It always depends on three main aspects: your natural ability to learn a language, your motivation, and the time you can spend here. Usually you can't control the first aspect, but motivation can often compensate. People have been here six weeks and gotten to the subjunctive form of the verb, which is one of the last steps to master in Spanish grammar.
How much grammar instruction will I get in the Basic program? What kind of additional instruction will I get in the Basic Plus program?
Our Basic Program has one period of practical Spanish and one period of grammar. If you want instruction for a specific purpose, such as work-related vocabulary training or advanced grammar, or for more one-on-one conversation time, then you'll need to enroll in the Basic Plus program.
Of course not! Our teachers use a more natural approach to language learning that combines listening and speaking skills in a practical setting. That means you'll be learning Spanish you can use right away and discovering that you are able to understand and participate in basic conversations.
Most of our teachers are bilingual Spanish/English. Some may also speak other languages such as Japanese, French or German. We try to use only Spanish during class but will answer some questions in English for beginning students.
Yes, it's conducted mostly in Spanish. You need not worry about this aspect.
Are the Guanajuato natives friendly and willing to speak with someone learning Spanish? Will they speak to me in English or Spanish?
You'll find that Guanajuato is a very friendly place and a perfect place to practice your Spanish. Most shop keepers, restaurant servers, and taxi drivers will speak to you in Spanish and will be thrilled that you're learning the language. Some may also know a little English, but don't be afraid to try out your Spanish! That's what you're here for! You'll also find many cafes and bars in Guanajuato filled with interesting people and languages from around the world.
Yes, we do hand out diplomas at the end of your stay according to the program you followed and the level of Spanish you accomplished. However, there are no credits related to this diploma.
We do not have a program for kids at the Instituto but there is an elementary school next door that's considered the best in the city. It is closed during the summer but if you are coming at another time of the year, we can help you inquire about enrolling your child there.
Transportation and Accommodations
If you are a homestay student staying a minimum of 2 weeks, round-trip airport transportation is included and will be provided by your homestay family. For those staying with a homestay family for just one week, the charge is 500 pesos round-trip paid directly to your family. (You'll have to check the exchange rate for the exact amount in dollars.) If for any reason, your family cannot pick you up, someone from the school will do so.
For other students, the school can provide airport transportation for a one-way fee of US$50 for a maximum of two people. If there are more than two people in your group, contact the school for transportation costs. The same rules apply for transportation to and from the airport.
Students should be prepared to wake up in Guanajuato on Monday morning for the first day of classes but your exact arrival and departure dates are totally dependent on your travel plans. For homestay students, you may want to plan according to the weekly rate for accommodations. Those rates include a seven-night stay which is generally from Saturday to Saturday or Sunday to Sunday.
If you need to include an additional day or two at your homestay, we will charge US$25 per night for a shared room or US$30 per night for a private room. Please let us know ahead of time if you need to remain at your homestay for longer than seven nights.
The school provides van transportation to and from the Instituto and a downtown location every day at the start and finish of the school day. All students are welcome to use this transportation free of charge including both homestay and those in other accommodations. There is also bus and taxi service available.
Our host families are carefully selected from middle- and upper-class families in Guanajuato. We've been working with some families for over ten years now, and our newer families are usually referred to us by older families. In the homestay, the family will provide a room with a place to sleep and study along with three meals a day.
Most of the families don't have young children but you can specify whether you'd prefer a family with or without children.
There are no curfews imposed on students but when you are living in someone else's home, you should use common sense about your behavior. Students are expected to act like civilized adults with respect for others. That would include "not" coming home drunk or being unusually noisy inside the house.
Another rule: Homestay accommodations are for student residents only. You cannot invite friends over for the night. You should not even invite them into your room. With permission from the family, you may be able to invite them into a common area, such as the living room or kitchen.
We have a very good track record with our families and have heard many good things from our students about the homestay experience. If you are not satisfied with the family you are placed with, the school will attempt to resolve the situation and may place you with another family.
When you arrive alone, we always place you with another student of the same sex. We also try to match students according to age, interests, and other preferences that they have indicated beforehand. It rarely happens, but if for some reason, you are not happy with your roommate, the school will attempt to resolve the situation to everyone's satisfaction. That could result in finding you a new roommate.
If you arrive with a friend or significant other, you will, of course, be placed in the same room together.
There are no self-service laundromats in Guanajuato but there are several full-service laundromats. You can have a good-sized load done for about US$7.00. If you are a homestay student, you could ask the family if there are laundry facilities for you to use at the home. They may direct you to other options such as having your laundry done through a service. If you are renting one of the apartments on campus, all of them have washers and dryers.
Health and Security
No. Please let your host family know about any health considerations and family members will cook according to your dietary needs. Students with diabetes, allergies, special diets, etc., should not hesitate to choose the homestay option because of dietary restrictions.
At your homestay, all vegetables and fruits are washed in purified water and disinfected. This is also the case in most restaurants in the city. If you do get an upset stomach, your family will help you find the appropriate medication or provide a homemade remedy. You should probably avoid eating at street stands or low-quality restaurants.
Unfortunately, new rules require a passport for anyone traveling to Mexico by plane, car, or boat. You may be able to pay an extra fee for fast processing of your passport.
You'll find more information about travel requirements at this web page: http://www.mexperience.com/guide/essentials/entry_req.htm
You can also check the U.S. State Department website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html
The city is the safest in the state and the state is one of the three safest in the country. There is very little crime here, it's not known for drug problems, and violence is rare but like any city, you have to exercise certain precautions, in certain areas. Here's a quote from the website WikiTravel:
"During the day, the entire city is safe, and as long as you stay in the downtown area, walking around alone or in small groups at night is safe as well. (Anyplace you'd want to go out at night is downtown.) It is far far safer than the average American college campus and doesn't have much crime directed at tourists. Overall, Guanajuato is an incredibly safe city, but there is one caveat. Do not ever go running/walking around the Panoramica (the beautiful road around the edge of the city in the mountains) in the evening or early mornings. Many rapes, assaults, and muggings of foreigners have occurred in isolated parts of this area and some of the victims were out running with friends. Groups of men may be OK, but even several women together will not be safe. It is, however, safe to run in the city in the early mornings and there are a number of gyms where you can pay by the class."
You can send your registration and deposit by registered mail. We only accept travelers checks, certified checks, and bank-issued money orders (no postal money orders). We do not accept credit cards.
You should be prepared to pay your balance due on the first day of class. We accept travelers checks, certified checks, and bank-issued money orders (no postal money orders) along with cash in U.S. dollars or pesos. You can also hop online and use PayPal. We do not accept credit cards.
Other than the fees for classes and accommodations, your costs will depend on your spending habits. If you are doing a homestay, your meals are included. Here's a general breakdown of basic costs including restaurant meals in U.S. dollars:
Average popular restaurant: $8.00 for a good meal
Finer dining: $12.00 for the meal, without wine
Beer: $2.00 in restaurants and bars; $.70 at the store
Bus: $.025/city bus ride; $0.35/"sprinter" mini-bus ride (faster)
Taxi: $2.50 to $4.00 per ride depending on the distance
Movie: $4.00 to $5.00
There are several gyms where you can use the equipment for a small per-visit fee. Also, it's easy to enroll in a class for aerobics, yoga, or other group exercises.
Guanajuato is full of trails for hiking or mountain biking. There's also a great rock-climbing area so if you're good at this sport, remember to bring your equipment!
There are many internet cafes in Guanajuato that charge about a dollar an hour for use of a computer. You may also find wireless connections at some internet cafes and other locations if you bring your own laptop. Some of the apartments at the school also have wireless access.
If you need personal wireless access, you should inquire ahead of time about that option. There are a few computers at the Instituto for student use that are available during school hours, at break time.
Is there an inexpensive way to place calls to the United States? How do I make local phone calls while I'm in Guanajuato?
There are many ways to make international and local calls while you are in Guanajuato. One popular method for international calling is through Skype on a computer. Skype allows you to create an account and call someone else equipped with Skype for free. You can also call landline and cell phone numbers if you deposit money into your Skype account. Calling a landline phone will be much cheaper, however.
For local calls, one convenient way to make calls is to bring your GSM cell phone with you and swap the SIMM card for a temporary one you buy here in Mexico. (GSM phones are the ones that work with AT&T and T-Mobile.) You can purchase as many minutes as you need to use, and recharge the SIMM card over the internet with your credit card. The two main cell phone companies in Mexico are Telcel and Moviestar. This method does "not" work with the iPhone since it doesn't have a removable SIMM.
(One note to iPhone users: Beware of the possibility of surcharges if you bring your iPhone to Mexico and you do not turn off features that automatically download information to your phone. There have been many surprised iPhone users who have been charged hundreds of dollars for data transfer that occurred automatically while they were traveling.)
You'll find good information on telephone service in Mexico at this web page: http://www.mexperience.com/guide/essentials/comms.htm