Located four hours from Puerto Vallarta, six hours from Mexico City, and two hours from Tequila, Guadalajara is beautiful, well placed, and Mexico’s second largest city.
Guadalajara has a gorgeous downtown area with a cathedral at its center. The open plazas around the cathedral form a cross, and are great places to try street food, people watch, and walk around. The downtown is always busy, and transportation is accessible without being as congested as Mexico City.
A vibrant city full of artists and students, Guadalajara is a city that can fit many tastes. Whether it be a life centered around music, culture, history, nightlife, or shopping- there is always something going exciting happening. Student life is varied, thanks to the numerous universities and visiting international students. For those hoping to brush up on their Spanish, music, Latin American studies, or history, Guadalajara is one of Mexico’s most alluring destinations.
One of the most popular study abroad programs in Guadalajara is Spanish immersion programs. Students can either go through a third party program provider or attend courses at a language school to focus on improving their Spanish language skills. Courses are available for all levels of students.
For those who are already at an advanced level or fully bilingual in Spanish, you'll be able to directly enroll at one of Guadalajara's universities and attend classes with local students. The University of Guadalajara is internationally known and respected for their economics, architecture, and biology programs. Of course, these classes will be taught exclusively in Spanish.
Two of the most important universities in Guadalajara are the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara and the Tecnologico de Monterrery, Campus Guadalajara. Each of these schools has different clubs that serve to integrate international students into Mexican student life.
Outside of the universities, programs led by third party program providers offer classes in English on courses other than language (though, Spanish may be a component) like environmental conservation, art, or history. Some will combine coursework with volunteer work in what's called a service learning program.
Planning Your Trip
Guadalajara is one of the most student-friendly Mexican cities, thanks to the large local student population. It has all the benefits of a big city with the safety and feel of a small town.
For students who are on a direct enroll program, you'll likely be given the option to live in dorms or find housing independently. For those doing a Spanish immersion program, homestays are the most common type of accommodation. Your study abroad program, however, should give you more specific details on your housing options and where to look.
Americans can travel in and out of Mexico freely, but if you plan on studying there for longer than 90 days, you'll need to apply for a student visa. It is often possible to extend a visa once in Mexico.
Other nationalities should check with the Mexican embassy in their home country before departure.
The weather is mild and warm in Guadalajara so pack accordingly. As a student, you'll want to explore, so with the beaches, mountains, and wilderness all within a few hours drive, bring clothes for all sorts of adventures. You'll probably find that Guadalajara is a trendy, cosmopolitan city and fashion is important. You'll be able to shop for virtually anything while you're there.
Students can often be found on Chapultepec, an avenue with several cool bars and nightlife.
Costs & Scholarships
In general, the cost of living in Mexico is quite affordable. After program fees and airfare (also pretty cheap if you're coming from elsewhere in North America), you should expect to budget about $30 - 40 USD per day (less if your housing and food are already covered in your program fees).
For study abroad students headed to Mexico, there are a few scholarships you might qualify for:
- The National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi, offers many scholarships for studying in Mexico to Spanish-speaking students.
- The Boren Scholarship offers scholarships of over $20,000 for undergraduate students to study abroad in countries that the US feels are underrepresented in study abroad. Mexico is one of these countries, so it is a great idea to apply.