So you’re thinking about a gap year in Buenos Aires? Home of delicious steak, the tango and Evita? Good choice! The capital of Argentina is rich in beauty, culture and welcoming people, and the growing economy means that now there are more opportunities than ever. Read on to find out how you can make the most out of this fascinating city, no matter what your situation.
Buenos Aires is the perfect place to brush up on your Spanish. There are many different schools in the city, offering a range of intensive courses to suit your needs. You can enroll from a few weeks to a few months at a time, and some schools even provide accommodation. Prices and reputations vary, so be sure to check school ratings and research thoroughly before you part with your pesos. However, language immersion is a sure-fire way to boost your Spanish skills fast. Study in school during the day; practice in the city at night!
The global language is ever-expanding, and as a native speaker, you are at a distinct advantage when searching for gap year work. With Argentina's economy explosive growth, English is more in demand in Buenos Aires than ever before. There are more regular hours to be found at language schools, but more money to be made if you teach private individual lessons. A TEFL certificate is an advantage, but not necessary – especially with regard to teaching private students. And those extra pesos can come in handy for the copious travel opportunities available to you in South America!
Take note: you can search for jobs online, but it’s typically easier – and far more common – to be hired once you are actually in Argentina. If you decide to come to South America without a job, make sure you have enough money to last as you search for work.
Why not turn your hand to philanthropy, and really get into the heart of the city? There are countless ways to help out. Any skill you have could contribute in a positive way, from assisting with construction, working with children, environmental development, social inclusion projects, even cooking lessons….the list is endless. Spanish is not necessary in some volunteering positions, but basic knowledge is always an advantage.
Hop onto the career ladder by interning for a company in Argentina. From journalism to law, finance to zoology, there are a variety of internships to consider. A higher level of Spanish is often required for this route, but some programs offer Spanish classes beforehand. Make your gap year more CV-friendly by experiencing a work environment in a different country first-hand!
Planning Your Trip
Okay, so now you know what’s out there for you, how do you plan for your adventure? Here are some all-important factors to consider before your trip:
Work visas are also obtainable, if your company is willing to sponsor you. However, there is a lot of paperwork and bureaucratic issues to consider here. Patience (and a lot of documents) are key if you want this visa.
The currency in Buenos Aires is the Argentinean pesos. Bring as much cash as you can, and keep it safe (Buenos Aires is typically safe, but is known for pickpockets). You cannot withdraw dollars at the ATM in Argentina, but you can withdraw dollars in Uruguay. Talk to locals to see where to exchange money for the best rates, and avoid hawkers on the street.
Whilst relatively safe, petty crime is high. Take care and keep your belongings safe – especially in crowded spaces and on the subway. There’s an alarming rate of pickpockets snatching people’s belongings off the subway as the doors close, so keep your bag with you at all times.
Aside from this, it’s merely a case of common sense to stay safe. Make sure you take the same precautions as you would in any other big city.
Culture shock happens anywhere in the world. Of course, you may find yourself homesick and panging for normality from time to time, but throw yourself into the Latin America life, and you’ll find it disappearing fast. There really is so much to gain from your time here. The weather is wonderful, the city lively and the people are known for being extremely friendly.
Contributed by Alex Pendleton
Want to earn $10,000 towards your gap year?
US residents ages 14-25 are eligible to apply for our USA Gap Year Fairs Scholarship, due Apr 15th. Register for a gap year fair to learn about eligible programs!