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Accommodation

Arrival

Weekend activities

Cusco and Surroundings

Spanish lessons

Others

Accommodations

How far from the school do the host families live?

The host families live in different areas of Cusco. Some live in the center, walking distance from the school (10 -15 minutes walking), others live in the more quiet, affluent areas of Cusco, outside the tourist district. From these places you can easily reach the school by taxi or public bus (10-15 minutes by taxi or bus). Transport in Cusco is very inexpensive. A taxi ride costs $ 0.50.

Can I get details about my host family in advance?

We usually assign the host family to each student in the week before arrival and students receive the address upon arrival in Cusco. Upon request, we can send you the details of your host family earlier, but placements are always subject to change.

What meals are included at the host family

All home stays are based upon full board. This means that a stay with a host family includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. However you are free to go out for lunch or dinner whenever you want. Meal times are the greatest opportunities you will have to spend with your family and where you can practice your Spanish, so we recommend that you eat with your family as frequently as possible.

Can we share a double room as a couple?

Yes, you can book a double room with a host family. However, prices are always per person and are iqual for a single room or a double room.

I arrive in Cusco on Saturday, where can I stay?

You can always book extra nights with your host family, at the beginning or at the end of your stay. You cannot make direct arrangements with the family but always book your accommodation through the school. It is also possible for you to stay in a hotel for your first night, or if you prefer, to spend your first night at the school residence. If you want additional day(s) after finishing your course, please inform us with a couple of days notice; if not, the family might be booked already for new students.

I am a vegetarian, is that a problem if I want to stay with a host family?

It is not problem if you are a vegetarian. Our host families have experience with the preparation of vegetarian meals. Also, if you have other dietary restrictions or allergies, just let us know in advance. However, the traditional Cusquenan kitchen is based on a lot of meat, potatoes and rice, and less vegetables.

How does the school choose my family?

Guest families are carefully chosen and monitored through regular inspections and student feedback. All the member of the family enjoy having foreign students around and introducing them into Peruvian life. Some of them might speak a little bit of English but not all of them. An school staff member visits two or three families every week to make sure that everything is o.k. and we are in constant contact with (mostly) the guest mothers. Three times a year there is a meeting for all the host families to exchange experiences, ideas and, e.g. recipes for vegetarian meals!

Can I change my accommodation after enrollment? After arrival?

If you choose to stay with a host family and you are not happy during the first week, you can change you accommodations without a problem: if you want you can go to another family or move into the students residence of a student flat. After the first week there is a change fee of $ 33.00. Before arrival you can make change without any additional cost (subject to availability).

Can I prepare my own meals if I stay in a flat?

Of course you can, that is one of the advantages of staying in a flat. The kitchens of the flats are fully equipped and go shopping to one of the Peruvian typical, colorful markets is a unique experience.

Do I have to bring my own sheets and blankets if I stay in a flat?

No you do not have to bring your own sheets and blankets but please do bring a towel.

Can I spend one week at each of your three locations?

Of course, that is a great idea. You can spend one week in Cusco, one in Manu and one in Urubamba. Also if you book several weeks in Cusco, you can always change one or more weeks to one of the other locations. Please notice that there are specific start dates for the Manu program, and that for both programs we require a minimum number of people to register before we can confirm the program will proceed.

Shall I take a gift for my host family?

You do not have to but it is a nice idea to bring something tipical from your country as a gift for the host family. The other idea is to give them a present when you say goodbye as by than, you know them and all the family members better.

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Arrival

How does the Lima pick up package work?

When you arrive at the airport in Lima, you will be picked up by a representative of the school who will have a sign with your name on it. He will take you to a comfortable two star hotel. The next day, after breakfast, you will be taken back to the airport where you will pick up your flight ticket at the airline counter. To book the pick up package, we need the exact details of your flight to Lima, and your passport number. If there happens to be a delay, please inform us immediately. Please note that booking a roundtrip ticket is slightly cheaper than buying two one way tickets.

Can I book this pick up package for my way back home, too?

Of course you can. Our travel agency can book your local flight ticket to Lima, where someone will wait for you again to take you to the hotel. Please do not forget to give us the details of your departing flight from Lima. Please note that booking a roundtrip ticket is slightly cheaper than buying two one way tickets.

Is it possible to travel overland from Lima to Cusco?

There are two options but both are pretty time consuming. The first route will lead you to Cusco via Ayacucho, Andahuaylas and Abancay and is really beautiful. However, most part of the road is unpaved (and the buses and the hotels bad) and it might be a little too much for the traveller who has just arrived to Peru. All together, it will take you about 48 hours to get to Cusco. There are several bus companies that offer this service throughout the year; however, the route is too dangerous to consider in rainy season. The second option will go to Arequipa first, and then to Cusco. The Lima - Arequipa part is fast: the majority of the trip is via the Panamerican highway, along the coast. Buses are fine and depart about every half an hour from Lima. Arequipa is a beautiful, colonial city, where the traveller might want to consider staying a day or so before continuing the trip. But if you prefer, there is a direct connection to Cusco that departs between the hours of 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. The road is not too good, it might be freezing cold at night and the bus crowded. Now you will start traversing the Andes, this is the real side of Peru! You will arrive in Cusco in the early morning, between 4:00 and 8:00.

What can I expect upon arrival in Cusco?

A representative from our school will be at the airport with a sign with your name on it to take you to the school or directly to your accommodations. If you do not see anyone, please wait another 15 minutes. If still no one shows up you can either phone us, or take a taxi directly to the school (do not pay more than US $ 2.50).

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Excursions / Weekend activities

Does the school offer excursions and other (weekend) activities?

Of course! Our own travel agency will be happy to help you arrange your trips and excursions in Peru! Our agency offers activities every weekend, such as rafting, mountain biking, horse back riding, a visit to Lake Titicaca, and, last but not least, to the famous ruins of Machu Picchu! A monthly activity schedule including all extra-curricular activities and excursions is published at the notice board at school.

What are the possibilities for visiting Machu Picchu?

Visiting Machu Picchu is, for most people, one of the highlights of their visit to Peru and you shouldn´t miss it. There are different options to go to this old Inca Town.

Inca Trail - A four day hike from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Please note that you should book this trip at least 40 days prior to arrival as spaces fill up really quickly. On the fourth day, early in the morning, you will get to Machu Picchu at sunrise, a unique experience.

Train Excursion - There are two different trains that take the tourists to Machu Picchu (different prices). A complete excursion includes a transfer from y our accommodations to the train station, a roundtrip ticket by train, a roundtrip ticket by bus from Macchu Picchu train station up to the ruins, the entrance fee to the ruins and a guided tour.

What other excursions or trips do you recommend?

We recommend you to consider participating in the following trips.

  • Machu Picchu, by train or hiking
  • Lake Titicaca, Puno and the Urus Islands
  • Arequipa, the Colca Canyon and the Santa Catalina Convent
  • Tambopata, Peruvian Amazone, Monkey Island
  • The Sacred Valley of the Inca´s, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chincheros
  • River rafting
  • Horse back Riding
  • Mountain Biking
  • City Tour in Cusco, Sacsahuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay

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Peru, Cusco and Surroundings

What is the population of Cusco? What is the city of Cusco like?

Cusco has a population of about 300,000 inhabitants. Cusco is the capital of the Department of Cusco, in the southern part of Peru at about 850 kilometers from Lima. The city center of Cusco is pretty small and there are quite a lot of tourists. Outside of the center there are the more residencial neighborhoods. There are two universities, three hospitals, a swimming pool, several high schools and primary schools, a cinema, theater, an airport.

What is the weather like?

The rainy season in Cusco occurs from November through March. During the dry season, from April to October, the weather is generally sunny. Temperatures are hot during the day and cold at night. It is recommended that students bring a wet weather coat and warm clothes for the nights and inside buildings, as they don't have heating. In the sun it is very hot and you might get burnt easily.

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Spanish lessons

How many people are there in a group?

There is a maximum of 6 students per group. However, the average number of students per group is 3 - 5. If you are the only student at your level, we will offer you 3 hours of individual lessons instead of the group lessons.

What are the class schedules?

Your classes will be Monday to Friday, either in the morning from 8:30 till 12:30, or in the afternoon, from 2:30 till 6:30. You can request extra private lessons after 6:30pm or in the weekend. Class schedules are subject to change on holidays and during the high season. Class schedules in Urubamba and Manu are different.

How much time do I need to become fluent in Spanish?

This depends a lot on the person. Our experience shows that a person who does not speak any Spanish, can achieve a low intermediate level in four weeks of group lessons. This is enough for traveling around and/or for starting your volunteer work. It means you can understand easy, slowly spoken sentences and that you can make yourself understood at a survival level. You will mainly be using the present tense but have already an idea of some past tenses.

How much can I learn in one week?

Our goal is that a beginner in his/her first week will learn to have a basic conversation: how are you, where are you from, how can I get to ...X, how much is... etc. and understand the answers. You will review the present tense (mainly regular but a couple of irregular verbs) and you will be able to understand easy, slowly spoken sentences.

What do you recommend I take, group or private lessons?

For beginners, we recommend group lessons, as it is more fun and there is more interaction during class. Of course it is also possible to take individual classes, which will give you more opportunity to talk and to adapt the classes to your specific needs. We recommend this option especially for older students and students with specific learning goals. For more advanced students, who want to focus on a specific area or who need to learn Spanish quickly, we recommend you take individual lessons, although we offer group classes at all levels, from basic till very advanced. If you want to combine group classes with Spanish classes we recommend you our special Best of Both Program

Do the teachers give homework?

The idea is that all the work is done in class. However, especially at the beginner levels, your teacher may ask you to do some exercises at home or to memorize some vocabulary to help you progress the following day.

Where is the school located? In the city center?

Yes, the school is located at only one block from the Plaza de Armas, the main square where all the restaurants, discoteques, bars and little shops are. From here it is a five minute walk to the neighborhood of San Blas, where most of the artists and artisans are located as well as the famous street with the Stone with the 12 angulos.

What level should I take?

Every Monday, at 8:00 am, all new students come together for the placement test. This test, both oral and written, will give us an exact idea of what your level is. The placement in a group of a certain is accordingly.

What exactly is included in the course price?

Included in the course price are the following: 20 hours of Spanish classes, five hours of cultural classes (lectures, cooking, dancing, movie), free airport pick up in Cusco, free internet, welcome dinner, student discount card, visit to a clinic for disabled children, placement test, certificate, farewell gathering, orientation meeting.

Do the teachers speak English?

All of our teacher to speak (some) English, however, most of the class will be held in Spanish.

Help! I do not speak any Spanish at all!

You are not the only one! Every week we start with one, two or three groups of complete beginners, people you haven´t studied any Spanish before arriving to Cusco, just as you. Don´t worry. Your Spanish will be improving quickly.

Is there a minimum age for enrollment?

The minimum age for enrollment is 18. However, younger students are welcome if another adult is there official representative. We have had a couple of 6-year old, this year!

What is my first day at school like?

At Sunday we expect you to be here at the school at 4:00 for a Welcome meeting and a walking city tour. This ends around 5:30 - 6:00. Most of the students go for a drink afterwards. However, if you feel tired of the long trip and may be the altitude is bothering you, you might prefer to go back to your host family and /or the students residence for a rest. Monday morning at 8:00 am all the students come together for the placement test. If you live in the residence, you are living at school, so you can have your breakfast at 7:30. However, if you are living with a host family you will have to get up earlier to take the taxi or the local transportation around 7:30. Around 9:00 our academic coordinator will inform you regarding your class times (either morning or afternoon). If staying with a host family you might go back for lunch around 1:00, if staying at the residence or a flat, you might get together with some other students and find a nice little fancy restaurant around the Plaza. At 6:30 there is a lecture in Spanglish regarding some tourist topic, background and practical information about a tourist site you might want to visit the following days. After that, all student head off to the restaurant for the welcome dinner. A nice opportunity to try some Peruvian food and to get to know your fellow students as well as the staff.

Can I change my program after enrollment? Are there any additional costs involved?

This depends on the change you want to make. E.g., if you want to change from group to individual classes, you just pay the difference without any additional charge. If you are uncertain about what is the best for you, please consult and we can give you advice.

When can I start my course?

Any Monday throughout the year for group classes, and any day for private classes.

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Others

On the news I heard that there are a lot of problems in Peru at the moment and that it is a very dangerous country. Is this true?

Our experience is that intenational news about Peru tends to be exaggerated. Cusco especially is a relatively peaceful place. If you keep in mind some basic rules (do not carry a lot of cash money with you, do not walk around alone at night), you will usually be safe. Items that are on the news often happen in the country side or in other desolate places, where tourists never visit.

Why should I choose your school? How long has the school been open?

The school opened the doors in 1996 and is the oldest Spanish School in Cusco, and the largest. We have an average of 30 - 50 students in the low season, and 80 - 100 in the high season. The location of the school, just two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, is simply perfect, and the view from our sunny terrace is breath-taking. All our teachers are professionals and native speakers of Spanish. Because of the large number of students that visit our school, we can always offer group lessons at many different levels.

How many students do you usually have in January / May / August, etc.

During the low season (from November - April), we have an average of 30 - 50 students and volunteers. During the high season (May - October) this number will increase to 80 - 100.

How does your laundry service work?

You can bring your dirty laundry every morning before 10 am to our office, and it will be ready the same day at about 6:30 pm. The price is about US$ 0.70 per kilo. If you booked a stay with the family Plus Program, your laundry service is included.

How much money will I need during my stay?

That is difficult to say as it depends on your way of living while staying in Cusco. Just to give you an idea: Public transport in Peru is very inexpensive. A taxi in Cusco will charge you US$0.60 during the day and US$ 0.90 after 10pm. A ride on a public bus in Cusco costs US$0.20. An average meal (set menu) in a restaurant will cost you about US$ 2.00. A beer or a coffee in a bar will cost between US$ 1 and US$ 3, depending on where you go. With a US$ 10 Visitors Ticket ('Boleto turístico') you can visit the most important ruins, museums and other sites of interest in and around Cusco. The ticket is valid for 10 days.

Do I need a medical and a travel insurance?

We do recommend you to take a medical and a travel insurance in your home country.

Can I use the internet? Can se use the phone at our accommodations?

Free internet is included in your program, you can use the computers at the internet café between the hours of 8:30 am and 6:30 pm. You can use the phone at your accommodation for incoming calls or to make phone calls with a card.

Are there ATM machines in Cusco?

There are several ATM machines in Cusco, but it is always good to bring some cash money or travellers cheques with you in case the machines are out of order. Please check with you local bank about the rates they charge for withdrawing money in a foreign country.

How can I change money?

You can change money (cash US or traveler cheques) at the banks or at the different Casas de Cambio at the Plaza de Armas. The exchange rate, at the time of writing, is $ 1.00 equals 3.4 soles. It is also possible to exchange other currencies (e.g. euros) but the exchange rate isn´t that good.

Will I need a visa?

No visa is necessary for most countries (check with the Peruvian Embassy in your home country). The tourist visa you will get when entering Peru will allow you 90 days in Peru. You are allowed a maximum of three 30-day extensions for up 180 days (6 months) in Peru. Each extension will cost you about $ 25.00. You might want to consider just crossing the (Bolivian or Chilean) border, if you need more time in Peru. It'll take you about two days and you'll be guaranteed another 90 days.

Do I need to take any study material with me?

All the study materials are included and there is no need to bring materials with you. However we recommend you to bring a good dictionary. There is no bookstore in Peru where you can buy Spanish Grammar books or (good) dictionaries.

If something unexpected happens who should I speak to?

The school has an international staff that speaks a number of languages. When something unexpected happens, you can go to the school administration and talk to them. The school also has a 24 hour emergency phone number.

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