Buenos Aires - I Fell in Love with the "Paris of the South" Past Review

By (Romance Languages/Theatre, University of Georgia) for

ISA Study Abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained so much from my study abroad experience - I learned so much more than just what I studied in class; my eyes were opened to a different world view from experiencing another culture in that way, especially for such an extended period of time on my own. My experience deepened my love for travel, for language, and for Latin American culture - and I now plan to move to a Spanish-speaking country again someday. I met people there who are still dear friends (they were in my wedding!), and I still keep in touch with my host family. It was incredible, and if I had the chance to do something similar again, I would in a heartbeat!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was generally lighter than I was used to at UGA - I was a double-major, and it was my junior year, so normally I had an extremely heavy workload. However, the light workload was made more difficult due to the fact that I was in an immersion-style program, and EVERYTHING was done in Spanish. I loved it - while it was more difficult, there was no question in my mind that I learned more quickly, and we were able to assimilate to the local culture more easily with that additional practice and conversation in class.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program staff in Buenos Aires were fantastic. They were great support in so many ways. For me personally, they helped me better learn the language and the area, and they were great emotional support for times of frustration while I adjusted to cultural differences. They exceeded my expectations in every way.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was incredible. I lived with a single mother and her two children, plus the family dog. This situation was ideal for me; I was able to practice my Spanish daily with them, and they could not have been more kind. They also had great senses of humor, which helped make the adjustment into the new culture much more entertaining - they understood it was difficult, but helped make the transition so much easier. I was treated as a family member, right from the first day I arrived. They MADE my experience - I would recommend that everyone live with a host family; all of my friends from the program had a similar experience to mine. Regarding the house - I lived in a basement apartment, and it was very comfortable. I didn't have to buy anything other than personal items. It was a house in a beautiful neighborhood that was in a great location - walkable from a quieter part of town, but a short bus ride from everything. I was extremely happy there.

* Food:

For me, the dining habits of the Argentines were a big adjustment, but my host family tried to be very accommodating. (I wanted to follow their lifestyle/habits, so we didn't make any changes, but they were so nice about trying to help me adjust.) The quality of food was wonderful - my host "mom" was a great cook, and I never went hungry, nor was she a "food pusher," which I liked. There were also a TON of great restaurants around the city, where you could eat for cheap. I would only say don't get caught up in eating solely Argentine beef; while incredible, they have a fantastic food scene in Buenos Aires that goes much farther than that!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Went on an organized "beach" day-trip to El Tigre that was great fun. It was a good way to get to know the members of our group, plus the ISA staff. Also went on a day trip to Uruguay by boat - not the most exciting trip, but good bonding to be had. My favorite trip was to Iguazu Falls - I think it was a weekend trip (may have just been one night), but was spectacular. Wonderful destination, and great first trip with the group.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Thankfully, I didn't have any health issues while I was there that couldn't be solved by a visit to the drugstore, so I don't know how they were addressed. Regarding safety, the program staff and our host families took our safety very seriously; they all tried to help us understand the city and what our boundaries should be to keep ourselves safe. Since Buenos Aires has such a vibrant late-night culture, I wouldn't be afraid to be out late, but as a female, I wouldn't go out alone late at night. "There's safety in numbers..." "Use your best judgement..." All of those things your parents told you still apply, and generally are really good ideas. Just don't be irresponsible about going out.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* 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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

I practiced the language with my professors, fellow classmates (with some of them, the only language we had in common was Spanish - so cool!), host family, and around town. I was very active around town, socializing with friends from the program, so we absolutely depended upon our language skills to get around (in town and traveling around South America later on). My host family was great - they helped me with words/colloquialisms I didn't know, and practiced with me constantly when we were together. My host family was hands-down the best part of the experience (we even still keep in touch - more than 5 years later!). The program took my language skills so much farther; I went from being an A+ language student with no practical speaking skills to nearly fluent by the time I left the program. Though my speaking wasn't perfect, I could truly communicate well with anyone, and often was mistaken for a local.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

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  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you can swing it, study abroad for as long as you can - especially for a foreign language program. It's hard to be far from your family and friends, but it is so worth it. Also, the longer you go, the better your language skills will get and the more they'll stick with you. The type of student that will benefit the most from this program is adventurous, loves to meet new people, and adapts easily. The transition is not seamless, but it's exciting and will change you as a person, for the better.