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Day planner
Travel,

How to take advantage of the time during a short exchange

Being on an exchange program usually involves going to another country for a period, during which the student will be assisting going classes and complying with homework assignments. However, from Monday to Friday and especially on weekends, students will have free time that can be seized to live this experience to the fullest. In this article, we will tell you how to get the most out of a short exchange program.

Remember that your number one priority while being on an exchange program is to study the study program you chose. Therefore, going to classes and doing your homework assignments will keep you busy for a good part of the week, and that’s good. We recommend that you do your best not to miss classes and go the extra mile when you do your homework because that way you will get a deep knowledge about your study program.

If your native language is other than the host country’s, learning that new language is also a top priority. We can’t exaggerate the importance of learning other languages for your personal and professional life, so after going to classes and fulfilling your assignments -in which you will surely already be using such new language- we recommend that you practice it as much as you can in your daily life.

With this we do not mean that you should enroll in an additional course to learn the new language since we understand that you will spend a good part of the day communicating with it during your classes, with your classmates and then at home with your host family, but you can include it in your daily life. How? Try to relate to people who don’t speak your language, that way you will be forced to communicate in the language that everyone has in common which is usually the one spoken in the host country. Also, you can listen to music and watch movies in that language, and, in general, follow these tips on learning a language while being on an exchange program.

Day planner

Now, to truly be able to do more activities in the shortest possible time, we recommend that you use a day planner, which may sound boring, but this tool can help you set goals regarding the time you will invest in your daily activities. It does not have to be a physical item, Google Calendar or a similar application will do the trick.

Now, as we pointed out, your priority is to learn the chosen study program, so you must block in your day planner the hours you go to classes. You should also schedule the hours in which you will do your homework; for example, if your classes take place during mornings, you could go to your house for lunch afterward, take a nap (if you use to do this). Then you could dedicate one or two hours to do homework and study what you saw in class or the topic that will be addressed during the next one, try to clarify any misunderstanding and write down any doubts you may have so that you can ask your teacher about them during the next session.

Doing this is like saving money: if you have the habit of keeping small amounts every day, in less than what you think you will accumulate a large amount of money. Also, if you spend daily time doing your homework and studying the content of your study program, you will not have to make a superhuman effort when you have to take tests. Also, if you previously study the subject that is addressed during classes, you will have a broader knowledge of it, and you will be able to ask teachers deeper questions than the ones that would be asked by others who are listening to this topic for the first time during the same class you are at.

Now on to the good part: the dolce non fare niente. Well, you can even make more of your leisure time if you use a day planner. To do this, we recommend that you find out what activities and events of interest to you will take place in your locality and that you write down this information in your day planner.

These activities can go from a playing a soccer game with your classmates, going to the mall or to a nearby tourist site during weekdays or travel a little further on weekends. Especially during those weekend trips, it is good to be informed about the different attractions of the tourist destination to organize your day planner so that you can visit as many tourist attractions as you can. On the other hand, events can range from participating in some tradition or festival (by the way there are lots of them in Spain), to go to a live concert.

British bus

Another recommendation to make the most of your time is that you get informed about public transport schedules (so you don’t have to waste time waiting for buses and trains) and also about the different rates that exist. It might surprise you that, sometimes, going by plane to a place costs the same or just a little more than getting there by train or bus. In any case, these are only general recommendations. You can make the adjustments you want to do things as you see fit. In the end, the important thing is that you are happy during your exchange program.

 

E-learning
Uncategorized,

New trends in education

Learning foreign languages is becoming more important every day due to the globalization, helped by the rising of the new trends in education. There is no doubt that every professional who wants to be up-to-date in their respective field should be interested in learning foreign languages. Although the ideal thing for a person who wants to learn a new language is to do it during an exchange program, other options help exchange students to advance with their language learning process before going to the exchange program’s host country.

The combination of technological tools with knowledge in Pedagogy is known as “Edtech initiatives”. The application of these technologies aims to take better advantage of the educational process, to create and reinforce new teaching methods to facilitate the work of teachers and increase efficiency in student learning.

Educational centers of all levels have incorporated virtual platforms as a means to offer their lessons while allowing students to deliver their homework and deepen the knowledge acquired in class. Moreover, there are countries in which state-of-the-art technologies such as Virtual Reality are used within the classroom. Teachers and school leaders must keep up with these trends to ensure they provide their students with the best education possible. These are the main Edtech trends:

Curricula digitalization

New curricula will address students’ digital needs by being digitized and therefore accessible to all audiences. This way, students can acquire full knowledge about what they will learn in a specific career and how they will be able to use that information.

Data Analysis for learning customization

Data Analysis will be fundamental in the future of education, particularly to determine the satisfaction of students with different training options to meet their needs better.

Personalized training

Each action carried out by students creates data, which are used by teachers to offer the first personalized training. By knowing their pupils’ weaknesses and strengths, teachers can take action to work on the first and reaffirm the latter.

Hybrid learning

The combination between the classroom and online teaching will be increasing, as teachers will begin to take advantage of the possibilities offered by technology to offer lessons in virtual form or recommend their students to use online resources as a complement to what was learned in the classroom.

Distance education and e-learning

E-learning

On the other hand, online or distance studies are a good option for those students who want to study in a certain educational institution without leaving their homes. For this reason, study centers create intranets in which teachers can leave assignments to their students, accompanied by support material, such as guides and videos, and pupils will upload such assignments to the same system, and teachers will evaluate them, all of which is done online.

Computers and mobile devices

By using computers and mobile devices, students can communicate with their teachers, classmates, and people whose mother tongue is the one they are learning, improving their communication skills. On the other hand, students can search for new words using the dictionary option on mobile phones and enrich their vocabulary. Also, they can send queries to their instructors by instant messages to quickly clarify their doubts.

Mobile applications

Mobile apps

Likewise, there are also varieties of applications that are very useful for students who are in the process of learning a new language, because they allow them to meet and communicate with people from around the world. These are some of those apps:

HelloTalk

This app offers a system with which it’s possible to learn a new language’s grammar and pronunciation. You can also make video calls and send voice or text messages, as well as exchange pictures with other people.

Duolingo

Dualingo allows you to learn languages step by step. It contains various exercises that will teach you pronunciation as well as how to write words. The best of all is that you learn with images and games.

Wibbu

This game teaches its participants to learn English and is aimed primarily at children and young Latinos.

Voxy

This Android app helps students prepare for academic exams, such as the TOEFL test. It measures the levels of learning and progress regarding pronunciation and vocabulary.

Wlingua

It has more than 600 lessons to learn the English language at any of its levels.

Memrise

Another game that allows you to study languages such as French, German, English, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Italian. You can download it for free for basic courses, and there is also a Premium version for more advanced courses.

In short, the opportunities offered by the new trends in education are numerous. Students can conduct research and obtain resources at times that best fit their schedules, from different places and according to their needs. For Jaime Ibáñez, coordinator of the Master’s Degree in ICT Applied to Education at the National Pedagogical University, integrating technology into learning environments allows greater personalization of processes which tend to respect “individual differences regarding cognitive or learning styles. ” In addition, he affirms that technologies “promote differential and adaptive learning”, because they can adapt to situations of disability and cultural differences.

Many parents are concerned about their young children’s insistence on using digital devices, with which they spend a lot of screen time and “disconnect” from the real world. But actually, this demonstrates their abilities to cope with these technological devices. Is that really a bad thing?

Now we are experiencing a period of great technological development and digital transformation, in which many adults are having trouble adapting. If children from a young age show that they are doing well with technology, their parents should let them develop their skills, which will be of great help to them in the future. They could even end up being their parent’s teachers!

Templo de Debod
Travel,

Best plans to do if you visit Madrid

Madrid is the Capital of Spain and its most populous city. It’s also the third biggest city of the European Union after Paris and London, in that order, and of course the official language there is the beautiful and extensive Spanish. Since Spain belongs to the Eurozone, the official currency is the Euro. Is it enough reason for you to visit Madrid? Well… There is more.

Spain’s capital city mixes the ancient and historical beauty of Europe with its attractive and modernism, both complementing themselves and creating a marvelous mixture of history, Mediterranean food, beautiful nature, breath-taking sunsets, art and great weather that makes it a very tourist-friendly city. So, in the lines below, you will learn about some of the uncountable places where you can go if you visit Madrid.

There’s something about Madrid: even though it is such a multicultural place since it is one of the favorite European cities to visit by tourists from all over the world, is its authenticity, it screams Spain everywhere you go and you will find very gentle people in every corner. So, are you already convinced to visit Madrid? What? Are you already on your way? Alright, but first read this options:

Madrid’s Center

When you visit Madrid, you will realize that it is a city that can satisfy every taste, even the pickiest ones. There are so many things to do! You will have several options to choose from when you visit Madrid. Now, Is there a better way to visit a city than walking around and getting into the culture of its  streets? That’s what you should do once you get there.

Actually, in the Center of the city you will find its most varied and iconic places, so the first recommendation when you visit Madrid is to visit and, if possible, find accommodation at that part of the city,  right on the “jaleo”, where the party takes place.

Parque El Retiro de Madrid

After leaving your bags in your host family’s house you may begin your journey at the public historical garden “Parque El Retiro”; this is a must when you visit Madrid. This park is peaceful and beautiful, and there you’ll find pieces of art, sculpture, landscapes, and architecture, in which regard the Crystal Palace deserves special mention, with a 22 meters dome that will give provide you with a magical welcome to Madrid. It is advisable to go there in the evening.

Museo Nacional del Prado

Having been founded two hundred years founded, this is one of the most famous museums of the world and a good option for art lovers, It has free access during evenings.

Puerta de Alcalá

Puerta de Alcalá

A few steps from El Retiro, you will find La Puerta de Alcalá, an iconic monument of Madrid, this is the place that welcomes you to the right center of the city. You should take a selfie here when you visit Madrid.

Puerta del Sol

The Puerta del Sol is one of the most famous squares of Madrid, There you will find the point where the radial network of Spanish Roads converges (Km 0), as well as the Sculpture “El Oso y el Madroño”  (the Bear and the Madroño Tree), the heraldic symbol of Madrid. Moreover, this place has the famous clock whose bells have been an icon of Spain’s New Year’s celebration since 31 December 1962. This is why this is Madrid’s most concurred place.

Well, it’s been a lot of walking and taking pictures so far, it is time for a break and there is no better way to take one than with chocolate, so near to the Square is the Chocolatería San Ginés, open 24 hours, 365 days of the year, you will enjoy the best churros with chocolate you have ever tasted. Enjoy!

Mercado de San Miguel

Next to the Plaza Mayor, you will find the Mercado de San Miguel, which is a market where you´ll find gastronomic specialties.

La Gran vía

This is the place where you will come across the most famous stores of the world. It is also a very photogenic place to go when you visit Madrid.

Palacio Real de Madrid

It is a must that you can’t miss when you visit Madrid. This is the Royal Palace where Kings and Queens used to live during the  eighteenth and ninteenth centuries.

Palacio de Cibeles

Here you will enjoy one of the most beautiful sights of Madrid from the rooftop of the building.

Templo de Debod

Templo de Debod

We will end up this tour with a magical sunset at the Templo de Debod, an egalitarian monument that was moved to Madrid piece by piece. The light variations in this place will take your breath away.

Getting organized
education, Languages,

Tips to start the academic year well

Nowadays, the term globalization is known by virtually everybody. This concept has not only changed the interactions between the different countries, but also our perspective of the world as a whole. Exchange Programs give you as a student the opportunity to take such interactions to the next level, which has a positive impact on your resumé, among other advantages for your professional life.

Indeed, there’s nothing better than getting out of your comfort zone, and an exchange program is certainly a great way to do so. During the time that you will be far away from home, sharing with new people, speaking a different language, and immersed in a different culture, you will have the opportunity to learn about a different part of you, one that maybe you didn’t even know that existed.

Probably you have been making preparations for a very long time to get ready for your exchange program by gathering documents, going to interviews, saving money, etc. All of that mixed with several emotions like excitement for having this kind of opportunity, longing for leaving your home and family for a while, and a lot of expectations about the new country, host family, University … It is definitely a big change, but don’t be afraid, in the lines below you will find some recommendations to deal successfully with all these things and have a great experience during your exchange program.

Dealing with your emotions

Yes, as I said before there are a lot of psychological and emotional situations that come to the surface during experiences such as exchange programs and you have to be aware of that. It is completely normal to feel a little bit overdosed. In this case, there are three words I like to remind myself: gratefulness, pride, and confidence.

Be grateful for being able to be part of this exchange program that will surely become into a life-changing experience in every way. Be proud of giving you the chance to face this challenge, which will improve your skills in every way. And every time you feel sad or nostalgic for what you left behind, have the confidence and trust that this is the right decision for your own life and future, as well as  for your loved ones who will understand and wait for you to come back and share with them all the things you learned during your exchange program.

Before departure

Getting organized

Before leaving your country and starting your exchange program make sure everything is in order: let your bank knows that you will be abroad for a while in order to avoid problems with your accounts and take copies of the most important documents with you. Also, investigate everything you can about the new country you will be at, it will make things easier for you when it comes to adaptation, and pay special attention to the official currency of the host country and take some cash with you, not only your credit card.

Practice your language skills

The new language will be an important thing when it comes to getting communicated in the new country, so the more you practice the most important words and phrases, the better for you. Get rid of shyness and start incorporating some new words to your vocabulary every day.

Once you arrive

Stay open-minded to receive all the knowledge that this experience brings to you as a student and as a person- The exchange program is a holistic adventure, but don’t forget that its main purpose is that you study. Pay attention to all the options that your new university offers you as an international student and take advantage of them, academic and socially. Make international friends and in your free time travel a lot, there are always options for every budget to enjoy and visit new places near from the place you are staying at.

Respect the new culture

Learning about a new culture

This new country will be full of new traditions and laws. Be sure to respect them, learn and take part in them too. It may take you some time to get adapted to these new rules, but it will worth your while. Finally, find support in your host family, University’s authorities and partners, have fun and appreciate every second. Quite simply: get the most out of your exchange program.

Plaza España, Sevilla
Travel, World,

Everything you need to know before making an exchange to Spain

If you go to Spain on an exchange program, it is important that you prepare yourself taking into consideration the particularities of this country as its system of government, climate, traditions, and economy, as we explain in this Spain Guide for exchange students. In addition to the above, you should know that Spain is a country with a broad history and cultural tradition, very warm people and beautiful cities where thousands of tourists arrive year after year. However, this country is also the preferred destination of many exchange students.

University of Jaén

Indeed, Spain’s exchange programs offer many benefits for your professional life and cultural development. Regarding this point, one of the main advantages of Spain over other countries in which exchange programs also take place is its renovated universities, which have an excellent educational level at good prices, as well as magnificent infrastructures. In addition, in these educational centers study programs are taught in Spanish, which is today one of the most spoken languages in the world.

On the other hand, Spain is among the most multicultural countries in the European Union because Latin Americans turn to Spain for cultural and linguistic proximity, but also Americans and Asians to learn the Spanish language. In addition, this country offers a safe environment with little endemic violence in which students can experience the joyful Spanish festivities, social gatherings, and its gastronomic culture.

Plaza España, Sevilla

And that’s not all, Spain also has dreamy tourist sites that you can visit in your free time, and doing this in the framework of an exchange program makes the experience much more special. The reason for this is that during such exchange programs students are truly integrated into the culture of the host country so they can have experiences reserved only for those who live in that place. So, with the help of their host family and in the company of other students and other people they meet during their stay in Spain, they will not only have the time to travel throughout the country, but will also attain information from people in the area which will make them live a totally different experience from that of a tourist.

In fact, although a tourist can perfectly meet people and have a good time since their stay is usually short, they could hardly develop personal relationships through which they could have the same experiences as an exchange student. As an example, it’s not the same to go to Barcelona and staying in a hostel than doing it in the house of a friend who is from Barcelona, knows the city perfectly and other people with whom one can not only visit the city but also go to private social gatherings.

Another great advantage of the exchange programs in general is that the student will live with a host family and may develop special links with the members of the said host family. These people will not only give them valuable information in the above sense but will be absolutely interested in the welfare of the student, just as if they were another member of the family, so they will be interested in their progress in the study program of the exchange program, as well as in their adaptation in the host country and Spanish fluency, reinforcing the learning of this language also at home.

As you can see, going to Spain on an exchange program offers you multiple advantages that you can’t miss.  All you have to do is make the decision to embark on this wonderful journey. Are you interested in going to Spain on an exchange program? Please contact us.

Setting sails
Family, Travel,

The experience of hosting an exchange student

Would you like to be part of a host family? Please contact us so we can help you.

There are people who enjoy being hospitable: they do their best to receive relatives, friends and even strangers in their homes, and they care for these people by giving them not only food and shelter but also good vibes. Usually, these people make the decision to be part of a host family for exchange students and taking into account that this activity is not profitable (although it can be agreed that the student pays a sum that would compensate such family for their living expenses), many wonder what the host family wins with all this. The answer is, among many advantages, they acquire the experience of hosting an exchange student.

Raising and setting sails

Setting sails

The adventure begins with the host family and the student have their first conversations. Once both parties have all the necessary information they reach an agreement and then the host family should start making their arrangements to receive the exchange student: give them a bed, a space to place their belongings and buy groceries taking into consideration that there will be one more member in the family.

Certainly, preparations must also be made with respect to the children, telling them that the exchange student will be their sibling during the time of the stay. It is also important to encourage children to do their best to make the exchange student feel comfortable and that there will be times when more attention will be given to such student to help them through their adaptation process to the host country, but that this does not mean that they, the children, are less loved.

Navigating waters of all kinds

Notwithstanding the above, it is possible that from time to time there will be discussions between the exchange student and the children because, as it happens in every family, they will all compete for the attention of their parents. Also, the exchange student will sometimes not have the best spirits or will carry out actions to which the host family is not accustomed so both parties will have to be patient.

The other side of the coin is that there will be areas in which the exchange student will add value to the host family. In effect, if the exchange student speaks a language different from that of the host family, they will learn new words and phrases – perhaps including some bad words that will make the host family laugh and it will be one of those things for which they will always remember the exchange student.

Likewise, the exchange student will be able to share with his host family other expressions of their culture such as songs, dances and even typical food of their country. By the way, the exchange student will also have obligations within the home as if they were another child of their host parents. However, it should also be considered that the main objective of the exchange student is to succeed in the study program in which they are participating and to learn the language of the host country, in case it is different from the one of their country of origin. For this reason, the host family must give them the necessary time to go to class, fulfill assignments, attend extracurricular activities and be able to recreate themselves.

It should also be noted that the host family will have a fundamental role in each of these aspects. It is not only about housing a person and giving them food, but also about supporting them as much as possible as if they were another member of such family. Therefore, the host family will do well in helping the exchange student in their activities, as well as giving them valuable information about the country, such as which are the fastest routes to reach certain places, places of interest, offers and security information. In short, the host family must do everything necessary for the wellbeing of the exchange student just as it would do for any of its members.

Arriving happily in port

Arriving happily in port

All of the above is summarized in the golden rule: “Treat others as we would like to be treated”. If both the host family and the exchange student do this, both parties will get the most out of this experience and create a lasting friendship. Perhaps that last one is the biggest gain of hosting an exchange student: the possibility of connecting, creating value and exerting a positive influence on another human being.

Suitcase
Travel, World,

How to prepare before making an exchange

So you already made the decision to participate in an exchange program and you are very excited. First, let us congratulate you because you’ll live an experience from which you will get many benefits. Now, in this article, we will give you a series of recommendations so that you can make the transition between your country and the host country in the best way, and get the most out of your exchange program.

1. Make sure you have a valid passport and visa

Passport

Many countries require that the traveler’s passport be valid for 6 months after the date of return, so make sure that yours meets this requirement. Also, find out about the type of visa you need (if required), which will depend on your country of origin and the duration of your exchange program: usually, if the program lasts more than three months you will need a student visa. In any case, try to have these documents at least two months before the date of your trip to be able to handle any delay in that regard.

2. Acquire travel insurance

Your current medical insurance may not have international coverage. In such case, it is convenient that you acquire an international policy for students in order to be covered before any contingency that may arise on the flight (such as the loss of your luggage) or during your stay in the host country. It is better to be alert to the occurrence of this type of situation.

3. Find out about travel warnings and recommendations

It is important that before embarking to your exchange program’s host country you should find out if there are warnings and travel recommendations regarding that country with respect to health issues or problematic social conditions which may not be covered by travel insurance.

4. Pack properly

Suitcase

At the time of packing, you should not only define the type of clothing you must carry with you take taking into consideration the climate that will be in the country of destination during your stay, but you should also avoid storing valuables in your suitcases. It is preferable that you take this type of objects with you in your carry-on luggage, as long as this is allowed by the airline. Also, it is recommended that you be aware of your luggage at all times and that you do not receive objects from other people to avoid risks.

5. Get vaccinated and obtain medical prescriptions if you need them.

Some countries require that one or more vaccines have been placed in order to enter them; Find out in advance this information, preferably six weeks before your trip. Likewise, if you have any special health condition or use corrective lenses, it is important that you bring all this information so that you can give it to a doctor in the host country, if necessary. Also, if you plan to take medicines from your country of origin to use them during your exchange program, it is important that you bring the medical prescription that proves your medical condition, and that you ask the airline if there are any restrictions in the host country in this regard.

6. Contact the closest diplomatic corps

Once you are in the host country, it is important that you go to the closest consulate or embassy of your country to report your presence in the first. This is important because these diplomatic corps are in charge of handling the evacuation of the citizens of their country in case of an emergency.

7. Get in touch with your banks

Banks usually block unusual transactions. For this reason, contact the banks that issue your credit cards to inform them that you will make a trip as well as its duration so that you do not have any problems when making payments during your exchange program. It is important that you have at hand in a safe place the telephones of your banks as well as the keys or any necessary information in that sense in case you require it to handle any situation with these institutions during your exchange program.

Do you want to participate in an exchange program? Contact us so we can help you.

The Mayan calendar
Languages, Travel, World,

Advantages of learning Spanish, countries that you can visit and communicate without problems

Wanting to learn a new language usually has to do with two causes: 1. Professional reasons or 2. An inclination towards it or with respect to the culture where it is spoken. In the case of Spanish, it can be said that for many people these reasons converge. Indeed, from the commercial point of view, many companies are interested in addressing an audience of more than  400 million people, but from the cultural and tourist point of view, this language is one of the distinguishing marks of more than 21 countries, which are the countries where Spanish is the official language today. In this article, we will talk about the countries that you will be able to visit and communicate without any issues after you learn Spanish.

Communicate with more people in the United States

If you live in the United States or want to connect with more people from this country, it is a good idea to learn Spanish, because according to an article published on the website of The Guardian in the United States there are more people who speak Spanish than in Spain itself.

Spain and Latin America

Speaking of Spain, learning Spanish would allow you to go to this country without having communication issues, and there is so much to do and things to learn in Spain! There you’ll enjoy the most picturesque festivals and traditions, but also stroll through its many cities and towns, these being its main tourist destinations. Also, Spain is an excellent destination country to go on an exchange program through which you can get a quality education and learn or improve your Spanish skills, for which you can also follow these tips.

Also, by learning Spanish you will be able to communicate with Latin Americans and it is difficult to synthesize such a rich culture in a few words. To speak of Latin America is to speak of the Inca Empire, whose Brain surgeries were said to be better than those done during the American Civil War 400 years later. Latin America is also about the Mayan Empire, which, among other inventions, had a great astronomical, scientific and architectural development, which is evidenced by its pyramids, calendar, and writing system.

The Mayan calendar

Moreover, you can learn about the colonial era, the independence wars and all the internal and external conflicts of each Latin American country, which shaped their current geography and idiosyncrasy. In this context, the arts were developed, being some of the more named  Latin artists the Mexican Frida Kahlo, the Colombian Fernando Botero, as well as the Venezuelans Carlos Cruz Diez and Armando Reverón.

 

Fernando Botero’s version of the Mona Lisa

In Latin America there are also writers laureate with the Nobel Prize for Literature, as is the case of Gabriela Mistral (1945), Miguel Angel Asturias (1967), Pablo Neruda (1971), Gabriel García Márquez (1982) and Mario Vargas Llosa (2010) , among other Spaniard and Latin American authors who speak Spanish and received this award and whose books you can read once you learn this language.

Finally, there is also a wide diversity of autochthonous musical genres such as merengue, salsa, bachata and vallenato, being some of the most prolific artists of these genres Wilfrido Vargas, Rubén Blades, Juan Luis Guerra and the Binomio de Oro, respectively -not to mention the many singers and groups of each musical genre that currently exists in Latin America.

Unusual places in the world where Spanish is spoken

Maybe you had some knowledge about what you have read so far, but did you know that by learning Spanish you can also travel and communicate in an African country? That’s right, one of the official languages of Equatorial Guinea is Spanish. However, this last country is not the only unusual tourist destination where this language is spoken. In fact, in Asia there is a country that although Spanish is not its official language, it’s spoken by more than 2 million people: we are talking about the Philippines, which was a Spanish colony for 300 years.

On the other hand, in Andorra, 93% of people speak Spanish and there are minorities that speak Spanish in Aruba, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Guam, Western Sahara, Algeria, Canada, Norway, and Switzerland. Thus, Spanish is spoken in countries of the five continents, so learning this language will open many doors. Now, the best way to learn a language is going on an exchange program. Would you like to become an exchange student? Please contact us so we can help you.

The Sagrada Familia
Travel, World,

Best plans to do if you visit Barcelona

The sky exists and it’s called Barcelona. This city combines architectural wonders, art, beautiful parks, a dream nightlife, friendly people, one of the best football teams in the world and, as if that were not enough, cool beaches. You must definitely visit Barcelona. In this article, we will tell you some of the best plans to do when you visit Barcelona.

Visit Barcelona’s parks

Parc del Laberint

Barcelona has a wide selection of parks where you can breathe fresh air and connect with nature. Among these can be mentioned the Parque de la Ciutadella, which was built on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1888, has an area of more than 17 hectares and is one of Barcelona’s lungs. This park is characterized by having a large waterfall, a lake, gardens, a grove, a greenhouse, monuments and the Barcelona Zoo.

On the other hand, the Parc del Laberint, designed in 1792 by Domenico Bagutti, is the oldest garden in Barcelona. It has an extension of 55 hectares in which there is a neoclassical garden and a romantic one. The main attractions of this park are the Minotaur’s Grotto, the Chinese gate, the artificial rocky waterfall and the romantic canal.

On the other hand, among many other parks in Barcelona, you can not miss are the Joan Miró Park, the Botanical Garden, Turó Park, the Park of Montjuic and Park Güell, one of the many splendid works of Gaudí, who we will talk about next.

Learn about Gaudí’s work

The Sagrada Familia

Antonio Gaudí was considered the most revolutionary architect of modernism and was characterized by building comfortable and striking buildings. Fourteen of Gaudí’s works are in Barcelona, among these can be mentioned the Sagrada Familia, an impressive basilica whose construction is estimated to culminate in 2030; Casa Milá, a modernist building built between 1906 and 1910; the Casa Batlló, another avant-garde building that represents the battle of San Jorge, and the remodelling of the Güell Palace, in which Gaudí provided creative solutions to increase the elegance and habitability of such palace.

Marvel at Barcelona’s cathedrals and churches

The Sagrada Familia is not the only important religious building in Barcelona. In fact, the Basilica of Santa María del Mar is the church preferred by locals. Sometimes concerts are held in this basilica, as it has an enviable acoustics. Likewise, the Basilica de la Merçé, near Port Vell, has a Gothic style and was restored with baroque tendencies. It is worth noting also the Cathedral of Barcelona, built on the remains of a mosque and a Romanesque church in the nineteenth century, and the Royal Chapel, whose construction was ordered by James II of Aragon and is located in the Roman Wall.

Enjoy tapas, pintxos, and vermouth

The tapas are appetizers that come in many forms, the most famous being patatas bravas. Among the best places in Barcelona to eat tapas are Esquinica, Quimet i Quimet and La Cova Fumada. Now, the “pintxos” are the Basque version of the tapas: bite-size dishes served on top of a loaf, being the classics made of black pudding and cod, as well as the empanadillas, but there are also newer recipes. Finally, the perfect companion for tapas and pintxos is the vermouth, which can be drunk in historic bars or cellars. In this sense, Electricity, La Pepita, and Bar Calders are recommended.

5. Bathe in the Mediterranean

One of the things that makes Barcelona the perfect city is that, in addition to all its architectural wonders and parks, it is a coastal city. In fact, it has more than 4 kilometers of beaches in which to bathe during the summer but also to walk and connect with nature at any time of the year. Among Barcelona’s main beaches are the Nova Icària, Sant Sebastià, and the Mar Bella.

Do you want to go to Spain on an exchange program and visit Barcelona? Please contact us.

Learn Spanish
Languages, World,

Advantages of going to Spain on an exchange program

Spain not only has amazing tourist sites but also is a destination desired by those who want to go on an exchange program. Its academic offer, low costs, the warmth of its people and the possibility of learning Spanish are among the main reasons why many exchange students choose this country as the venue for their program. In this article we will tell you what are the advantages of going to Spain on an exchange program:

1. Learn or improve your Spanish skills

Learn Spanish

Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the United States, as we explained in a previous post in which we gave tips for studying this language. In any case, whether you do not speak Spanish or want to master this language, what better place to learn it than where it was born? Going to Spain on an exchange program gives you that possibility. Although there are many other places where you can learn Spanish, doing it in a first world country with as much history as Spain is a truly special experience.

2. Low costs of living

As everywhere, in Spain, there are expensive products and services, but usually, the costs of living are low compared to many other places in the world and especially in Europe. In fact, it is possible to cover the costs of living in Spain with about 1,000 euros per month. This is a great advantage for those who participate in an exchange program, as they can easily cover their essential expenses and allocate the rest of the budget to travel and partying. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?

3. Excellent educational offer

The Spanish education is also one of the most economical in Europe and is of quality. Indeed, several Spanish universities are listed in the topuniversities.com listings, the main ones being the Complutense University of Madrid, the University of Barcelona and the University of Valencia, among others.

In Spain, there are 83 universities, of which 33 are private and 50 public. On average, the yearly tuition fees to study at a university in Spain, depending on the career, vary between 750 and 2,100 euros in the case of public universities and between 900 and 3,300 euros in private universities.

These prices are much lower than those of American universities, with the added bonus that anyone whose CV says they participated in an exchange program has advantages over other candidates to obtain work in the eyes of any recruiter. Thus, going to Spain on an exchange program is a low investment that will provide great benefits for your professional life.

4. Thousands of things to do

Soccer match in Spain

In Spain you can do something different every day: there are hundreds of museums, monuments, parks, cathedrals, beaches, mountains, stadiums where football stars play, an off-peak nightlife, sporting events, etc. In addition, the Spanish culture is very rich: throughout the year you can witness so many traditions and festivals that you will have to constantly remind yourself that you went to Spain with the aim of studying.

5. The Spaniard’s warmth

Spaniards are known to be passionate about what they do and also to be kind people. While being an exchange student there will always be someone willing to give you whatever information you need. Also, you will have the opportunity to see Spaniards daily for a given time so many of these will end up being great friends of yours or even something else.

In conclusion, being an exchange student in Spain has advantages from every point of view: you will learn or improve your Spanish proficiency, you will spend less money than in other places, obtain a quality education, know dream places and be surrounded by special people. Are you determined to go to Spain on an exchange program? Contact us

Culture shock
Family,

How to adapt to an exchange student

The experience of hosting an exchange student has a series of advantages but also its challenges, one of which is the adaptation of the host family to said student. Every family has issues of its own, and the presence of a new member could cause agitation, especially at the beginning of the exchange program. In this article, we will tell you the three most important things you must know to get adapted to an exchange student.

1. Understand that the exchange student will experience culture shock

Culture shock

A culture shock is a phenomenon that takes place when someone moves to another place and faces a series of phases. At first, there’s the excitement of being in that new country, after which the country of origin is missed. Finally, the person who moved will incorporate to their personality the values learned in the host country, at which time adaptation will have occurred. However, while this happens, it is necessary to understand that the exchange student will experience symptoms such as anxiety, low mood, head and stomach aches, withdrawal, rapid mood swings and inability to focus.

Naturally, anyone who suffers from these symptoms will not be at their best, and in the particular case of the exchange student, feeling homesick is added to the equation, so these students are not having a good time at all. Thus, members of the host family should keep this in mind and be particularly empathetic with the exchange student. In this sense, they can encourage the latter to carry out a series of actions with the purpose of overcoming said culture shock.

Among these activities are the realization of cultural exchange activities, sports, frequent contact with the exchange student’s loved ones, and encouraging them to build new social relationships in the host country. Regarding this last point, the members of the host family would do well to integrate the exchange student into their activities, such as inviting them to their social gatherings and other events. That way, the student can get distracted and meet new people.

2. Prepare to deal with family issues

Dealing with family issues

In every family there are problems and the arrival of an exchange student will not solve them by magic. Conversely, the presence of a new member can cause new issues to arise or others to aggravate, such as rivalry sibling and financial distress. Concerning rivalry sibling, the first thing to understand is that it is normal for this to happen. Children will always compete for their parents” attention, so the latter must constantly tell the first how much they love them and demonstrate it with actions, as well as reminding them that the exchange student is far from their country. For this reason, it is important to treat them with affection to help them overcome culture shock.

Now, about financial problems, this is a situation that must be anticipated and, in any case, managed. Although the objective of an exchange program is not the host family’s financial gain but the cultural and spiritual enrichment of all the parties involved, it is also true that this exchange program should not impoverish them.

For that reason, the host family should first analyze if it has the resources to fulfill that role and, in case of requiring compensation for the exchange student’s maintenance costs, this must be agreed in advance. Moreover, if there is a change in the family situation and it is necessary for said student to provide a higher amount, this topic should be addressed as well. Money does not buy happiness, but when we do not have it, it can be an additional cause of stress.

3. Give them joy

Although this can be deduced from the previous two points, it is necessary to emphasize that the simplest way to adapt to another person and, in general, to make any relationship work is by giving joy to others. Understand that the exchange student is a human being and as such they deserve to be treated with respect and consideration, especially taking into account their special situation. If the host family appropriately treats the exchange student right, they will do the same with them, creating a virtuous circle that will make coexistence enjoyable.

Are you interested in hosting an exchange student? Please contact us.

 

Get to know the world thanks to an exchange program
Travel, World,

Know the world thanks to an exchange

In this article, we will tell you how it is possible to know the world thanks to an exchange program. Let’s face it: the best way to do this is by going personally to each place; there is nothing like getting on airplanes to collect each country’s immigration stamps. However, sometimes the barriers to travel seem insurmountable. Below we will explain how to go through these barriers by becoming an exchange student.

How to overcome the reasons not to travel and get to know the world thanks to an exchange program

Get to know the world thanks to an exchange program

There are three main barriers to travel: time, money and personal safety.

1. Time

It could be thought that the fact of traveling to another country could temporarily stop our professional growth. The truth of the matter is that, as Oscar Wilde said: “Every experience is of value”. The fact of traveling per se is a transcendental experience: seeing how other people live, relate to each other and handle their own problems is something that we can extrapolate to our own personal situation, by using good examples as inspiration to improve our lives and the bad ones as a warning so to not make the same mistakes. Thus, even when you travel for pleasure you get something: experience.

 

However, when you participate in an exchange program, in addition to getting pleasure from traveling, you learn the content of the study program taught in the host country, and possibly also a new language, in the event that it is different from the one spoken in the exchange student’s country. In this way, traveling would not be in any way a waste of time but an investment in yourself that will give you a series of advantages at a professional level.

2. Money

Euros

Knowing new places, people and cultures will always be charming, but doing this within the framework of an exchange program goes much further. When traveling for pleasure you are a tourist, but this is not the case of an exchange student, since during your stay that student will be a member of the host country in the same terms as the others during the exchange program.

This has advantages and challenges. Among the first, it can be pointed out that being a member of another country has access to information, relationships and experiences that a tourist could hardly acquire: knowing which are the preferred sites for the people of the area, obtaining better prices on products and services, making friends, getting to know other people thanks to these, etc. This information will not only save you a lot of money but will make you live a more transcendental experience.

Among the challenges (not called disadvantages for the reasons explained below) is that an exchange student will experience the same difficulties as the people in the area: if there is a shortage of food, some basic service is interrupted, etc., said student will have to endure said situations. This has a double advantage: on the one hand the exchange student will learn to appreciate more their country, seeing that there are no such difficulties; and on the other hand, they must learn to handle these situations, which necessarily produce a personal expansion.

3. Personal safety

Another advantage of participating in an exchange program is that the exchange student will live in the host family’s home and will be treated as one of their members. Naturally, this family will ensure this student’s wellbeing and safety, by letting them know the safest places and travel methods and advise against those that could put them at risk. Although a travel agency could provide information in this regard, it is difficult for a company to have the same knowledge of the host country as someone who lives there, nor will it be as passionate about the exchange student’s wellbeing as the host family. Thus, you should not fear for your personal safety when traveling within the framework of an exchange program, as long as you act reasonably and follow the recommendations of your host family.

Taking into consideration the above, a person could participate in multiple exchange programs to get to know the world country by country. Are you interested in being an exchange student? Please contact us.

 

Parc Güell, Barcelona.
Travel, World,

Countdown of the best Spanish cities to visit

Each place in Spain has its charm. To say which are the best cities in Spain would be like making the same judgment about an artist or a meal: no matter how good it may be, to say that it surpasses others is almost a sin. What can be done is, based on the facts, to establish which are the most visited cities in this country, and the National Institute of Statistics compiled such information. In this article, we will give you a countdown of the five cities with the most overnight stays in Spain, as well as the main attractions of these cities.

5. Torremolinos

The last but not the least important city in this list is Torremolinos, which is located on the Mediterranean coast of Andalusia and is home to more than 5 million tourists a year. In addition to the beaches El Bajondillo, Los Alamos, Playamar and La Carihuela, in Torremolinos there are theme parks such as Tivoli World, Selwo Marina and Crocodile Park Torremolinos, but also others for moments of relaxation and contemplation such as the Molino Inca Botanical Garden, the Parque la Baería and la Casa de las Navajas.

4. Palma de Mallorca

Palma de Mallorca’s Cathedral

Palma de Mallorca is the capital of the island of Mallorca and receives more than 8 million tourists a year. One of the main attractions of the place is the S’Amarador Beach, located in the Mondragón  National Park. It is the perfect place to go with children and picnic. Another natural wonder in Palma de Mallorca is the beach La Calobra, located in the Torrente de Pareis canyon. Now, from the architectural point of view, you can’t visit Mallorca without missing the Palau de l’Almudaina, Llotja and the imposing Cathedral of Mallorca.

3. Benidorm

Evening in Benidorm

Benidorm is the preferred Spanish destination for many older adults, because of its beaches, good prices for lodging and the endless activities that can be done, but as a matter of fact, this place is an excellent destination for people of all ages. There you can go to the beach, compare the old town center with modern skyscrapers, go to the Mirador del Castillo de Benidorm and go on a trip to the islands of Benidorm and Tabasca. Any time of the year is good to go to Benidorm but during the summer its beaches are flooded with tourists. For that reason, it is not surprising that it receives more than 15 million tourists a year.

2. Barcelona

Parc Güell, Barcelona.

Being surpassed by Madrid by only about 52 thousand tourists a year, Barcelona received 19,239,886 tourists in 2015. This city  has impressive cathedrals like those of Santa Eulalia and the Sagrada Familia, but also dream places like the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, which “dances” to the rhythm of music, and the Plaza Real, designed by Gaudí himself, who also designed Parc Güell, created with the idea of serving as a group of homes for well-off people, but which ended up being a 42-acre park inspired by English gardens. Also, Barcelona is a coastal city with great commerce and an enviable nightlife.

1. Madrid

Madrid is the preferred Spanish destination by about 20 million tourists a year. As it often happens in every capital, Spain’s capital has a busier scene than other regions, but it will surely steal your heart. In this article, we refer to the Royal Palace, the Wax Museum and other major attractions in Madrid, but also deserve special mention to the majestic Prado Museum, which among its more than 700 sculptures and 8,600 paintings includes works by El Greco, Goya, and Velásquez.

On the other hand, in the center of Madrid is Plaza Mayor, a place where thousands of tourists spend to eat or have a glass of wine, but also to see the street performers who hover the place. Finally, you’ll find The Retiro Park, which has an area of 300 acres, a site called La Rosaleda that has more than 4,000 roses, and a building named El Palacio de Cristal (in English, the Crystal Palace), which has art exhibitions and is reached by paddling.

Learning while traveling
Languages, Learn, Travel,

Advantages of making an exchange for your professional life

When seeing an exchange student, it is inevitable to ask questions like these: What language will they speak? Will they be kind people? Will they do well in their new educational institution? We may also wonder if it is worth for them to be part of an exchange program. In this article, we will tell you what the advantages for your professional life of going on an exchange program are.

1. The chance to attain additional knowledge

Learning while traveling

Whenever an exchange program takes place, knowledge is acquired in at least two areas: 1. the host country’s culture and 2. The content of the chosen study program. Additionally, if the language of the host country is different from that spoken at home, there is the possibility of learning that other language. It is not that you can’t learn all the above from home, but it would be like learning about Europe with a geography book: no matter how good such book is, it will never be the same as the experience of going to the Old Continent.

2. It opens your mind

Even if a student goes to a university in another state of the same country, and that is why they have to make certain changes in their life. While being an exchange student, there are many more situations to handle, and this causes that said student is forced to leave their comfort zone and, subsequently, develop the skills that allow them to solve these problems. In effect, the exchange student is always giving the extra mile to solve some everyday situation, ranging from the simple fact of being able to communicate an idea in another language to handle another currency, adapt to a special system of public transport, etc.

3. Traveling is implicit

Although the main objective of being an exchange student is learning, it is also the perfect opportunity to travel. Again, it is very likely that within one’s country there are many wonderful places to know, but traveling by using your passport is a different experience because it allows us to have a first-hand experience of other places, colors, smells and tastes that simply can’t be appreciated on YouTube. Whether you go to any European country or the United States, the possibilities of traveling cheap are endless, especially in the case of an exchange student. Finally, traveling not only gives us pleasure but also allows us to see how people from other places live and take that learning to our professional life.

4. You’ll build new social relationships

Making new friends

For a time, the exchange student will be far from their family and usual social relationships so they will need to bond with other people. Although that may be uncomfortable at first, it will make these students more sociable people by having to share for months and even years with their host family, as well as with their new classmates and teachers. As a consequence of this, it is quite likely that they will develop a strong bond with many of these people, some of which will end up becoming great friends and even allies in their professional life.

5. It makes a big difference in your resumé

Naturally, any human resources manager is interested in hiring the most suitable person for a given position. Now, although qualifications play a major role in this regard, certain qualities tend to tilt the balance in favor of certain candidates over others. Former exchange students possess such qualities: in any case, they went to another country, learn its culture, and had to adapt and respond to situations that they would not have lived otherwise.

So, as you can see, being an exchange student is not just about going to another country; it gives you a series of advantages for your professional life. Do you want to participate in an exchange program? Contact us so we can help you.

 

Train Station in Bulgaria
Languages, Travel, World,

4 essential travel tips for exchange students

Are you interested in becoming an exchange student?  Contact us.

One of the advantages of being part of an exchange program is the possibility of traveling. In the first place, it is necessary to go to the host country, for which there are a series of requirements, procedures, and recommendations (which, in Spain’s case are these),  but once you are there, it is most likely that you want to get the most out of your experience, which includes traveling within that country and (why not?) beyond its borders. In this article, we will provide you with the four essential travel tips for exchange students.

1. Get Organized

Organization

The priority of every exchange student is to learn. Learn the knowledge and skills associated with the study program that will be studied in the host country, the language spoken in that country and its culture. An excellent way to reinforce the learning of these last two aspects is by traveling, which in general requires organization but with more reason when participating in an exchange program, since there are a series of special benefits for exchange students.

For that reason, the first thing you should do is to investigate which are those benefits in your host country. One of the best known is the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which is accepted in 130 countries and allows you to get better prices in certain restaurants, hotels, air tickets, museums and other places. We recommend that you obtain your ISIC card in your country of origin so that you can seize its advantages from the beginning of your exchange program.

2. Save on transportation

Train Station in Bulgaria

Naturally, the less you spend on certain aspects you will have a larger budget to travel. Therefore, in addition to obtaining the ISIC card and any other similar credentials accepted in your host country, we suggest that you travel mostly by bus and train. About this last means of transport, if your host country is located in Europe and you are under 27 years of age, we recommend that you buy Eurail passes, under which you will have discounts of 20% on all your train trips.

As regards air tickets, we recommend that you evaluate them in each particular case, because although they are usually more expensive, it is worth paying the price of certain domestic flights. Furthermore, unless the situation warrants it, avoid using cabs, because, naturally, by doing so your budget will be exhausted much more quickly.

3. Become friends with local people

When traveling, there are usually two scenarios: the one that tourists know and another one special for local people. The first provides a safe and comfortable environment where tourists can spend their money; in the second you will meet places and special people, and you will live experiences that are usually only available to those who live in the area. The only way to get in the second scenario is being introduced to it by people from the area. Therefore, among other reasons, it is important to make friends with these people.

Although this may allow you to obtain better prices with respect to certain products and services, it goes much further: it will allow you to know the city from the inside and, what is more important, connect you in a better way with others. However, for your safety and well-being, do your best to make friends with constructive people, and keep the toxic ones away. For all the above, it is important that you have a good relationship with your host family since it could lead you to live the second scenario or at least they will be there in case you have any concerns about it.

4. Have a blast!

Organizing, saving money and making friends with people in the area makes sense only so that, as mentioned at the beginning, you get the most out of your experience of being an exchange student. For the same reason, you must do all these things at your discretion: if at some point you want to spend a little more or, in general, do anything that gives you happiness, do it! Isn’t that the ultimate goal?