How much should I budget for my personal expenses per week?

This question depends entirely on you, what you plan to do in your free time, and what you think you might buy. There are many things to do in Cuernavaca that are free, like sitting in the zocalo and watching people or talking to friends. You can take a taxi to most places in Cuernavaca for about $2.50 or $3 USD or you can take a “ruta” (bus) for less than a dollar. You can get “la comida corrida” (the “daily special”) in an economical restaurant for about $5 USD, which is a full meal. Or you can have an exquisite dinner with cocktails in a five-star restaurant for $100 USD. You can see a movie for less than $5 USD, or you can go to Acapulco for the weekend and spend $500 USD to stay in a luxury hotel, eat gourmet meals, and shop in fine stores. Many students plan a budget of about $150 USD of spending money each week. This gives them money to go grab a pizza or eat in modest restaurants a few times a week, have drinks, take cabs around town, go out at night, and buy a few things they need for personal use. Of course, it is possible to spend more or less than $150 per week, if you adjust your habits and activities to a particular price range.

Once my plane arrives in Mexico City's airport, what should I do?

On the plane, you should receive an immigration form and a tourist card. If you do not, pick up these forms in the airport when you arrive. Follow the signs in the airport for imigración and aduana (customs). Fill out the cards and present them to the immigration official.

Remember, on your tourist card you should indicate that you are a “tourist’ and coming to Mexico for personal reasons (not business) since, according to Mexican law, participation in a Spanish immersion program like the one at Kukulcan falls into this classification. Put your tourist card in a safe place where you won’t lose it because you will have to turn it in when you leave Mexico. If you lose your card you will have to pay a fine.

The tourist card will ask how many days you will be staying in México. You are permitted to stay up to 180 days, so, it is better to put a date later than your actual departure, in case you change your mind and want to stay longer. You are required to leave Mexico on the date indicated on the tourist card, so if you are not sure how long you want to stay, put six months after your arrival in Mexico. This will allow you to choose a departure date at your convenience.

Find the carousel where your luggage will arrive. Be aware that, in general, baggage handlers at the Mexico City airport are very fast, so it is possible that your bags will already be out by the time you get to them. An airport official will check the baggage claim numbers attached to your luggage with the baggage claim receipts stapled on your plane ticket receipt to be sure they match. So, be sure you don’t lose your claim tickets! Once you have gathered all your luggage and possessions you will go through customs where you will hand over your customs declaration form.

You will be asked to push a button and a red or green light will show up. If it is green, you go ahead without stopping. If it is red, you will step to the side and your bags will be searched. This process is done randomly and should not cause you any alarm as long as you are not carrying illegal substances.

Once you leave the customs area you should look for transportation. (Pullman de Morelos buses, or a private chauffeur that has been arranged for you). If you want to take the bus, look for signs for ground transportation. Buy your ticket for Cuernavaca, and ask for the “Terminal Casino de la Selva,’ which is closer to Kukulcan language school.

How do I get around in Cuernavaca?

Cuernavaca is hilly but because the weather is so great it’s a perfect city for walking around. Everything in the historical downtown area is within walking distance of Kukulcan. To get around town you can take a “ruta’ (bus) that travels along all major avenues. Your Mexican host family can help you figure out which one to take to get to your desired destination. Rutas cost about 45 cents USD each way.

Taxis cost between $2.50 and $3.50 USD. You can call for a Radio Taxi to pick you up at home, school, or any public place. This is the safest and most reliable way to travel. Taxis don’t use meters, so be sure to ask what the fare will be before you head off for your destination. Up to four people can take a cab and share the cost. Use common sense when getting around, especially after dark, as you would in any city in the world.

What shots should I get prior to my travel to México?

There are no required shots for travel to Mexico but check with your family doctor to see what he/she recommends. Furthermore, if you are presently taking a specific medication or prescription, please make sure that you bring along enough of the medication for your entire stay, in bottles bearing the original pharmacy label. Travelers are not allowed to bring in or take out prescription medication without a doctor’s written prescription.

Where will I be able to wash my clothes?

Laundry service is not included in the housing fee. However, some host families are willing to do your laundry for a fee of $5 USD per wash load. This is comparable to commercial laundry fees. Another option is to take your clothes to a commercial Laundromat in Cuernavaca. Most places offer 24 hour service. Dry cleaning is also available in Cuernavaca for a cost of about $3 USD per item.

Will I have Internet access?

Yes. At Kukulcan we offer wireless internet access if you have your own laptop with wireless internet capability. Additionally, Mexican host families will have wifi.

Will I have access to a phone or fax?

Yes. Your immediate family (parents, spouse, children) can call you at your host family phone number but please keep in mind:

Do not tie up the phone for more than 15 MINUTES, No one can call you COLLECT at the family home. Please do not use the family phone to make outgoing calls because the family pays for each call out. The use of the telephone is not included as part of your program fees.

To make calls, consider buying a pre-paid cell phone service like Movistar. This phone can be used to call internationally or locally. You can buy as much time as you think you’ll use. It’s usually the most economical option for making phone calls in Mexico. Check with your service provider at home if you want to use your regular cell phone in Mexico. It’s possible the phone won’t work here, or it may be very expensive to use.

Another option is to buy a prepaid international telephone card that you can use at any public phone. Public phones are easy to find in Mexico. They are located on the street and also inside places like Sanborns. Most of them work with a card (not coins).

Will I be able to exercise during my stay at Kukulcan?

Yes. We can provide you with a list of local gyms and exercise facilities that we can recommend. Monthly rates in gyms vary from $20 US to $60 US depending upon the facilities and location. There are also tracks where you can go to run and, don’t forget, walking around Cuernavaca is great exercise too.

What if I get sick while I'm in Mexico?

Kukulcan has two excellent doctors who take care of our students should they become sick while in Mexico. The doctors can diagnose your problem and determine if you need hospitalization or if you should return home in the case of a serious illness or accident. Generally, the kind of medical problems people experience in Mexico (upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea) are temporary and easily resolved with a few days rest and a bland diet.

What kind of meals are provided by the host family?

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided, but the hours may be different than your normal schedule. Generally, the hours of meals in Mexico are these

Breakfast, 7:30 to 8:30 AM Lunch, 3:00 to 4:30 PM Dinner, 8:00 to 9:00 PM

You can expect about the same thing for breakfast that you might have at home: fruit or juice, toast, cereal or eggs, or a more Mexican version of these things, such as quesadillas or chilaquiles. The biggest meal of the day is lunch. This is similar to what people in the U.S. might have for dinner: soup or salad, an entree of fish, meat, chicken or pasta, and dessert. Dinner is a lighter meal, more like what people in the U.S. have for lunch. You can expect a sandwich or something similar.

Let the family know what you like and don’t like to eat. To the extent possible, they will try to please you. If you have special dietary needs (vegetarian diet, kosher diet, etc.), be sure to let us know in advance so we can match you up with a family that can accommodate you.

You can buy a snack at Kukulcan’s cafeteria if you get hungry between classes or you can buy snacks at the grocery store, and bring them to school with you. Your host family will not provide you with snacks or food between meals unless you arrange to pay an additional cost. If you are not planning to eat with the family on a particular occasion be sure to let them know so they can plan accordingly.

Is it true that I should not drink tap water in Mexico?

Absolutely. Water everywhere in the world contains living organisms that can make you sick if you aren’t used to them. While your Mexican host family might drink tap water, you should NOT, because it will make you sick. Drink only bottled water. Avoid ice in drinks unless you are absolutely sure it is made from purified water. And be careful about eating raw fruits and vegetables unless you are sure they have been disinfected or have been peeled. When you plan your budget be sure to include at least a dollar a day to buy bottled water. Cuernavaca is a warm climate and you can easily become dehydrated. You should always carry bottled water with you in your book bag.

Can I change from one level to another once I am enrolled in Kukulcan language classes?

Yes, by all means, but we recommend that you stay at the level in which you are first placed for at least two weeks to give yourself time to adjust. If you feel you have been placed in the wrong level, if you are making rapid progress and want to jump ahead, or if you are uncomfortable and want to slow down, you can talk to Kukulcan’s academic director to see if a change can be made. It is also possible that some people, especially Heritage Speakers of Spanish, might be in one level for conversation and a different level for grammar. To the extent possible, we try to make sure you are always placed at the right level during your stay at Kukulcan.

What is Kukulcan's refund policy?

The $150 USD deposit is non-refundable. If you are traveling with a group check with your group leader to see if you are responsible for paying any additional fees in the event you cancel. If you are planning to come to Kukulcan on your own but later change your mind you must send us a cancellation notice in writing at least thirty (30) days prior to the date your program is scheduled to start. This will release you from the obligation to pay anything else, providing Kukulcan has made no expenditures on your behalf in advance of your arrival. Once you begin classes at Kukulcan, there are no refunds if you decide to leave early.

Once I enroll using the Kukulcan website, what should I do next?

Take the online placement exam and the online tutorial to prepare for study abroad. We’ll send you more information about this process once we accept you into the program.

Shop around for the best price on an airline ticket. Read the Travel Tips section for more information about your travel arrangements. Be sure your passport is valid for at least six months after your arrival in Mexico. Check with the authorities in your country to find out if you need a visa to go to Mexico, or if you can just travel with a tourist card.

Check with your health care program at home to see if you have coverage while in Mexico. If not, shop around online to find a policy that will cover you. We suggest that you visit your doctor prior to leaving home for a travel check-up.

You will need two passport size photos for your Kukulcan student ID card. Bring them with you and give them to the Kukulcan office coordinator on the first day of class.

You can pay your remaining balance to Kukulcan when you arrive on the first day of classes, or you can send a wire transfer in advance of your arrival

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