Spanish & Gender and Women’s Studies major
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Spring semester, 2016
It always seemed a bit overplayed and dramatic when the study abroad alumni would visit my classes. It was as though they were just trying to sell the program, but after studying abroad myself, I have realized that what they said was true. I studied Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the Spring 2016 semester with CEA Global Education. Before I left I figured I would go there, learn the language, and come home, but it’s so much more than that.
I learned about the culture of Argentina, their history, and their way of life. The history of Argentina is incredibly interesting and being there I was able to witness how it has affected them. Along with this I learned about the United States’ involvement, not only in Argentina, but in the world as a whole. It was truly eye-opening and I could not have been this impacted by just sitting in a U.S. classroom. You become aware of how our perception of history is completely from the United States’ perspective and learning how events happened from different points of view is so important.
It’s not just history and culture that you’ll learn while abroad, you will learn endless things about yourself as well. You will be challenged greatly but once you get the hang of it, you will feel accomplished. Now, what is “it” that you will be getting the hang of? The language, the public transportation, the restaurants, and many other things that I am not afraid to say I was not ready for. They say you should be ready for the culture shock but that’s not something you can really prepare for. The most you could do is open your mind and be prepared for massive changes.
Being in a new country, especially one that does not share the same first language as you is a difficult but worthwhile experience. You are forced to adapt and change your way of life that you have been so set in for years. You’ll want to bring your culture and what’s familiar and “normal” with you, but you’ll have to incorporate that into a different culture. As a student, you can’t expect everyone else to accommodate you while you’re in their country (but most of the time people are very willing to help). Changing your way of life can be an enlightening experience and this is when you will learn what kind of person you really are. For seven years I was a vegetarian, during my time in Argentina I took a break from this because meat is an important part of their food culture. It was a difficult decision but it was worth it for the cultural experience. While you are abroad, if you have the chance to try something new, just do it.
Argentina is a large country and depending what province you’re in you will have different experiences. For example, in the capital I was able to take a bus to anywhere I needed to go, for only about six pesos and it would take fifteen minutes max. However, when I was in Bariloche, the bus ride from our Airbnb to the city center cost fourteen pesos and took about a half hour. You will also see differences in the people, people in some regions are kinder and more personable than in other regions. Many people assume that studying abroad is too expensive but I was able to travel around quite a bit and experience so much; I highly recommend taking advantage of every opportunity.
Concerning my language learning, living with a host mom helped a ton, especially because she spoke good English so we could help each other. My classes were all in Spanish which I expected but they were much more difficult than I thought they would be. My reading and listening skills increased a lot and I feel like my classes helped with this. Obviously my speaking skills increased as well because I had to speak Spanish most of the time.
Overall it was an incredible experience and I would recommend studying abroad to everyone. It made me a more independent and confident person and I have no regrets.