Often referred to as The Place of Precious Jewels, El Salvador is itself a Latin American jewel of history, culture, and natural wonders. El Salvador may be the smallest country in Central America, but it still offers an incredible number of opportunities to international students.
With a long coastline on the Pacific Ocean and an immense assortment of natural wonders, El Salvador is a great place to study if you love outdoor adventures. In between classes and touring the sites you’ll be able to hike volcanic mountains, water ski, enjoy natural hot springs, and challenge yourself with some of the best surfing in the world.
El Salvador is also a great place to study abroad if you love art and architecture. With an interesting mix of indigenous Native American traditions and European, particularly Spanish, influences, the country offers a totally unique cultural experience. You’ll find yourself getting lost among the architectural wonders of the cities and will admire all sorts of traditional ceramic and textile work at local markets.
Photo credit: Romero Trust.
There are many programs available for students wanting to study in El Salvador so make sure you do research before choosing one. Consider your own academic, social, and personal goals so that you can choose a program that will be perfect for you.
El Salvador has a variety of private universities and one public university which has campuses in four of the country’s major cities. El Salvador’s universities have always served as an epicenter for cultural and social movements within the country, especially during the Salvadoran Civil War. Today, you’ll find a well-developed educational system in place with high-caliber courses in all disciplines you can imagine.
El Salvador is a great study abroad destination if you’re looking to perfect your Spanish. The official language of the country, Spanish is spoken by virtually everyone. English, French, German and Dutch are also taught in many schools.
Many students studying at one of the major universities in El Salvador choose to live in dormitories with other international and Salvadoran students. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the student live while meeting new friends and living independently. Another housing choice is to live in a homestay with a family, which will allow you to practice your Spanish skills extensively and absorb the daily life in El Salvador.
What to Pack
Do you know what you'll need for your trip? If you're unsure, our guide on what to pack for study abroad in Central America will help.
Social Life and Student Culture
Salvadorans love to celebrate life and have fun, and if you choose to study there you’ll be swept up in this merriment. Salvador is known for its traditional cuisine, so much of your time will be spent trying new delicacies - including cheese-stuffed corn tortillas called pupusas and a rice drink called horchata - and maybe even learning to cook some dishes yourself. You’ll also enjoy the country’s excellent nightlife and beach scene, both of which offer the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself.
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Students visiting El Salvador should be aware that some of larger cities can be dangerous due to internal strife from the country’s recent civil war. Gang spars have resulted in a rather high crime rate, so always stay aware of your surroundings and try to travel with friends or companions. However, the majority of Salvadorans are incredibly kind and welcoming, earning El Salvador the nickname The Country with a Smile.
San Salvador: As the capital and largest city of El Salvador, San Salvador is an important cultural and financial center in the country. The historical downtown of the city has landmarks dating from the 16th century and is a great place to absorb Salvadoran history. San Salvador also has a vibrant social scene with many night clubs, upscale restaurants, and shopping opportunities.
Santa Ana: Santa Ana is a great destinations for students who are eager to learn all about the cultural traditions of El Salvador. The city contains many historical architectural jewels including cathedrals and theaters.
San Miguel: One of the most authentic cities in El Salvador, San Miguel is a perfect place to immerse yourself in the everyday life of this country. The city is home to one of the largest food and entertainment festivals in Central America, which proudly displays Salvadoran culture at its finest.
Contributed by Hannah Long
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