So now that you’ve convinced yourself of the benefits of an internship abroad–stand out experience, unique adventures, opportunities to live and work abroad– the tougher question might be, where in the world are you going to do it?! If you’re considering Latin America to enhance your Spanish language skills, Maximo Nivel offers 3 very exciting destinations, each with their unique geographies, cultures, and unique career opportunities that can make all the difference in your decision.
This Central American country is most similar to the developed world of the West. Many of the locals are bilingual, making it easy to get around if you’re a non-Spanish speaker; Public transportation is simple to navigate, and a large expat community can make you feel right at home. In addition, Costa Rica seems to be the most socially progressive of the three countries, which can make for a more seamless transition, with less of an initial culture shock.
Costa Rica, a tiny piece of land that covers .03% of the Earth’s surface, maintains almost 6% of the entire world’s biodiversity. Its diversity in species and ecosystems can be contributed to its position between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. National parks and reserves cover about 25% of its land mass, ensuring that it maintains its natural wonder. The variety of landscapes consists of beaches, volcanoes, dry and rainforests, natural hot springs, waterfalls, and river canyons. Between 1990 and 2003, Costa Rica signed 45 international environmental treaties, helping to protect and conserve its biodiversity and endangered species, making the country a world leader in environmental sustainability.
The capital, San Jose, also brings a taste of a big city life to this bolstering piece of natural Earth. With boutique restaurants, craft beer offerings, music and arts festivals, and a booming University life, San Jose provides a fast-paced lifestyle with lots of interesting activities, and opportunities for social outings.
The Maya capital of Central America brings tradition, history, and ancient culture. Though the official language of the land is Spanish, 21 Mayan languages are also spoken in the country. The most common form of local transportation is a colorfully decorated, and overly packed chicken bus–nothing like the typical boring buses found traversing the United States. In the more popular cities, like Antigua, you’ll find several international explorers living, working, and traveling. But prepare for a vastly different life than what you might be used to.
The country’s history is significant to the modern day culture. Designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites include Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua and Tikal National Park. Each of these sites include sacred Maya temples, palaces, and ceremonial sites. The sites also acted as important cultural and commercial centers used to maintain the civilization’s military, political structure, and economy.
Unlike Tikal, The Ruins of Quirigua face many conservation challenges due to its geographic location which exposes it to regular flooding from storms and hurricanes. However, it was deemed a UNESCO site due to having the tallest Maya stela. On the other hand, Tikal sits in the middle of wild jungle, wetlands, and savannah making it a prime location for a variety of wildlife. Getting to this incredible site won’t be a tremendously easy feat, as it’s impossible to do without hiking through the jungle first.
The historical city of Antigua was also donned a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Antigua was the cultural, economic, political, religious, and economic center of the entire region and the architecture that remains is one of the most prominent examples of 16th century colonial style in all Latin America.
With a grip on traditional languages, fashion, food and art, Guatemala brings a very unique culture which incorporates Mayan roots intertwined with Spanish traditions. There is a lot that can be learned, and a world of a difference from your everyday life.
This ancient Land of the Incas is dear to the people of Peru, as they pride themselves on the successes of the largest Pre-Columbian Empire, which stretched from the epicenter–Cusco, Peru–to parts of Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia. As the third largest country in South America, Peru maintains a variety of landscapes, including the largest primitive jungle in the world–the Amazon. It also boasts one of the new seven wonders of the world–Machu Picchu.
Interning in Cusco, Peru allows you to explore the scattered Inca ruins found in and around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cusco and The Sacred Valley. Top attractions also include Las Maras Salt Mines constructed by a Pre-Inca civilization, and then economically exploited by the Incas; the Nazca Lines–more than one thousand geoglyphs mysteriously etched into the sands of the Nazca province; hiking a rainbow mountain; and of course the famous Inca trail leading to Machu Picchu.
Peru’s culture is influenced by several ethnicities, first being the Spanish since the inquisition. Mestizos, or mixed Spanish and native, come second; Natives come in third; while Afro-Peruvians come in fourth. The late twentieth century brought about a large Asian-Peruvian community consisting of mostly Chinese and Japanese immigrants. A major influence of the cultures was on the cuisine, which is now globally renowned. Ingredients mostly consist of traditional indigenous and Spanish staples, but with the immigration of the Chinese, Peru was introduced to spices such as ginger and soy sauce, and that’s how Chifa was invented. African influence can be found in dishes like kebabs.
No matter which location you choose to intern, you can be sure that you will leave with a once in a lifetime experience that will prepare you in the fields of business, hospitality and tourism, medical, education, special education, or human rights, and make you a top candidate for employment no matter where you apply!