What would be super helpful to know before studying abroad? How about insight from someone who’s been there and done that?
The CEA team is excited to welcome Emily — Spring 2015 CEA Buenos Aires alum, CEA Alumni Ambassador, and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor student — to our blog, along with her mom, Darlene!
We asked Emily and Darlene the same three questions to get you (and your family) well on your way to planning your study abroad semester. Warning: After hearing their insight, you’ll have Buenos Aires on your radar, too!
How did your family prepare for studying abroad with CEA in Buenos Aires?
Emily - (Spring 2015 CEA Buenos Aires Alumna): “For general matters related to finance, housing, and required documentation, we consistently checked CEA’s pre-departure checklist to make sure that everything was taken care of. Utilizing the checklist ensured that I would have smooth transportation and a smooth experience abroad. I also bought a couple books that were helpful to have with me throughout the preparation process and read through CEA’s handy informational packet on Buenos Aires.”
Darlene - (Emily’s Mom): “To prepare for Emily's study abroad, we researched information online from previous students as well as from CEA resources. We also spoke to a former student who studied abroad in Buenos Aires. She provided a lot of good information and recommendations.”
What advice/insight does your family have for future Buenos Aires study abroad students and parents?
Emily - “From my experience, studying abroad was a mixture of both planning and spontaneity. Planning and preparing are valuable tools for enhancing your experience, and avoiding confusion and problems with proper knowledge. At the same time, acknowledge that things may not always go according to plan. Unexpected incidences sometimes end up being exciting and enjoyable, or at least a learning experience. It can be a great thing to take risks and be adventurous (as long as you’re being smart about it!) Take advantage of the unique opportunities you are presented with while abroad.
For studying abroad in Buenos Aires specifically, try to get to know the culture by exploring, researching, and interacting with local residents. They are fun to talk to and are curious about you for the most part! No matter your level of Spanish, I am a strong advocate of improving your Spanish skills as much as possible. Being able to fully immerse yourself in a Spanish-speaking environment is a special learning opportunity.
There are plenty of blogs that provide useful knowledge about the city, but the local CEA staff will always be great resources to get advice or answers. Handy tip: Cómo Llego is an easy-to-use navigation website and app, which will come in handy for public transportation. Plus, a few great travel destinations outside of Buenos Aires are Patagonia; towns in northeastern Argentina; Valparaíso and Viña del Mar in Chile and Punta del Este in Uruguay.”
Darlene - “One important aspect was money. We set up an account via Xoom Money Transfer in order to send money to Emily. It was safe and convenient, plus gave a significantly better exchange rate than through an ATM. (And speaking of ATMs, many students seemed to have trouble getting their cards to be accepted.)
Also, as a parent, you can feel very anxious sending your child far away. However, you can rest easy knowing that CEA is readily accessible to help them. We felt that CEA was very responsive to any issues that came up. And for the students, this is an opportunity to experience new cultures and peoples. Take every chance to explore beyond the city and into neighboring countries and regions.”
How did you grow through study abroad, Emily, and how did your family see you grow through this experience?
Emily - “Beforehand, I was aware that people of different cultures and backgrounds have varying beliefs and practices. But my journey abroad engrained in me the recognition that no one way of doing things or living life is necessarily better than another. We can all ultimately end up learning something from cultures and countries outside of our own. Confronting unexpected situations helped me develop a new mindset. I typically like to have a plan, but I learned how to be a bit more easygoing, daring, and most importantly, confident that I would be able to tackle an unanticipated problem. Studying abroad heightened my eagerness to continue traveling, exploring other cultures, and hopefully pursuing a career at least with an international focus, if not a career abroad!”
Darlene - “When our family visited Emily in April, we were all so impressed and proud of how well she had adapted to the culture of Buenos Aires. In a few short months, she was confident in navigating through the city and was comfortable interacting with the porteños. She arrived in a foreign country knowing no one and left as a person having gained amazing memories of new cultures experienced with new lifetime friends.”
Sound interesting? Learn more about exciting study abroad opportunities in Buenos Aires!
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