Argentina, Part I – March 2 to March 10, 2017
beginning of immersion courses
Once I arrived in Buenos Aires, I checked in with my host “family” (a single older lady). I’ll discuss the details of the immersion below in more depth and keep it short here. I’ve been living in Buenos Aires for a little over a week now.
During this time, I’ve seen a number of the sights… important buildings, beautiful parks and gardens and various barrios throughout the city. I’ve been using the public transportation system (buses and metro) to get around the city and make it to my classes everyday.
The Obelisco was really cool (pictured above), although it strangely reminds me of something I’ve seen before… Another really cool site is the Recoleta Cemetery (see left). It’s been noted as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the entire world, and I can see why, it’s unlike any that I’ve ever seen before!
Another really amazing thing I got to experience was a huge march and protest on the city center for women’s rights here in Argentina on International Women’s Day. There are different types of cultural experiences you can have when visiting a different country. Seeing buildings and other sites is good, but relatively shallow (e.g. Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building). Another level deeper, you can sit down at a bar and talk to a local (e.g. why do you love or hate Trump, what are the political issues going on) or you can go experience what the culture is known for (e.g. surfing in California or line dancing in Texas).
But it’s not every day you have the opportunity to witness change in action. I had the opportunity to watch tens of thousands of people march for women’s rights. Change could be an ugly sight, but it’s also a passionate and beautiful one. It was amazing to see how another country goes about driving change in their culture. Certainly an experience I’ll treasure forever. I also have videos uploaded to Facebook if you want to see those.
From what I was able to catch onto, here are the major issues being protested. I do want to sit down with a woman here that’s in tune with the movements and ask more questions. I’ll add that later when it happens.
– Femicide – Like homicide, but directed at women rarely with repercussions to the man that does the killing. This is apparently a very real, and relatively common issue here in Argentina. It may happen, for example, when a girlfriend get’s pregnant and can’t find a way to get it aborted, the boyfriend kills here as to not deal with the whole situation, often with little to no repercussions.
– Abortion – It’s illegal. At least for the poor.
– Global Movement – Joining the global for for equality in culture, work, the home and more.
First of all, for those of you that aren’t familiar with what immersion programs are available for just about any language in any country in the world. Basically, I’m doing 6 weeks in total (3 weeks in Buenos Aires) of immersion, which consists of me taking 20 hours of group grammar/conversation classes per week (taught in Spanish) plus a few hours of private classes. I’m also living with an Argentine woman, so it really does force you to practice day in and day out!
The school that I’m working with is Ecela Spanish. I chose this school based on many good reviews I had found online and their flexibility. I’m able to start any Monday I want (in 1 week increments) and they have 6 schools in 3 countries (Argentina, Chile and Peru), so I can transfer between these various schools. For me, this allows me to take breaks, travel and USE the Spanish I’ve been practicing, then go back and work on what I’ve had issue with.
So far, I’m very happy with the school. The teachers are very knowledgeable and friendly. The facilities are nice. They set me up with a good host, and I think all the prices are fair (I spent about $2700 for the whole 6 weeks, which includes all classes, living with the host family, and the family cooks me breakfast and dinner everyday). The only caution I’d give you is to pay close attention to the sheet they send you with holidays if you ever use them. I changed my class dates a few weeks before and didn’t notice the first 2 days were holidays, nor was I notified until a “reminder” was sent out less than a week before I started.
My host is a mid 70s single woman. She’s very kind, very flexible (doesn’t mind me grabbing beers at night and coming back later–respectfully so, of course) and makes me really awesome, local food! She does like to talk a lot, which is good. I’m extremely happy having been paired with her!
All of the classes are taught in Spanish and even word definitions are typically given in Spanish. It is definitely a sink or swim type situation, but everything will eventually swim in these conditions! My hearing/listening was my weakness before I came here, but I’ve noticed it get far better in the last week or so–incredible progress here!
Another thing I would like to note is that you shouldn’t sell short how much progress you can make with solo study. Before I started here, I had had 3 years of Spanish in high school (in Nebraska), and we all can attest how much of a joke those classes are. Plus, at the time, I frankly didn’t care about actually learning anything–passion is the most important aspect of learning! The last year or so, I’ve used Duolingo (great app, by the way, if you don’t have it) to act as my curriculum and then Skype’d friends from Latin countries or practiced when I went on short vacations to various places. Upon arriving at Ecela, I spent two days in A2 classes and then was pushed to B1. For having never taken previous classes before, I’m quite proud! The staff and other students were quite impressed, too. I don’t say this to brag, but rather to encourage you, if you’re passionate about learning a language, to start NOW, because there is a lot of progress you can make before you do anything like an immersion program or classes (and it’s all free)!
I have one more week or immersion here in Buenos Aires, then I’ll be heading across Argentina through Cordoba and Mendoza (wine!) before reaching Santiago for my friend’s wedding and more immersion! I’m doing a weekend trip back to Uruguay this weekend, so I’ll also write up my closing thoughts on that amazing country early next week. Until next time!