FAQs Please click on the question to see the answer
As a tourist visiting any country, one must take extra precautions, as the environment is new. As tourism is the main industry of the DR, it follows that most crime takes place in the touristic zones of the country. The city of Santiago, however, is not a touristic city. It is devoid of the “tourist traps” that plague the resort areas and beaches of the island. ALPI is proud of its perfect safety record since the beginning of our Overseas Programs in 2003.
Our homestay families receive consistently outstanding feedback, however if for any reason you would like a change, we will accommodate you without a problem. If you would like to be switched to a new homestay, we will make it happen for you.
Yes. Many ALPI Spanish Program participants have had the foresight to coordinate with their Spanish Department or Study Abroad Department at their host university to win approval to earn credit for the successful completion of their ALPI program. An official transcript will be furnished upon request and send directly to the Department head at your university.
ALPI Spanish School encourages participants to aim for the first or third week of each month for logistical purposes, but any start date will be accommodated.
Upon arrival, all ALPI participants will be given a diagnostic evaluation to determine the class in which the student will be most comfortable. If you find that a class is too easy, or too advanced, we will place you with the correct class where you will thrive as a language learner.
You may opt in or out of any excursion you choose. Excursions basically involve getting around town with your teacher and flexing the Spanish that you’ve been learning. Many excursions are included in all programs free of charge. Aside from these activities, there are faculty and student social activities organized periodically, and all overseas students are welcome to participate.
Nope. Tap water is not potable. All homestays are equipped with bottled water, and bottled water is available at the school, as well as being readily available at any cafe, cafeteria, restaurant or bar. As of 2014, a bottle of water costs DOP10, or 20 cents US.
There are two methods: public car, or taxi. A “public car”, or concho, is a small car that travels routes much like a bus. You waive it down like a taxi, pay DOP20, and ride on the route until you tell the driver, “Dejáme aquí, por favor”. A taxi ride will cost DOP150-200 from ALPI to almost any point within the city of Santiago.
Participants are welcome to join our “Social Club” and help our Dominican Students practice their English. If you would like to get more involved in our English Program, we can offer you a brief training to assist with pronunciation activities. Some participants have made this activity part of their program. ALPI currently hosts some 1,500 Dominicans in our English Program. You may also want to consider registering in our TESOL Certificate Program.
Yes. There is a “Gold’s Gym” in a plaza not far from ALPI. They have daily, weekly, as well as monthly rates.
There are several reputable currency exchanges here in Santiago in addition to any major bank. Never, under any circumstance, change money in the street. You will not get a fair rate, and there are obvious safety issues involved that are better avoided.
Yes, however you should use the ATM machines only at the major banks (i.e.: Banco Popular), and not at small supermarkets or gas stations. Keep in mind that there will be currency conversion fees applied by your bank.
ALPI does not require health insurance. We will be happy to connect you with a reputable travel/health insurance provider.
An ALPI staff member will be available 24/7 for any emergency. If you’re not feeling quite well, ALPI will take you to a local private clinic for evaluation just a few blocks from ALPI. We will remain with you until you are feeling better and confident that you can rest easy. Most doctors at the clinic speak English in addition to other languages.
It would be a good idea to bring a Doctor’s prescription with you. If you find yourself without a prescription, and you have the prescription bottle with you, bring it to a local pharmacy and you should be able to buy the equivalent medication here, usually at a fraction of the price.
Don’t worry; an ALPI staff member will be available 24/7 for any emergency situation you may find yourself in.
Before your trip, please be sure to make several copies of the photo page of your passport, one of which must be given to ALPI’s Executive Director. These photo copies will be of great assistance for securing the travel documents you will need to continue your travels in the event your passport goes missing.
This is a question for your family doctor. You may also find information on the American consulate’s website regarding health related issues. Most clients report that they did not require any medical preparation whatsoever.
There are many typical Dominican “cafeterias”, or lunch rooms around the city. Lunch with a fresh juice will cost roughly DOP180. This would be the equivalent of USD4.25 depending on the prevailing exchange rate.
Easy! Santiago is the perfect hub for travelers to visit points of interest around the island. We are centrally located in the country, and there are comfortable air-conditioned busses running to Puerto Plata, and Santo Domingo. Guided excursions can be arranged for group programs as well as individual participants upon request.
You sure can. We strongly recommend opting for ALPI’s airport pick up. An ALPI faculty member will greet you at the Cibao International Airport (STI) and transport you to your homestay to settle in, and then to the school. No tips are required.
If your phone is “unlocked”, you can swap your cell phone’s chip for a local chip. You will be able to purchase a local chip (local telephone number) at any cell phone store here in the DR. A cell phone (or chip for an unlocked phone) may be purchased locally allowing for domestic as well as international calls. Pre-paid calling cards are readily available most anywhere in the city. ALPI Spanish School has Wi-Fi in its main building, and smart phones can come in quite handy.
Sure, but keep in mind that the more expensive items you bring, the more things you will have to keep an eye on. Our homestay families are vetted and safe; however families receive guests and relatives once in a while. If the child of a guest sees something of interest sitting atop your open suitcase, it is not inconceivable that he/she may help himself to the item of interest. This applies to expensive jewelry and cameras. The fewer valuable items you bring, the less there is to keep an eye on. Traveling light is best.
Of course you can. If for any reason you would like to try a new homestay, ALPI will accommodate your request.
You may tell us exactly what your diet requires, and ALPI will coordinate with the homestay in advance so that your needs are accommodated. No pork? No problem. No meat, only veggies, you got it. Lactose intolerant? We got you covered.
Gifts are not expected, but are always appreciated. Generally small tokens of appreciation go a long way in communicating your appreciation for your host’s hospitality. T-shirts from your country or flowers presented at the end of your stay can be a nice gesture.
Sure. Just let us know how many days you’d like to remain, and the ALPI program director will accommodate you.
If I would like to stay in the country longer, would it be okay if I just paid the homestay directly?
No. Our homestays operate with a clear (and written) agreement and understanding that must be respected. Homestays may not charge you for anything, nor may they receive money from any guest. This agreement is to ensure our guests receive the attention and services they need to their satisfaction, and that any guests whose program follows yours will be accommodated on time. Any violation of this agreement will result in termination ALPI’s relationship with a homestay. Please contact ALPI directly for any extension of your stay.
Arrangements can be made for a visitor; however it is ALPI policy that all/any visitor must be cleared with ALPI well in advance. Under no circumstances may guests (either local or friends from abroad) be brought into a homestay unbeknownst to ALPI. Asking a homestay host directly puts the host into an awkward position, and one that we insist be avoided. All ALPI participants will familiarize themselves with ALPI’s “Homestay rules of the house”.
You sure can. ALPI runs annual food, toy and clothing drives for the local hospitals, orphanages and clinics. Please coordinate your donation via ALPI’s Director of Overseas Programs.
The DR has many international airports spread across the island. Many of them are quite far away, as the island is not as small as many people may think it is. When booking your flight, you should fly into Cibao International Airport (STI). This airport is just minutes outside of Santiago. Airport transportation from Puerto Plata or Santo Domingo can be a bit costly and time consuming.
Sure. We will pick you up at any time of day/night.
ALPI has hosted families with minors in the past. Minors are only hosted while in the company of their legal guardian and may not be housed separately.
Yes. You may even design a program to include volunteer activities. If you would simply like to spend a bit of extracurricular time helping out, we will connect you to the charitable organizations we cooperate with here in Santiago.