Not what your friends did Past Review

By (Fordham University) - abroad from 02/23/2012 to 07/15/2012 with

CIEE: Buenos Aires - Liberal Arts

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how much I love organization and efficiency. Buenos Aires was a huge challenge for me for numerous reasons, and although I do think it was overall a worthwhile experience, I don't think I will come back here.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: FLACSO UCA
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The program's academic rigor depends a lot on which classes you decide to take. The classes are not extremely difficult, but they involve a lot of reading in Spanish, so be prepared to have to spend time on your schoolwork. Also, many classes include lengthy papers at the end in Spanish.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I got super lucky and had a wonderful home stay experience.

* Food:

I hope you like ham, cheese, and eggs a lot.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Unlike very American programs, you do have to option of living with a host family and taking classes with other Argentinians, which can be a great opportunity to "feel part of the local culture." However, unless you have a high level of Spanish or are extremely outgoing, you will most likely spend a majority of your time with Americans speaking English, regardless of program "rules." If you want to meet Argentinians, the best way is to go out a lot at night. If that isn't your thing, you probably won't meet a lot of locals. But again, this is heavily dependent on your level of Spanish.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had any issue, so I cannot really comment on this aspect of the program.

* Safety:

I have lived some not so nice neighborhoods of very big cities before, but I must say that I did not find Buenos Aires or Argentina to be particularly safe. Obviously there weren't horrible things happening everyday, but numerous kids on the program were mugged or pick pocketed. Another girl and I were mugged in the middle of the afternoon in a park in Mendoza. You will quickly learn to not carry valuables on you, especially at night. The biggest thing is knowing where you are going and how to get there, which can be a lot more complicated than it sounds. This isn't meant to deter anyone from choosing Buenos Aires, but I do think you need to be realistic and understand that safety can be an issue here, especially because you will be a target if you speak English.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Argentina is not as cheap as everyone makes it out to be. It is much cheaper than Europe, but still expect to spend money while you are here. You will find that some things will be extremely cheap (transportation, nice meals) and other things will be expensive (paying for water at every restaurant). Also, they are facing high inflation right now, so prices are rising, and the heavy currency controls mean that the exchange rate isn't changing as rapidly. Prices will vary heavily on neighborhood and establishment, but I included some prices to give you an idea of what you can expect to spend (prices listed in PESOS, exchange rate is approx. 4.4pesos = 1 dollar, but look online for current rate): Subway, one way: $2.50 Bus, one ride: $1.25 Coffee: $12 Piece of pizza: $7 Soda OR water: $14 Typical taxi ride: $25 Fancy dinner: $110 Sit down lunch at an Argentine Cafe (meal and drink): $30-$50 (varies a lot) Bus ticket to Mendoza, round trip: $700 Student visa: $300 Laundry, one load: $17 Tipping practices are 10% at restaurants and nothing/spare change for taxis. You will find that many places will not have change. Bank machines typically give $100peso bills, but you will get denied/overcharged/undercharged at places if you don't have the change they want. I even had places try to deny me for $50 peso bills. Another price thing that I would like to point out is the issue of the dollar in Argentina. I can across this when I was renting an apartment. I had two different visitors while I was in Argentina and I rented an apartment in the city for both of them. This is relatively cheap, easy and safe. You can find apartments with all amenities included (including wifi) in the nicest neighborhoods in the city for $250 U.S. dollars/week ( However, there is a catch. You must pay for these places in cash. This isn't the only instance that students found they needed American dollars. However, as foreigners, we cannot get US dollars here. The country is putting strict controls on currency exchange so it won't matter if your account is in dollars, you can only have pesos.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100 US dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? It takes some time, but you'll start to find places which are much cheaper to eat at. When I first got here I was spending $35 pesos everyday for lunch, but I found good places for less than $20 pesos and I started cooking for myself. Also for lunch I would usually not buy water because school has free water, so I would just carry a water bottle and drink throughout the day and not at restaurants.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

You are technically only supposed to speak Spanish while on this program, but you will find that is pretty impossible because you are surrounded by Americans all day. You will get plenty of language exposure as you will take all of your classes in Spanish. I saw a huge improvement in my listening and speaking, but I am nowhere near fluent. It does matter how much effort you put into it, but if you go into this experience expecting to be an effortless Spanish speaker, you might be disappointed. "Intermediate" to me means that you can get around in Spanish, can answer questions directed to you in Spanish, can listen to a class in Spanish and write a relevant response, and can have conversations about concrete subjects. Personally, I am not at the point where I use the subjunctive in speech and there are numerous occasions where I do not understand people who are talking amongst themselves in Spanish.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 3000
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? This may sounds silly, but I think the only people who truly learned the language were those who dated Argentinians. If this is not going to be you, I recommend avoiding Americans as much as possible. After even one day of the chaos of this city you will crave English conversation.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Host family
  • Group excursions
  • Argentina is a beautiful country! Go to Patagonia!
* What could be improved?
  • Everything is disorganized. The program, the classes, the country
  • I wish the program was more straightforward about certain things
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? More about Argentina. I didn't do my research, but I recommend everyone look into it before picking it to decide if it is what they really want.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Lenguaje en Accion

Course Department:
Instructor: Gabriela Yocco
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: The course's premises sound interesting and the material isn't the problem. The teacher was extremely disorganized, which made the class unpleasant and hard to follow. There were outings to places around the city which I liked, but it hardly made up for the teacher being 45 minutes late to class or no one having any idea what was going on.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Cuestiones Culterales

Course Department: FLACSO
Instructor: Corigliano
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: This was a very interesting class. The teacher is enthusiastic and loves questions. I highly recommend actually doing the readings because the themes chosen gave a lot of insight into Argentine culture through an historical perspective.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Desarrollo Economico Argentino

Course Department: FLACSO
Instructor: Hernan Soltz
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: The class goes through the economic development of Argentina which is actually fascinating if you are interested in the economy at all. However, the teacher has a pretty big bias which can get frustrating if you don't agree with him. He does offer time for questions at the beginning of each class, but that doesn't necessarily mean he wants to hear what you have to say.
Credit Transfer Issues: