Isla del encanto, the island of enchantment. This is what Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States in the Caribbean, is called in Spanish. For most people who have visited the small archipelago, the statement does not do justice to its wonders. It’s no surprise Puerto Rico is an extremely popular destination for study abroad among American students. Puerto Rico has many strong points, but here are five of the biggest reasons why U.S. students flock to Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico.
1. They Use U.S. Dollars.
As a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico’s official currency is the U.S. dollar. That means, if you’re an American student, currency conversion is not a problem. The downside is you probably won’t get much bang for your buck, especially if you follow a lavish lifestyle, like going around town in a taxicab instead of taking the publicos, or public transport.
Spending dollars instead of foreign currency makes budgeting easier. Check out the local prices of everything you need, such as food and toiletries, when you get there. Sticking with the locals as you go about buying stuff is a good idea, as they can lead you away from tourist traps and toward stores that sell goods at locally accepted prices.
2. Puerto Rico is a Stone’s Throw From the United States.
Although it is impossible to travel to Puerto Rico by land, it is still near the U.S. Need a comparison? The distance between New York City and Miami, Florida, is about 1,200 miles, while San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Miami is only about 1,000 miles. There’s nothing like breaking in your travel shoes in foreign yet familiar territory.
Another advantage of opting to study abroad in Puerto Rico is the fact that you don’t need a visa to enter; again thanks to its status as a territory of the United States. Jet lag is also not an issue because the island is only an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so if it’s 8 a.m. in New York, it’s 9 a.m. in Puerto Rico.
3. You Can Learn Spanish in Familiar Territory.
The most popular study abroad programs in Puerto Rico are, not surprisingly, focused on learning the Spanish language. Even though Puerto Rico absolutely has its own culture and is a Spanish-speaking archipelago, enough English is spoken, and enough American characteristics are present, that the language and cultural barrier isn’t a huge one. This makes Puerto Rico a great choice for anyone who’s interested in studying Spanish abroad, but nervous about total immersion in a foreign place where few people can speak English.
4. Adventure Awaits Students in Puerto Rico.
There will never be a dull moment while studying abroad in Puerto Rico. The adventurous have plenty of activities to do on their off days from school. Take, for instance, ziplining. They say that there is ziplining and ziplining in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican version of ziplining consists of not just one or two trips across a steel cable suspended above a small ravine or between trees, but a long trip across lush valleys and forests, and even an underground river.
Looking for an outdoor activity a little less adrenaline-fueled? Try one of Puerto Rico’s bike tours. With a bicycle you can tour the island’s El Yunque rainforest, which has special trails for bikes, or go to Vieques or Culebra islands, which are both bike-friendly destinations.
5. Experience the Caribbean Through Food.
Ask any local about Puerto Rican cuisine and you’ll get this answer: “If you haven’t tasted our food, you haven’t truly experienced Puerto Rico.” Puerto Rico is, after all, considered the Caribbean’s gastronomic capital. Have a go at any of the territory’s most famous culinary delights. Love soup? Try Puerto Rico’s official dish the asopao, a chicken-and-vegetable soup laden with rice, and then move on to the delectable main course of roast suckling pig known as the lechon.