1. Eat your way through the city.

What better way to experience a new place than by giving your taste buds a treat? Eat out on the streets, find the hole-in-the-wall places flooded with locals, or ask your homestay family for their favorites. Here in Ecuador, I recommend trying ceviche on the coast, cuy (guinea pig) in the Andes, and patacones (smashed plantains) in the Amazon.

2. Take public transportation.

Using public transit will allow you to see how the locals get around town, and will do wonders for your budget. In Ecuador, the bus fare is 25 cents, in Mexico 13 cents, and in Cuba 5 cents!

Enjoying Helados Casero (homemade ice cream) in Chordeleg’s central plaza!

Enjoying Helados Casero (homemade ice cream) in Chordeleg’s central plaza!

3. See a local performance.

A great opportunity to learn about local nightlife by singing and dancing the night away, eating some stellar street food, and maybe even finding a new favorite band!

4. Go to the local market with your host family.

Local outdoor markets are a great place to learn about fresh and local food! Going along with your host family will allow you to walk the aisles like a local, learn about the fresh, organic produce, and find the best deals in the city!

5. Join a local dance class.

Ever heard of salsa, bachata, merengue, tango, flamenco, or merengue? Learning the local dance steps can give you great insight into the rhythm of the culture and history of the city.

6. Cook dinner with your host mom.

Get the most out of your local cuisine by take part in making it yourself! Alongside help from your host mom, you’ll get to practice your Spanish, learn about local ingredients, and learn a new recipe you can recreate back home!

7. Find your people.

Through MeetUps, salsa classes, or a local pub crawl, there are tons of opportunities to meet local people, often eager to exchange languages and learn about another culture!