Frequently Asked Questions
SUMMER LANGUAGE INSTITUTE GENERAL INFORMATION
- What is the Summer Language Institute?
The SLI is an intense course of study for those who want to earn their MA degree over the course of 3 summers.
The courses are specifically designed to meet the needs of middle school, high school and community college Spanish teachers. This unique summer program combines courses on language acquisition and pedagogy with language and culture courses to allow you to improve both your language proficiency and cultural understanding.
Our focus is to provide courses that are intellectually challenging and yet practical and applicable to what we language teachers do in the classroom.
- Should I plan to arrive early?
Yes. We suggest that you arrive at least 3 days in advance of the beginning of classes and, preferably, one week in advance. This will allow you to become acquainted with the city, find the best way to school and back, get to know your family, do some sight-seeing, and find your favorite coffee shops.
- Where is the SLI held?
The SLI is held at the Departamento de Lenguas (also known locally as the Escuela de Idiomas), a part of the University of Guanajuato, in Guanajuato, Mexico. The Departamento de Lenguas is located just behind the University of Guanajuato, on la Calzada de Guadalupe.
- Why Guanajuato?
Southern Oregon University and the City of Ashland, Oregon (the site of SOU) have had a close relationship with Guanajuato for over 40 years. Ashland and Guanajuato are “Sister Cities” and share a number of exchanges between city officials and the community at large. SOU has had Student Exchange and Study Abroad programs with the University of Guanajuato since 1968.
- How long does it take to finish the MA degree?
By attending both of the three week summer sessions you can complete the program in 2.5 summers. Course work for the MA degree takes just 15 weeks to complete!
- Why are some courses taught in English?
Core courses are taught in English since the great majority of the resources (texts and research) are carried out and published in English. Due to the exacting nature of the vocabulary and theory involved in these subjects (Second Language Acquisition for example) students appreciate that they are taught in the same language as the readings.
- Is your university accredited?
Southern Oregon University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
Regional accreditation of postsecondary institutions is a voluntary, non-governmental, self-regulatory process of quality assurance and institutional improvement. It recognizes higher education institutions for performance, integrity, and quality to merit the confidence of the educational community and the public. Accreditation by a postsecondary regional accrediting agency also qualifies institutions and enrolled students for access to federal funds to support teaching, research, and student financial aid.
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), based in Redmond, Wash., is an independent, non-profit membership organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the regional authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions in the seven-state Northwest region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It fulfills its mission by establishing accreditation criteria and evaluation procedures by which institutions are reviewed.
GENERAL INFORMATION ON GUANAJUATO
- What is the best way to get there?
The most convenient arrival is the Airport in León (BJX). It is a 45 minute cab ride from the León Airport to Guanajuato. Other options include arrival at Guadalajara and Mexico City. These airports are about a 4-5 hour bus ride from the city of Guanajuato.
You may arrange to have your family or the UG van pick you up through our housing coordinator for $50 US. If you decide to arrange for your own taxi from León, be aware that drivers from León sometimes get lost, as the addresses in Guanajuato refer to the alleyways (callejones), not the streets. The prices at the taxi stand in the terminal are fixed to wherever you may be going. From Leon to Guanajuato the price for a taxi is about $50 US.
- What weather can I expect
Guanajuato is located in the highlands of central Mexico. The elevation is close to 7,000 feet. You will be in Guanajuato during the rainy months. Expect brief but sometimes strong afternoon showers. There are also similar showers in the late evening. Usually within 30 minutes of the showers the sun comes back out and the streets dry up.
While the temperatures are mild, when the sun is out, it can be intense. You will notice the shady sides of the streets are the most popular. Evenings can be quite cool, lowering into the mid 50’s.
- Is there a doctor available if I get sick?
Yes. In the downtown area, on the Plaza de la Paz, there is a 24 hour medical clinic. For a visit to the doctor the cost is around $25-30 US.
GENERAL HOUSING INFORMATION
- Why a family stay?
There is a tremendous advantage to home stays since you are immersed in the culture and the language. Many of our students request the same families every summer due to the close bonds that are established.
- What does it cost to stay with a family?
The cost is around $27/day. This includes room and board: three meals a day. Families may provide laundry service for fees arranged by the students and the host families.
- How do I pay?
The easiest way is to have a debit card from which you can withdraw money from the Cajeros Automáticos. While many families prefer American dollars, it is not always possible to get US currency from the cash machines. We do not suggest that you carry that amount of cash into Mexico. Travelers Checks are an option but our experience shows that cashing them is often a problem.
- Who arranges the housing?
Martha Wario, the Housing Coordinator at the Departamento de Lenguas, will take care of all homestay arrangements for you. You will be sent an inquiry form to fill out. This form provides information on your preferences and every effort is made to match you to the perfect family.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
We strongly urge you to bring a laptop with you. Most students also bring a flashdrive. They save files and can easily take them to an Internet café and print pages. The Departamento de Lenguas is wireless as are numerous coffee shops and cafes. Many of the homes where students stay also provide wireless services.
There is no special current adapter necessary. We do suggest you bring a small surge protector.
Again, with a flashdrive files can be transported easily the computer lab, photocopy center, or to internet cafés where papers can be printed.
- Earplugs. Guanajuato can be noisy compared to U.S. standards. If you have a hard time sleeping with dogs barking, roosters crowing, bells ringing and music playing, you should bring earplugs to help you sleep. Eventually, however, you may find you do not even notice these common sounds in your neighborhood.
- Umbrella and extra shoes. You will be in Guanajuato during the rainy season. This means that rain in the afternoon is common. Usually these are brief and intense thunderstorms lasting an hour. It is not uncommon to have thunderstorms in the evenings. The callejones may flood and it is quite possible that your shoes will get soaked if you get caught in a storm, so bring at least one extra pair of shoes.
- Notes about clothing: Be comfortable. Note that in general, dressing up occurs with more frequency than in the US. It is a good idea to bring an outfit that is suitable for a nice evening out.
The streets are cobblestone. Women should be aware that high heels, ankles, and cobblestone streets can be a precarious mix, but note that many of the women in Guanajuato where them daily.
Clothes that transfer from day to night are popular, and this is most applicable to the male side of fashion. Understand that skirts, slacks, and dress shirts are worn frequently.
Shorts are not commonly worn outside of el Departamento de Lenguas.
Sandals are becoming more popular in Guanajuato, but Americans still wear them more often than Mexicans do.
Watch your step:
Guanajuatenses love their dogs, but do not tend to pick up after them on the street. Guanajuatenses do not typically go barefoot because they believe it is bad for your health. Also, throw in a pair of sandals or flip flops, as scorpions tend to make a habit of visiting in the shower.
How can I communicate with my friends and family while in Guanajuato?
• Phone Plan Options:
-You can establish an international calling plan with your current cellular telephone carrier, but be aware that roaming rates will most likely still apply and you will be subject to huge roaming fees regardless of your prior international plan purchase.
-Buy an international phone card. Telcel is a phone company in Mexico that has specific pay phones where you can use Telcel or Ladatel International Phone cards to call home. They come in $30, $50, and $100 peso denominations. Public phone booths require cards, not cash.
-It is much cheaper for people in the States to call you. You might choose to set up a regular time for friends and family to all. Be considerate of your households in Guanajuato and the US if you do this; Guanajuato is on Central Time. It is two hours ahead of the West Coast.
-Cell Phones are readily available in Guanajuato. It is a pay-as-you-go system, where you will go into an Oxxo (like a 7-11 convenience store) and recharge your phone. With the credit you buy, you can make phone calls to the US. It is also the best way to stay in contact with the friends you have there. Texting is a popular way to communicate, and to ensure that the messages go through; a Mexican cell phone is your best bet.
To call the US or Canada direct from Mexico: 001 + area code + number
(For example: 001 + 541 + number)
To call Mexico direct from the US: 011 + 52 + area code + number
To call a Mexican cell phone direct from US: 011 + 52 + 1 + area code + number
To call a long distance number within Mexico: 01 + lada (this is like an area code, but for a city) + number
(For example: to call Irapuato 472-772-2497: 01 + 472 +772 + 2497)
For the rest of the world: 00 + country code + area code + number
Skype is an internet communication service where you can make calls to landlines or cell phones (for a fee) or make a video call for free. Almost all internet cafes have cameras and microphones, so you can utilize Skype to its full potential. Keep in mind that if you bring your laptop and it comes with a camera, all you have to do is connect to the internet and start. Note: You don't have to use a camera to use it. You can use it for free computer to computer (voice only with an internet connection) as long as you and the person you are calling have a microphone and have SKYPE installed (free download).
• Surface Mail:
Three weeks is the usual for a letter to arrive in either direction, so it is not advisable to have anything mailed to you in Mexico. If you are going to send a postcard to someone outside Mexico, it will get there faster if you place it in an envelope.
Where can I work out?
Before planning on continuing your current workout regimen, remember that this is an intensive program and that there will be very little time for much else than studying while your classes are in session! Walking up and down the steep callejones to and from the university will naturally provide some exercise every day.
Downtown there are a couple of small gyms where one can workout and lift weights, take Zumba and/or aerobics classes. The facilities are very basic. Yoga classes are available near the university on Calle del Sol or la Plaza del Baratillo.
The CEDAJ is a gym above San Javier and below Valenciana that is equipped with tennis courts, soccer fields, playground equipment and an Olympic sized swimming pool.
On Calle Ashland you will find a soccer field, tennis courts and the University gym. Calle Ashland is located to the right hand side, up the hill (across from Hotel Real de Minas) from the Plaza de las Ranas (there is also a small track for running next to the Plaza de las Ranas).
Las Palomas is an area north of the Templo de Valenciana where you can pay a small fee and camp, or take a day-trip. There is playground equipment, and there are outdoor barbeques where you can grill.
Santa Rosa is a great biking and hiking area on the north end of the city.
La Cueva is another amazing place to for biking and hiking, and rivals for the best view of the city award!
If you are interested in rock climbing, lessons are offered and classes are taken up every Saturday (weather permitting) at la Cueva.
PLACES OF INTEREST
- Where to eat
There are a number of restaurants and they range from very inexpensive to moderate. Often times there are “Menú del Día” offerings posted outside. These are fixed price meals usually offering three courses. They range from $5 US to $10 US.
Some of the favorites listed by previous students are:
EL ABUE - Calle San José # 14 - Plaza del Baratillo
The best breakfast in town, served until noon. Delicious salads and enchiladas for lunch.
Truco 7 - Calle Truco #7 - A street south of the Basilica between Jardín Unión & Plaza de la Paz.
Traditional Mexican food. A great place for any meal.
El Colibrí - Plaza del Baratillo - Health-conscious food with a fixed price meal that always offers a vegetarian option. Very friendly staff and delicious meals.
Chao Bella - Avenida Juarez #22. We traditionally have our welcome dinners here. If you want a little luxury and great Italian cuisine at moderate prices, try dinner here. Good food, good service.
Los Alpes – Right across the street from the University
Another family-owned restauraunt offering a Menú del Día for lunch. Very reasonable prices.
- Places to Visit
The Alhóndiga de Granaditas (public granary) is an old grain storage building in Guanajuato City, Mexico. This historic building was created to replace an old granary near the city's river. Its construction lasted from 1798 to 1809, by orders of Juan Antonio de Riaño y Bárcena, a Spaniard who was the quartermaster of the city during the Viceroyality of New Spain. Attached to one side of the Alhóndiga is a large plaza with a set of wide steps that rise to meet the edge of the building. During the annual International Cervantino Festival, this space is converted into a large open air auditorium for live performances. The shows (often music and dance by groups of worldwide acclaim) are free to the general public, with reserved seats directly below the stage.
El museo iconográfico del Quijote - Since 1987, the Don Quixote Iconographic Museum has contributed to the promotion of art and culture in the state of Guanajuato and throughout Mexico through its collection, part of a patrimony and spirit which belongs to the entire world. This museum, unique among the more than 40 thousand in the world, owes its existence to Eulalio Ferrer Rodríguez, President of Fundación Cervantina de México, who generously donated his collection of art on the theme of Don Quixote and the characters of Cervantes's immortal novel. The Guanajuato State Government has provided the museum building, and is responsible for museum administration and maintenance.
Museo Casa Diego Rivera – Founded in 1975 in the house which was the birthplace of Diego María Rivera Barrientos, one of the greatest Mexican painters to have ever lived. Born on December 8, 1886, in one of the rooms on the first floor, Rivera lived the first six years of his life here. Approximately 100 original works of art by Rivera are normally on display. This is one of the most important collections in Mexico, as it shows the various creative stages of the artist, including his formative years and his cubist period.
Teatro Juarez - Considered one of the most beautiful theaters in Mexico, the Teatro Juárez was inaugurated in 1903 by General Porfirio Diaz. Its portico is in the Roman Doric style, and among its many charms is an art nouveau foyer. The Teatro Juarez is the main stage of the International Cervantino Festival, and the site of an enormous variety of artistic activity, from theater, ballet and music to painting and photography exhibitions.
Universidad de Guanajuato - The history and academic tradition of the Universidad de Guanajuato date back to the 18 th century, the most prosperous period of Villa de Guanajuato, a mining town which received the title of City in 1741. The University had its beginnings in the Hospice of the Holy Trinity, established on October 1, 1732 in the home of its principal advocate and supporter, Doña Josefa Teresa de Busto y Moya. She, along with 14 wealthy miners contributed financially to create the first school in Guanajuato. As the Universidad de Guanajuato, the institution reaffirmed its commitment to academic excellence, original and relevant research, and extension to the community. The schools and departments of the University continued to grow, dedicated to producing professionals with a community-oriented outlook.
Casa de las Leyendas - Here visitors can see tales and legends of Guanajuato depicted using animation, visual effects, light and sound, and in models both to scale and life-size. Subida del Molino y Panorámica (no street number)
Basílica de Nuestra Sra de Guanajuato - Basilica of our Lady of Guanajuato Built from 1671 to 1696. Inside this church there is a 1000 year old statue donated by Spanish King Charles I who tried to protect it from the arab invasion in Spain.
El Pípila - a 28-meter tall statue of an independence hero, atop the San Miguel hill. To reach this place use the funicular (cable car) just behind Teatro Juarez. Juan Jose Martinez, or also known as El Pipila, is the legend of a hero who wore a stone slab on his back to protect himself while burning the Spanish troops holed up in the Alhóndiga, or granary in September 1810. The view is beautiful, particularly at night.
Presa de la Olla (Dam of La Olla) - Built in 1749 to supply fresh water to the town. In this place you can rent a little boat. There's also a park and a great statue of Miguel Hidalgo casted in Italy also inaugurated by President Porfirio Diaz in the early 1900's. This area is very tranquil and quiet to have a break.
Callejón del Beso (Alleyway of the Kiss) - Romantic alcove formed by two balconies separated by a mere 69 centimeters (27 inches), this famous landmark derives its name from a popular legend of two lovers. It is said that couples who kiss while standing on the third stair are guaranteed seven years of happiness. This ritual is now considered one of the things that every couple that visits this romantic city must do.
El Campanero Bridge - This rather small, picturesque bridge, of cantera stone, was built in 1778. It is one of few bridges in Guanajuato that was not built over the river. Its purpose was to provide access - from the street known as Subida del Tecolote - to one house in particular on this street. That house dates back to the 18th century, and its entrance was originally at street level. Due to the street being lowered on two separate occasions, the entrance to the house "rose" above street level. Records show that in 1844 the street was lowered for the first time so that carriages could pass through, and that in 1878 it was lowered once again, to its current level.
Jardín Reforma - Architect José Noriega was responsible for the design and construction of this plaza, set on the grounds of a former corral. The corral once included the land where the Church of Belén today stands. The plaza was inaugurated sometime between 1861 and 1875, and in 1923 it was officially named Jardín Reforma. Here, one can appreciate the side façade of the School of Architecture, University of Guanajuato. In the interior of the school is a baroque chapel which now houses the Armando Olivares Carrillo library. The plaza features a simple cantera stone fountain at its center, symmetrical paths, and gardens with a variety of ornamental plants. The front entrance to the plaza features a Roman arch resting on another, smaller arch, joined to a series of Ionic columns.
La Casa de Tía Aura - This is a large rambling house of ages past, where spirits refusing to leave this world haunt bedchambers and cellars, and souls are buried inside the walls or tortured by instruments of the Inquisition. Scenes are depicted using animated figures and special effects.
Parque Florencio Antillón - Set atop a covered streambed of over 350 square meters, this park offers extensive gardens crisscrossed by symmetrical paths. At the center of the park, one finds the 5.35 meter-high statue of Father Hidalgo, designed in Rome by Guis Trabachi. Standing next to the Garden of Acacias , one can see the reservoir Presa de San Renovato, also known as "Presa Chica" (little reservoir). Construction of this reservoir was started in 1838 and finished in 1852. Another attraction here is the lighthouse, built in 1944 on a hill overlooking the park and reservoir.
Cristo Rey Shrine - This shrine crowns the mountain Cerro del Cubilete, 2,579 meters (8,460 feet) above sea level. One of Mexico's most important religious monuments, it marks the geographical center of our country. Seen from the outside, the building is the base for the statue of Christ the King holding His arms open in sovereignty over the entire country. Two angels kneel at the statue's feet, presenting Him with a crown of thorns and a royal crown. From the plaza at the foot of the shrine, one can enjoy wide-open vistas of the Guanajuato plains. The air is pure and one feels a certain mystical comfort.
Museo el Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera - Desde 1979 el Museo Exhacienda San Gabriel de Barrera, ofrece a los visitantes de la ciudad un verde y colorido recorrido en el que las bellezas arquitectónicas se conjugan con diferentes ambientes. El museo brinda a sus visitantes un pródigo reposo de belleza, pasado y tradiciones.