Why did you choose this program?
It's a funny story, actually. When I was a junior in high school, my friend Brenna and I made a pact that we would go to Argentina together. Of course, as our lives went on and we went to different colleges in different programs with different majors, it seemed less and less likely that we would be able to study abroad at the same time.
When the time came for me to spend a semester abroad in a Spanish-speaking country as a requirement for my major, Argentina was the only country that came to mind. I really wanted an immersive language and cultural experience, and Spanish Studies Abroad in Córdoba could offer me that and more. Living with a host family, studying at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, and traveling with the program to different parts of Argentina were all major benefits of this program that influenced me to choose it. And, in the end, Brenna and I did both end up studying in Argentina.
She arrived for her summer program the day I left after my semester program and when she got home we spent long hours drinking mate and sharing our favorite things about the country.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My program provider and my university worked together beautifully to assist me in any way they could. They helped us get student visas, plan trips, and even gave us restaurant suggestions when we decided to go out to dinner. They gave us a tour of the city and showed us how to use the bus. They even helped me to sign up for club field hockey.
We did have to organize some extracurricular things on our own. We planned travels to other cities in Argentina with only minor guidance from the staff, booking flights and Air BnBs and excursions. We actually really enjoyed this independence because it gave us a chance to practice our Spanish skills and really dig into the culture.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
When you first get there, it is going to be so overwhelming. All of the Spanish classes in the world could not prepare you for the experience of being fully immersed in the language. You'll start to panic and question if you really can tell your host family what you like and don't like to eat for dinner, even though you've known that since middle school Spanish. You'll really want to hide away in your room and watch Netflix until everything feels normal again.
TRY NOT TO DO THIS.
Yes, a little bit of alone time is healthy. But it is so important to go out, to make friends with your host family, to bond with your classmates, and explore the city. Córdoba has so much to offer no matter what your interests are. Hiking, museums, nightlife, parks, orchestras, dance classes, even giant chess pieces near Plaza San Martín. It is absolutely worthwhile, and you'll get so much more out of your experience if you get out of your room and see all that this beautiful city (and country) have to offer.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
For me, the average week was packed full of fun things.
In the mornings I'd wake up, come downstairs, and eat breakfast. I'd grab all my bags (usually my backpack plus a field hockey bag with maybe an extra one for a change of clothes). Then I'd walk to class! It was about a 30-minute walk, and I loved it because it gave me a chance to listen to music and watch the city wake up.
I'd go to class in the morning, eat lunch with the others in my program (there were 7 of us) and then play a nice game of cards after lunch with my friend Owen. We started out playing Gin Rummy but soon learned to play Truco, a classic Argentine card game (although Brazilians will tell you it's theirs). Then we'd go to our afternoon class, and afterward, I would head to field hockey practice.
From there I'd walk with my field hockey buddies Ro and Guille to their apartment, and if it was a Tuesday, I would drop them off there and continue on to English Talk in Barrio Güemes. English Talk was a group of adults learning English who met every week to practice conversation together, and I went to help out. From there, I would usually head home for dinner and do some homework before bed, but on Thursdays (because there was no class Friday), my friends and I would head out to the bars and restaurants of Barrio Güemes for a night on the town.
On the weekends we planned trips to museums, hiking, or to cities like Mendoza, Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, Bariloche, and Iguazú. We loved traveling and exploring the city.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was probably being able to make friends. I'm not a particularly shy person, and I love people, but I was worried I wouldn't be able to communicate my personality in Spanish enough to make friends.
Field hockey helped me a lot with this.
Playing a sport gave me the opportunity to interact with students in Córdoba and make a ton of friends. I realized that we were a lot more alike than we are different and that making friends only takes a conversation.
What was the craziest thing that happened to you during the program?
One of the very last weeks of the program, my friends and I took a trip to Iguazú. Everything went perfectly until it was time to come home. In the taxi on the way to the airport, we received a text saying that our flight had been canceled due to high winds in Córdoba.
When we got to the airport, we learned that there were no more flights until Wednesday morning with the company we had bought our tickets from. It is a great testament to the effectiveness of the program that we were able to communicate in Spanish enough to get refunds, head back to town to the bus station, get bus tickets to Córdoba, survive a two-day journey in the bus back to Córdoba, and make it to the university in time for class Tuesday morning.