Here are 10 top study abroad locations to learn Spanish
Barcelona is for the cosmopolitan student who wants to travel Europe during study week. Not only is it a great walking city with public art, museums, and galleries, but it’s well-situated on the tourism circuit. After a week of classes, stay in town to enjoy the sunny weather or head off with friends on a European student tour. Alongside Spanish, what’s more cosmopolitan than learning a bit of Catalan and the geopolitics behind the autonomous community of Catalonia?
Valparaíso is the study abroad location for the hip art kids to learn Spanish. As we have mentioned on the Lingoda blog before, “Valpo” is a street art Mecca of the world. There are views for days and potential art subsidies for talented artists, including foreigners. Stargazers and astronomers appreciate the proximity to Valle Elqui and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) facility in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Even non-artists enjoy the university nightlife and culture both here and in neighbouring coastal resort town Viña del Mar. Plus transportation on the Valparaíso Metro, micro city bus, and colectivos local fixed-route taxis is super affordable for students.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
If you are thinking of studying abroad to learn Spanish in South America, but aren’t the tree-hugging type, Buenos Aires is for you. You can live among skyscrapers, join the local fashion scene, try urban cycling, explore strong business and financial sectors, enjoy lively nightlife, join a diverse local football league, and have a chance for study week at the beach. What are you waiting for?
Hate the heat but love natural scenery? Consider Quito. Sitting at 2,800 meters (9,350 feet) above sea level in the Andean foothills, this capital city stays 10-20°C (50-70°F) all year. Full of colonial architecture and history, this city is a hotspot for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in South America. Learn to protect the Amazon rainforest by going eco-trekking outside the city on weekends. Don’t forget to buy a warm poncho upon arrival!
With the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west, Colombia is a country for students who are active. Whether you are passionate about coffee or cumbia, the capital of Bogotá at the centre of the country is a dynamic blend of history and modernity. From economy to architecture to dance to gastronomy to sport, this city has rich cultural activities you are invited to join in. A vibrant city of 8 million people, life in Bogotá (outside of study time) revolves around food, friends, and fun.
History students are in heaven when they study abroad to learn Spanish in the ancient city of Cusco. Modern-day Peru sits at the centre of land once ruled by the ancient Inka Empire. The vibe is majestic and earthy, just like the terra cotta roof tiles that blanket the city. The famous complex of Machu Picchu is a weekend trip but Cusco itself is surrounded with UNESCO World Heritage sites. You will find the ancient Sacsayhuamán ruins built in 900 C.E. by the indigenous Killke people up a hill from the central plaza. If you are interested in the scientific innovation of pre-Colombian society, this is the study abroad city for you.
If you plan to study writing or photography at university, doing a study abroad to learn Spanish in Mexico’s capital city Ciudad de México (formerly known as distrito federal or DF) is an excellent choice. Use your time in one of the street food capitals of the world to hone your food writing skills and travel photography chops. Don’t get too caught up in the vibrant city life though. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) tops the list as one of the best university systems in the world. With a competitive higher education system, many universities in CDMX are known for academic rigour. Consider Mexico City if you are ready to push yourself in academics.
Here is a city for students who want to learn Spanish during study abroad as well as focus on business or international relations. Why? Montevideo acts as the administrative headquarters of Latin America’s two largest trade blocks (Mercosur and ALADI). Geopolitical analysts consider Montevideo the “Brussels of Latin America” and key players in regional and global trade make their deals here. Students can expect museums, cultural festivals, ocean views, and professors who have real experience in the field. Consider applying for a professional internship to make the most of your time. With 1.3 million residents, Montevideo is the same size as another popular study abroad hub of the world: Prague, Czech Republic.
Panama City, Panama
Choosing to study abroad in Ciudad de Panamá is like taking the best parts of the places mentioned above and packing them all into a city of only 900,000 people. The feel of this city is small but bustling. From the history of old town Casco Viejo’s destruction to Panama Canal to the futuristic beachfront skyline reminiscent of Hong Kong, this city has the best of all worlds in a pint-sized package.
When it comes to study abroad locations to learn Spanish, Madrid cannot be overlooked. It’s the capital of Spain and seat of the Diccionario de la lengua española or official dictionary of the Spanish language. Previously known as Real Academia Española, this linguistic organization has been telling Spanish speakers worldwide the “correct” way to speak since 1713. Though nowadays linguists focus less on the Castilian dialect of Spanish from northern and central Spain while sociologists argue for the deconstruction of colonialist attitudes, its historical importance is undisputed. Madrid is the ultimate spot for linguists and students of peninsular literature. Will you have to read Miguel de Cervantes’ tome Don Quixote de la Mancha? Definitely. Will it be worth it? Maybe. Will you become fluent in Spanish? Yes.
No matter where you study, the experience is sure to change your life for the better. I studied abroad in Madrid over 15 years ago during uni. Full immersion in a study abroad programme is one of the best things I ever did for myself. That semester sparked my love for languages, expanded my cultural education, forced me to make huge gains in Spanish fluency, and opened doors in my career to bilingual job positions that have taken me around the world. If that sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to research and plan a way for you to study abroad as well.
Get prepared for your year abroad by mastering the basics of Spanish with Lingoda! Take advantage of a free 7-day trial with our native speaking Spanish teachers today.