The Experience of a Lifetime – Studying Abroad in Buenos Aires

From API Buenos Aires student Makena S. (Makena blogs for her home Bryant University, and has been featured on the GoOverseas website).

If you are getting ready to study abroad, I’d like to welcome you to one of the most exciting, scary (in a good way), unforgettable experiences of your life so far. And if you are considering studying abroad, I’d like to ask (as bluntly and kindly as possible) what are you waiting for?!

My name is Makena Sage and I am going to share the story of my own adventures studying abroad (so far!) in hopes that I can get you super excited about your own upcoming experience, OR that I can convince you that this is one of the best decisions you will ever make.

It all started about 6 weeks ago. After months of applications, orientations and preparations I was finally on my way. I arrived in Buenos Aires at 7:45am on June 18th, groggy and travel-tired but anticipating the adventure ahead with an open mind. I was greeted at the airport by our cheerful resident director Carmen, and five other early-start students who were just as tired and groggy as I was!

Looking back, the first few days are honestly sort of a blur. Between general tiredness and adjusting to a new language and culture we were all pretty exhausted for the first week or so. Carmen didn’t rest for a moment though and we were ushered through a series of welcome events (including a wonderful home-cooked dinner at Carmen’s home), orientations and tours (including a bus tour, a bike tour of Palermo, and a transportation orientation to show us how to get to our university) that helped us to become more familiar with our new surroundings as well as to get to know each other better.

 

In the rose garden in one of the parks of Palermo

Before we knew it, classes had begun and we were settling into a routine with our new host families. Mine consists of a mom (Cecilia) and her two grown daughters and we live in an apartment right in the center of the city just two blocks from the subway. We have amazing home-cooked family dinners every night and talk only in Spanish, which has done wonders for my language learning. I have wireless internet and my own room and bathroom. My host mom even bought me a cork board for all of my pictures after they kept falling of my shelves! In other words, I adore my host family and I am not the only one! Everyone in API Buenos Aires seems to share this sentiment, due largely to the fact that Carmen hand-picks our families for us and matches us up with those she thinks will be the best fit.

The intensive language month was, well . . . intense! Five hours a day of Spanish is a lot, but I am also soooo glad I did it. Not only do I get to spend a whole extra month in Argentina, but the language immersion prior to the start of the actual semester was invaluable for me. So if you are going back and forth about whether or not to do an early start, I highly recommend it.

I was also lucky enough to land an unpaid internship in Buenos Aires at a wonderful start-up marketing company called RelevanSi. A friend at school told me about them and I applied and got a PR-intern position before I arrived. Since I can’t have an actual paid job while I am studying abroad, this has been a wonderful way to gain experience and stay busy when I’m not in school. And boy do I stay busy!

Speaking of which, in addition to school and work I also started taking tango lessons about four weeks ago, and I now go to a combination of group and private lessons about three times a week. It is beautiful, and a difficult dance to learn but I love it. I’m determined to stick it out at least until I feel ready to start dancing socially in one of the many legendary milongas (a place where you dance tango) of Buenos Aires.

 

With my fellow APIers after the game

ANYWAY, enough of the boring details! Let’s move on to the fun stuff! When we arrived the World Cup was in full swing and Argentina was kicking some serious futbol butt. One of my favorite memories from the first couple of weeks is watching the Argentina-Greece game from Plaza San Martin, along with thousands of other spectators. The energy was just incredible. There would be complete focused silence for minutes on end, interrupted periodically by cheers of encouragement and every so often . . the crowd (and indeed, the whole country) would explode with cheers and excitement, surging forward as one in celebration of a goal.

 

At Iguazu Falls

Another favorite memory is our first trip outside of Buenos Aires. A couple of weeks ago, five of us decided to visit Iguazu Falls in the northern part of the country and took the 20-hour (very comfortable but very long) bus to Puerto Iguazu for the weekend. The falls were breathtaking, and the 20-minute raft ride through the falls was so worth the $25 USDs it cost us. I have never seen so many rainbows, butterflies or breathtaking natural wonders in my life. Although I love Buenos Aires, this trip convinced me that traveling while you study abroad is a must-do.

In that spirit, I and two of my girlfriends (one from API and another I met in class) decided to spend our one-week winter break (between the intensive language month and start of the “fall” semester) traveling some more. Another 20+ hour bus brought us to Tucuman in the northern part of the country, and a 4-hour bus a day later brought us to Salta. We loved Salta so much (and were so tired of busses) that we changed our tickets to stay and spent the next 4 days exploring the city and the surrounding areas (by car and horseback).

Those are just a few of literally hundreds of amazing memories I could share with you from just a few short weeks. It is now the first week of the semester and I can’t believe how fast time has flown. The “newbies” (as I affectionately refer to the semester students) arrived about 10 days ago and we are having a blast getting to know each other, even as they get to know this amazing country for the first time. Three more months seems like no time at all, but I am determined to make the most of every moment. I have a long list of things I still want to do while I am here, but I am not even that concerned about crossing off every single item anymore. Because if there is one thing I’ve learned from six weeks living in a foreign country, it’s to embrace every experience or opportunity that comes your way. It is often the ones you could never have planned or predicted that will become a part of your most cherished memories.

If you want to continue reading about my adventures you can find my blog at www.studyabroadbryantargentina.wordpress.com. You can also feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions about studying abroad with API.

GOOD LUCK with everything and get ready, because you are about to have the experience of a lifetime.

Besos from Buenos Aires,

Makena

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Comments

  1. Congratulations on the launch of your new blog API! I really enjoyed reading this (and interviewing Makena on our site!), and I look forward to reading and sharing more API study abroad experiences in the months to come!

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    • Thanks Andrew! We appreciate the support of gooverseas.com, and enjoyed your interview with Makena.

      Sincerely,

      Jeramy

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