Baja California's Premier

Spanish Language School

Ensenada, Mexico

Safety and Travel

Is it safe?

YES.

By far, the most frequently asked question we receive in the US office has to do with safety. There is no hiding the fact that there has been considerable violence between rival drug cartels and law enforcement authorities. The situation in Baja California has improved dramatically since the peak years of 2008 and 2009.

One thing that must be mentioned is that nobody is targeting students or tourists. Since our first class in 1997 until present, not one of our students has ever had a security issue while in Mexico. It is easy to avoid trouble in Mexico, the US or any other country if one sticks to their game plan and takes common sense precautions.

Dr. Jim Gerber, Director, Center for Latin American Studies at San Diego State University wrote an excellent letter to the SDSU community in 2008. The letter is still relevant today. It puts realistic perspective on the issue of safe traveling in Mexico.

To read the letter, click here
http://blog.bajabound.com/a-common-sense-approach-to-visiting-baja/

How do I get to Ensenada?

The majority of our students take public transportation to Ensenada. The first step is getting to San Diego. Students fly into San Diego airport, or take Amtrak to Santa Fe Station in downtown San Diego.

The second step is getting to the US-Mexico border. You can:

  1. Get dropped off at the border.
  2. Take a cab to the border (approx. $35.00 and 20 minutes)
  3. Take a trolley to the border.
    The closest trolley stop to the airport is at Santa Fe Station. It is about 2.5 miles from the airport. Trolleys depart to the border every 20 minutes and the trip takes about 50 minutes. (approx. $3.00) You can take a cab to the Santa Fe Station (approx. $8.00) or you can take the bus. The Flyer (#992) takes you to the trolley station. For $5.00 you can purchase a ‘day pass’ that will cover your bus and trolley fare

The third step is catching the coach to Ensenada.

  1. Walk through a set of steel turnstiles and proceed straight to the second set of turnstiles. You'll enter a sea of yellow taxis.
  2. Turn right and follow the sidewalk for about 100 yards. Cross the street and on the left side of the building you will see as small ABC (Autotransportes de Baja California) terminal.
  3. Coaches to Ensenada leave every half hour.
  4. The trip costs about $12.00 (US currency OK). 
  5. The bus will make one stop downtown before reaching the main terminal. Stay on the bus until you get to the main terminal.

The trip from Tijuana to the main Ensenada bus terminal takes about 1.5 hours.

Can I drive my car?

Yes. You can drive to Ensenada from downtown San Diego in about 1.5 hours. You will need Mexican liability insurance. If your current carrier cannot provide you with this, the College can refer you to a reputable agency.

Do I need a passport?

Yes. All travelers who intend on returning to the USA will need a passport.

Do I need a visa?

Technically yes, but realistically, not really. There are no check points between the US border and Ensenada where tourist visas are requested. Several miles south of Ensenada there are points where a tourist card must be presented, or purchased.

Nobody is checking for visas in Ensenada or north.

Technically, aliens must have a tourist card if they remain in Mexico longer than 72 hours. However, there is no record of when you entered Mexico. The cost is about $15.00 for a tourist visa.

Instruction

How long will it take to become fluent?

Becoming fluent in a foreign language can take years. First one must attain a level of functional proficiency. This can take as short as a few weeks for some students. Others struggle to ever gain functional proficiency in Spanish.

One big factor upon enrolling at the college is what your current level is. If you have had years of Spanish instruction and have been to a Spanish speaking country, you should be able to attain functional proficiency before someone without any previous exposure. Similarly, most students who have studied other foreign languages with success are able to acquire the Spanish language quite rapidly.

We recommend that students enroll in a five week program.

How much can I take away in just a week?

Regardless of your current level, you can take away a tremendous amount of Spanish in just one week. This is especially true for those staying with a Mexican host family. Most students that enroll for one week wish they would have scheduled at least another week.

What is the composition of the student body?

The average age of our adult student body is 36 years old. Most of the students are professionals from the United States. We have enrolled students from all 50 US states, 5 Canadian provinces and 29 other foreign countries.

There are programs for children and teens at certain times of the year.

Do I have to already know some Spanish to enroll?

No. We offer classes for students that come in at absolute entry level as well as for Spanish teachers needing a refresher course. Classes are offered at all proficiency levels.

Do I have to buy a text book?

There are no required texts. We ask that you bring a Spanish/English dictionary or a dictionary that translates Spanish to whatever your native language is.

How is the day structured?

Classes begin at 8:30AM and end at 2:30 PM Monday through Friday. The core curriculum goes from 8:30 to 12:30. There are several breaks throughout this time.

From 12:30 to 2:30 students get involved in an activity that incorporates the morning lessons. Activity examples are; cooking class, music, board games, discussion and wine tasting.

There is an off-campus excursion every Thursday afternoon.

Host Families

Who are the host families?

The host families that participate in the homestay program have worked with us for at least 12 years. We know their whole families very well and have never had a problem with any of them.

What are the conditions in the homestay?

All the homes are solidly middle class with all the amenities to which you are accustomed. They are all very clean and in safe neighborhoods. You can opt to have a private room or share a room with your partner or travel companion. Most homes also offer private bathrooms. Some of the host families offer off-street parking for those who drove their personal vehicles to Ensenada.

Am I required to stay with a host family?

Students enrolled in the program can stay where they choose. Students have stayed in hotels, campgrounds, campers and yachts. Most students choose to stay with a host family.

Can I pay the host family with a check or credit card?

The host families are to be paid in cash at the beginning of each week. They can be paid in US or Mexican currency.

Payments

When and how do I pay the tuition?

Tuition is due when you arrive for the Sunday orientation at 2:00PM. You can pay your tuition balance with a check drawn on a US bank, travelers checks or US or Mexican currency.

Do I have to pay it all up front?

If you want the discounts offered for 5 or 10 weeks, the tuition balance must be paid in full at the beginning of your program.

If you are not intending for staying that long, you can pay at the beginning of each week.

Extra Curricular Activities

How do I get around in town?

All of the host families are within 3 miles of downtown and the malecon. It's safe to walk. Taxis are very inexpensive. Most taxi fares to and from downtown/homestay will be under $7.00

Buses are another option however it typically takes a few days to figure out the bus system. There are no printed bus schedules.

There are usually a number of students who have driven their own vehicles to Ensenada. It's usually easy to hitch a rides with them.

Does the college coordinate excursions after school?

The college coordinates an excursion every Thursday afternoon. The college can help you organize your own excursions, but does not participate after school hours.  There normally is a nominal transportation fee or an entrance fee that the student will be expected to cover.

What do students do after class?

Students have a variety of options. Some like the homestay environment and prefer to stick close to home. Others venture off to the wine country (35 minutes by car) or go shopping. There are concerts, exhibits, lectures, films, museums and sporting events. There are gyms where you can exercises and a track for running enthusiasts. Music is everywhere in Ensenada. Grabbing a cold beer or margarita and listening to live Mexican music is one of the most popular activities.

Baja California Spanish Language School - Offering Spanish Immersion Programs

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