Total Immersion Language Travel

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Tuesday 12th October 2010
In this article
  • What is Total Immersion Language Travel?
  • Are you a good candidate for this kind of travel?
  • Bite the bullet and book the trip of a lifetime.

Summer, again. The time when busy SharpMen everywhere begin thinking about using some of their personal days. The question is, what are you gonna do with your time? Most professional men fail to plan vacations until they find themselves desperate to take one, and then have a hard time finding friends to travel with. So they visit relatives or go to cities where friends live. There’s always the very American "road trip." And for the masochists, we mustn’t forget the "Do-12-European-countries-in-10-days" trip (although that is so last decade).

Face it: you take time off when it is coming to you, but few SharpMen actually tack advantage of time off to have an adventure — to leave work and bills and traffic and immerse themselves in a new place, a new language and who knows what else. For these guys, Total Immersion Language Travel may be exactly what they need. Check it out:

Get ready to be more than a tourist.

Total Immersion Language Travel drops you right into the scene. The word "tourist" goes out the window — you don’t take pictures from a bus; you live a new culture. For example, in Costa Rica, Total Immersion means you take two to four hours of Spanish classes in the morning, get lost in the canopy of a cloud forest with a local hiker in the afternoons and spend your nights learning and living with a Costa Rican family.

In Italy, your mornings alternate Italian classes with cooking classes and you spend your afternoons backstage at a 17th Century Opera House or at a local gallery. You should also plan to spend some of your evenings eating home-cooked meals because you will be lodging in the house of an Italian family — and they’ll expect you to break bread with them. (Tough break.)

Sound good? Read on…

Total Immersion Language Travel is not just for students anymore.

Traveling abroad, talking classes and involving yourself with the people and culture of a new country is now available to everyone. Gone are the days when college affiliation and classes for credit were the only ways to participate in this type of program. Private institutes and some public universities in over 50 countries offer language programs for all skill levels and all budgets.

Only have two weeks off? Don’t know a single word of any language except English? No problem. These programs run the gamut: from one week to one year; beginners’ plans; lodging with a hand-picked local family or in a hotel; solo travel or with your SharpWoman.

Here are some qualifiers to help determine if you are a good candidate for this kind of a trip:

  • You have above average intelligence and are curious about places outside your home turf.
  • You can survive without drive-through banking, 24-hour fast food joints and the NBA.
  • You have a pulse and are looking for something different.

How to plan your Total Immersion Language Travel.

Start by choosing the language or culture you’d like to learn more about. Consider the type of experience you’re looking for and work from there. Don’t be afraid to try something you’d never do with a friend. For example, I highly recommend the program in St. Petersburg, Russia — you might not ever use the Russian you learn, but the culture, sights and history the school soaks you in are once-in-a-lifetime fantastic.

With the strength of the dollar at an all-time high, there are more TILT choices than ever. Thanks to the Internet, researching schools and institutes offering these programs is as easy as an online search request (see below for search terms and helpful sites). When making your inquiries, keep in mind the time differences, prices quoted in anything but dollars, and the fact that communication standards differ from country to country.

Another way to find a program is to use an agent. There are a few American companies that work directly with the schools and institutes abroad — they handpick the ones they want to represent, qualify them and get involved with the election of host-families. You apply directly with these companies, in English, pay them in dollars, and they arrange everything from who will pick you up at the airport to your special vegetarian menu, should you request it. (Airfare is almost always your responsibility).

There aren’t many companies like this, so begin your research by doing an online search for "language studies abroad." www.nrcsa.com is a solid site, but it is geared mostly to university students seeking credits. www.amerispan.com is a listing resource, with links directly to some schools’ sites.

Let’s bounce!

Once you pick your language, country, program and budget, you’ll need fill out an application and put down a deposit, usually about $100 -$150 (remember, this is if you use an agent — if you don’t, applications differ based on country, as do deposits). Next, book your flight and plan to pay for the remainder of the program costs within two weeks to 30 days of your departure date.

Some examples of program costs: four weeks in Mallorca, Spain will run you $1,095. Two weeks in Siena, Italy is $1,350. Two weeks in Hamburg, Germany cost $665. These costs include tuition for about 20 hours worth of language and cultural classes, homestay in your own room with a local family, two meals a day, materials and most afternoon excursions, should you elect to participate in them.

This article last updated on Thursday 11th July 2013
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