This study explores the role of social capital during a short-term study abroad experience in a nontraditional setting. The authors employed ethnographic methodologies to examine the impact of social capital on students traveling to a small town in a developing nation. The analysis revealed that students capitalized on abundant networks available via the host family, the community, and the service location to achieve their stated goals of language and culture development. Given an urgent need to maximize short-term study abroad, we suggest that study abroad curricula actively engage the host family, community, and service location to tap into established social networks. This can ensure that students experience meaningful, sustained contact with native speakers during a short-term sojourn and achieve language and culture goals.