A semester abroad is a privilege not afforded to all university students. But those who do have the opportunity to go abroad for a semester will find it to be one of the most unique experiences in their college career. In addition, studying abroad comes with many benefits such as the expansion of your social and professional network, university credit for courses completed, and exciting adventures while learning about a new country.

If you’re considering a semester abroad, Latin America is by far one of the most affordable options, but you need to prepare. Have you compared destinations and chosen the one best suited to you? What about the different programs and how they can help you reach your future goals? Have you considered the kind of accommodations you can expect overseas or what it might be like to be thousands of miles away from your friends and family? Read on to determine if you’re really ready for a semester abroad in Latin America.

Am I Ready for a Semester Abroad?

Which Country Is Right for Me? 

Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru are the perfect choice for those who are looking to develop their Spanish language skills, have an interest in Latin American history, and are awe-stricken by natural and diverse landscapes. But, where will you choose to study?

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the ideal location for those who feel more comfortable traveling with modern luxuries and westernized accommodations. It’s the country to invoke the least amount of culture shock, while still allowing travelers to immerse themselves in a mix of native and Spanish traditions and customs. Many “Ticos” have some capability of the English language, so if you’re a beginner Spanish speaker nervous about not being able to get around, don’t be!

In addition, Costa Rica is a world leader in natural sustainability and protection of their diverse wildlife. If you’re looking to experience a modern city surrounded by beautiful mountainsides, clear coastal waters, and lively jungles, this might be your dream destination.


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Filled with traditional native culture, preserved colonial cities, and unique adventures is the Central American gem – Guatemala. The Mayan influence is strong in Guatemala and notable in their custom fashion, traditional foods, and ancient ruins. Not only is Spanish the main language, but the people have held onto their native Mayan languages as well with over 20 dialects spoken throughout the country.

Spend your semester abroad in the charming city of Antigua where cobblestoned streets host colorfully active markets. Quint cafes serve some of the most delicious coffee in the world, and volcanoes are the perfect backdrop for this magical city. Excursions to some of the most bucket-list destinations in the country are easily accessible from Antigua putting you in the perfect location to explore this complex land.


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As the second-largest country in South America, there’s no shortage of adventure to be found. Peru’s geography ranges from snow-covered mountaintops to humid rainforest paradises and everything in between. Many of the ruins and landscapes hold secrets that have yet to be uncovered making it a land of interest for many explorers.

Students live and study in Cusco, Peru, the epicenter of South America’s largest ruling empire – the Incan empire. You can zigzag your way up and down the narrow streets of Cusco and feel as though you’ve stepped into a time machine that takes you back to their reign. The city itself houses numerous ancient ruins and temples, one of the most important – Coricancha – standing just steps from the main campus.


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What Program Should I Study?

Anthropology & Sociology

There’s absolutely no better way to study this subject than by traveling abroad. And whether you’re studying it as your major, or need social science electives, it’s a great option to choose. The Anthropology & Sociology program can grant you credit for social justice, sustainability or Spanish courses. You can even choose to gain credits through a human rights internship or service learning program.


Majoring in business? Interested in international business? Considering taking it up as an elective? All great options for choosing this program. University credit is provided for marketing, entrepreneurship, or business Spanish courses. You can also get credit for getting involved in a micro-business internship which will have you assisting a small business owner with various business development tasks.


If you’re studying education, this option is uniquely for you! You can attend courses for credit in social justice, sustainability, and Spanish, and your internship and service learning options guarantee a unique experience. You can be placed in a classroom setting or work directly in the community. Education Internships will have you assist head teachers at private, bilingual institutions where you’ll be able to take the lead in lesson planning, conducting lessons, working one-on-one with students, and grading assignments. Service-learning placements are in underserved communities where you’ll provide English lessons to those who otherwise wouldn’t have the option to learn the language.

Environmental Studies

Everyone needs science credits for graduation, and it’s another perfect example of a subject that benefits from travel. The world is science, so get out there and learn. Sustainability courses are important for environmental studies to improve current conditions leading to the destruction of natural ecosystems. Students can also be placed in service-learning programs for credit that provide direct experience working on the field.


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Spanish Foreign Language

If you’re studying Spanish as a major or minor, or just need foreign language credits as a requirement,  you should absolutely make a semester in Latin America a priority. There are 14 different Spanish language courses you can take based on your level, and you can get involved in almost any of the service-learning projects as you’ll be practicing Spanish language skills with the program leaders during that time.

Hospitality & Tourism 

Hospitality & Tourism is an amazing program of study of its own or you can make it an extension of your business program as similar courses options are available for both. Credit-bearing internship placements might be in boutique hostels, travel agencies, or traveler’s hostels so you leave with hands-on experience in three of the most sought-after tourism destinations in the world.

Medical & Healthcare

The medical study abroad program in Latin America is one of the most unique available. Courses include public health in Latin America and Medical Spanish among others. Internships and service-learning opportunities are crucial to the growth of a medical students. The hands-on experience portion of your semester abroad sees you assisting professional medical staff in the local clinics helping to care for patients and taking part in medical campaigns.

Vet Animal Science

Looking to become a vet tech or a veterinary physician? Look no further. Students in this program you may take courses with medical students, but internship and service-learning options are vastly different. You’ll be working alongside professional veterinarians in local veterinary clinics and animal care workers to help both domestic and exotic animals.


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What Are My Housing Options?

Choosing the accommodation that’s right for you is important to your success as a student abroad in Latin America. If you thrive in a familial setting, choose a host family; if you need privacy and quiet to focus on your work, choose a private apartment or hotel room; if you’re considering your budget, but know you’ll still be capable of getting your work done while being exposed to a diverse social circle, a hostel might be perfect for you. Let’s look at each of the options in more detail.

Family Stay

If you’re looking for the full cultural immersion experience, meet your dream option – a family stay. A family stay places you with a local, middle-class family for an “all-inclusive” fee. Every family home has been through a strenuous approval process to host students, and many have been working with Maximo Nivel for multiple years.

Your placement includes a shared room with a same-gender student or you can choose to upgrade your accommodations to a private room. Two home-cooked meals per day are provided – breakfast and dinner – based on your personal diet, 7 days per week. You can expect hot showers, comfortable beds, and internet access. Students are free to come and go as they please, but you must respect the rules of the home.

Any student taking Spanish courses will definitely benefit from a homestay. Staying with a local family can easily allow you to practice your Spanish language skills and help you to advance quickly.  And with a maximum 20-minute commute to the campus, you’ll find it to be a convenient option.


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Hostel and hotel options are located no more than 15 minutes from the campus. At hostels you might receive a bunk in a dorm-style setting or you have the option to upgrade to a private room with a private bathroom for more of the hotel feel.

Hotels are at least 3 stars and provide a more comfortable, but expensive stay. Breakfast is included in the hotel option, and of course access to any on-site amenities.

Private Apartments

If you prefer a more independent and private accommodation placement, you can choose to live in your own private apartment. This option will really give you the freedom to live life abroad on your own terms without having to think about furniture or decor. All apartments come fully furnished and equipped kitchens and utensils so you can prepare your own meals. Your apartment will be centrally located for an easy commute to the campus.

Private apartments allow you to make your own rules, come and go as you please, and have other students and friends over when you want.

Am I Ready to be Away from Friends & Family?

Well, if not now, then when? In all seriousness, it can be anxiety-provoking for those who’ve never really spent significant time away from those they love. But with the right mindset and attitude, you can do it!

Not only will you have the full support of Maximo’s staff on-hand to help you through your worst cases of homesickness, but you’ll also find yourself surrounded by like-minded individuals that remind you of home every day during your semester in Latin America. Even then, you might still want to connect with your loved ones, and luckily with today’s technology, you can do so in minutes.

Every campus provides wireless internet access, so you feel confident in being able to chat with your family and friends. Before you leave, make it a point to establish which messaging app or video chat you’d prefer to use, and schedule check-ins with them so you don’t lose the connection.


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If you’ve thoroughly considered all of the above and feel confident in making the decision to study abroad in Latin America, get in contact with a program advisor. They’re happy to answer any lingering questions you may have and give you tips on how to best maximize your time abroad. Enroll in a study abroad program and experience what it’s like to really live it.