Can I receive college credit from Spanish Immersion?
In some cases, universities will award credit for Spanish Immersion. This needs to be arranged prior to enrolling at Habla by the students with their respective institutions. We will be happy to provide curricular documentation and descriptions of our programs to help facilitate the process.
What is Habla’s building like? Where are you located?
Habla is located in one of the most charming neighborhoods of Merida in Colonia Mexico. We have a spacious two floor building surrounded by beautiful gardens and trees. Each of our nine classrooms is equipped with Wi-fi and air conditioning. Habla is located near several bus stops, so students can enjoy easy access to downtown and other neighborhoods.
Is Merida safe?
Not only is Merida one of the safest cities in Mexico, but it is also one of the safest in the world. That being said, we suggest keeping an eye on your belongings when you are in a public place. Lock your doors and practice general vigilance just as you would in any other city.
How can I get around Merida? Is there public transportation? Are there taxis or rideshare options?
Walking is perfectly safe in Merida and many of the students walk from their homestays, hotels, or AirBnb depending on how far away they are. It can be a bit too far to walk from centro (downtown) so most people take a bus or Uber if they are staying in that area. An Uber ride from Centro is about $50-60 pesos but can surge during peak hours. Buses are $7.50 pesos per ride. The bus stop to head downtown is just one block away from Habla.
How far is Habla from the beach?
Habla is about 25 minutes from Progreso, a small beach town just north of Merida. Progreso has a beautiful malecón (pier) and many restaurants with fresh seafood. The ocean is warm year-round and perfect for swimming.
How far are you from Mayan archaeological sites?
Merida is located near the most extraordinary sites in the Mayan world. We are about an hour drive to Uxmal and an hour and a half drive to Chichén Itzá. There are also other sites located just outside of the city. We can help you arrange a tour or let you know how to take public transportation.
Should I bring my devices? Do you have wireless Internet at Habla?
We have free wireless available at our school that you are welcome to use while studying here. Feel free to bring your computer or other devices and use them as you please.
What do I need to bring on my trip?
The sun is very strong in Merida all year round, so we suggest you pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and clothes that will help keep you cool. A sun hat and light, long-sleeved clothing will help protect your skin while also keeping your body temperature down. You should also pack insect repellent for mosquitoes, especially during the rainy season (June to October). At Habla, we are committed to caring for the environment, so please bring a water bottle you can refill throughout the day to stay hydrated.
Do I need to bring adaptors for my electrical equipment?
Our outlets and voltage levels are the same as in the United States and Canada.
Can I drink the water?
The rumors are true, you absolutely should not drink the tap water in Mexico unless there is a sign that specifically says agua potable (drinkable water). This is typical in higher-end hotels. Otherwise, please stick to bottled water. Because it is typical for most places to have garrafones (5-gallon water jugs), including here in Habla, we recommend bringing your own bottle that you can refill to avoid plastic waste. We brush our teeth using the water from the sink, but it is good practice to use purified water if you want to take extra precautions.
Where should I exchange my money?
Here in Merida (and many places in Mexico, for that matter) a lot of stores and restaurants do not accept tarjetas (cards) because renting the card reader is extremely expensive; thus, it's always a good idea to have cash on you. You can exchange your currency for pesos at your bank before leaving your country or exchange them here in the city. We kindly suggest not changing your bills at the airport as the exchange rate normally is not very good, but sometimes you can get lucky. Depending on your card, you might prefer to take out money from the ATM once you arrive. This option is usually the cheapest as the exchange rate is typically fairly low. Talk with your bank and see what they might recommend as the best ATM option for you in Mexico.
Am I supposed to tip in Mexico? How much is recommended?
Tipping is customary and expected in Mexico. We generally do not tip cab drivers here in unless they go out of their way to help (helping with luggage for example), then you might tip about $20 pesos. The recommended amount to tip at restaurants is 15-20%. If you are renting a car and park in a free lot, there will often be someone who watches your car or helps you pull in or out of a parking space (known colloquially as a viene viene). It is customary to give them a tip of about $5 to $10 pesos. The same goes for the person who helps you bag your groceries at the supermarket. If you have someone help you with your bags at the airport, you could tip about $50 pesos.
How much do I tip?
Someone told me you are not supposed to flush toilet paper in Mexico, is that true?
Someone told me you can't flush toilet paper in Mexico, is that true?
Flushing anything besides bodily waste down toilets (toilet paper, tampons,
pads, paper towels, etc.) can severely damage the sewage system of
wherever you are staying. Everywhere you go there will be a small trashcan
next to the toilet for you to place your toilet paper and other materials. It
might be difficult to remember to place these items in the trash can every
time, but please try your best to remind yourself until you get the hang of it
as the consequences will be very expensive for your host.
What if I have an emergency while in Merida?
If you are worried that you might have a medical issue while visiting, it might be useful to talk with your insurance provider to see where your insurance might cover you while in Merida. As the capital of the state, the city has a wide range of hospitals and clinics to choose from in case of an accident or illness. Star Médica Hospital towards the north of the city, Clínica de Merida, and Centro Médico de Las Américas towards centro have many doctors and nurses that speak English in case you need medical attention. Mexico also has a 911 emergency number nationwide, so keep that in mind if you have an emergency. For our US guests, Merida is home to a U.S. Consulate in case you have an emergency or if you lose your passport. Please check out the US Consulate’s Merida website (mx.usembassy.gov/Merida) to learn more about what to do in case of an emergency.
Do I need a passport or visa to travel to Mexico?
Mexico is a foreign country and you need a passport to enter. However, Mexico does not require citizens from most countries to hold a visa to enter the country. Instead, you will also be asked to fill out an FMM tourist card before your flight lands in Mexico, which allows you to stay up to 180 days in the country. You will need to write your full name, passport number, and where you are planning to stay on this card. You will want to say you are coming here as “tourists” and not to work or to formally study.
Please note: You must hold onto this card while you are in Mexico because you will need it to leave the country. While the fee of losing this card is affordable, the Mexican government is becoming increasingly more strict about this and your passport may be flagged for future flights into Mexico. This might lead to you being denied entry or granted a limited stay upon your next visit.