The U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico sits in the Caribbean Sea just east of Cuba and made up of four main islands. It is the perfect combo package for a study abroad experience, because English and Spanish are both official languages. Giving study abroad students the chance to learn Spanish with the comfort of being surrounded by a population that can answer questions in English too. This Caribbean paradise is full of white sand beaches, world class surfing, and lush rain forests. Studying abroad in Puerto Rico is one of the best and most affordable options for American students looking to learn Spanish and experience a Caribbean lifestyle, especially considering its proximity to the U.S.!
San Juan. Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city, San Juan is located on the northern shore and was founded in 1521. Universidad del Sagrado Corazon in San Juan is the most well known university and hosts many study abroad programs in which students can enroll as a regular student and attend classes with Puerto Ricans. Old San Juan offers what seems like an afternoon in historic Spain. Is is easy to see the evidence of Spanish rule when strolling through the Plaza de Armas or visiting Castillo de San Crisóbal which is a large fort built by the Spanish to protect San Juan.
Rincon. This beach town is the “Hawaii of the Atlantic” and sits on the western coast of Puerto Rico. Meaning “corner” in Spanish, the town is well named, because it sits in a rather remote corner of Puerto Rico. It has become a famous surf destination in the last few decades as well as a famous destination for artists.
Subjects & Courses
Study abroad programs in Puerto Rico are available for semester, summer, or full year durations, and since Puerto Rico has beautiful weather in the low 80s pretty much year round, students can go whenever they’d like and be greeted by warm sunshine. Puerto Ricans also tend to take their education very seriously and are politically aware. They work hard, play hard, and are always up for a great current issues debate.
Biology & Environmental Studies. It is amazing to have such rich ecosystems so nearby and accessible without even having to have a passport! The Vieques coast is home to extensive marine biology and Mosquito Bay actually glows, yes glows, with life. Bioluminescent organisms light up the already beautiful location by night. Not only will students studying abroad in Puerto Rico find themselves in an incredible, real world classroom, but it will also be easy to get involved in local efforts to conserve the natural habitats and environment around them.
Spanish Language. This area of study in Puerto Rico is a bit obvious, but since the country is a U.S. territory and has easy access to English when needed, it is the ideal location for studying Spanish abroad. Depending on your language abilities, you can choose which language and type of classes you would like to take. You can find classes taught in Spanish, with English text books, or taught entirely in English.
Visual Arts. Puerto Rico’s beautiful landscape and culture have made it popular for feeding people’s creative sides. Study abroad programs in Puerto Rico specializing in photography and other visual arts are available. The thriving tourist industry provides a unique angle for learning about the commercial side of the arts as well.
Scholarships & Costs
Prices in Puerto Rico will be close to what you would expect to pay throughout the States. Higher prices can be avoided when venturing a bit beyond the main touristy areas, but a meal at a mid level restaurant will cost around $10. You will be expected to tip waiters, bartenders, and service industry providers. U.S. currency is used in Puerto Rico and credit cards are widely accepted. However, some companies will still charge an “international” transaction fee, so be sure to check out the rules of your bank or credit card provider.
Accommodation & Visas
Studying in Puerto Rico will allow you to choose between several housing options. You may live on campus in shared dormitories with local students. Most study abroad programs in Puerto Rico will house you with current students rather than keeping all the study abroad students together. This will offer a more diverse and immersive experience. If your university does not have on campus housing, you will live near campus in shared apartments usually. Some programs offer the option of homestays for an additional fee which means you would live in a Puerto Rican household as one of the family while you study abroad in Puerto Rico.
Citizens of the United States do not need a visa to enter Puerto Rico. Since it a U.S. Territory, all you need is some sort of government issued I.D. (drivers license) to get on your plane and identify yourself.
Benefits & Challenges
Working cell phones? Studying abroad in Puerto Rico, which is technically part of the U.S., has some additional perks such as cell phone coverage from common providers that include Puerto Rico in national or domestic coverage. You will also be greeted by many items and brand names that seem familiar. It can really be a home away from home.
No Passport Needed. You can study abroad in Puerto Rico without a passport, despite it being an improbable possibility, especially in a place so different from home that offers the chance to be immersed in the Spanish language, but Puerto Rico makes it all possible.
Challenging Public Transportation. The island does not have a well organized public transportation system, meaning you will either have to buy a cheap car while studying in Puerto Rico or use the bus system that connects major towns. This will save you money, but will take time to master.