Known as the “Colonial Spanish Capital of Central America,” Antigua is a vibrant, historical, and colorful Colonial city in Guatemala that oozes with traditional charm, delicious food, and out-of-this-world natural beauty. Boasting an impressive nine-language schools, Antigua has a reputation for being an excellent home for study abroad. Located within close proximity to the bustling capital, international airport, volcanoes, beaches, and plantations, life in Antigua is both exciting and relaxing.
With a year-round spring climate, Antigua gives its residents plenty of reasons to explore. Its ethereal volcano and mountain views provide the perfect backdrop for those looking for adventure, while its historic city center offers endless indigenous and colonial sites just begging to be rediscovered. Antigua is also home to a lively cultural scene featuring constant festivals and celebrations, daily markets and fairs, and tours of jade factories, chocolate museums, and historical settlements. For a small city, Antigua truly does have something for everyone.Photo Credits: andryn2006.
Surprising to many, Antigua is one of the best locations for Spanish language study. Home to some of the most popular immersion programs in Latin America, Antigua offers Spanish classes for every type of student. These programs range from intensive classes where students are in school for several hours each day or down to one or two basic classes per week. If you are looking to quickly and greatly improve your language skills, a Spanish language program is for you.
Language Study and Volunteer Program
As an impoverished country, there are many options for students looking to make a difference and learn some Spanish. Between teaching English, working at an orphanage, conserving nature and agriculture, and improving medical clinics, there are almost endless options. Many volunteer programs have language classes built into the program so that participants can better communicate with the people they are helping. One of the most popular options is through International Volunteer HQ.
Language Study and Cultural Immersion
This type of program is a great option for students who want to learn Spanish and really integrate into the Guatemalan culture. Students have the opportunity to learn a language through normal coursework as well as immerse into the local culture through excursions around Antigua and the rest of Guatemala, volunteering in the community, taking cooking or dance classes, or even wine tastings! Students will really get a feel for how locals live their everyday lives, the history of this quaint city, and the customs that make this culture so unique.
Compared to living in the US, Antigua is very inexpensive. You can eat street food for as cheaply as $1.50 per meal and spend less than $8-10 on a full meal at a restaurant. Students can keep their expenses down by shopping at Antigua’s many open-air markets and walking whenever possible, as Antigua is geographically fairly small. For socialization, students can expect to spend less than $1 for a cup of coffee or $2 for a local beer.
For a small city, Antigua knows how to keep its residents interested. Visitors can spend infinite amounts of time exploring the colonial and indigenous ruins, including the Church and Convent of Capuchins, the Cathedral of San Jose, and La Merced Church. For those looking for more adventure, Antigua is dominated by three large volcanoes with steam and gas issuing from their tops regularly. Enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and many other outdoor activities throughout Antigua’s natural beauty. Don’t forget to check out an Antigua GFC soccer game in between exploring volcanoes and ancient ruins!
Health and Safety Tips
Antigua has a reputation for being “pretty safe”, which means that if you exercise caution and stay aware of your surroundings, chances are you and your belongings will not be harmed. The most common type of crime here is pickpocketing, with the offenders typically slicing a hole through visitors’ purses and backpacks. Keep your belongings safe by utilizing your front pockets or even a fanny pack (you might look dorky but at least your wallet and camera will stay safe!). Also, be cautious if invited to an “after party”, as these often turn into dangerous affairs. If you follow the basic rules of protecting yourself including not walking alone at night, watching your belongings, and not drawing attention to yourself as a foreigner, you should have no problems in this beautiful city.