For a study abroad experience full of vibrant colors, indigenous history, and contrasting backdrops of rugged mountain, lush forest, and blue sea, look no further. Guatemala is not the most common destination for study abroad, but it is the perfect location for students looking for a Central American experience that is off the tourist track. Despite decades of civil war, military coups, and natural disasters, the locals possess an uplifting spirit that never dampers. Students will embrace Guatemala’s positive vibes while falling in love with a truly unique study abroad experience.
Where to Study in Guatemala
Guatemala screams diversity in every aspect of life. Travel west into the highlands to experience the land of eternal spring in some of the more modern big cities, or travel east to wander through indigenous villages. Embrace the Rasta-inspired coasts while chilling beachside in a hammock, or dive deep into the jungle for an adrenaline rush. Here are the best places to study abroad in Guatemala.
Guatemala’s heart lies within Guatemala City. This city, known as “Guate” by the locals, is full of contrasts. Wander the streets that are filled with broken down buses next to shiny new BMWs, and gaze up at modern skyscrapers next to tiny dilapidated villages. Guate can be dirty and dangerous at times, but other times is absolutely fascinating. Dangerous areas have been redeveloped into pedestrian-friendly streets filled with hip bars, cafes, and restaurants.
Head straight for Antigua, the heart of the Mayan civilization. While Guate radiates a big city vibe, Antigua emanates picturesque Guatemala. Streets are painted bright colors, covered in local artwork and flower petals, and lined with old colonial buildings. Students feel as if they’ve traveled back in time. Spend your free time exploring markets full of indigenous artwork, relaxing in charming plazas, or trekking through dormant volcanoes.
To get more off-the-grid while studying in Guatemala, consider Quetzaltenango. Some say it’s the perfect Guatemalan town: big enough to keep students busy, but small enough to feel like home. There are enough international visitors to support the tourism industry, but not enough to take away the genuine feeling of a Guatemalan village. The German-influenced gothic architecture is stunning, with glorious town halls and cathedrals contrasting crumbling ruins. Awesome!
Popular Subjects to Study in Guatemala
As with any developing country, there are areas here that are not the safest for study abroad in Guatemala. It is important for students to do their research to find a safe area to study with quality education. Remember to take your time when considering a destination, and look at accreditation and university affiliations when choosing a school.
The most popular study abroad programs in Guatemala focus on language study. With over 30 language schools throughout the country, students of all ages can find the perfect program to suit their needs. Dive into Spanish language classes to learn the country’s first language, or consider learning one of the many Mayan languages so you can communicate with locals in small villages.
Once you learn the basics of the local language, you can balance your language learning with other forms of study. Take classes in history, social change, Spanish acquisition, or archaeology to learn more about the culture, find an internship or volunteer program in teaching, tourism, or medicine to complement your studies, and fill your free time with excursions to highland villages, archaeological sites, and salsa classes. You might even consider attending classes at the world-renowned Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.
Costs of Studying in Guatemala
Wondering what the costs of studying in Guatemala are? One of the best parts about studying here is the cost. Unlike many other popular study abroad locations, Guatemala is incredibly cheap. Your money multiplies when you arrive for your studies. Students can take local transportation around the cities for only a few cents, shop at local markets to fill bags with fresh produce for a couple of dollars, and meet friends for beers that are just over one dollar. Treat yourself to a nice meal out every now and then for only $5.
Of course, students still need to cover the cost of getting to Guatemala. While language classes and other studies tend to be affordable, students can explore their options of scholarships and fundraising to cover flights and program fees.
Student Housing in Guatemala
Here are what types of housing are available for students in Guatemala. While studying abroad in Guatemala, students are sure to have a truly immersive experience. Nearly all study abroad students live in homestays, as it is the most enjoyable and comfortable option. Although it is possible to rent your own apartment, it is not recommended, as it can be dangerous to live on your own. Homestays, however, are safer and much more affordable. Locals are excited to share their culture with international students and travelers, so get ready for some delicious, authentic home-cooked meals, language immersion, and instant community.
Student Visas for Guatemala
For those who are planning a short stay of less than 90 days in Guatemala, a visa is not required; however, students planning to study for a semester that is longer than three months will need to acquire a student visa. Check out GoAbroad’s Guatemalan Embassy Directory for the latest information on required documents, visa costs, and processing times, as this all depends on your country of origin.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Guatemala is a beautiful country, but its history is filled with violence, civil war, and poverty. Students may be wary of the tragedy that has befallen this Central American country, but despite the violence and destruction, there is undoubtedly a positivity that flows through Guatemalan streets. The locals are genuinely happy with uplifting spirits, and they will teach you to take pleasure in the small things, like sharing a meal with family or laughing with friends.
If the positive vibes aren’t enough, you will surely fall in love visually with Guatemala. Black sand beaches in the west meet Mayan pyramids in the east. Dramatic horizons are dotted with volcanoes in between rainforest canopies, and cities feature cobblestone streets with locals wearing colorful traditional clothing. You will never tire of this beautiful backdrop as you study abroad in Guatemala.
Whether you are looking for language immersion or history lessons, adrenaline-pumping adventure or a chance to lend a helping hand, studying abroad in Guatemala has it all.