9 Myths about Studying Abroad in Latin America, Debunked!

Myth 1: Studying abroad is too expensive

Fact: Many students believe that studying abroad will cost them an arm and a leg, but with research and motivation, you will find a program that doesn’t break the bank. Latin America is a low cost destination to study if you are on a tight budget and according to the Travel’s South & Central American Backpacker Index for 2014, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Costa Rica are ranked the top five cheapest countries in Latin America.
Students can use Financial Aid and outside scholarships to help pay for their study abroad experience with ISA. ISA also awards over $600,000 in grants and scholarships to participating students each year. Make sure to meet with your home university Financial Aid advisor to discuss the many ways you can make studying abroad in Latin America a reality.

Photographed in Costa Rica. Photographed by ISA student Margaret Burke.

Myth 2: Latin America is unsafe

Fact: Although conflicts around the world are inevitable, according to the 2014 Latin America Security Index, Costa Rica is the safest country in Latin America, followed by Chile and Uruguay. ISA ensures that each program has the appropriate staff and tools on-site to guarantee exceptional health and safety while abroad. ISA works diligently to keep parents and faculty updated on current events and worldwide alerts that are occurring abroad. With a myriad of online resources and 24-hour emergency assistance, ISA staff is never more than a phone call away.

Photographed in Brazil. Photographed by ISA student Evan Howard.

Myth 3: You must be fluent in Spanish or Portuguese

Fact: While it is helpful to know basic Spanish or Portuguese before you go abroad to Latin America, students do not need to be fluent to have a successful experience. Simple phrases and commonly used words will go a long way. If a student wishes to learn the local language, ISA offers courses from beginner to advanced levels and many sites even offer courses in Spanish with locals, as well as courses in English. Whether you’re new to the language, or an expert, there are plenty of program options that will suit your needs.

Photographed in the Dominican Republic. Photographed by ISA student Raeesha Shabazz.

Myth 4: I can’t take advanced courses for my major abroad

Fact: Depending on the program you choose, you will be able to find many courses in different subject areas including: Business, Engineering, Spanish Language, Arts and Design, Latin American Studies, Anthropology and many more. Many of our sites also offer courses with locals, not just the ones designed specifically for international students. Making friends with local students while taking courses pertinent to your major? It doesn’t get much better than that.

Photographed in Chile. Photographed by ISA student Patrick Payne.

Myth 5: I will not like the food

Fact: Did you know that Lima, Peru is the gastronomical capital in the Americas and a top contender in the world? And there are dishes in every ISA program location in Latin America that are sure to tickle your taste buds! Between the delicious empanadas, fresh tropical fruits, and scrumptious seafood and carne, Latin American food will not disappoint.

Photographed by ISA student Morgan Kroeger.

Myth 6: All Latin American countries are hot

Fact: Students may assume that the climate is similar throughout Latin America. But just as in North America, Central and South America have distinct regions and seasons. From the cold southern tips of Argentina and Chile to the rainforests of Brazil, Peru, and Colombia, up to the tropical heat of Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, you can find all types of weather in Latin America.

Photographed in Argentina. Photographed by ISA student Andrew Friedberg.

Myth 7: Latin American universities provide lower quality education

Fact: Each of ISA’s programs place students in prestigious universities with curricula pertinent to students’ academic interests and needs. For instance, the Colombia program offers a STEM summer program offering a great academic opportunity for students studying science, technology, engineering or math at their home university. Or in Peru, students are able to study Quechua, the indigenous language of the area, at the Universidad de Salamanca Cursos Internacionales Study Center in Cusco. Not only do students have more course options, they can also attend a prestigious university abroad.

Myth 8: Latin America is full of poor, Third world countries

Fact: The First, Second, and Third world categorizations were actually created during the Cold War to categorize the countries that aligned with the U.S. and Great Britain, First World, from those that aligned with the Soviet Union and China, Second World. Those that remained neutral were considered Third World.  Therefore, these aren’t a reflection of a country’s stability, and in most cases should be taken with a grain of salt. Every ISA Latin American country is highly ranked in the 2014 Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, education, and income of a country’s citizens. This is a much better indicator of a country’s overall well-being than the outdated First, Second, and Third world categories.

Photographed in Argentina. Photographed by ISA student Maria Thompson.

Myth 9: Nobody studies abroad in Latin America

Fact: According to the Open Doors Institute of International Education, there has been an 11.7% increase in students studying abroad in Latin America and the Caribbean. Latin American locations offer lively culture and social life along side a unique blend of diverse scenery and landscapes. The Mayans and Incas were some of the most advanced early civilizations in the world and many remnants from their impressive era are still around today. In Peru you can visit Machu Picchu, and in the Dominican Republic you can visit the Colonial Zone (Zona Colonial) – the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the new world located in Santo Domingo. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the first cathedral, hospital, monastery, and university in the Americas. Latin America has much to offer students.

Photographed by ISA student Alexandra Bouchard.

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.