Spanish Immersion in Antigua, Guatemala this summer!

Old Jun 2nd, 2011, 02:24 PM
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Spanish Immersion in Antigua, Guatemala this summer!

In two weeks I plan to go to Antigua, Guatemala, for spanish immersion and stay for 10 weeks, and I can't wait! The schools I am considering include Cima Del Mundo, La Academia de Español-Sevilla, Don Pedro de Alvarado Spanish School and Tecún Umán Spanish School because of price and the option for 7-8hrs of lessons per day. Any suggestions? Cima Del Mundo is my top choice thus far, they seem pretty upfront and I'm already a little skeptical about traveling alone as it is.

I'll be leaving from Texas and I'd love to know others that are embarking on the same journey. How safe is it to travel alone to Antigua? Any suggestions? Will you be there too?

Excited and freaked out.
-Love Me
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Old Jun 2nd, 2011, 03:58 PM
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Hi, there. I won't be in Antigua again until July and will be passing through (3 nights) on my way to Lake Atitlán. It's easy to get to and the schools will set you up with a host family and activities as well as a private shuttle from the airport if you want to go that route. "Stuff" can happen in any touristy area but with proper precautions I consider Antigua to be a safe place to visit; I've pasted my safety guidelines below from a previous thread.

My favorite school in Antigua is the Academia Antigüeña. The school building itself isn't all gardeny or courtyardy like some but I've had phenomenal luck with teachers there, it's in my favorite neighborhood, and they have a reputation for very interactive host families, an important consideration in Antigua since the "homestays" of many schools are more like boarding houses; I absolutely loved my host family when I studied there in 2009.
www.spanishacademyantiguena.com

You can check the ratings in the site below (Academia Antigüeña gets terrific marks) but keep in mind that they haven't added schools for years so some excellent ones (like my very favorite, the Cooperativa school on lake Atitlán) aren't listed.

10 weeks is a long time, you lucky duck! I wouldn't commit to one school for more than a week or 2; you may decide to switch, try another area, or travel freely to practice what you've learned at some point.

My photos, blogs, and travelogues are below if you're interested. Happy trails!
____________________________________________

Sometimes I travel alone, sometimes with one or more of my kids and/or my husband, sometimes with a group in tow. I don't feel overly paranoid but have never had a problem and would like to keep it that way.

Here are my concessions to safety when I travel in Central America:
:: I avoid the big cities as much as possible
:: I don't "party"
:: Where recommended I take specific transportation (Hedman Alas in Honduras, for example, or avoiding chicken buses on the mountain runs in Guatemala, taxis after dark)
:: I know where I am and where I'm headed
:: I don't wear jewelry (not even my wedding band) and try not to flash camera equipment or money around
:: Some trips I carry a “throw down wallet” with an expired card or 2 and the day’s cash in it
:: I keep important documents and cash under my clothes (except what I need for shopping, buses, etc. for that time period)
:: I ask locals about safety in an area - evenings, hiking, etc.
:: I travel really light so I don't feel vulnerable getting my bag off and on buses, shuttles, etc.
:: I continue to build skills in Spanish
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Old Jun 2nd, 2011, 03:58 PM
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Oops - here's the photo/blog/travelogue link:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 05:14 PM
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The best advice Stacey has given you: don't over commit. I was is Guatemala for 8 weeks and met a lot of people who were tied to one place and regretted it. Totally concur with Cooperativa as the best place to immerse/study. If you're not doing a home stay, I can make a few suggestions. Have fun. It's a wonderful experience.
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Old Jun 5th, 2011, 09:24 PM
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Hi there,
I will be in Antigua myself for 4 weeks in July and I will be studying with Academia Antigüeña as they seem to be very highly regarded. I, too, will be traveling solo and looking forward to it! It looks like you will have a 2 week head start on me! haha
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Old Jun 5th, 2011, 10:06 PM
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apatinage - Please say hi to Julio and Olga at Academia Antigüeña from Stacey!
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 09:00 PM
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well, I studied at Antiguena for the month of July and I actually stayed with Olga's family... At first I thought this would be the best since I was staying with someone who works for the school but in fact it was the worst.. Olga, it turns out, is very money hungry and is more concerned with adding on to her home for more students (revenue) than actually making sure that the students ate properly.they didn't understand the concept of protein. I refused to swtich families after I learned that many students before us also had problems with the food but were too afraid to say anything... Needless to say I raised hell in that school to Julio Sr. and Jr... Well, the problem of the protein was solved after that - Olga's mother started serving us a homemade baby formula that she even said that the children did not like to eat, but it was filled with protein...LMFAO
All of that aside, my instructors were wonderful.. I was the only one in the school studying for 7 hours a day and learned a lot... They tried to shuffle me around to different outside locations until by the 4th week, I again voiced my displeasure and told them that it was not fair that other students were in classrooms and didn't have to deal with the rain and wind... they moved me really fast... I know that school was glad to see me leave!!
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 09:35 PM
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Wow - all good to know. I'm sorry for your trouble there - I had a fabulous host family and everyone in my group was pleased, too. You're not the 1st to have a problem with Olga, though, unfortunately. I'm glad you found the instruction good, at least, and hope they took your concerns seriously enough to take them into account in the future.
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Old Aug 27th, 2011, 01:30 AM
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Oh - just remembered problems with another family in '09 but the school was willing to refund.
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Old Aug 27th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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I loved the school but Olga really was something else...
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Old Aug 27th, 2011, 12:23 PM
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Thanks for taking the time to post.
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Old Aug 28th, 2011, 05:36 PM
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I had the same experience with Olgas family. I left and moved to a hotel after a few days, but really learned a lot from my instructor, Diego. Next time, try San Pedro de Laguna abpnd the Cooperativa School. It does not disappoint.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2011, 02:42 PM
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I'm down here now. Met a couple of people who started out with Academia Antiguena last week and switched after two weeks because of low teacher quality. The went to the Cooperative school and are having much better luck.

This is my third time back and I prefer Tecun Uman. Excellent for me and I plan on returning early next year.

Wherever y choose, only pay for one week when you arrive and maybe for the next week or two just in case any reason surfaces making you want to switch. The schools are notorius for not wanting to refund any payments already in hand.
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Old Feb 7th, 2013, 07:51 AM
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Antigueña is the worst place to learn spanish, overcrowded and you should carry your own plastic chair to a different location because the school is too small.
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Old Feb 7th, 2013, 06:39 PM
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I'm sorry you had a bad experience there but it's actually a pretty awesome school for most of us. I recommend it highly.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2013, 09:59 AM
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Mike from Germany here. I think both schools, Antigueña and Tecun Uman are quite good and have professional teachers I guess. I have studied at both and enjoyed the experience. Although, it was just a couple of weeks at each...
Perhaps the advantage for Tecun Uman is the location in town.

Here is the link to Antiguena: http://www.spanishacademyantiguena.com
And for Tecun Uman is here: http://www.tecunumanschool.com

Good luck !
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