco Sour Recipe: 
1 Egg White
2 Shots Pisco
4 Teaspoons Simple Syrup (Equal Parts Water/Sugar)
2 Tablespoons Lemon or Lime Juice
3 drops bitters

Shake first 4 Ingredients in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Put some elbow into it to really get a frothy blend. Strain into rocks glass and add the bitters. Just multiply the ingredients to make a large batch if you want to share or if you just want a lot of Pisco Sour for yourself. This recipe was concocted with Chilean Pisco which is sweeter than the Peruvian product. If using the latter, you may want to add more syrup so it is less dry. As for the sandwiches, I just put stuff in between two slices of bread. 

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Festivals in Peru - Many to Consider

Photo by Fred Lam
Peruvians love to celebrate and the Summer includes several festivities to choose from. Some of those to take note of are the Virgen del Carmen in Paucartambo, Corpus Christi in Cusco, and Qoyllority which includes a pilgrimage to the Andes. 

Of course the one held in highest regard and most well known is the Inti Raymi Festival. This Incan celebration is for the Sun God Inti whom was held in the highest regard much as you see in other mythic religions. 

You can join in the festivities if in Cusco on June 24th. The in-house travel agency at our Spanish school can arrange for you to join in on the procession that leads its way to Sacsayhuaman, which is an ancient Incan fortress to the North of the city. 

You will also get the chance to see many Inca dances and traditions to honor and worship Inti. Participants will be wearing traditional dress and make sacrificial offerings to the Sun god. Historically animal sacrifices were offered up to the Sun God, but in modern time it is very animal friendly and more low key offerings are given. It is no coincidence that the festival takes place at the Winter Solstice and the offering is to appease the god for good farming in the future. 

Today Catholicism has overshadowed the religious prevalence of the nation,  but it is always great to know your roots and celebrate your ancient heritage. If you can't make it this year, then you have an entire 12 months to plan for the next festivities. 

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