Santo Domingo is a city that basks in both sun and colonial history. The New World has literal foundations in Santo Domingo (set some time aside to explore centuries-old ruins in the Zona Colonial), and a handful of other colonizations and conquests in the Caribbean launched from the city to places such as Cuba and Puerto Rico. In addition to history, the capital of the Dominican Republic boasts baseball, merengue, and architecture. The dynamic “first city of America” truly has something to offer every student. Consider becoming a capitaleño yourself, and study abroad in Santo Domingo!
Ways to Study in Santo Domingo
With 18 universities and easy access to comprehensive study abroad programs, the diligent student will find exactly what he or she needs to make studying in Santo Domingo both beneficial and unforgettable. Almost every major field of study is represented in Santo Domingo, but there are some subjects that enjoy a few advantages in the city.
Popular subjects to study. You’re in the land of rhythm — why not study Music and Dance?! Merengue, Bachata, and Palo all have roots in the Dominican Republic, and there is no doubt musicians and dancers alike will find inspiration in Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo itself has a symphonic orchestra, opera company, ballet company, and numerous other organizations and resources to foster budding music or dance careers. You can also study sports — José Bautista, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramírez are just a few names to come out of Santo Domingo. A sports program in Santo Domingo may turn out to be a homerun for those with a taste for peanuts and Cracker Jacks; the city is home to two baseball teams and the Quisqueya baseball stadium.
Short term and summer programs vs. long term programs. It goes without saying that the longer you are immersed in a language, the more you will absorb. If you would like to leave Santo Domingo with Spanish skills to brag about, a longer duration program may be the right choice. If time or cost is an issue, then it would be wise to consider just a semester or summer abroad. Another factor to consider? Hurricane season.
Attending universities vs. other program types. If your home university does not offer a program in Santo Domingo, then coordinating with a third party program through your study abroad office will be your best option. However, you may want to consider third party programs regardless, as many offer unique excursion experiences and may also come at a cheaper price.
Student Life in Santo Domingo
Many people will tell you that the lifestyle in Santo Domingo seems to be a contradiction. It has all the fast-paced qualities of a major metropolitan area, but also emulates the unmistakable laid back island attitude - perfect for students who work hard, play hard.
Homestays are by far the most popular accommodation for students in Santo Domingo, and beneficial to boot! Improve your Spanish, immerse in cultural norms, and feast on tasty Dominican dishes daily. Additionally, private student housing is available with some programs for those seeking a more independent experience, though usually at a much higher cost. No matter where you stay, do not drink the tap water!
The cost of living is low in the Dominican Republic, though you can expect prices to rise in a city center like Santo Domingo. As the terminus for four national highways, the city offers easy access to other parts of the country for students looking to explore in their downtime. Public transport is highly recommended as Dominican roads are not for the faint of heart. Students will also be glad to know that Santo Domingo offers one of only two commuter train systems in the Caribbean, so your commute to class shouldn’t be cause for headache.
Café Santo Domingo, and Dominican coffee in general, is revered as some of best in the world, so those all-nighters may feel a bit more refined than at home. Cautious students may also want to steer clear of mamajuana, a spirit concocted of rum, wine, and honey that enjoys immense local popularity.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Visas. Applying for student visas in the Dominican Republic is a bit cumbersome to say the least. For students already accepted to a Dominican educational institution, a completed visa form, valid passport, additional passport photo, medical certificate, criminal record certificate, proof of financial capability, visa application letter, and $115 fee are all required. Processing time is between 10 - 15 working days, but you may want to start putting your application together as soon as possible. Contact your embassy if you have questions or concerns.
Bilingualism! Seriously, it cannot be overstated how necessary it is to know a second language in this globalized society of ours. Apart from the numerous advantages of knowing a second language (as trumpeted by the experts), gaining fluency in Spanish will be FUN. Even if you are not enrolled in a Spanish language program, it would be next to impossible to not absorb at least basic español.
Experience. Both personal and professional. Many programs in Santo Domingo offer the possibility of internships so that you can put your studies to the test and gain firsthand knowledge of your field! Then, take your new skills home and enjoy a strong advantage in the job market.
Culture shock. Let’s be real, this is a little bit of both a benefit and a challenge. Students from more affluent countries may find life in Santo Domingo difficult to adjust to, and it will involve pushing yourself out of that pesky comfort zone. Street vendors can be aggressive, traffic is a free-for-all, and pickpocketing is not uncommon. Santo Domingo may be a different environment than many are used to, but life in the city will ultimately offer untold personal benefits.
In Santo Domingo you can walk the same streets as conquistadors and pirates from a bygone era, and who wouldn’t want to feel like Jack Sparrow? Find your studious niche in a land of living history!
Keep reading! You’ll love our comprehensive guide on studying in the Dominican Republic.