Backs of female student protesters wearing body paint

Studying abroad isn’t just about academics. It is equally as important to make time to engage with your host communities.

The Middlebury School in Uruguay encourages students to go beyond the traditional study abroad path and explore the many ways they can enrich their experience.

About Montevideo

Fought over by Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay gained independence in the early nineteenth century. For most of its history, it has been a major cattle-raising country and, like Argentina, celebrates its gaucho heritage. During the first half of the twentieth century, Uruguay was the most stable nation in South America, with strong social welfare programs and a relatively egalitarian social structure that made it known as “The Switzerland of South America.” However, changes in world trade patterns led Uruguay into economic and political decline, produced the famous Tupamaros movement, and resulted in military rule. Democratic government was restored in 1985, and the country’s rich heritage of egalitarian and social welfare policies continues to be felt.

Nearly half of Uruguay’s three million inhabitants call Montevideo home. Located on Uruguay’s southern coastline and separated from its more famous western neighbor in Argentina by the estuary of the world’s widest river, el Río de la Plata, Montevideo is a different world from Buenos Aires.

While it, too, is a cosmopolitan city, also of primarily Spanish and Italian heritage, there is also a significant African influence. Smaller and calmer than Buenos Aires, Montevideo nonetheless boasts the usual cultural and entertainment facilities of a major city: including historical monuments, museums, theaters, cinemas, a varied and fascinating, if somewhat under-maintained architecture, the famous Avenida 18 de Julio, as well as stunning beaches, and a unique and lively nightlife.

Cultural Activity Program

Before arriving, each student attending the Middlebury School in Uruguay will, with the assistance of the Assistant Director, select an extracurricular course, workshop, or activity to participate in, with the goal of helping the student to integrate into their host city and to start building community locally from the get-go.  Participation during the first month will be subsidized by the Middlebury School in Uruguay. After the first month, the student can then choose to continue their participation in the activity for the duration of their time in Uruguay at their own expense, if applicable.

Examples of past cultural activities:


Sophia Young (Tulane University)
Throughout my semester studying abroad in Montevideo, Uruguay, I participated in weekly Candombe dance lessons at the Casa de la Cultura Afrouruguaya. Candombe, both playing it and dancing it, forms an important part of the Uruguayan identity as it represents the culture and art born out of the presence of enslaved people of African descent. In taking these classes, I not only learned how to dance Candombe, which was helpful each Sunday during the Candombe exhibitions in Barrio Sur, but I also learned about the history of Candombe and its cultural significance. This resource provided by Middlebury was a great way for me to dive into Montevidean culture, as well as make friends with my classmates whom I saw on a weekly basis. 


Michaela Meyer (Tulane University)
I selected tango as my extracurricular activity at the beginning of the semester. I was initially curious about it because I’d dabbled in ballroom and folk dance as a hobby back home. So, every Saturday evening in Montevideo, I went to a beginner’s class at a dance studio downtown. And I ended up loving it so much that, beyond the first month of classes, I continued going for the rest of the semester and even performed in the end-of-year showcase! I also bought myself my first pair of dance shoes—precious red leather heels! Something that surprised me was how different the authentic local tango is from the American version I learned in the states—it’s a completely different style of dance. This dance is all about trust and communication; at first, I struggled with the idea of leaning completely on someone else, relinquishing partial control over my movement, and not knowing where the dance was going next. Tango taught me a lot about living mindfully in my own body. Finally, I loved having the tools and inside knowledge to participate in the tango culture around the city: Joventango, the regular outdoor milongas, and the Queer Tango festival in December.

Student Suggestions

The suggestions below are based primarily on recommendations that we’ve received from former students.  This list is by no means exhaustive; rather, it is meant merely as a starting point for exploring all of the ways you can get involved in Uruguay!

Outdoor and Physical Activities

Below are some suggestions for gyms and clubs that students can join during their time in Montevideo. Students interested in joining a gym or sports club are encouraged to bring a note from their doctor at home verifying they have been cleared medically to participate in physical activity.  A note can also be obtained once in Uruguay by undergoing a basic health screening for approximately 1,000 pesos.  

  • Club Banco República: Located at Juan Benito Blanco, 1289. Be sure to check in with Sylvia before joining so that they don’t charge you a registration fee!
  • Club Defensor Sporting: Located at 21 de Septiembre, 2362. Be sure to check in with Sylvia before joining so that they don’t charge you a registration fee!

Social Media

Don’t underestimate the power of Facebook and other social media platforms to help you connect with your host community. For example, you can join the Montevideo International Students Facebook group.

“I used Facebook a lot to browse events and programs in the area…you can search any topic…once you start liking things in Montevideo, Facebook will give you other events on your feed.” Amanda Spiller (Bowdoin College), Fall 2016

“I’d recommend joining Montevideo International Students (MIS) on Facebook. It’s a group that organizes interesting cultural activities and trips for international students. It’s run by Uruguayans our age, so it’s also a good way to make friends.” Marième Diop (Swarthmore College), Spring 2017

“…the MIS group is an extremely helpful way of connecting with Uruguayan people and culture. They organize tours, parties, and other events so that international students can make the most of their time in the country. The best part is that most of the events are free or extremely discounted. All the members are very welcoming and friendly as well. They also coordinate with BAIS (Buenos Aires International Students) from time to time, which is a great way to extend the experience beyond the borders of Uruguay. You can find them on Facebook and Instagram to see all the amazing events they have!” Jillian Duncan-Taylor (Middlebury College), Spring 2017

University-Related Activities

Some of the universities may also sponsor general events and/or events catered to international students and other special-interest groups. Be sure to connect with the international students’ office, other university departments, and student organizations via Facebook and check their websites for upcoming events. Also be on the lookout for flyers and student group tables once you’re on campus!

Universidad Católica del Uruguay

Deporte y recreación: Visit this page to learn about sports at UCU, including indoor soccer, volleyball, basketball, handball (women’s), swimming, outdoor soccer, and field hockey.

Expresión artística: Visit this page to learn about arts-related workshops and activities at UCU, including chorus, visual arts, and theater.

Participación y vida estudiantil: Visit this page to learn about other student groups and student life initiatives at UCU.

Universidad ORT

Actividades deportivas: Visit this page to learn about sports and other recreational activities offered at ORT, including basketball, futsal (indoor soccer), handball, field hockey, swimming, tennis, and volleyball.

Programa padrinos: Visit this page to learn about ORT’s padrinos program, which is a buddy system for international students. This is a great way to connect with a fellow ORT student!

Universidad de la República

Bienestar universitario: This page acts as a hub for student life information at UDELAR.Be sure to check out the cultura and deporte tabs for information about cultural and sports-related activities and events!

Information and Resources

Governmental Information

City of Montevideo
Governmental Information
U.S. Embassy in Uruguay

Cultural Resources

Recursos culturales uruguayos

Diarios (Daily Newspapers)

Diario La Diaria
Diario El Observador
Diario El País

Seminarios (Weekly Newspapers)


Internet Radio

El Espectador
Radio Nacional Uruguay

Música, Arte, Cine, Teatro, Espectáculos


Museo del Fútbol
Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales
Museo Blanes
Museo Torres García
Museo del Carnaval
Espacio de Arte Contemporáneo
Museo de Artes Decorativas: Palacio Taranco
Cabildo de Montevideo
Museo Figari
Museo Histórico Nacional
Museo Nacional de Antropología
Museo Zorrilla
Museo de las Migraciones
Museo Nacional de la Historia Natural