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Comparison Analysis: Studying Abroad in Spain Versus Latin America

Deciding where to study abroad can be one of the most challenging parts of the planning process. After all, you have the whole world to choose from. Compare the places you're considering on the dimensions that matter most to you, which should be dictated by what you want to get out of the experience. This short guide will help you get to the key differences.

What's Important in a Study Abroad Destination

When planning your study abroad adventure, you will want to learn some Spanish, experience a novel culture, and see a new part of the world -- not necessarily in that order. Perhaps fraternizing with an attractive foreigner is another important goal of the experience... but that depends less on the destination and more on what you do when you're there.

Structuring your decision around what you want to get out of your trip is a great way to come to a decision. Define your priorities for your trip and figure out the pros and cons of each potential destination on your high-priority dimensions.

  • If you want to focus on learning Spanish, make certain that you are learning an accent and dialect that will serve your needs in the future. Also, make sure that you have ample speaking opportunities with people that want to help you learn.
  • When experiencing a novel culture, look for a rich and varied society that will hold enough thrills and surprises to make a meaningful difference in your life.
  • If you want to see a new part of the world, simply trust what appeals to you, whether it be ancient architecture, sites of historical significance, beaches, rainforests, mountains, or otherwise.

Comparison of Favorite Destinations for Spanish Language Students

Spain is a fine place to learn Spanish on all dimensions, but not always the single best choice (only most of the time). The following comparison is full of gross generalizations, but should give you a starting point to make your decision.

Language Acquisition
Culture
Seeing the World
Spain
Classic Spanish with a refined European accent. Some regions speak dialects or other languages, making practicing difficult. Situated in Europe, Spain combines a storied history with flavorful external influences Majestic architecture and beautiful beaches in one country.
Mexico
Accent and slang that are understood in the US. Lower national literacy rates lead to less academic Spanish spoken. While suffering from institutional corruption, Mexico maintains a strong link to its heritage. Aspects of pre-colonial society and a revolutionary spirit make for a unique culture. Many parts of Mexico have world-class natural beauty, but are heavily corrupted by tourism.
Central America
Accent understood in the US. Some regional slang can confuse students. Lower national literacy rates lead to less academic Spanish spoken. The culture and history of indigenous groups remains a part of everyday life in many areas. Rainforests, pristine beaches, and picturesque towns can all be found in Central America, all accessible even during a short trip.
South America
Most beautiful accents in the world, especially in Argentina. Wonderful old cultures have come under some pressure recently from economic woes and popular uprisings. South America has a tremendous variety of natural beauty and some amazing historical sites. You will have to pick and choose what you see, however, because the natural wonders are spread across the continent.

= best in group

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RELATED ARTICLES

Why Spain is a Great Place to Learn Spanish -- All the reasons you need to go to Spain to learn Spanish.

How to Choose a Study Abroad Program in Spain -- A practical guide to choosing a program from the many that are available to American students.

The Guide to Spanish Cities for Study Abroad Students -- The essential guide to choosing the right city for your study-abroad adventure.

Madrid -- Spain's capital holds adventure for every student and traveller.

Málaga, Cádiz and the Costa del Sol -- The southern coast of Spain, a playground for the rich, the beautiful, and the adventurous.

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