"Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

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Kennedy
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"Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by Kennedy » Fri Dec 13, 2019 6:42 pm

I'm looking for places for a woman and a teenage child to spend a few weeks in Spanish immersion classes. For logistical reasons, I'm only considering Central and South America. I am aware of the headlines regarding current political unrest or cartel-related events in Ecuador, Mexico and Chile, but (Mexico aside) I'm assuming these situations don't involve the entire country?

We've been to Costa Rica and Panama a couple of times and prefer to travel to other countries, but we would consider them if there are no better options. We've also visited Lima, Peru previously, but it's been years since we were there.

Obviously, we would take general precautions no matter where we travel, but are there cities known to be safer than others for Spanish immersion experiences? We are intermediate in terms of fluency and have already taken classes and studied here in the United States.

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Bogle7
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by Bogle7 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:37 pm

Colombia.
Miami, Florida.

sailaway
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by sailaway » Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:55 pm

The current situation in Chile involves the whole country more than the current situation in Mexico does. However, Mexico did recently experience a tragedy in Cuernavaca, where many of the language schools are.

Costa Rica has several well run language schools in a stable environment.

Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay are excellent choices and everybody in the rest of the Spanish speaking world will adore your accent. Even if you sound 99% like a gringx, a little voceo will endear you to all but the most hard hearted of native speakers.

Speaking of accents, you might want to avoid the Caribbean countries, including the Caribbean Coast of Central America. The accent can be very hard to understand. I am fluent enough that people mistake me for a native speaker, a slight lisp that no one even notices in English means that I have been suspected of trying to moderate my own Caribbean accent, I have many Caribbean friends who have lived in the US for awhile: I still need a few days to adjust to the Caribbean accent whenever I visit. For a few week visit, you would just be getting used to it when you left. Moreover, you lose one of the advantages of Spanish, which is being able to get so easily from written to spoken and back again.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by drawpoker » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:05 pm

Maywood, California. Take the Slauson cut-off.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by 123 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:19 pm

You can google "Spanish immersion class" (without quotes) to explore a number of possibilities. There are structured/commercial options.
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Kennedy
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by Kennedy » Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:34 pm

sailaway wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:55 pm
The current situation in Chile involves the whole country more than the current situation in Mexico does. However, Mexico did recently experience a tragedy in Cuernavaca, where many of the language schools are.

Costa Rica has several well run language schools in a stable environment.

Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay are excellent choices and everybody in the rest of the Spanish speaking world will adore your accent. Even if you sound 99% like a gringx, a little voceo will endear you to all but the most hard hearted of native speakers.

Speaking of accents, you might want to avoid the Caribbean countries, including the Caribbean Coast of Central America. The accent can be very hard to understand. I am fluent enough that people mistake me for a native speaker, a slight lisp that no one even notices in English means that I have been suspected of trying to moderate my own Caribbean accent, I have many Caribbean friends who have lived in the US for awhile: I still need a few days to adjust to the Caribbean accent whenever I visit. For a few week visit, you would just be getting used to it when you left. Moreover, you lose one of the advantages of Spanish, which is being able to get so easily from written to spoken and back again.
I've studied Spanish in Cuernavaca and was at the very bus station targeted for killings a few months back. It's a very sad situation.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by xb7 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:42 pm

Hmm, small world --- my family did a couple of weeks of language classes in Cuernavaca ("the city of eternal spring") many years ago when my daughters were young; sorry to hear about problems there now.

I've done language classes in Costa Rica and in Spain, but you've been to Costa Rica and say that you want to stick to central or south America.

If the logistical issues aren't too severe, you might reconsider your scope and try Spain. I quite like it for the history, culture, I like the people, and I felt plenty safe there.

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ladders11
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by ladders11 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:28 pm

I would just go to Spain personally. I liked Madrid.

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kramer
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by kramer » Sat Dec 14, 2019 3:19 am

Yes, I can recommend a specific city that is the safest large city in Mexico and considered safer than any large city in the USA (statistically). And thousands of Mexicans in more dangerous areas have migrated there for safety. That city is Mérida, Mexico ... it is located on the Yucatan peninsula and is the capital of Yucatan state. And the people there are determined to keep it safe.

I can personally recommend Habla language school, which is in a great part of town (north central part of town in Colonia México).

Check the climate to see if it suits you, it's hot for a lot of people much of the year, especially April and June time frame.

Feel free to PM me for more details, I recently spent over 6 weeks in the city.

https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/north- ... fest-city/

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by Finridge » Sat Dec 14, 2019 4:29 am

ladders11 wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:28 pm
I would just go to Spain personally. I liked Madrid.
Yes, if the goal is safety, Spain will win over South and Central America. Spain is also very affordable.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by bwatts849 » Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:13 pm

My wife and I (65,70) have taken Spanish classes and done a home stay experience in Antigua, Guatemala. We had done this for at least 7-8 years consecutively, but not for 5 years.

We did it through Centro Linguistico Maya (http://centrolinguisticomaya.com/. CLM was incredibly reliable. The owner is/was Arturo. They pick you up at the airport (extra charge) and take you the 35 mi. to your home stay in Antigua. The home stays for us were with (relatively) affluent families, and were clean, safe, comfortable, and close (walking) to the school. Twice we requested a different home stay for minor reasons (just didn't feel right, too close to busy street with trucks), and CLM immediately arranged alternate lodging.

Besides CLM, there are scores of other language schools in Antigua.

Antigua is the jewel of Guatemala. It is a World Heritage Site. It is extremely safe and there are security guards on every block. I believe Antigua was voted the No. 1 travel destination a few yrs ago by Wanderlust mag. Guatemala is not Antigua, and Antigua is not Guatemala.

The cost for room and board for 7 days, and for 1 on 1 Spanish lessons with a very experienced teacher, 4 hrs per day, was ridiculous.

100% recommended.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by UpperNwGuy » Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:39 pm

Finridge wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2019 4:29 am
ladders11 wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:28 pm
I would just go to Spain personally. I liked Madrid.
Yes, if the goal is safety, Spain will win over South and Central America. Spain is also very affordable.
Another vote for Spain. It is very affordable, and it is closer to the US than are the Southern Cone countries.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by KyleAAA » Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:46 pm

What dialect of Spanish do you want to learn? Columbia’s is probably the most neutral accent and are easier for learners to understand. Or at least, easier for me to understand. I am generally lost with Caribbean accents and Mexican slang. Most of the usual countries are very safe so long as you don’t go out of your way to visit dangerous areas. Locals will generally tell you where not to go.

I hear Antigua is great but have not yet been. If I were to do an immersion class it would probably be there.

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praxis
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by praxis » Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:46 pm

Call Elma Contreras, 502-78-321422 or 502-78-325818 in Antigua, Guatemala. She's the (English speaking) Director of PLFM Language School there. That was the school that taught us Spanish for the Peace Corps in the 70's. I sent my son there recently for a month after high school. He loved the school, the teachers and the quaint, colonial town. The school will place the students with approved Antigua families (if you choose) during their time at the school so learning Spanish is extended after class. Guatemala is beautiful, too. There are over 30 other schools that teach Spanish to foreigners in Antigua. Direct flights from US (2.5 hours from Houston). Great local food and crafts and scenery. I have friends who have sent their children to Cuernavaca and Guadalajara, Mexico and San Jose, Costa Rica. They reported good schools and friendly places. Good luck.

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praxis
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by praxis » Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:53 pm

KyleAAA wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:46 pm
What dialect of Spanish do you want to learn? Columbia’s is probably the most neutral accent and are easier for learners to understand. Or at least, easier for me to understand. I am generally lost with Caribbean accents and Mexican slang. Most of the usual countries are very safe so long as you don’t go out of your way to visit dangerous areas. Locals will generally tell you where not to go.

I hear Antigua is great but have not yet been. If I were to do an immersion class it would probably be there.
Everyone's experience is different. I traveled all over Latin America and Spain for 30 years and found the Spanish to be very similar everywhere. Not any more different than accents from Birmingham, Boston or Bozeman. YMMV.

Our Peace Corps trainers in the 70's liked the neutral accents from Ecuador and Guatemala, they said. Does an accent from Argentina sound different from one from Mexico City? Way different, but I found the language was pretty similar. Even from Madrid or Seville.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by btraven » Sat Dec 14, 2019 2:36 pm

Try Querétaro, México. It's a beautiful colonial city, UN Cultural Heritage, and has its own airport.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by heyyou » Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:51 am

Panama, away from Panama City, would suit me. Is the reluctance for Panama, some other reason than having been there previously?

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by DrippingSprings » Sun Dec 15, 2019 6:48 am

I also think that Uruguay would be an excellent choice. Besides crime not being an issue, it is a very European country without the distressing economic and social inequalities found in many Latin American countries. And, there is lots of good Italian food -- some of the best pizza in the world.
And the Uruguayan accent is simply wonderful.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by grayfox » Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:57 am

Image

It looks like everywhere south of the Mexican border has a high murder rate.

In general, the southern hemisphere has a lot of crime. I wonder why that is? It must have something to do with the Coriolis force.

I would avoid central and South America. Instead, go to Spain to study real spanish language and culture.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by Swansea » Sun Dec 15, 2019 8:32 am

Bogle7 wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:37 pm
Colombia.
Miami, Florida.
I lived in the Miami area for a good bit, I agree with the Spanish immersion, but no way is it a safe city.

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JAZZISCOOL
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by JAZZISCOOL » Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:59 am

grayfox wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:57 am
Image

It looks like everywhere south of the Mexican border has a high murder rate.

In general, the southern hemisphere has a lot of crime. I wonder why that is? It must have something to do with the Coriolis force.

I would avoid central and South America. Instead, go to Spain to study real spanish language and culture.
If I'm reading the map correctly, it appears Chili is just as safe as the U.S. :|

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Bogle7
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re: murder rates

Post by Bogle7 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:16 am

JAZZISCOOL wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:59 am
If I'm reading the map correctly, it appears Chili is just as safe as the U.S.
And, avoid Greenland.

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JAZZISCOOL
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Re: re: murder rates

Post by JAZZISCOOL » Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:22 am

Bogle7 wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:16 am
JAZZISCOOL wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:59 am
If I'm reading the map correctly, it appears Chili is just as safe as the U.S.
And, avoid Greenland.
LOL. That one totally surprised me. :?

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grayfox
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by grayfox » Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:05 pm

Greenland has a population of only about 56,000. So the just a couple of murders will skew the statistics. The map showed Greenland at 10-20. But this table List of countries by intentional homicide rate shows Greenland at 5.3 murders per 100,000. So that is 3 murders per year in Greenland. Probably not random violence, but more likely crimes of passion, drunken brawls, etc. I believe that the suicide rate in Greenland is high, so someone is more likely to kill themselves than someone else.

E.g. I have relatives who live in a small town O that is extremely safe with a population of about 8,000. There are rarely murders there. A larger town E about 10 miles away with population of about 60,000 has a lot of murders which I read about in the paper every time I visit. A lot are drug and gang related. Then a club opened up in O that attracted gang members from E. Soon there were assaults, etc in O reported in the paper. Then in 2015 there was an apparent drug murder in O. It was the first murder since 1999. Just one murder per year in a population of 8,000 made their rate go from 0.0 to 12.5 per 100,000 which is high, about like Costa Rica. U.S. as a whole is 5.3 per 100,000. Fortunately, the club closed, the gang members stopped coming, and no one murdered since.

Someone mentioned Chile. The table shows 4.3 per 100,000, which is lower than U.S. Unfortunately, if you follow the news, the are riots going on in Chile right now. So probably not a good place to visit for language school. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Chilean_protests
Last edited by grayfox on Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

btenny
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by btenny » Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:08 pm

Why leave the US? Drive or fly to Yuma Arizona in the southwest. It is right on the US border with Mexico and California. The Yuma population is 59% Hispanic and virtually 100% of the locals speak Spanish. If you speak Spanish to a local they will speak Spanish to you. If you get stuck on a word they will tell you the English translation. So the best of both worlds. Take a conversational Spanish class at Arizona Western College for $79 and walk around town and talk to people in Spanish. Then go down to Algadones Mexico or San Luis Mexico for the afternoon or for dinner or some shopping. Or get some dental work done there. This is the winter snow bird capital for low cost foreign dentistry.

https://www.azwestern.edu/event/introdu ... -spanish-0
https://www.google.com/search?q=yuma+zz ... e&ie=UTF-8
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Algodones
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Luis_ ... o_Colorado
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuma,_Arizona
Last edited by btenny on Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by AlphaLess » Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:12 pm

Kennedy wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 6:42 pm
I am aware of the headlines regarding current political unrest or cartel-related events in Ecuador, Mexico and Chile, but (Mexico aside) I'm assuming these situations don't involve the entire country?
Though Mexico is far from the state it was about 3-5 years ago (much safer), I would think that Chile situation is much more country-wide than Mexico.

Unless you are targeted, or go to a cartel infested region in Mexico, you are probably OK.
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by DrippingSprings » Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:44 pm

Avoid Greenland.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by Bobby206 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:11 pm

I would do Spain or Costa Rica. Even San Jose CR is pretty safe as far as big cities go.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by FI4LIFE » Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:44 pm

JAZZISCOOL wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:59 am
grayfox wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:57 am
Image

It looks like everywhere south of the Mexican border has a high murder rate.

In general, the southern hemisphere has a lot of crime. I wonder why that is? It must have something to do with the Coriolis force.

I would avoid central and South America. Instead, go to Spain to study real spanish language and culture.
If I'm reading the map correctly, it appears Chili is just as safe as the U.S. :|
I'm currently reading "Talking to Strangers" by Malcolm Gladwell. According to him, most criminal activity across the globe is highly localized in 'hotspots'. Individual streets or neighborhoods can tilt statistics to make larger areas appear unsafe. I don't claim to be well travelled but it seems pointless to paint entire countries as safe vs. not safe.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by texasdiver » Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:56 pm

Honestly, if it were me, I'd go back to Costa Rica. Awesome country. For certain you can find a part of the country that you haven't already visited.

As far as South America goes. "By the time you go all the way to South America you are spending as much as if you went to Spain. There are plenty of nice safe cities in South America but I doubt the airfare and tuition costs will really save you anything over Spain.

Argentina and Uruguay are nice. But not cheap. My wife and family are from Chile. There is unrest there currently, but Chileans are generally polite and the political unrest is targeted at the government not tourists. Ecuador is nice as are many parts of Colombia. But honestly, I would be surprised if any of them are markedly cheaper than going to Spain.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by halfnine » Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:12 pm

FI4LIFE wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:44 pm
JAZZISCOOL wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:59 am
grayfox wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:57 am
Image

It looks like everywhere south of the Mexican border has a high murder rate.

In general, the southern hemisphere has a lot of crime. I wonder why that is? It must have something to do with the Coriolis force.

I would avoid central and South America. Instead, go to Spain to study real spanish language and culture.
If I'm reading the map correctly, it appears Chili is just as safe as the U.S. :|
I'm currently reading "Talking to Strangers" by Malcolm Gladwell. According to him, most criminal activity across the globe is highly localized in 'hotspots'. Individual streets or neighborhoods can tilt statistics to make larger areas appear unsafe. I don't claim to be well travelled but it seems pointless to paint entire countries as safe vs. not safe.
It certainly is pointless to paint entire countries as safe vs. not safe. I've been to most of the countries in red (>10) and wouldn't hesitate to return barring civil war within the country. Border towns can also be a bit of the wild west but this isn't relevant to many travelers either.

As to the Spanish immersion, I am going to +1 kramer's recommendation for Merida although it has been many, many years since I've been there.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by JAZZISCOOL » Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:20 pm

I just ran across this US government map that points out areas to be aware of:

https://travelmaps.state.gov/TSGMap/?ex ... .446969624

For Mexico, lots of detailed advice:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel ... exico.html

Yellow areas: "Exercise Increased Caution"

Red areas: "Do Not Travel"

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fortfun
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by fortfun » Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:25 pm

Playa Del Carmen. Yucatan peninsula is generally very safe. I wouldn't mind retiring there some day. 3 hours flight back to the states for medical, etc.

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by dm200 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:56 pm

Kennedy wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 6:42 pm
I'm looking for places for a woman and a teenage child to spend a few weeks in Spanish immersion classes. For logistical reasons, I'm only considering Central and South America. I am aware of the headlines regarding current political unrest or cartel-related events in Ecuador, Mexico and Chile, but (Mexico aside) I'm assuming these situations don't involve the entire country?
We've been to Costa Rica and Panama a couple of times and prefer to travel to other countries, but we would consider them if there are no better options. We've also visited Lima, Peru previously, but it's been years since we were there.
Obviously, we would take general precautions no matter where we travel, but are there cities known to be safer than others for Spanish immersion experiences? We are intermediate in terms of fluency and have already taken classes and studied here in the United States.
1. If you know any native Spanish speaking immigrants personally, ask about this. They might have some ideas and hints. Also, many English speaking clergy men and women often go to such Spanish immersion programs to learn Spanish. If you have such a clergy connection - ask. Several clergy men went to such a school in Mexico. As well, some Spanish language teachers in the US may have gone to one of these places - so ask one or more of them.

2. I never considered doing this myself, but I often see advertisements for such places in various Latin American countries. (With 20/20 hindsight) I made the mistake of asking an acquaintance (originally from a South American country) about such places to learn Spanish (a Central American Country). She responded to my question with a long and passionate "speech" about how (in her opinion) poor the quality of Spanish was in that country - and how the Spanish in her South American country was of the highest quality - rivaling even Spain for the best of the best Spanish language in the world!

3. Remember too that international news reports about the safety of many US cities paints a bleak picture of safety - perhaps of your own locality.

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grayfox
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by grayfox » Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:11 pm

JAZZISCOOL wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:20 pm
I just ran across this US government map that points out areas to be aware of:

https://travelmaps.state.gov/TSGMap/?ex ... .446969624

For Mexico, lots of detailed advice:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel ... exico.html

Yellow areas: "Exercise Increased Caution"

Red areas: "Do Not Travel"
That's good information for Mexico. Going by the map, even the best area is "Reconsider Travel".

Then if you click the link to the Mexico Travel Advisory
Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico as travel by U.S. government employees to these areas is prohibited or significantly restricted.

U.S. government employees may not travel between cities after dark, may not hail taxis on the street, and must rely on dispatched vehicles, including from app-based services like Uber, or those from regulated taxi stands. U.S. government employees may not drive from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior parts of Mexico with the exception of daytime travel within Baja California, and between Nogales and Hermosillo on Mexican Federal Highway 15D.
Can not travel after dark, can not hail taxis on the street. That sounds pretty harsh.

I recall this one Anglo who lived in Mexico City for about 10 years who said that the danger of crime in Mexico City was overblown. Then he went on to say that in ten years, he was only kidnapped one time, and they only kept him for 3-4 hours. It was an "express kidnapping". The danger was way overblown, he said. What happened was he hailed a taxi on the street. The cab picked him up. Then drove 100 yards where it stopped and two guys got in. They put him on the floor of the cab at gunpoint. Then they drove to ATMs taking money our using his cards and password. After 3 or 4 hours, they dropped him off, unharmed.

That's why I would go to Spain. The worst crime there is usually just pickpocketing.

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dm200
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by dm200 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:26 pm

Then he went on to say that in ten years, he was only kidnapped one time, and they only kept him for 3-4 hours. It was an "express kidnapping". The danger was way overblown, he said. What happened was he hailed a taxi on the street. The cab picked him up. Then drove 100 yards where it stopped and two guys got in. They put him on the floor of the cab at gunpoint. Then they drove to ATMs taking money our using his cards and password. After 3 or 4 hours, they dropped him off, unharmed.
Hmmmm! "Danger overblown!" ??? This story seems quite dangerous to me!!

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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by JAZZISCOOL » Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:40 pm

grayfox wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:11 pm
JAZZISCOOL wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:20 pm
I just ran across this US government map that points out areas to be aware of:

https://travelmaps.state.gov/TSGMap/?ex ... .446969624

For Mexico, lots of detailed advice:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel ... exico.html

Yellow areas: "Exercise Increased Caution"

Red areas: "Do Not Travel"
That's good information for Mexico. Going by the map, even the best area is "Reconsider Travel".

Then if you click the link to the Mexico Travel Advisory
Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico as travel by U.S. government employees to these areas is prohibited or significantly restricted.

U.S. government employees may not travel between cities after dark, may not hail taxis on the street, and must rely on dispatched vehicles, including from app-based services like Uber, or those from regulated taxi stands. U.S. government employees may not drive from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior parts of Mexico with the exception of daytime travel within Baja California, and between Nogales and Hermosillo on Mexican Federal Highway 15D.
Can not travel after dark, can not hail taxis on the street. That sounds pretty harsh.

I recall this one Anglo who lived in Mexico City for about 10 years who said that the danger of crime in Mexico City was overblown. Then he went on to say that in ten years, he was only kidnapped one time, and they only kept him for 3-4 hours. It was an "express kidnapping". The danger was way overblown, he said. What happened was he hailed a taxi on the street. The cab picked him up. Then drove 100 yards where it stopped and two guys got in. They put him on the floor of the cab at gunpoint. Then they drove to ATMs taking money our using his cards and password. After 3 or 4 hours, they dropped him off, unharmed.

That's why I would go to Spain. The worst crime there is usually just pickpocketing.
Yikes! That sounds very scary to me. My relative's husband is from Venezuela which is a "challenging" country for many reasons right now. He was kidnapped many years ago for a ransom and still has some anxiety from that experience even though he lives in the US now. I don't know the details but it sounded awful. His parents spend a lot of time in Miami because of the issues in Venezuela. The economy is a disaster from what I have read.

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grayfox
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by grayfox » Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:50 pm

BTW, if you want to see how crimes occur, there are thousands upon thousands of videos on YouTube from security cameras showing armed robberies, assaults, kidnappings etc. You can learn a lot from studying these videos. You can see what the victims did that saved them and what ended up being fatal. Eg. Comply, run, fight back, etc. Also, perpetrators will often signal their intentions before they act. If you observe this, you might might be able to prevent the crime from happening to you. A huge number of the videos are from Brazil and Venezuela.

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happyisland
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by happyisland » Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:54 pm

dm200 wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:26 pm
Hmmmm! "Danger overblown!" ??? This story seems quite dangerous to me!!
Your bio says you're posting from the "Washington DC area". I bet there are some people who have some similar stories of danger from time spent there as well.
That is to say, I feel like we all get used to the risks of where we spend most of our time, and worry too much about similar risks in places we are less familiar with.

GR8FUL-D
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by GR8FUL-D » Sun Dec 15, 2019 6:36 pm

happyisland wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:54 pm
dm200 wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:26 pm
Hmmmm! "Danger overblown!" ??? This story seems quite dangerous to me!!
Your bio says you're posting from the "Washington DC area". I bet there are some people who have some similar stories of danger from time spent there as well.
That is to say, I feel like we all get used to the risks of where we spend most of our time, and worry too much about similar risks in places we are less familiar with.
10,000% spot on.

I am in Mexico now. I arrived almost two months ago & have travelled all over, from one city to another by bus (1st class tourist buses, not chicken buses or collectivos), and haven't once felt concerned for my safety. Without exception every Mexican I have interacted with has been friendly and helpful. I've spoken w/ dozens of gringo expats & locals about crime / safety issue in Mexico, and while they all agree that corruption is a huge problem, the overwhelming consensus is that as long as you are not living or traveling in certain very specific high-risk areas, and are not actively involved in the drug trade (either buying, selling, or using), one's chances of getting caught up in violence (not talking petty crime) is no greater than most anywhere else.

For those of you who wouldn't consider traveling to Mexico due to your fears about violence--would you also not visit Chicago, New Orleans, L.A., or Atlanta?? Why there was just a shooting in a mall in Atlanta a few days ago!!!

It seems to me we have some kind of mass-shooting in the United States on almost a monthly basis these days; will this keep you from visiting the mall & shopping for presents this holiday season?? Most of the shootings in good ol' USA seem to be very random, whereas the shootings in Cuernavaca referenced above were target-specific.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/ ... s-station/
https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/1 ... lence.html

I'm not suggesting that one doesn't need to be aware and take normal precautions (not wearing lots of expensive jewelry, high end cameras & electronics, walking drunk in the streets late at night, etc.), but I'm surprised some of you are even willing to leave the safety of your house...

With regards to OP's question, I've traveled in I think every country that's been mentioned, and I'm sure you could have a great experience in any local that's been suggested. Instead of worrying about which countries accent is the best, instead consider what else they would enjoy doing while they are there taking language classes. Cooking classes, salsa lessons, surf lessons, yoga classes, dental work, volunteer opportunities, etc., are all available to them, though certain areas would be better than others. Personally I'd much prefer to take cooking classes in Mexico vs Guatemala for instance.

Statistically-speaking, your friends will return home safe & sound whichever country they visit, Mexico included.

avlfutbol
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by avlfutbol » Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:19 pm

I live in one country and work in every country in Central/South America. Clearest accents will be Colombia or Bolivia. Least expensive for countries you would seriously want to consider are going to be Mexico, Colombia, and maybe Ecuador. Colombia per hour will be 8-10 dollars for a class. Less Outside of Bogota or Medellin. Chile has a challenging accent as does argentina. Mexico uses a ton of slang as already mentioned. Feel free to PM if I can help you out.

And i agree with above, look to see what else is interesting about a place. That will help them engage and immerse in the language. As long as you arent looking for drugs or other kinds of trouble, the probability of something bad happening is slim.

Millennial
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by Millennial » Sun Dec 15, 2019 8:16 pm

How about Cusco, Peru? A friend did a Spanish immersion program there in med school, and we visited while he was there. Beautiful city and very safe. Altitude takes a little while to get used to.

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ladders11
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by ladders11 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 8:31 pm

GR8FUL-D wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 6:36 pm
happyisland wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:54 pm
dm200 wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:26 pm
Hmmmm! "Danger overblown!" ??? This story seems quite dangerous to me!!
Your bio says you're posting from the "Washington DC area". I bet there are some people who have some similar stories of danger from time spent there as well.
That is to say, I feel like we all get used to the risks of where we spend most of our time, and worry too much about similar risks in places we are less familiar with.
10,000% spot on.

I am in Mexico now. I arrived almost two months ago & have travelled all over, from one city to another by bus (1st class tourist buses, not chicken buses or collectivos), and haven't once felt concerned for my safety. Without exception every Mexican I have interacted with has been friendly and helpful. I've spoken w/ dozens of gringo expats & locals about crime / safety issue in Mexico, and while they all agree that corruption is a huge problem, the overwhelming consensus is that as long as you are not living or traveling in certain very specific high-risk areas, and are not actively involved in the drug trade (either buying, selling, or using), one's chances of getting caught up in violence (not talking petty crime) is no greater than most anywhere else.
However, in this case the person used to the risks of where you've spent time.. seems to be you, kind sir/madam. And the place you've gotten used to and are no longer worried about... seems to be Mexico. It's unfair to forget that Mexico City has both earthquakes and volcanoes, and travelers encounter issues with both water and altitude, in addition to crime. When I was there I stayed in a secure building and felt fine, but was witness to mass non-violent protests, including military proactively boarding up hundreds of businesses, in addition to open drug use, extreme poverty, property crime, and homelessness. That's all from someone spending whatever amount necessary to stay in the nicest part of town and doing all the research to keep safe. Last visit was several years back and crime has gotten worse since.

psy1
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by psy1 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 8:42 pm

We did one in Quito, Ecuador and it was very good. Antigua Guatemala as previously mentioned is a very pleasant city for an immersion class and closer to home. There are a zillion choices for this but Quito and Antigua have long histories of teaching Spanish.

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ladders11
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by ladders11 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 8:55 pm

kramer wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2019 3:19 am
Yes, I can recommend a specific city that is the safest large city in Mexico and considered safer than any large city in the USA (statistically). And thousands of Mexicans in more dangerous areas have migrated there for safety. That city is Mérida, Mexico ...
I can + 1 Mérida for some consideration. Underrated place, not much tourism. People were very kind. I felt safer than Playa del Carmen or Cancun because there was less chance of the tourist crime stuff. Seemed to have more US chain stores and restaurants (KFC, Domino's) in addition to the locals. Still had certain things like a caravan of military with weapons out, to let me know I was not in the US. If we need to do a US comparison it would be Savannah.

Still 10/10 would go to Spain though, lol.

drawpoker
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by drawpoker » Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:28 pm

JAZZISCOOL wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:40 pm
.......relative's husband is from Venezuela which is a "challenging" country for many reasons right now. .......economy is a disaster from what I have read.
Bad times for sure. But at least they were able to send a Miss Venezuela to compete in the Miss Universe pageant this month. Also, one of the judges this year, Gaby Espino, is from Venezuela.

Compare that with Lebanon. That country's protests, and ongoing turmoil, was enough to prevent holding a MIss Lebanon pageant, depriving it of an entry this year for Miss Universe :shock: :shock:

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grayfox
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by grayfox » Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:25 am

For those of you who wouldn't consider traveling to Mexico due to your fears about violence--would you also not visit Chicago, New Orleans, L.A., or Atlanta?? Why there was just a shooting in a mall in Atlanta a few days ago!!!
That's what I'm saying. There are places in the U.S. that are as dangerous as El Salvador, which tops the list with 61.80 murders per 100,000. E.g. Chicago. So far in 2019, 2,625 people have been shot in Chicago. Most were only wounded (2,181). 444 were shot and killed. Total homicides in 2019: 491

But the vast majority of those shootings happen in certain neighborhoods, which you can avoid.

The difference is, I know where the no-go zones are in the U.S. Even if I travel to a strange city, I know what a bad neighborhood looks like, what a normal neighborhood looks like. I have visited Chicago many times and am not afraid to wander around. A few times I wandered into a no-go zone, but as soon as I saw where I was, I turned around and headed back to civilization.

If I was in Venezuela I would not know what a bad neighborhood looks like. I don't know what a normal neighborhood looks like in Venezuela.

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dm200
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by dm200 » Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:56 am

happyisland wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:54 pm
dm200 wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:26 pm
Hmmmm! "Danger overblown!" ??? This story seems quite dangerous to me!!
Your bio says you're posting from the "Washington DC area". I bet there are some people who have some similar stories of danger from time spent there as well.
That is to say, I feel like we all get used to the risks of where we spend most of our time, and worry too much about similar risks in places we are less familiar with.
Yes - some folks reading the headlines might incorrectly conclude that we are living in a very, very dangerous are.

I know, as well, that in many of these actually very dangerous foreign locations, various entities there that have Americans coming there have taken steps to vastly reduce or nearly eliminate the risks. Such steps might include more secure transportation to and from the airport, physical security of where you are staying and spending other time, some kind of security personnel as well.

In many of such foreign locations, for various reasons - visiting Americans are very, very easily identifiable.

I might also prefer/choose a location where there is an American embassy or similar presence (forget what these are called) nearby.

sarahjane
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by sarahjane » Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:52 pm

another vote for Antigua Guatemala. Wife and I studied there and stayed with a local family. Also, many interesting excursions from there particularly if interested in native cultures.

truenorth418
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Re: "Safer" places for Spanish immersion experience?

Post by truenorth418 » Tue Dec 17, 2019 12:17 am

For safer "immersion" experiences I recommend Spain, Chile or Argentina.

I love Mexico and Colombia and have visited both countries many times, and I will continue to do so. But I would not characterize them as the safest of options.

Colombia may be "safer" than it used to be - and probably some of the smaller cities there would not be a problem for you - but I have encountered everything from cell phone theft to neighborhood gunfire to dead bodies in the street in Medellin and Bogota.

I have not experienced the same sorts of things first hand in Mexico but I have friends who have had to deal with break-ins and rising crimes rates in their homes respectively in Cabo and San Miguel de Allende. Google the recent rash of police shootings in beautiful Guanajuato.

If you are just looking for a pleasant place to learn and practice your Spanish language skills, why take risks when there are plenty of alternatives?

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