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Learn spanish in Guatemala - safety a concern?

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Apr 19th, 2004, 08:41 PM
  #1
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Learn spanish in Guatemala - safety a concern?

Hello,

My wife is considering traveling to Guatemala this summer for three weeks to learn Spanish. She will stay with a host family outside of the capital. Is it safe or should we explore programs elsewhere?
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Apr 20th, 2004, 05:26 AM
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Antigua, Guatemala should be fine. Hopefully, that's where she's headed.
San Miguel de Allende, MX has a number of highly regarded programs as well.
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Apr 20th, 2004, 06:54 AM
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I've heard good things about the language schools in Guatemala. Costa Rica has literally dozens of these schools. I'm sure most are comparable, and I really can't compare the two countries as far as safety issues are concerned, but I (as a single woman) felt quite comfortable in C. R. studying for 3 weeks last summer. I do know that many organizations (missionary training, etc) select Costa Rica as the destination for language training. I assume the reason might have to do with greater stability and safety. It is a fabulous experience!
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Apr 29th, 2004, 04:22 AM
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I just got back from Antigua, Guatemala last week and traveled there as a single woman. I was also nervous about traveling there. I followed the usual precautions any woman should follow and at no time did I feel unsafe. The people were friendly and helpful. All around it was a really great trip. I'm sure your wife will have a lovely time.
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May 23rd, 2004, 01:50 PM
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In 2001 my family was in Guatemala.

Antigua has so many language schools! There are also some good schools in Quetzaltenango, "Xela". One thing I have wondered about is that it is so easy to find English speakers in Antigua that I'd hesitate a bit before signing up. Has anyone done a language course in either Xela or Antigua that would have some insider experience? If I spent the time in an immersion program I would want to find myself immersed. In so many of the Latin countries the natives practically beg to practice their English skills so they can improve their position in society. And, if you are in a city that attracts English speakers wanting to learn Spanish, you might not be forced to use what you are learning.

As far as safety, I think she'd be safe. She should read the latest traveler's warnings, etc., before she goes:

Guatemala can be a bit iffy. And, there are certainly places to avoid... even in Antigua. By the way I would recommend against Guatemala City because it is an big, polluted, unpleasant place.

Here are some sites to check for Traveler's Advisories. If you read all of them, you will be well-informed.

US - http://www.travel.state.gov/

Canada - http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/menu-en.asp

UK - http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?...=1007029390554

Australia - http://www.dfat.gov.au/

If she does go, please post back to let us know about her experience.

- Sharon
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Jun 22nd, 2004, 11:40 PM
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I've lived and studied in Guatemala for a total of about six months. The two major learning centras are, as mentioned, Antigua and Xela (Quetzaltenango). If she's headed for somewhere "outside of the capital", I suppose that means Antigua. Small colonial town with loads of language schools and heaps of tourists. No safety problems at all - well, I mean, you don't stroll around in a crowded market with an open backpack, nor do you decide to walk home alone and drunk at 3 am, but really...quite safe, rather high presence of very helpful tourist police. Main safety concern in town's been some robbings aimed at people attempting to hike any of the surrounding volcanoes on their own, or even in smaller groups.

Personally I prefer studying in Xela, due to less tourists. Easier to avoid speaking English every afternoon and so on, but the town is bigger and less touristified than Antigua, so if safety is the main concer, stick with the former.
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Jun 23rd, 2004, 07:33 AM
  #7
 
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This is an up to date list of all crimes reported to the U.S. consulate in Guatemala City. This allows you to see where the crimes are occuring and in which type of situation- http://usembassy.state.gov/guatemala/wwwhcrimee.html
Dude is offline  
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Jun 23rd, 2004, 10:55 AM
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Dude - thanks for posting the other link from the State Department's web site.

Boy, they have really changed that site around since the Reagan death! To go straight to traveler's advisories, use this URL: http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html
- Sharon
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