||Miami Beach is the ideal location for students looking to be part of a very international, cosmopolitan destination with thriving art, fashion and music scenes,” enthuses Amanda Ross-Gomez of EC Miami. Sam Stephen at Sol Schools International, which has a Miami Beach centre, concurs, “Students come to Miami Beach for the lifestyle of a world-class entertainment city and the weather.”
Rennert’s Miami Beach school is located within a five-minute walk of the beach, advises Rachel Kip. “The beach offers free volleyball nets, ocean swimming all year round and sunbathing is done until 7pm in the evening!” she attests. South Beach has been voted the USA’s best, informs Ross-Gomez, and the EC school is within walking distance of the famous white sands. “The weather encourages students to stay active and explore the city as the average winter temperature is around 24 degrees Celsius and in summer around 32 degrees Celsius.” Miami is also, she adds, “one of the top destinations in the world for wreck diving with 50 diveable wreck sites including oil platforms, army tanks and the Spirit of Miami Boeing 727”.
Natural attractions are also in abundance. “Fabulous Key West is a very popular and unique place that you must visit if you come to Miami,” says Kip. “While visiting Key West you can go snorkelling, take the exciting Eco Tour on a jet ski and see all the exotic and colourful marine life.” Ross-Gomez enthuses, “The only Everglades eco-system in the world is in Miami,” while Martin Slater at LAL Fort Lauderdale confirms one of their most popular excursions is “an afternoon visit to the Everglades, where students not only can enjoy an exhilarating ride on an airboat, but also have the opportunity to see alligators up close in their natural environment”.
Of the man-made attractions, Ross-Gomez informs, “Miami Beach’s Art Deco district is home to the world’s largest collection of Art Deco Architecture, with more than 800 buildings.” The school’s Lincoln Road pedestrian-only promenade “offers students a variety of trendy cafés, bars, shops and galleries”, she adds. Kip highlights Ocean Drive “with its famous restaurants and clubs”, and among numerous wider excursions, Rennert also offers opportunities to explore other parts of Miami. “For example,” she says, “our students can enjoy the street festival in Little Havana or discover the local art scene at the Wynwood Art walk in the design district.”
It is also, Stephen explains, a premium celebrity spotting district. “Many famous television shows and movies are filmed here and it is not uncommon to see actors and actresses walking around the beach.”
North of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is a “world-class international tourist area with lots of activities and unique features such as the Everglades”, attests Phillip Sherman at inlingua. The idyllic location and proximity to some of the best tourist attractions in South and Central Florida is a reason for the city’s popularity, says Slater. “Another reason why Fort Lauderdale is attractive is its subtropical climate and pristine beaches, where students can enjoy a plethora of outdoor aquatic activities and sports almost every day of the year, including diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, paddle boarding, jet skiing, parasailing or just relaxing and soaking up the sun with friends on the beach.”
Slater continues, “Fort Lauderdale is known as the yachting capital of the world with over 300 miles of navigable waterways and home to over 40,000 yachts,” adding that Port Everglades is the world’s largest cruise terminal and home to the two largest cruise ships in the world: the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas.
As for the city itself, “Not to be missed is the picturesque Las Olas Boulevard and beautiful Riverwalk Park, which make up the heart of the dining, fashion and entertainment district of downtown Fort Lauderdale, famous for its riverside parks and pedestrian walkways, quaint coffee shops, fashion boutiques and numerous restaurants,” Slater enthuses. Shopaholics will also leave satisfied, he adds, “For many students, the highlight of their stay in South Florida is the opportunity to go shopping at one of the largest outlet malls in the USA, the Sawgrass Mills Mall, and with over 350 stores spread over more than 2.1 million square feet, it may take several journeys to visit the entire mall.”
Romina Raffo at Talk Fort Lauderdale attests, “It is the perfect place to study English while enjoying the relaxing South Florida lifestyle.” The area is particularly student friendly, and Raffo says the school is located within the South Florida Education Center, a consortium of educational institutions including Florida Atlantic University and the University of Florida. “We offer a unique opportunity to enrich their academic life in a fun and casual environment,” she adds.
St Giles has a junior centre in St Petersburg on the Gulf Coast, and Jacqueline Pilkington says, “International students enjoy going there because it is a safe, clean area.” As well as great shopping and beaches nearby, she advises that the school has a private bay, where sailing lessons are hugely popular. The proximity to some of Florida’s famed theme parks is also a draw. “St Petersburg is just over an hour away from Orlando; this allows us to take advantage of all the great theme parks in the area. We offer two full-day excursions a week and go to Universal Studios, Disneyworld, Busch Gardens, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” Pilkington adds.
All contributors mentioned the popularity of school excursions around Florida and beyond. “The Bahamas is another must-do trip. It can be done in one day or overnight,” enthuses Kip. Meanwhile, Stephen explains that Sols Schools attempt to facilitate demands. “If students have special requests exotic cars, sky diving, swimming with sharks we can work with the student to help accommodate them.”
Florida also hosts a number of international events. Ross-Gomez praises Miami’s autumn festival season, including the Miami International Wine Festival, Miami Short Film Festival, and Art Basel Miami Beach. Kip also lists a plethora of events, covering art, design, antiques, seafood, ballet, air shows, books and the Nascar Championships. Meanwhile, Slater advises Fort Lauderdale has a similar calendar featuring arts festivals, air shows, food and wine and international film.
“Who wouldn’t love to study in Florida? With its vibrant cities, picture-postcard beaches, tropical sunshine and a lifestyle that is both dynamic and relaxed, it is the perfect place to be. The unique blend of American and Latin/Caribbean culture allows you not only to perfect your English, but also pick up some words of Spanish if you want! A tip for those who want a little break from studying: Miami is the perfect starting point for weekend getaways. Hop into a car for a ride along the Florida Keys to Key West, or cross over to the beautiful Gulf Coast. For those who want a shorter trip, great shopping deals await at Sawgrass Mills Outlet Mall, less than an hour’s drive from Miami.”
Silja Isberner, Kolumbus Sprachreisen, Germany
“Florida is by far one of the top destinations for Brazilians when they go to the USA. Students are now finding that they can enjoy the food and the people there while studying English. And Fort Lauderdale is our top destination as it has it all to cater for our students’ needs. They can study during the week and then spend the weekend at Disneyworld in Orlando or they can just relax on the beach. Families with young children or teens have also elected the city as their destination for family vacations to improve their English while having fun. LAL Fort Lauderdale is our first choice there for its excellent service to our students from the time they book until they come back home.”
Marcela Amaral , IE Intercambio, Brazil