Mexico

CSA - Center for Study Abroad

I did Spanish in Puerto Vallarta. NOT WORTH IT TO BOOK THROUGH CSA! If you need to save money, book it yourself. I have the info for you.

I couldn't find the school's official website to sign up directly with them (I didn't know the name either, just that it was in Puerto Vallarta and was part of Uni of Guadalajara) and I started to believe that you couldn't.... After I paid everything, CSA sent me the online placement test, which is directly on the school's site, and I discovered how much it costs to book directly with the school--ARGH!!

- Costs $1000 more than signing up directly: www.cecm.udg.mx/fees.html
- You can sign up for homestay, airport pickup everything directly with the actual school
- CSA IS NOT WORTH THE MONEY ($1000 extra??)
- They don't do anything you can't do yourself, and it isn't that much easier at all because they provide the same services as the University does...

- Their replies are always less than 3 sentences, and their phone line is a voicemail, you don't get to talk to anyone so you can have all your questions answered at once rather than through 30 emails with 3 sentence replies.

Feeling totally scammed and angry!

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: May 6, 2014
Overall:
1
Support:
2
Value:
1

Comments

CSA is a study abroad service provider. Program prices include the "services provided" per applicant, including registration and confirmation process, payment options - including the convenience to pay by credit card online, host family confirmation, airport pick-up arrangements, exchange rate lock-in by paying in U.S. dollars, and overall making the process go smoothly....as well as all the communications with the applicant. Prices are very low when compared to other providers. For over 20 years (since 1990), CSA has helped students and adults study abroad...easily and conveniently...all at very low cost. The applicant complaint above forgets to mention that he was a party of 2 people...not just himself....and that CSA provided everything for both of them. Also, CSA uses mostly email for a very good reason.....everything has to be documented (in writing).
CSA provides study abroad program services. Prices are set to cover all services provided, and still be low cost. Easy registration - confirmation process, convenient payment options (such as credit card online), host family confirmation, airport pick-up arrangements, as well as all the communications with the applicants to make everything go smoothly. The above student also forgot to mention that he was with a 2nd student (2 applicants) - both of whom CSA assisted and provided their confirmations. In addition, CSA has been offering this program in Puerto Vallarta for over 15 years.
CSA provided all your confirmations, as well as your host family and airport pick-up for both your and your friend. You forgot to mention that CSA also provided the same for your friend. CSA prices are very reasonable, given all the expenses involved in study abroad programming and providing confirmations in a timely manner. Also, keep in mind....CSA offers the convenience of paying online by credit card, and you are NOT sending money down to Mexico...never to return in case you cancel. For over 20 years, since 1990, CSA has provided low cost study abroad programs (fully accredited) to students and adults worldwide. CSA programs are open to all students and adults...from all countries.

Projects Abroad

On July 5th when I stepped off of the plane after landing in Mexico, I already knew that I would have a life-changing adventure. When I got to the airport in Guadalajara, someone from Projects Abroad was there waiting to pick me up and bring me to my host family for the night. When I got to my host families house, Casa de Vaca, I met some very welcoming and kind people, Mr. and Mrs. Vaca and one of the staff members from the Turtle Camp, Flora, who I would be spending the next month with. The following morning my journey in Mexico began with an early bus ride to El Campamento Tecoman where I would be spending my trip. Towards the end of the three-hour bus ride from Guadalajara, I began to feel nervous and the amount of butterflies in my stomach grew and grew until the bus finally came to its last stop in Tecoman. From there the car ride to the turtle camp flew by, and before I knew it, I caught my first glimpse of my new home. The camp was everything I expected it to be; approximately 15 feet from where the monstrous waves crashed, simple thatched roof buildings, hammocks with tired, sun kissed volunteers distributed around the camp. However, a storm was arriving and the winds were strong. That night I watched the lightening and waves with the other volunteers I had just met and would grow to love. My first morning at the camp started at around six a.m. when I was thrown into the excitement of burying my first nest of turtle eggs. One of the main jobs at the camp is to go on nighttime patrols and collect turtle nests so that poachers and predators would not take them. We then reburied the eggs, hatched them, and then released them back into the ocean. Each day I spent at the camp was a new adventure. On my first nighttime patrol, I had the mesmerizing event of having an Olive Ridley sea turtle lay its oozing, slimy eggs into my hands. Although the eggs smelled weird and my hands were disgusting, it felt incredible being a part of such a momentous occasion in the cycle of life. When on patrol, you go with one of the Mexican staff members and ride on the quad bikes down the beach. It was fun and challenging trying to communicate with the staff members with my limited Spanish as we fought off poachers and got splashed by the waves. On some days, we went to a local crocodile farm where we mostly helped do farm maintenance and clean the crocodile cages and tanks. However, my first time to the crocodile farm, the farm had recently received three new crocodiles whose sex were unknown. They needed a brave volunteer to help to determine the sex of the crocs. As the other volunteers backed away, I was the chosen volunteer. They had to harness the crocs down and tie the legs to the crocodile’s torso. There were about six huge staff members struggling to keep the croc calm as I slowly approached the croc. It was terrifying and exciting as they talked me through what to do. On other trips to the croc farm we went on bird watches around the center of the farm on a long boardwalk. On other days we stayed at the camp and did maintenance work and bird watches. We did bird watches in the local lagoon, some in the paddleboat and some in a motorboat. The motorboat bird watches were beautiful as they started off with traveling under a canopy of trees that was almost like a mangrove until we got to a clearing full of birds and lily pads. During my first week at the turtle camp, there were around twelve volunteers including myself, and in that time we had to build a new house for the 25 two week special volunteers that would be arriving before my second week. The labor was filled with machete cutting palm trees and nailing them to the rood and putting up boards for walls. After all of the work, we would all go swimming in the ocean to cool down and drink out of fresh coconuts. By the end of the week, we managed to complete the building! We spent a lot of nights down at the little bar down the beach from the camp, about a five-minute walk. We would eat quesadillas and drink cokes and cerevezas and talk about where we were from, the memories from the day and watch the sunset as we played with the owner of the bar’s dogs. Weekends were incredible as we spent them travelling to different towns. My favorite of which was Melaque. On my first full weekend we went to Melaque, which was around an hour and a half bus ride away from Tecoman. Melaque was a smaller beach town, which was filled with tourist shops and delicious smelling restaurants. We spent the first day wandering around the shops and observing the locals before going to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. In the evenings after dinner we would play card games and hang around. The beach was much calmer than the ones at the camp, which made it safe to go night swimming under the stars. In the morning, we would have breakfast on the beach and spend the rest of the day at the beach and exploring more. When it came to the end of my four weeks at the turtle camp, I had made friends and memories that will last for a lifetime. Although its been six months since my project in Mexico, not a day goes by that I don’t miss all the people I met and the great times that I had. If you are even considering going on a project to Mexico, do it. You will not regret it.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: Jan 24, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

Volunteering in the 2 Week High School Special; Spanish and Turtle conservation in Mexico was an incredible experience that I will never forget. From the moment that I was greeted by the friendly Projects Abroad staff to the moment when I was dropped off at my flight, I felt completely safe and comfortable. The Projects Abroad staff on my program were wonderful. They made sure that all 13 group members were taken care of and they made the experience that much better. Our accommodations at Campamento Tecoman exceeded my expectations. We were right on the beach, the food was delicious and there were many places to relax and take in the scenic beauty. In addition to our frequent visits to the crocodile farm and turtle research center, we also had 2 hours of Spanish lessons each day. These lessons really helped you communicate and get the full experience when we went into town. Not to mention it also boosted your confidence and pushed you to try new things. Over the weekend our group traveled to Melaque and got to experience the more urban side of Mexico as well as bond over the memories made. Never in my life would I have imagined that I would be able to collect turtle eggs, bury them in the hatchery, clean turtles, let baby turtles into the sea and make friends from all over the world, all in the course of 2 weeks. The friendships, experiences and memories made are definitely ones that I will never forget. I would definitely recommend Projects Abroad to anyone looking for a great hands on experience and I can not wait until the next time I travel with Projects Abroad.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: Aug 28, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

CADIP

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Morelia, Mexico, going through Cadip. I was impressed by the quality of the program on-site and by the safety surrounding the trip. I’m in my early 20s, so my family and I were worried about me taking a trip to a country like Mexico, but I’m so so so glad I went. The program involved teaching children in rural schools some basic topics (bullying, multiculturalism, ecological stuff) and running an entrepreneurship simulator for the kids, in which they learn how to deal with production, banks, etc…to give them an idea of how they could help start a business or do well in their jobs in the future. All the international volunteers (about 15) live together in a large house, and during the day we joined over 40 local volunteers to go to the schools. I got to present my country (Canada) to the kids, work through the topics, and also play a lot of games. The volunteers I met were super interesting people that I am going to keep in touch with for years. And when we weren’t working (we woke up early every day, but there was lots of free time in the afternoon/evening), we went to salsa clubs, downtown colonial city locations, Guanajuato (a large, spectacular cultural center from colonial times), tours with lots of fun stops, local bars, and even took dance lessons! We cooked together, and there were a couple of people from Mexico who made such good food (although it’s too spicy!) There’s so much more I could say about this trip…but I just wanted to put in a word of encouragement for people who are scared to pursue such an experience. I learned so much, and I just know that a lot of my friends wouldn’t do something like this for whatever reason, but I really think that everyone should try out something like this.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: Aug 22, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

Amigos de las Americas

Hi! I'm Meg Radunich, and my volunteer experience with AMIGOS de las AMERICAS was one of the most valuable ventures I had as a young person. I went as a 17 year-old -- most volunteers are in high school or college -- and found my 8 weeks in Guanajuato to be both challenging and rewarding.

Why you should do AMIGOS!

1. Life-Long Friendships: I still keep in touch with my fellow vols and site supervisors. You also make friends with other local volunteers in your chapter. Even if you are assigned to different countries, they are an invaluable support when you return and you miss being in the field, speaking Spanish, feel like no one 'gets' you, and you miss being an amigo :)

2. The fundraising is do-able: The program really helps you sell the walnuts and grapefruit to fund the trip. Also, you'll be surprised by how much people want to help make this trip possible for you! People are very generous with donations. The fundraising was not as hard as I thought it would be.

3. You LEARN SPANISH: Seriously. You learn to survive. My host family was extremely patient and supportive as I picked up the language throughout the summer. By the end I was completely conversant, making it that much easier to foster real, lasting relationships with the locals in my community.

4. Volunteers get A LOT of flexibility and power over projects/project management: It's one of the only programs who really lets volunteers (ages 16 - college) really take ownership of their experience. If you want to teach a class at the local school, you can do that. If you want to organize a health seminar for the community, you can do that. The program seeks to empower young people, and that is not just lip service.

5. Self-discovery, personal challenge: AMIGOS taught me life-long skills. You find a deeper sense identity, as a citizen of the United States and your place in the world at large. I learned the value of serving and learning from others who are different than I am. My time as an AMIGOS vol helped me better understand my worldview and set me up personally and professionally for future opportunities.

Bottom Line: I recommend AMIGOS to any young person interested in personal growth and lifelong friends. Love, love this program!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: Jul 31, 2013
Overall:
8
Support:
7
Value:
8

Global Vision International (GVI)

The most amazing 10 months of my life. The greatest way I could've spent my gap year. I met inspirational people who I'll never forget, earned qualifications that will help me towards my future and just had a freekin awesome time.
Whilst on the expedition i constantly felt that I was contributing to something bigger (sorry to sound so cheesy, queso en espanol ;) see i even learnt some spanish!)
The diving was great! Turtles, Eagle rays, Eels, Barracuda. Learning the target species gave you a greater appreciation of the diversity of the reef.And then further study into the target species showed the threats, and gave purpose to contribution of me being there.
The living was basic, but it was worth it just to live on a beach for 6 months. Thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed myself there.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: Jul 10, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
8

Original Volunteers

In June 2012 I volunteered in Mexico with Original Volunteers for 3 weeks. I chose OV because the value for money was miles better than other companies offering the same type of thing. Before the trip I was given tons of information on Merida (the town in which I would be staying in), and plenty of other important information which made me feel well prepared. I also used the OV Buddy List in order to contact other volunteers which would be there at the same time as me. This is a great opportunity to meet the people who you will be staying with and to find a flight partner which makes the 12 hour plane journey more enjoyable!

During my time in Mexico I was impressed by the support from the coordinators out there, They were always on hand to discuss any issues and offer any guidance. They made booking taxi's a lot easier than if we were to try ourselves.
I really enjoyed the experience of volunteering with the kids out there, it's something I would recommend to anyone. There was a variety of different volunteering projects, as they send people where they are needed. I enjoyed this variety and I did everything from looking after babies, to teaching kids English in an after school club and even giving dogs a bath!

If you are thinking about volunteering with OV then I highly recommend it and I guarantee that you will have an amazing time and meet tons of awesome people. I have just booked onto the Morocco project for August 2013 :)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: Jul 10, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Vision International (GVI)

I spent March, April and May of 2013 volunteering on GVI's Marine Conservation Expedition in Mexico. Without sounding cliche, it was without a doubt the best thing I have ever done. Not only did I get to experience living on a Caribbean beach and diving every day for three months but I also got to come home with the sense of satisfaction and achievement knowing I had really helped to make a difference. Although condition were fairly basic such as bucket flush toilets, a fairly repetitive diet and little to no privacy, I really felt it was all part of the experience and wouldn't of had it any other way. Living among such inspiring people, namely the staff, who genuinely cared about conserving the beautiful ecosystems within our oceans was truly eye opening. During the three months I got around 60 dives under my belt which wasn't bad considering the weather dependant dive conditions. I would definitely recommend this programme to anybody who is willing to pitch into a community, work hard and in return be rewarded with the experience of a lifetime!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: Jul 3, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
8

Original Volunteers

Hey all, I recently went travelling for 6 months around South and Central America and volunteered in Merida Mexico on my travels through Original Volunteers. The opportunities they provide are superb, they offer a broad range of opportunities and put you in contact with local community schemes that have a real impact in their local areas. I worked in a children's orphanage where by I helped arrange English lessons, sporting activities and general care of the amazing children that were their. The accommodation is amazing and you meet some really cool people while you are their. Original Volunteers are very helpful at helping you arrange these opportunities as well as helping me arrange the rest of my trip with accurate and up to date information on where else I should visit on my travels. When I spoke to the Mexican woman who dealt with me once I arrived in the country, she informed me that a high percentage of the money you pay goes straight to the volunteer programs and the money is essential to the running of the schemes that they have implemented in the deprived areas that they work. I would highly recommend using Original Volunteers to arrange any travelling plans you may have!! Adios, Ricky x

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: Jul 2, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
8

Spanish Abroad

Synopsis: Spanish Abroad is unreliable, unresponsive to email and unwilling to work with or properly explain anything to their (prospective) customers. Everything complaint I made was returned with fire especially sentences like, "We've been in business since 1996, so..." - as if that really makes a difference to me. Sounds more like they're trying to compensate for something.

Long story:

Spanish Abroad "scammed" me out of the deposit. First, let me state that it does say in their terms of service that the deposit is non-refundable. However, they say in multiple places throughout that money paid (without specifying what money) is refundable if the program is cancelled within a certain date.

Before registering, I contacted them and asked about the process of registering. I was explicitly told that I would receive a confirmation within two days.

Two days came and went. After ten days of waiting, I sent them an email asking what was up and the next day, I received my confirmation. No explanation was offered. By this time, plane tickets had skyrocketed.

I worked tenuously to make up the difference, but in the end, I couldn't gather the money and asked for the deposit back. Of course, they said no and that they would cancel the program, but the deposit was non-refundable and that fact was clearly written in their terms of service. I returned with their "two-day" confirmation policy, which is also outlined in their terms of service.

They danced around the question with things like, "We have set policies for a reason." and "..since we make it very clear in our policy.."

I'm well aware of just how quickly plane ticket prices can jump. If I was informed it might take weeks to get a confirmation, I would never have signed up, but no: I was guaranteed two business days. Now, I'm out $90 and a trip to Mexico.

I needn't mention that all of the above emails are days and sometimes weeks apart because of how unresponsive they were.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: Jun 28, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
3

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