I truly enjoyed my experience studying abroad in Argentina for 5 months with API in 2010. I did the early-start intensive language option when I first arrived, which helped me to acclimate so well to the language that I placed into a high enough level of Spanish to take all of my classes in Spanish during the semester. This was after just 5 semesters of Spanish classes prior to studying abroad (unlike many people I know, I didn't take the language in high school)! I also lived with a host family, which was not only great language immersion, but was a great way to really experience the culture and people of Argentina firsthand.
One of my favorite parts about studying abroad was getting to travel. Argentina is about 1/3 the size of the U.S., so there is so much to see! I saw deserts (Salta and Tucuman in the northwest), waterfalls (Iguazu Falls in the northeast), penguins in the wild (Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world), hiked snowy mountains (in Bariloche, also in the south), and even went to Oktoberfest (in a quaint town near Cordoba called Villa General Begrano). And that's just some of the more major trips. API does a bunch of really cool excursions, both within the country and to Colonia (in Uruguay).
Buenos Aires is amazing as well. I don't think I could have gotten bored even if I had never left the city at all! My favorite thing to do was to go to the weekend markets, and I also really enjoyed going to shows, taking tango classes, and the night life (which is unbelievable). I did a 3-month internship at a start-up while I was studying as well, which I loved.
To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of Argentine food. I will say that they have some of the best steak I've ever tasted, and the wine, empanadas and medialunas (sweet croissants) are delicious. But other than that, I found the food to be very bland and flavorless. It's a lot of pasta, pizza, and TONS of beef which is all great, but I got bored of it quickly. That being said, most of my friends loved the food, so maybe I'm just spoiled/picky. :)
API was amazing, from the application process to the support staff in Argentina and even keeping in touch with students when we returned. Whenever I had questions during the application process, they always responded super promptly, and their online toolbox had more than enough information so that I felt completely prepared when I left (the language resources were especially great for last-minute brushing up on the plane).
When I arrived I was greeted by Carmen – our resident director – as well as a couple of API staff members who were visiting for the week, and some of the other students in my group. Carmen spoke to us in Spanish from day one (only translating when need be for the students who were learning for the first time), and became like a mom to us while we were there. She had everyone over to her apartment for a huge dinner the first night, as well as hosting us for several more dinners and events in her home and the API office. Gabby – who helps lead some of the tours and trips with Carmen – was also amazing. She knows more about Argentina’s history and culture than I think most history professors there probably do! She is also an amazing tango dancer, and took us to the milonga for our first lesson.
We were a small group of about 10 students, which I loved, because we became like family while we were there (unlike the huge programs some of our friends were in, which tended to be a lot more clique-y). I still visit with several of my friends from abroad at least a couple of times a year, even though we live all over the U.S. Another great thing about API was that they take so much care with choosing host families that live very central. So although the school was in a residential area, everyone in my program lived right in the middle of the busiest shopping/night life areas. That meant a longer commute to school but it was totally worth it for the conveniences that came with such a central location.
It would be impossible to articulate all the ways studying abroad changed me in just a few words (in fact, I’m probably not even aware of many of the ways I’ve changed!). That being said, I think the broadening of my horizons/perspective shift I experienced is the change I’ve been most conscious of. The mixture of seeing a completely new part of the world and immersing myself in the culture/history/politics/language, and meeting people from all over with fascinating stories – some traveling around the world “just because,” others working remotely so they could live anywhere – was very eye-opening. I was reminded of how big the world really is, but at the same time, how where you go and what you do is really only limited to what you can imagine and set your mind to.
I would go again in a heartbeat. I hope to take another trip to South America very soon, so that I can visit some of the other countries I didn’t make it to (because I was so busy seeing as much of Argentina as I could!), and I definitely want to go back to Argentina someday.
If you love adventure, want to learn or improve your Spanish and are looking for a truly unique and exciting study abroad experience, look no further! I highly recommend Argentina with API.