Friday, May 18, 2012

Camino de Santiago: "The Way"

The Camino de Santiago is a great way to see some of the beautiful countryside in the North of Spain. Last year, the movie "The Way" was released which features Martin Sheen making the trek which starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and follows the popular pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela.

Many of our students will make their way across the country after or prior to their Spanish Immersion program. Spanish Abroad has three locations where we offer programs that are very close to the route if not key cities along the way including San Sebastian, Pamplona, and Santiago de Compostela where you finish things off. Most students will also arrive in Madrid upon first entering the country, so this is another option to consider. There is a great forum on Facebook where you can learn a lot about the Camino de Santiago and talk with others about the experience. Here is a clip from the movie which revolves around a lot more than just a trek, but it is a great way to get a taste of what to expect for your own personal journey. 

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Slideshow Tour of Antigua, Guatemala

You can't truly experience Antigua and its great people  without visiting the beautiful colonial town first hand. However, we found this great slideshow on Youtube that gives you a great view of some of the most popular sites as well as some of the common activities you will find within the town. Antigua has been and is an ever growing popular location due to its very affordable Spanish programs and welcoming host families, and tranquil atmosphere. 

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Thursday, May 10, 2012 Now Live

If you are a parent or teen and would like an exclusive website specifically for our Teen Programs, then we have you covered. We now have full coverage of our Summer Spanish immersion programs that are offered  in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Spain at 

Alhambra - Granada Spain
We have done our best to provide a very customer friendly browsing experience that allows you to quickly find the information you need based on the location of interest. Perhaps you don't quite know where you or your teen (parents) wants to study, our new format allows you to quickly browse the information that is of interest to you for a quick comparison. Below is a glimpse at the different options in Spain. Here you can get a quick overview to compare each city and if you want to read more, simply click on the link provided at the bottom of the page.

Many students people ask us, "Where should I study". A lot of times, it is simply a process of elimination to see which location sparks your interest the most. In general our teen programs are similar in what they offer, however the sites and distinct living experience of a city can be drastically different from one location to the next. Of course if you already know where you want to study, we offer a quick drop down for city selection under each city. 

We take great strides to provide all parents and teens with full details on any program prior to the start of their Spanish immersion adventure. The new website is dedicated to those that have a very specific time in which to study and need to prepare what is typically a first time experience. Things are starting to fill up, but we still have space in all of our teen programs, it is not too late to start researching now and getting things lined up at:

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tamarindo Family Program Review

We received this great overview from one of the families that visited our popular program in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. We appreciate them sharing their experience with all of our readers. 

I just wanted to give you some feedback on my and my families experience in Costa Rica at the Spanish school in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. As for accommodations, it was a positive experience from the start. We were greeted, as promised, at the airport for a smooth pick-up and delivery to the school where we took our initial Spanish level assessment test. 

Tamarindo Spanish School 

We then met our Tico families who then drove us the short distance home. The host family stay was a great experience and gave me and my family a wonderful glimpse into what life is like for the average Tico family in Costa Rica. The last 2 weeks (of our 4.5 week stay) we spent at the quaint, clean, comfortable, and conveniently located bungalow accommodations across the street from the school. Sonia and Hugh, the owner/operators of the school were very accommodating to everyone's needs and wishes and assured appropriate student-instructor matches from week-to-week as we progressed through the program. 

We all progressed smoothly through the weekly programs to the next levels and were able to comfortably hold our own in Spanish conversation. Of particular note, my oldest daughter just began her second year of college Spanish and was a bit nervous initially because she was told that the instructor conducts classes entirely in Spanish. She was/is pleasantly surprised to find that she understands everything said and done in class, and she directly attributes this to her experience with the school  this past summer. My son Brandon really excelled after completing 3-years of the traditional  high school Spanish instruction prior to attending. He had the "book smarts" but lacked the practical everyday "street smarts" usage of the language. Within the first week he grasped the practical aspects of the language and became nearly fluent by the end of our 4 weeks of study. He has just begun his 4th year of high school Spanish and is now way ahead of his peers compared to where he was prior to attending.

Aside from the outstanding Spanish instruction we received, the surf program run by Alex was also outstanding for our 13 year old daughter, Carissa, who had never surfed before. Alex and Sonia coordinated the Spanish lessons and surf lessons around the best surf times/conditions so that Carissa could get the most out of both programs. For a very competitive price, Alex's surf program included 2 weeks of surfboard use, 2 days a week of individualized surf instruction, 1 day a week of video analysis and instructional feedback, and daily surf trips. I would challenge anyone to find such a comprehensive "surf-package" at the rates he charges. Carissa had a blast and at the end of her 2 weeks, was on her way with the essential tools necessary to enjoy this popular sport and past-time. Thanks to the coordinated and cooperative work efforts of Sonia and Alex, this was time well spent at an unbeatable bargain rate.

I would be remiss if I did not also commend Hugh on his abilities to organize and advise school participants on maximizing their "extracurricular" activities. Thanks to Hugh, I and my family were able to maximize our time getting familiar with the country of Costa Rica, as well as a glimpse into Nicaragua. We made weekend trips that included a weekend trip into Nicaragua, Costa Rican rainforest "zip-line" touring, horseback riding, inner-tubing, and mud-baths. Each of these excursions took us through parts of the region that we may not have seen or appreciated otherwise. 

One particular highlight was taking a rental car and driving on our own cross-country from Playa Tamarindo to Turrialba for white water rafting on the Pacuare River. The drive itself was an adventure that provided a good overview and appreciation for the "lay of the land", and the rafting experience was merely the "icing on the cake". Indeed, when one thinks of Costa Rica, they think of what we saw and did on the Pacuare River that weekend. All of these were made possible (and with ease) thanks in large part, if not entirely, to the assistance and efforts of Hugh with his exceptional "people skills" and well established networking contacts throughout Costa Rica and Central America.

As someone who works in the "services" profession, I am all too aware that good work rarely gets rewarded and/or recognized. It is usually the rare "complainers" that draw everyone's attention if for no other reason other than the mere lack of positive comments from the overwhelming majority of "satisfied customers". On those far-and-in-between occasions that a satisfied customer has taken the the time to provide some positive words of "thanks" , each time has been refreshing and uplifting and has provided me the encouragement to continue doing a good job. Please share these positive words with Sonia, Hugh, Alex, and any others as you see fit so that we can encourage and reward work well done. 

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