Argentina adventure and growth (linguistic and personal) Past Review

By (Trinity University) - abroad from 07/09/2017 to 12/03/2017 with

Spanish Studies Abroad: Córdoba - Semester, Year or Summer in Argentina

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a ton of spanish, I became more independent, I am less self-conscious, my compassion and love for humanity (in its million different forms and places of life) grew greatly, I appreciate the opportunity to get an education so much more and I have more respect for others in that we each have wonderfully complex lives and all deserve kindness. It was 100% worthwhile, not 100% comfortable and I think that is why it was worthwhile.

Review Photos

Spanish Studies Abroad: Córdoba - Semester, Year or Summer in Argentina Photo Spanish Studies Abroad: Córdoba - Semester, Year or Summer in Argentina Photo Spanish Studies Abroad: Córdoba - Semester, Year or Summer in Argentina Photo Spanish Studies Abroad: Córdoba - Semester, Year or Summer in Argentina Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Having entered the program with the lowest level of collegiate Spanish preparation (one semester of intermediate Spanish) it was a challenge, as I expected it to be and I feel that I learned a vast amount thanks to the program, variety of classes, no english contract and being hosted with a family with whom I was a part of.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program director was very kind and attentive to each students course options and the professors were very helpful and kind. The only negative aspect was that with the lower than average number of students in the program there not every class was open. This did not affect me personally but other friends in the program were a bit disappointed.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had some issues with my first host family (scheduling, communication and absence on vacation to Mexico for multiple weeks) so I ended up moving houses to live with a second family. My second family was PERFECT! I had such a wonderful time with them and the director of my program (Alejandra) was such a help, she made the move between the two very simple. As for accommodations I was very comfortable.

* Food:

With my second family (where I was for 3 months), I was well fed (even though I am vegetarian) and had a variety of options each meal. My host mother is an angel and even took input as to what I and my housemates liked for her meal prep and shopping.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

A variety of aspects made the experience so wonderful: living with a helpful host family, non-integrated courses containing Brazilians (nice addition to the USA only message), formation of friendships with locals, traveling with other international students helped me learn about the culture. Being willing to say yes to any opportunity to learn more and improve your language skills is essential.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was able to use my student health insurance when I was sick and went to the doctor (6th floor of a huge downtown hospital). The process to connect with a physician who spoke both english and spanish (to effectively communicate my symptoms) was a bit of a challenge but it worked out. The costs were low with the student insurance and I got better quickly with my antibiotic prescription. Both my host mother and my program director were useful and helpful to get medical help.

* Safety:

Cordoba is safe, as any city of millions can be. You need to be aware about your surroundings and comport yourself mindfully but this area is well developed. There are regions which are dangerous and to be avoided but I never had a reason to go there so I was just fine. I did have my iPhone stolen from the pocket of a jacket I set down but that was my own fault. Just be careful and have a good time.

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

YES! I would do it all over again, no questions asked. The only bit of advice I wish I could go back and tell myself is that if you are having an issue with housing, try your best and when that doesn't work go to your director right away (wasting your own time waiting for improvement to magically happen is silly). My second host family was perfect and honestly having changed families made me appreciate my new one and be grateful.

Finances

* 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)

You have your food provided at home and your lunch at school, transportation is either walking (free and healthy) or by public bus 75 cents so very affordable. As far as other costs, you spend what you want to spend, depending your financial goals you can get by with nearly no other costs or you can live it up and go out to eat, shop, see movies, etc. for a relatively low cost. The high rate of inflation made the US dollar quite strong and the costs of almost everything (aside from clothing) quite cheaper in comparison. I personally spent a low amount weeks of the semester I was home in Cordoba, to give me a cushion of extra money for weeks I traveled and had higher costs.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Prioritize what you need and strongly consider what you want. If you can cut out the small purchases (honestly not essentials) which add up fast then you will feel more comfortable coughing up the cash for traveling costs. When organizing trips for the breaks in the semester I heard a lot of comments from friends regretting spending extra on non-necessities because they didn't want to miss out on unforgettable travel options. If you can avoid spending unnecessarily, avoid it.

Language

* 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

We signed a contract to only speak spanish, the only english permitted was with our families on the phone. I attribute my great improvement to this mindset. OF course it was a challenge and frustrating initially to not be able to communicate as fluidly nor with the nuances I wished but over time that improved. Students who didn't want to push themselves to only speak spanish struggled with this quite a bit and I think you need to decide before you ever place your deposit for the program "Do I want to comply with this goal of only spanish?" if your answer is not yes then please re-assess your goals and commitment. If you are nervous or self-conscious don't overthink it, everyone there is learning and understands.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Completion of Intermediate Spanish I
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Prior to departure: research your foreign country (history/culture/locally unique dialect language difference), review all tenses and rules, listen to music in spanish, read spanish (news articles or books) and decide to push yourself to improve and come to terms with being outside of your comfort zone. Abroad: say yes to any opportunity to make new friends, learn about new cultural practices, improve your vocabulary outside of the classroom by socializing and then at home research and review the thins you have learned. There will be a million things going on all around you and all you can do is your personal best to soak in what you can. Open yourself to the experience and stay positive. After returning: keep in contact with your friendships formed abroad, listen to music you heard during your travels (I made a spotify playlist while in Argentina and I listen to it almost everyday), read books in spanish and speak spanish whenever you are presented with the opportunity (I now work in a mexican restaurant where I use spanish everyday). One easy way to have spanish become part of your daily habit is to follow accounts in spanish on social media (facebook, instagram, twitter, whatever you use).

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

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Language commitment (push yourself and see all the other students doing the same)
  • International student connections (classes and friendships outside class)
  • Host family (people to help you navigate the culture & having a real "home" away from home)
* What could be improved?
  • Increase number of students (so that all courses are offered)
  • Conduct a survey one-two weeks into stay with host families to see how things are going and address issues early on
  • Offer more mixers/event information for all of the international students of the entire university (to connect students with students OUTSIDE the small program)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If something is affecting you negatively and you have done your best to improve it, speak to your program staff (director and assistant) to solve the issue. Being tough and 'just living with it' is not a long term solution. Personally this would have benefited me in that I would have been willing to move host families sooner than I did, it all worked out but it was a larger issue than it needed to be because I didn't want to speak up.