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10 Tips for Studying Abroad in Buenos Aires

1. Learn the language

It may seem obvious, but a lot of people (myself included) go to study abroad in Buenos Aires without knowing the language of their new home. If you are from the U.S. and speak English, you are at an immediate advantage and it's easy to be lazy about learning the language. I came to BA not knowing any Spanish (not my best decision), and while I have improved a lot, I'm nowhere near fluent. I can't stress enough what a difference it makes for my friends who speak Spanish well--aside from getting around much easier, they also interact and talk with many more Argentines. It makes a huge difference in your overall experience!

2. Do your research

It is so important to get as much knowledge as possible about a place before you visit. There are endless blogs, websites, reviews, and books that have really great advice and recommendations for traveling. Look up where to stay, how to get there, what to eat, what to do, what not to do, and who to do it with. Once my friends and I understood the importance of researching beforehand, our weekend trips were much better.

3. Get lost

In a huge city like Buenos Aires, you're going to get lost. It's going to happen, and it's going to be frustrating. For the first two months of living in BA, we only knew how to get places if we got lost first. BUT it's okay. Because then you see parts of the city you might not have (just be smart/aware), and you get to ask people for directions (YAY tip #1)! Lucky for me in BA, time is of no essence, so getting lost and being late to everything really isn't an issue : )

 Our beautiful and often long walks through the city trying to find our way...

4. Travel

Though this isn't tip #1, it is probably the one I stress most. I fell in love with BA--the people, the city, the culture, everything. But the weekends I got to travel are still some of my favorite memories. There aren't many times in your life you will be able to travel every weekend, so take advantage of it. Even if it's a city an hour away or a country across the continent, try to do it all! I promise one of the most rewarding feelings being abroad is realizing you can travel all across the world on your own (or with a few people) and have the best time.

 Mendoza, Argentina

5. Learn to understand and appreciate the culture

No matter where you go, things are going to be different. If you are open to accepting these differences, it will make your time abroad much more enjoyable. Take note of the cultural differences when you find them, but also try to mesh and mold to them while you're here. Eat a 4 hour dinner, go out at 3am, indulge a little...

6. Be a tourist, but act like a local

You have to do the touristy things in your city. However, you can do them without actually fulfilling the stereotype of "American Tourist." This pretty much goes back to tip #5 of understanding the culture. Go to all the amazing, famous, touristy delights and take lots of pictures and spend time getting to know why they are so famous. On the other hand, do the not touristy things also. Find out where locals eat, hang out, and so on. These will often be the better experiences as you will meet different people and get a completely different side of a culture.

7. Eat weird things

Enough said. Don't ask questions (unless you have an allergy), just eat whatever is on your plate. I ate intestines stuffed with fat. I didn't like it, but I did it. Bonus points if you like the weird things you try.

 Chinchulin -one of the more unique meats in an Argentine asado


8. Stay out until 8am

More specifically to Buenos Aires, do this!!!!! Not a lot, because you will quickly turn into a zombie, but at least a few times! This is what people our age do here, and it's so fun. Watch the sun come up on the terrace of the 'boliche' you were dancing at with all your cool, new, Argentine friends.

 Beautiful sunrise in Miramar, Argentina

9. Spend time alone

Some people don't need alone time, but I love it. I think it is really important to spend time in a new city alone, so you can look around and appreciate everything. Being by yourself without the distraction of others allows you to notice things you might not have and discover little secrets of the city. Go to a park, put your music in, write in your journal, or simply sit there and take it all in. It's really nice, I promise.

10. Don't do too much

Try to do everything, see everything, meet everyone, etc. BUT you're in this place for four months, you have time.  Make sure you figure out everything you want to do at the beginning of your program, and then try to sort it out between the four months. If you're constantly going, you'll run out of steam. Don't feel bad if you need to spend a day snuggling up in bed with your favorite book or Netflix.

Mackenzie Baird is the Spring 2015 MOJO Photographer in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is currently a junior at Ohio State University.

 

 


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