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IES Abroad: Semester/Year in Argentina
Maria Johnson is from all over the United States. She currently resides right outside of Chicago. While studying abroad, she studied Spanish/Latin American literature as well as Argentine History and Argentine Film with IES and Universidad de Buenos Aires. She enjoys traveling, eating, experiencing new cultures, and volunteering.
Highlights: The interpersonal connections that I made while studying abroad with IES will always stick with me. The woman who worked as the maid for the family where I stayed was as just as much a part of my host family as I was. Although, she lived about an hour to an hour and a half outside of the city, I would visit with her family occasionally. I tutored her children and I learned how to make delectable pastries with her daughter. My host family was fantastic. They were very inclusive by inviting me to family game nights and my host mother also invited me to afternoon brunches with some of the other women of the neighborhood. They were also great by offering suggestions of places to go and sites to visit. Through traveling I was able to do while on summer vacation, or temporary breaks either from IES or Argentine national holidays, I had the opportunity to meet wonderful people. The hostels where I stayed were quite enjoyable and I had the chance to meet other people from all over the world. I met one of my dearest friends while traveling. Now that I am a few years out from having lived in Buenos Aires, it is a great joy to know that I'll always have a place to stay if I ever get the chance to return and vice versa. Many of my friends that I made there, I still keep in touch with.
Morning: I lived in a homestay, so the typical morning was no different from what I experienced in the U.S. Argentine breakfasts are a bit different from the American ones in that many people only have mate, coffee, and a medialuna. I needed a bit more sustenance so often I would have some tea, medialuna, cereal, and make a fruit salad. I sometimes would make omelettes or French toast, but it just depended on the time I woke up. I like to maximize my sleep time minimize my prep time, so more extravagant breakfasts were usually reserved for the weekends. For Argentines, the more important meal either tends to be lunch or dinner usually since family style eating is popular. Once I was finished with breakfast and getting ready, I would walk to my student center. It was about 20-30 minutes from my apartment depending on traffic. I would go to my morning classes at IES and hang out with friends there if there was not much time between classes. If I had classes at UBA, I would take the train or a series of buses if the subway workers decided to go on strike, which happened more often than not.
Afternoon: If I had class in the afternoon, I would go to the classes at either IES or UBA. Sometimes you would get lucky and the UBA students would be on strike or some political occurrence would be going on and classes would be cancelled. I liked the afternoons in particular because it was a time to try out little cafes and restaurants and catch up with friends. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to eat. Buenos Aires is an ethnically diverse city, but it is mostly known for its Spanish/Italian cooking; thus, I was on the hunt for the perfect pizza, ice cream! I wanted to see if the Argentine paella really could stack up with Spanish paella. Every Wednesday without fail, I showed up with a kilo of dulce de leche and dark chocolate ice cream. I tell you, there is not a more perfect combo, I cannot think of another one...some may say peanut butter and jelly...oreos and milk...but this is pretty up there. The afternoons were also a perfect time to go city exploring visiting museums, film screenings and festivals, arts exhibitions, Fashion Week, outdoor concerts, and participating in commemorative events.
Evening: In the evenings I would only have UBA classes occasionally because the majority of UBA and IES students are working during the day. Therefore, a large percentage of UBA and IES classes are held at night to accommodate working students. I would also attend family dinners, which would generally occur on Thursday or Friday nights. The family dinners were a big deal because my host sister, host brother and wife, and a family friend would come over and we'd all talk and play cards. It wasn't required that I eat every dinner with my host family, but I ate with them frequently. It was also nice because they allowed me to have friends come over for dinner as well. Thursday nights are a big night for going out in Argentina. In fact, I would say it's pretty common for people to go out at least 2 if not 3 times week. Depending on when my family dinner night was I would go out on that Friday and Saturday or Thursday and Saturday if the dinner was on Friday. There definitely is something for everyone in terms of the night scene. There are great hole in the wall places to hang out, bars, concerts, and comedy shows to go that provide endless entertainment.
Cara Huntley studied abroad with IES Abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the Fall of 2011. She is originally from Massachusetts, and is a graduating senior at the University of Hartford with a double major in International Studies and Spanish with a minor in Anthropology. Her semester in Buenos Aires was the third of four consecutive semesters abroad and has been deemed equally unforgettable. As a graduate of the class of 2012, Cara will now join the work force full-time for an international strategic advisory firm in Washington, D.C. She also remains connected to IES by serving as an ambassador for both the Buenos Aires and Berlin programs.
Morning: A typical morning depended on the day of the week. Tuesdays and Thursdays I had morning classes so I woke up around 8am. I lived in independent housing so I typically made my own breakfast and headed out to catch the bus, which was about one block from my apartment. The bus ride took about 10-15 minutes, which allowed me enough time to stop at the coffee shop nearby IES for a coffee and the occasional croissant. On these days I had three back to back classes with an hour for lunch in between. On Mondays and Wednesdays I had only one or two afternoon classes so the mornings consisted of sleeping in, running errands (laundry, grocery shopping etc...) or checking out some sites nearby.
Afternoon: Again, afternoons depended on my class schedule but for the most part I was in class in the afternoon. Most days I was out around 3pm but on Thursdays for example I attended the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) which was an evening class so I went from my afternoon classes directly to UBA. Weekend afternoons were always spent meeting up with friends at local coffeehouses, taking walks, sightseeing, or traveling.
Evening: Because I lived independently with my boyfriend, we often hosted "dinners" in which we would cook fun meals and invite friends over to eat. We also made sure to check out the endless amount of amazing restaurants on every corner. Evenings were also spent experiencing the nightlife, seeing movies, etc...
Highlights: An academic highlight for me, was experiencing a foreign university. While most of my classes were within the IES facility, I attended UBA for one of my courses. This was a real eye-opening experience into how other institutions are run, what the work load is like, and the overall differences between a foreign university and a university in the states.
Another highlight of my trip was a weekend trip I took to Iguacu Falls. I went to both the Argentine and Brazilian side and spent three days enjoying the natural wonder. It was by far one of the best experiences and definitely one that is unforgettable.
Read more about the IES Abroad Program in Buenos Aires
Cara is from Belingham, MA and graduated from the University of Hartford in 2012 with a Bachelor's in International Studies and Spanish. After studying abroad for two consecutive years - twice with IES (Buenos Aires and Berlin) - Cara now works for an international advisory firm in Washington, DC, focusing specifically on the Latin America region.
Describe your typical morning.
Cara: I lived in independent housing, outside of the IES program, so my mornings may have been slightly different than a lot of my peers who lived with host families. Depending on my class schedule, most mornings I woke up and took the bus straight to the IES center for my 9 AM class. Other mornings, I would meet friends for coffee at one of the MANY coffee shops.
Drinking a cup of coffee is much more of a social event than in the US and lasts generally anywhere from 1 - 2 hours, depending on who you are with. Waiters do not "bother" you and to some they seem inattentive, but I really enjoyed that they left us alone to chat and if we needed something we would waive them over.
What about your afternoons?
Cara: Most afternoons were spent at IES in class, as I had my schedule set up so that I had the bulk of my classes around lunch time, ending at 3 PM. All of the classes are on the same floor at the center and do not require any walking time. In between classes I would check emails, talk with staff, or visit with friends. On days that I did not have class in the afternoon, I would try to sight see as much as possible.
Cara: Most evenings were spent doing homework, reading for class, or having dinner with friends. Argentines typically eat dinner very late (8 or 9 PM start). So, during a normal dinner time (5-6 PM), I would catch up on homework or relax and then around 7:30 PM I would get ready to go to dinner, which could last until 9:30 or 10 PM. There are many restaurants and unique places to try in Buenos Aires, so we would try to do something different each time.
What was the highlight of your trip?
Cara: The highlight of my trip was traveling to Iguazu falls on the border of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. We travelled by plane and spent only a weekend there, but in two days we were able to see both the Argentine side and the Brazilian side of the waterfalls. It was a beautiful trip, and nice to see another facet of the Argentine culture.
I think traveling in general was the highlight of my trip to Argentina. Aside from studying in the local university and experiencing day-to-day life in the city, I really enjoyed the ability to travel to different places in the region, including Mar de Plata, Tandil, and Uruguay. I strongly urge all students to save up and travel as much as time allows while in South America!
Chelsea is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is double majoring in Spanish and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America. She studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina in Spring 2012. She enjoys photography, cooking, and watching documentaries.
GO: Why did you decide to study abroad with IES?
Chelsea: IES offered a variety of programs that interested me, particularly in South America. They had reputable academics, but also bolstered that study experience with incredible cultural immersion that really completed my abroad experience. Their program was partnered with my home university, so there was no problem when it came to transferring credits for courses. Everything was simple and streamlined! They also have great advisors on-site in Argentina that were able to answer academic, cultural, or personal questions, and adapted to your own language level. They were very open about what living in Buenos Aires was like, and never shied away from giving their honest opinion. They program center was in a convenient location and offered a wide variety of resources for students.
GO: What made this study abroad experience unique and special?
Chelsea: Buenos Aires is a city different from any other I've been in! Their socio-political history has really shaped the people, architecture, and culture, and through studying there, I experienced that almost every day. I made a really great connection with my host mom, so early on, I had a resources for care and concern, but also for helpful city tips. She played a large role in giving me confidence in a foreign setting that really made my experience special. I also met a lot of friends, both in my program and locals, who added to my abroad social life. The city itself breathed art to me. The graffiti and way of dress was always expressive and creative and gave the city an awesome vibe!
GO: How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, academically, etc)
Chelsea: From my experience abroad, I have gained a multitude of new skills. Primarily, I gained a confidence with the language that I didn't expect to have this soon. I came to the realization that languages are about communication, and that as long as I continue to speak the language, the grammar will fall into place. I also learned about adaptability and cultural sensitivity. Being abroad is a culture shock, and you have to be able to adjust and respect another culture. I was willing to immerse myself into the culture completely, and that openness really helped my experience. Academically, I have bettered my writing in Spanish and my ability to comprehend a lot more than I was able to before.
Chelsea is from Miami, Florida and is a senior at the University of Michigan, graduating May 2013. She will have a concentration in Sociology and minors in Community Action Social Change (CASC) and Spanish. She enjoys traveling and being with friends.
GO: Why did you decide to study abroad with IES?
Chelsea: I choose to study in Argentina because I wanted to do something different than Europe where a lot of people study. I also looked at this experience as an opportunity to do something that I would not be able to do again. I thought, when will I ever be able to live in South America? The chances of going to Europe over South America when I'm older are much higher. I decided to go through IES because they offered much more in terms of the program. They offered internships and had internships focused on service learning. IES also offered a variety of cultural excursions and seemed to make a effort in showing the importance of emerging in the culture.
GO: What made this study abroad experience unique and special?
Chelsea: This study abroad experience was unique for many reasons. IES offered a comfort to all its students that is indescribable, while still giving its students full independence. The students that were in IES were all very fun and interesting people. They all came from very good universities, so it made IES a unique place to study. Argentina has so much to offer that anybody coming will find their niche. Buenos Aires is often referred to as the "Paris of South America" and there was always something to do. Friends would meet in the parks and listen to the music that was playing every weekend or walk around the streets of Sante Fe. Furthermore, you could either hang out with Americans or Argentineans or both. It was very easy to meet locals and locals loved meeting Americans. There wasn't one place that Americans went to like in many cities in Europe. Instead you were in the locals culture which is something every American study abroad student loves. You will not regret studying in Buenos Aires.
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Chelsea: My internship through IES was working in Villa 21, which is the slums of Buenos Aires. After working weekly with the youth in the slums and learning about their experience I knew I wanted to do more. I have recently received a nomination for Peace Corps and hoping to be serving come Fall 2013. My experience through IES has encouraged me to continue with my love for traveling and exploring my individuality through new experiences. I have friends who were on my program that are moving back to Argentina and a few other friends who also are in the same position as me with Peace Corps. You learn a lot about yourself while studying abroad and Argentina is a place that you really grow. You have a lot of independence in a huge city. We often said it was like NYC with hispanic culture.
About IES Abroad
Their Roots: IES Abroad was co-founded by Paul Koutny, an Austrian student who had moved to the US on a Fulbright scholarship in 1950. While there, he envisioned a future built on a peace that grew from the lessons learned while studying abroad. He rallied 21 other friends and the crew hopped on the SS Volendam headed for a year of studies in Vienna. Feeling inspired by their own experience in Austria, IES Abroad alums Clarence and Alberta Giese immediately began helping send future groups of students abroad. Before they knew it, 60 years had passed, and IES Abroad remains a longstanding and exemplary study abroad option for students today.
Their Quest: "IES Abroad strives to provide premier study abroad programs for U.S. students that deliver the highest quality education while simultaneously promoting development of intercultural competence."