PlayHard

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Right now I'm a 4th year student and planning on doing a foreign language elective (My home institution actually gives us credit for this :D ). Has anyone spent a month in Spain or Costa Rica learning Spanish/taking Spanish classes? Any info on good courses, fun cities to live in, places to stay, or recommendations for other Spanish speaking countries would be appreciated.
 

beyond all hope

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If you're going to study Spanish to have fun, I recommend Barcelona. It's one of the most fun and beautiful cities in the world.

If you're more serious, most Spanish speakers in the US speak Mexican Spanish, which is slower but definately distinct from South American, Central American or Castillian Spanish. Therefore, Mexico City, Guadalahara or Cuernavaca (1/2 hour south of Mexico City, popular for language lessons)
 

fuegorama

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I was in both CR and Spain last year.
I agree with the Barcelona plan if you are up for the heavy party/urban scene.

The surf in CR is prettier and much less crowded than the Northern Spanish coast, but Basque food rocks.
We scored a great deal with lodging included with our tuition in Spain. Check out Lacunza in San Sebastian.
 
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beyond all hope said:
"If you're going to study Spanish to have fun,"
That sums up what I'm looking for :) . If I can possibly do it on the cheap, that would be even better.
Any thoughts?
 

Sessamoid

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The caveat about Barcelona is that it's actually in Catalonia, and the Spanish there is highly tinged with Catalan (or sometimes the signs are only in Catalan). Any Spanish you learn in Barcelona is going to sound a little weird to Latin American ears, even beyond the differences in Spanish pronunciation and idiom. However, it's an amazingly beautiful and fun city to hang out in.
 

Chartres

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It sort of depends on how you like to party---meaning that most places in Costa Rica have a laid-back surfer feel (esp. along the pacific coast) I personally didn't find San Juan to be anything special, so it wouldn't be my first pick as a place to study, but the coastal areas I visited were fun.

As far as Spain, Barcelona and Madrid are awesome. The thing about Barcelona is that, in my experience, most people don't speak Spanish as much as Catalan. And it seems like EVERYONE speaks English. So I'd go with Madrid because the partying there ranges from dive bars to upscale discotecas and you'll end up hearing more Spanish. Unless you're going in the summer and then it's ungodly hot. Anyway, with the dollar projected to continue to slide, Europe is certainly not your cheapest option. On the other hand, I've never met a person who went to Spain to party and didn't like it.

Keep in mind the seasons too---if you're going in summer it's rainy season in many places and winter in the southern hemisphere. Oh yeah, and with the exception of maybe Argentina, I don't think it really matters where you go to learn Spanish. Unless you're really amazing, I doubt you'll be there long enough for it to make a difference. Ok, before I write a book here, just pm me if you have questions about other places
 

hans19

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PlayHard said:
Has anyone spent a month in Spain or Costa Rico learning Spanish/taking Spanish classes?
Just for starters... Its Costa Rica and Puerto Rico....

Have you thought about Argentina? The dollar goes a long way there and its summer now, plus Argentine Spanish sounds pretty damn cool.
 

Sessamoid

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hans19 said:
Just for starters... Its Costa Rica and Puerto Rico....

Have you thought about Argentina? The dollar goes a long way there and its summer now, plus Argentine Spanish sounds pretty damn cool.
Well, he did say he needs to learn Spanish.
 

WilcoWorld

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Damn Willy, that's a pretty sweet deal.

I've been to Madrid, Barcelona, and Costa Rica, and I had a blast in all of them. However, I would steer clear of Barcelona for the following reasons:

1) You will have much less opportunity to practice your Spanish outside of the classroom in Barcelona than either of the other two places I mentioned.
2) You could have a great time in all of the above mentioned places.

Costa Rica is quite inexpensive (at least it was when I visited), has beaches, rain forest, dry forest, and volcanos - all within short trips of eachother. Also, I found the natives to be very friendly and quite patient with my Spanglish.

Madrid is a magical city, that, to me, really felt more like old world Spain, rich with history, culture, and Espanolitas! I also had a good experience practicing Spanish there.

Barcelona is full of people from all over the globe, and a great place to get drunk. I found that I was usually cut off about halfway into a Spanish sentence & spoken to in English, which didn't do a whole lot of good for me educationally. If you do go to somewhere else in Spain you MUST visit Barcelona to see Gaudi's architecture, however, it is breathtaking.
 

Sessamoid

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WilcoWorld said:
If you do go to somewhere else in Spain you MUST visit Barcelona to see Gaudi's architecture, however, it is breathtaking.
Absolutely. He had a major impact on architecture as we know it today. I haven't been there since about the time of the Barcelona Olympics, but the most recent photos of the Sagrada Familia looks like they're continuing to make progress on it, which is nice.
 

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As a Spanish major, I spent a semester living and studying in Madrid in 1989. To this day, native Spanish speakers can tell I learned my Spanish in Spain the minute I open my mouth.

As for partying, Madrid is awesome in terms of nightlife. If you are looking more a more student centered population, try Salamanca. Its a beautiful city with a lot of history.

In terms of cost, Europe will definitely not be the cheapest. There are probably some great options in Mexico and the rest of Central America. Argentina is affordable, but the argentines speak their own little form of Spanish that has quite a few differences from the Spanish in other countries.

If you pick a program at any decent sized univeristy, you will probably be able to find a decent amount of partying. If you really want to learn the language in terms of being able to use it, I recommend Mexico or Central America. The vast majority of patients in the US come from these areas. After spending a semester in Spain, my first class back in the US was taught by a Cuban professor. It took me the better part of two weeks to get used to his accent and understand him. To this day, I still have a great deal of trouble with Mexican/Caribbean/Central American pronounciation.
 

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to put in my two cents. i am in peru right now on a post interview break and the surf has been incredible. it is way cheaper than costa rica and the waves are much bigger/better. locals speak relatively slow clear spanish. plus, when there is nothing to do you can always head to macchu picchu and do the inca trail. great place, great waves.
 

la gringa

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i'm currently in the middle of 6 weeks in Costa Rica... 5 of which I am spending in a language school. their website is

www.adventurespanishschool.com

they have 3 campuses: dominical on the pacific coast, arenal near the volcanoes and cloud forest, and turrialba in the mountains near the rivers. i don't have much time right now to go into detail, but i'm having a fabulous time and learning a lot of spanish so far. the ticos (native costa ricans) are known for being nice and the country is just GORGEOUS.

as far as being more expensive than chile, whaaaat???? plane tickets alone are 2x as much, at least. CR is very cheap if you are in the less touristy areas such as turrialba. i'm in turrialba for a month, living with a host family. feel free to PM me with questions.
 

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Apollyon said:
Are you trying to say that that is something that really burns your nuts?
Nope, just wanted to clarify things. But apparently my pointing it out burned your nuts enough that you had to make point of it.
 

Apollyon

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hans19 said:
Nope, just wanted to clarify things. But apparently my pointing it out burned your nuts enough that you had to make point of it.
Umm...I think you missed my point - I was making light of your "radiology without lead" quote (if I got that right) - which, I believe, would "burn your nuts".

It had nothing to do - at all - with anything else in the thread.
 

Hercules

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Thanks for posting on the programs you guys are doing/have done. I'm really interested in doing a program like this during residency. One quick question: Do most of these tailor the traching to your level of Spanish proficiency? I'm by no means fluent, but I had Spanish for about 10 years in elementary school and high school. That was a while ago so it's pretty rusty now, but I was hoping that they wouldn't start me off with the alphabet if I did one of these programs ;)
 
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Wow, I'd also like to thank you all for the posts. Definitely has given me a lot to think about. So if I understand you all right, if I go to Spain I'll have a blast with the night life and day scene at the expense of learning a dialect that is a little less useful than that if I studied in Mexico or South America. :cool: Are there any places in Mexico or South America that will still have a good night life, but won't be so touristy that almost everyone speaks English, thereby preventing me from practicing very much with the locals?
 

hans19

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Apollyon said:
Umm...I think you missed my point - I was making light of your "radiology without lead" quote (if I got that right) - which, I believe, would "burn your nuts".

It had nothing to do - at all - with anything else in the thread.
My apologies, Apollyon.
:oops: I can't afford my own lead, yet. I try to avoid during fluoro work 'commando', though. ;)
 

Jeff698

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Apollyon said:
I was making light of your "radiology without lead" quote (if I got that right) - which, I believe, would "burn your nuts"..
Oh, I get it now. That's kind of funny! :laugh:

Take care,
Jeff
 

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Hercules said:
Do most of these tailor the traching to your level of Spanish proficiency?
The place I went to had you take a proficiency test when you first get there so that you're placed with in an appropriate class. I'm sure all the other schools do similar things...

Getting it done during residency would be impressive... I'm not sure a month of spanish (even medical spanish) without any clinical component would fly here.
 

Hercules

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aliraja said:
The place I went to had you take a proficiency test when you first get there so that you're placed with in an appropriate class. I'm sure all the other schools do similar things...

Getting it done during residency would be impressive... I'm not sure a month of spanish (even medical spanish) without any clinical component would fly here.
I'm blanking on the country now, but I believe two of our residents here did a medical spanish elective rotation for a month where they did language lessons in the mornings and ED shifts at night and in the afternoon in the local ED.
 

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PlayHard said:
Right now I'm a 4th year student and planning on doing a foreign language elective (My home institution actually gives us credit for this :D ). Has anyone spent a month in Spain or Costa Rico learning Spanish/taking Spanish classes? Any info on good courses, fun cities to live in, places to stay, or recommendations for other Spanish speaking countries would be appreciated.

Well, you can spell Spain, so Costa Rica may be a bad choice - or an opportunity to learn more! :)
 
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PlayHard

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Changed Costa Rico to Costa Rica in the OP. Honest misspelling on my part. To anyone who was offended, please accept my apology.
 

la gringa

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there are 2 brown medicine residents here and 3 TY residents from one of the NY hospitals. i could ask them how they got it to count, but the way they put it before is that they actually do more work here than other residents do back home in derm or rads electives.

we took a placement test at the beginning... i was a rank beginner but others with previous experience started in other levels.
 

notdeadyet

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PlayHard said:
Are there any places in Mexico or South America that will still have a good night life, but won't be so touristy that almost everyone speaks English, thereby preventing me from practicing very much with the locals?
Antigua, Guatamala. You can make an argument that Costa Rica is more beautiful (the beaches are gorgeous), but the whole Spanish language academy concept there doesn't compare to Guatamala's for price vs. quality. Antigua is one of the largest areas for it and has a great nightlife, but it's still easy to go with the locals and avoid the neighborhoods dripping in tourists.
 

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notdeadyet said:
Antigua, Guatamala. You can make an argument that Costa Rica is more beautiful (the beaches are gorgeous), but the whole Spanish language academy concept there doesn't compare to Guatamala's for price vs. quality. Antigua is one of the largest areas for it and has a great nightlife, but it's still easy to go with the locals and avoid the neighborhoods dripping in tourists.


I agree that Antigua is a lot of fun and a great starting point for daytrips into more remote areas, but I have to disagree and say that it is filled with tourists and I heard at least as much English there as I did Spanish. Still well worth a visit, but probably low yield when it comes to learning the language.