BridgeArgentina | Learn Spanish in Argentina

FlagsUS & Canada: +1 303 325 5081
Argentina: +54 11 4322 8181
Brochure

Student of the Month

Students of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds study Spanish with us at BridgeArgentina. In fact, one of the best parts of the Spanish school is the people you will meet during your stay. Once a month, we choose a student to profile, so you can meet the people who study at Bridge.

July 2013: Ian Mitnick

July 2013: Ian Mitnick

 

Our Student of the Month in July is Ian Mitnick. He kindly told us about his experience in Buenos Aires through e-mail. Read on to find out more:


Tell us a little about yourself

I am going into my senior year at Northeastern University in Boston, I will be graduating with a degree in Political Science and International Affairs with a minor in sociology in May, I am from Belchertown, Massachusetts and just finished a 6 month internship in Bosnia-Herzegovina before coming to Argentina.

 

Which course did you take at BridgeArgentina and why did you decide to take this course?

I took advanced Spanish with Maximo. It was 4 hours of Spanish every day for 3 weeks. This class was perfect because it had been a long time since I took a Spanish class and I needed a  refresher with some of the grammatical aspects of the language. The class was great because although we learned a lot of the fundamental parts of the language, our professor made it enjoyable by engaging us in interesting political/humorous conversations.

 

Why did you decide to come to Argentina?

I was interested in coming to Argentina because I had taken many years of Spanish in high school and college and I had previously done a study-abroad program in Chile, so I was eager to return to Latin America. Additionally, I learned a lot about the Desaparecidos and so I was interested to come to Buenos Aires and hear about the subject first hand.

 

What do you like/dislike about Buenos Aires?

I absolutely love Buenos Aires. The empanadas, the choripan, the mate, and the vino are all exceptional. It is also great to live in a city (unlike Boston) where the poliches and bars are open all night. The people are surprisingly helpful and friendly, even if you aren’t a great Spanish speaker. I really can’t think of anything that I particularly disliked about Buenos Aires…except for the weather.

 

Where did you stay (host family, hostel…) and how was the experience? Was it different than what you expected?

I stayed with a host mother who was excellent!! She treated me and my roommates like her children and was very welcoming, helpful, and accommodating with everything! She was also a great cook..which made our stay here rather enjoyable. The experience was better than what I expected…unfortunately we lived very far away from Bridge, but her greatness was worth the commute.

 

Do you feel that your level of Spanish has improved? How was the experience of being immersed in the language?

My level of Spanish has greatly improved since coming to Argentina. Especially living with a host mom who only speaks Spanish, I was forced to speak only in Spanish and I think this made my experience here much more fulfilling. Being immersed in the language was a great experience, on other study abroad programs it can be easy to avoid speaking the native language,  but with this program and my host mom, it was impossible.

 

What are some tips that you’d give to other people coming to Buenos Aires?

Make sure you go to a Tango show and the Hip Hop Culture Club! Also La Bombenera Stadium is definitely a must see! Also make sure you try as much of the asado and food from the parrillas as possible. You can’t come to Buenos Aires and not drink the Quilmes.

 

March 2013: Torben Stuhldreier

March 2013: Torben Stuhldreier

Torben Stuhldreier is a Spanish student at BridgeArgentina. He took some time over his lunch break to talk with me about his life in Buenos Aires.


Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Torben Stuhldreier, I am 21 years old and I am from a small town in Germany called Münster.

Like most young people I like to experience adventures, play sports (especially football) and sometimes just hang out with my friends.

Furthermore I apparently like to travel and to gain and exchange experiences with people from all over the world.

After three months travelling through Canada this trip to South America is my second long journey in a short time. And Buenos Aires took an important part here.

 

Which course did you take at BridgeArgentina and why did you decide to take this course?

I took 30 hours of Spanish Instruction in a time period of two weeks. Which means that I had three hours of school every day. The main reason why I decided to take this course was that it seemed important to me to have enough time after school to get to know new people and the city and its cultural issues.

 

What do you like/dislike about Buenos Aires?

There are some things I like about South America in general which apply to Buenos Aires as well. The people are open-minded, friendly and helpful. If you try to speak in Spanish with them they will be very obliging and kind. Besides, there are many places of interest to visit in Buenos Aires.

There is only one thing that bothered me at the beginning. The traffic, or rather the people’s behavior in traffic is kind of crazy. Everybody is honking and nobody really cares about pedestrians. But that is an issue you get used to very fast.

 

Why did you decide to come to Argentina?

I decided to come to Argentina or rather Buenos Aires (actually I just spent two weeks in Buenos Aires and haven´t seen much of the rest of Argentina) because it is one of the most important cities of the world. A friend recommended me to come here and told me that there is so much to do and to experience in Buenos Aires. And I definitely agree with him…Buenos Aires is impressive!

 

Where did you stay (host family, hostel…) and how was the experience? Was it different than what you expected?

I stayed in a host family for the two weeks. Actually it was a single woman around her 50s and it was a very pleasant stay in her apartment. She always cared a lot about my well-being and involved me in interesting conversations which helped me practice my Spanish a lot. In addition to that, she is a very good cook.

I gained some experience during homestays in Toronto and Santiago de Chile, and to be honest I had fairly low expectations this time. Thus this homestay was surprisingly good and I really enjoyed my stay.

 

Do you feel that your level of Spanish has improved? How was the experience of being immersed in the language?

My level of Spanish definitely improved a lot during my time in Buenos Aires. Luckily I had private lessons during the two weeks because there was no other student on the same linguistic level. It was a very intense and informative course so that I could improve my Spanish significantly. I really liked the way my teacher practiced teaching. It was a perfect mix of getting to know new grammar/vocabulary and conversational exercises.

Being immersed in the language is a fantastic experience that I really do not want to miss anymore. It kind of gives you the feeling that you belong here… even if it is only for a short period of time.

 

What are some tips that you’d give to other people coming to Buenos Aires?

It is advisable to visit some of the most important places of interests like the “Plaza de Mayo”, “Teatro Colón”, “La Bombonera” (Stadium of Boca Juniors), “Jardin Japonés” and much more.

But from my point of view the most important thing is to actively approach the people on the streets, in stores and of course in the school in order to gain speaking practice. This awareness really helped me to push my Spanish to a higher level.

A stay in Buenos Aires combined with lessons at Bridge School definitely worth it!

 

October 2012: Mark Teshirogi

October 2012: Mark Teshirogi

On a Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the start of a long holiday weekend, I asked  TEFL and Spanish student, Mark Teshirogi, some questions about his stay in Buenos Aires. Here you have his answers.


Tell us a little about yourself

I recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in English and a degree in Fine Arts.

 

Which course did you take at BridgeArgentina and why did you decide to take this course?

I took the TEFL certification course.  I’ve been interested in pursuing teaching and I saw the TEFL certification as a great opportunity to gain classroom experience. I also see myself traveling in the future and I think having the TEFL degree will prove useful if I ever hope to teach internationally again.

 

Why did you decide to come to Argentina?

I came to Argentina for a number of reasons.  Some of it stems from curiosity—I had never travelled to South America before and wanted to visit a place that I thought would be an exciting and challenging place to live. Having heard so many positive things about the country, I was already enamored with the idea of traveling here. I must also admit that my recent interest in Latin American writers, Jorge Luis Borges, Roberto Bolaño and Gabriel Marquez has played a role in getting me here.

 

What do you like/dislike about Buenos Aires?

I have mostly a positive outlook on the city.  It’s far bigger than I had imagined, and having been here only a month, my scope of the city is rather limited.  But what I have seen and what I have done thus far, has been great. The food, the atmosphere, the attractions… it’s endless. I love just walking around the city and taking in all the sights.

 

Where did you stay (host family, hostel…) and how was the experience? Was it different than what you expected?

I stayed in a hostel for a month, which was a unique experience in itself. At first I enjoyed the social atmosphere of it, but as the weeks wore on, I think the constant socializing grew tiring. As a long-term resident at the hostel, it was somewhat frustrating when the people you meet ended up leaving the next day. When I had initially chosen to live in the hostel, I hadn’t considered that the hostel functions primarily as a transitional space—this was something that proved to be difficult to cope with.

 

August 2012: Eugenia Soles

August 2012: Eugenia Soles

Our Student of the month is Eugenia Soles. Unfortunately we weren’t able to sit down with her before she returned home, but she kindly agreed to answer some questions by e-mail. Read on to find out about what she had to say:


Tell us  a little about yourself

I am a third year student at Northeastern University studying Communications.

 

Which course did you take at BridgeArgentina and why did you decide to take this course?

I am taking the Intermediate Spanish immersion course at Bridge, so that I can improve my Spanish.

 

Why did you decide to come to Argentina?

I decided to come to Argentina because I have always been a huge fan of the Argentinean National Futbol team and I wanted to experience the culture, language and food here!

 

What do you like/dislike about Buenos Aires?

It is so easy to fall in love with the city of Buenos Aires. I love the food, specifically the pizza here, which is amazing. I also have enjoyed visiting many historical places here, including La Plaza de Mayo to see the Madres de la Plaza Mayo, the museum of Evita Peron,  and visiting La Boca the most colorful part of the city.

 

Where did you stay (host family, hostel…) and how was the experience? Was it different than what you expected?

I am staying with the most amazing host family, I really recommend that other students take advantage of staying with a host family. We spend each dinner eating amazing food and having great conversations (all in Spanish)  It has truly taken my Spanish to the next level, I have learned how to cook some authentic Argentinian food and have learned a lot about Argentina’s history from our daily discussions.

 

Do you feel that your level of Spanish has improved? How was the experience of being immersed in the language?

Before coming to Argentina I had only taken the beginner level of Spanish and now I feel confident in holding my own in a conversation. Between the classes with a strong focus on speaking and staying with a host family I can say with certainty that my Spanish has improved greatly.

 

What are some tips that you’d give to other people coming to Buenos Aires?

Coming to the city is overwhelming at first because it is so vast. I recommend taking a tour of the city on your first weekend to familiarize yourself with the the different barrios.

 

July 2012: Michael Nickerson

July 2012: Michael Nickerson

Our Student of the Month in July  is Michael Nickerson. He kindly told us about his experience in Buenos Aires through e-mail. Read on to find out more:


Tell us a little about yourself:

I’m a 22-year-old student from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. I’ll be a senior in the fall, so this was essentially my last opportunity to study abroad. I’m a Political Science major and International Affairs minor. I’ve worked in the state legislature and the federal Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

Which course did you take at BridgeArgentina and why did you decide to take this course?

I took the beginner level immersion course at Bridge. I decided on this course because it seemed like the best way to improve my functional Spanish while having opportunities to see the city and experience the culture. I had taken two semesters of Spanish early in my college career, so the beginner course was a perfect refresher.

Why did you decide to come to Argentina?

I came to Argentina because I have always been interested in the South American region and culture. The politics was what originally sparked my interest as I found the 2001 financial crisis and the turbulent political history very interesting. I had already been to Europe and I had heard from multiple sources that Buenos Aires is the “Paris of South America”. I loved Paris, so I couldn’t pass this up. This was a great opportunity to simultaneously improve my Spanish skills and experience a new, vibrant culture.

What do you like/dislike about Buenos Aires?

I really like practically everything about Buenos Aires. It’s quite diverse and maintains a great mix of European influence and South American culture.  The different barrios all have something unique to offer, and the city is so large that there is always more to see. I love the street art and graffiti culture and the obsession with football. People here are generally both nice and passionate, which makes for some interesting conversations. Even the crazy traffic is appealing to me, having a chaotic charm with lanes acting more as guidelines to the masses of euro-style cars, motorcycles and dirt bikes.

My biggest dislike is the crowds. There are so many people in the city, especially the downtown area, that navigating pedestrian traffic is very difficult. I find this to be very similar to New York, but people generally walk at a slower pace in Buenos Aires. The streets are also fairly dirty in some areas, particularly towards the end of the day. People typically wash their sidewalks in the morning, but later it can get pretty grimy

Where did you stay (host family, hostel..) and how was that experience? Was it different than what you expected?

I stayed with a host family in the Belgrano barrio. The experience was great overall. They were helpful and provided me with everything I needed without being overbearing or restrictive. I made a few mistakes and they were very forgiving. It was slightly different than I expected just because the family consisted of a young couple and a kitten. I was expecting a more traditional, older family, but I was happily surprised.

Do you feel that your level of Spanish has improved? How was the experience of being immersed in the language?

My Spanish has definitely improved. I came into the program having forgot most of the grammar and vocabulary that I had learned earlier in college, but the course at Bridge brought me back to my previous level and then some. I generally feel confident with my functional Spanish and picked up some basic conversational skills. The immersion certainly helped because it forced me to use the language. I never actually had to study because I was using what I had learned when I was out in the city.

What are some tips that you’d give to other people coming to Buenos Aires?

Take advantage of as much as you can!  The downtown area is great, but there is a lot to do in the other barrios. The markets are fun even if you don’t enjoy shopping. I highly recommend looking up the graffiti/street art tour given by Graffitimundo. The tour guide is extremely knowledgeable and you really acquire an appreciation for the art. Take public transit over taxis if you’re trying to save money, although even the taxis are cheap by American standards. I also suggest venturing out of the city to an estancia. The gaucho ranch culture is very interesting. Be sure to see a tango show as well!

 

 

April 2012: Tom and Mary Mulroy

April 2012: Tom and Mary Mulroy

Our Student of the Month for April is actually two students: Tom and Mary Mulroy.  Read on to find out more:


Tell us a little about yourself:

We are a recently retired couple from Pittsburgh, PA, USA, who have been coming to S. America (Argentina and Chile) for the past four years.  Tom has been a practicing Family Law attorney and I have been an administrator for adult education programs in the non-profit sector.

 

Which course did you take at BridgeArgentina and why did you decide to take this course?

This year, we both took the intensive Spanish language program at Bridge Buenos Aires because we feel that Spanish is necessary for daily living in S. America; this is especially true for areas outside of Buenos Aires, where our experience has been that without Spanish, we would have had great difficulty in renting a car, asking for directions, or making travel plans.  In addition, being able to communicate with your neighbor,  the person you meet in the park or the supermarket, or the person sitting next to you on the bus, really enhances the experience of living in S. America. For us, travel is more about who you meet rather than what you see.

 

Why did you decide to come to Argentina?

We decided to come to Argentina for the first time four years ago. It was a very interesting and gratifying experience. The next year we returned to Bridge in Buenos Aires to study Spanish.This year, we again studied Spanish at Bridge in Buenos Aires in preparation for a volunteer experience in Santiago.

We originally decided on Buenos Aires because it was described as a very cosmopolitan city, “the Paris of S. America”, and because we enjoy the wonderful warm climate, the beautiful area of the country south of Buenos Aires and the friendliness of the people. Additionally, we realize as we travel throughout S. America that the Porteños of Buenos Aires speak clear Spanish, and that helps in learning the language. This year we are volunteering to teach English in a middle/secondary school in Santiago, Chile, and our studies at Bridge Buenos Aires were great preparation.

 

What do you like/dislike about Buenos Aires?

Buenos Aires has a wonderful cultural life, with many jazz clubs and museums throughout the city. We stayed in Palermo Viejo and loved the night life with cafes, restaurants and clubs around every corner. We are great walkers and loved taking walks in Belgrano, enjoying the great architecture, tree lined streets and parks. We travel by train, subway (subte) and bus throughout the city, and love the feeling of being immersed in the very vibrant life of the city. There is nothing as exciting as standing on Avenue 9th of July, a twenty lane avenue in the center of the city, at midnight, looking down the avenue at the Obelisk. The people and the traffic are part of the incredible non-stop night life. Walking past Teatro Colon, lit up at night is a real thrill. We love the food and wine of Buenos Aires. Over the years we have become addicted to Italian helado (ice cream).But one of the things that we love the most is the friendliness of the people that we have met.

 

Where did you stay (host family, hostel..) and how was that experience? Was it different than what you expected?

For our first two visits to BA, we lived with a wonderful Bridge host family. We came to know their extended family, and spent long evenings at the dinner table with their children and grandchildren, sharing stories about their day, our day, our own extended family, and our life in the US.  It was a great way to practice our Spanish after a day of volunteering or a day in Spanish class. This elderly couple left their home in suburban La Lucila, moved into an apartment and are no longer a host family. So this year, we decided to rent an apartment in Palermo Viejo and enjoyed that almost as much as our host family stay. Being independent and living in the city has its own excitement, but does not afford one the same possibilities for practicing conversation as does a stay with a host family.

 

Do you feel that your level of Spanish has improved? How was the experience of being immersed in the language?

In a few short weeks our Spanish improved immeasurably. Being able to ask for directions, converse with the taxi driver, and negotiate a purchase at the local green grocer is a great feeling. It’s very different from the experience of being a “sightseer”, because living in a neighbourhood allows you to form relationships with people you see on a daily basis. If you speak the language you can really get to know them and better appreciate the experience. We really enjoyed the daily conversation with our instructors at Bridge and through the cross cultural conversational exchange, came to think of them as more than just our teachers.

 

What are some tips that you’d give to other people coming to Buenos Aires?

Since we always come to BA sometime during the months of January, February and March, I would advise people who come during this period of time to expect some pretty hot, humid weather. Since we live in the North of the US, we look forward to the hot summer here, but those months may not suit everyone. So, look at the climate and choose months that suit you.

Be prepared for a late night schedule.  Dinner here, whether with a host family or in a restaurant, starts close to 9pm, at the earliest!!  Although I would not have predicted it, we adjusted to the schedule with the help of daily siestas, came to enjoy it.

Take advantage of all that Argentina has to offer; spend a day on an estancia (S. American ranch) enjoying horseback riding, the beautiful countryside and a great grill/barbecue. Be sure to take the train to an area just outside the city called Tigre, for a river ride and look at the delta there. If you can, travel to Mar del Plata, for a week-end at this great seaside city.

In short, Buenos Aires, ….. Argentina in general, is a wonderful part of the world; there is something here for everyone. We are so glad that we discovered this gem of S. America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2011: Jena Sorensen

December 2011: Jena Sorensen

Our Student of the Month in December is Jena Sorensen. Although she returned to the US before we had a chance to interview her, she kindly told us about her experience in Buenos Aires through e-mail. Read on to find out more:

Tell us a little about yourself:

My name is Jena and I’m from Seattle, Washington in the United States and I’m currently studying Fashion at New Mexico State University.

Which course did you take at BridgeArgentina and why did you decide to take this course?

I took the intensive language course at BridgeArgentina for ten weeks. I wanted to study Spanish in another country while receiving credit for my Spanish minor in college.

Why did you decide to come to Argentina?

I chose to study with BridgeArgentina because of this strong desire to live and experience the culture in Buenos Aires – there were no other options for me. I wanted to study in Buenos Aires or no where! I love South America and the city of Buenos Aires seemed too appealing and exotic to pass up.

What do you like/dislike about Buenos Aires?

I loved the cultural diversity in Buenos Aires in the people, food, languages, and buildings. I felt like I was in Europe with the French architecture, eating Italian food, while speaking in Spanish. It’s such a fascinating city that is so busy and chaotic, but still beautiful and charming.

I disliked how busy everybody was in Buenos Aires. It didn’t seem like a South American country to me. Everybody was working, the people weren’t very family-oriented, and I easily became overwhelmed with the noise, traffic, and amount of people everywhere at all times.

Where did you stay (host family, hostel..) and how was that experience?

I stayed with a host family and really enjoyed it. I was able to talk to my host family every night at dinner, they were helpful with me in my Spanish, they always suggested things for me to do, and I liked the comfort of having a family in such an unfamiliar place.

Do you feel that your level of Spanish has improved? How was the experience of being immersed in the language?

My Spanish level has definitely improved. I studied Spanish in college in New Mexico and I was able to apply everything that I learned in the United States in my classes and in life in Buenos Aires. Immersing myself in the language was exactly what I needed, but so difficult. I would easily get frustrated with not being able to effectively communicate my personality or my opinions, but over time I learned more and more and improved my Spanish better than I could have in my normal Spanish classes in the United States.

What are some tips that you’d give to other people coming to Buenos Aires?

My suggestions to students going to Buenos Aires would be to have a plan of what you want to do, see, and accomplish during your time there. Argentina has so much to offer!  Connect with English/Spanish clubs when you arrive, stay at a hostel for a few nights to make tourist friends, go on the walking or bike tours to get suggestions for where to eat, shop, and travel, and plan to visit all the tourist, as well as local sites, because there’s so much to do and you want get the most out of your stay in Buenos Aires. And of course, enjoy it! Buenos Aires is a one of a kind place.

October 2011: Sae Nobehara

October 2011: Sae Nobehara

This month we had the pleasure of having a very special student at BridgeArgentina from Japan, Sae Nobehara. Unfortunately we weren’t able to sit down with her before she returned home, but she kindly agreed to answer some questions by e-mail. Read on to find out about what she had to say:

Tell us a little about yourself:

I’m Sae Nobehara from Osaka, Japan, 29 years old.  I have been working as a nurse for almost 7 years in Japan. To become a nurse was my dream, so I like my job. But I thought that I needed to take some rest because nursing is hard and intense sometimes.  I quit the hospital, and I went to Canada to learn English in 2008.  I decided to go abroad because I thought I should do anything I want, which was learning another language.

After I came back to Japan from Canada, I worked at the hospital again. Then I became interested in Medical English, so I went back to Canada to take a health care and medical English course in 2010. While I was taking that course, I also learned a lot of differences of the medical environment between my country and a developing country. I wanted to know about it more, then I went to Cusco, Peru  to volunteer  as a nurse after I finished my health care course. I stayed in Cusco for 2 months. That was amazing experience for me, and that was a start to studying Spanish.

I stayed in Argentina for only a month (I went to school for three weeks and went traveling for a week.)  I came back to Japan and went back to work now.

Which course did you take at BridgeArgentina and why did you decide to take this course?

I took  group lessons in the morning for three weeks and Private lessons in the afternoon for two weeks. I decided to take these courses because I wanted to improve my Spanish. I learned a little Spanish in Peru, but it was not at a real school. So I wanted to learn Spanish from a  professional.

Why did you decide to come to Argentina?

When I was looking for the country where I can learn Spanish, the national flag of Argentina was really attractive for me. I think it was  the one of a big reason why I choose Argentina.  And I felt that Argentina seemed a little bit different from any other country of South America, so I was interested in Argentina before I came.

Another reason why I chose Argentina is that I’ve never known anyone who has been to Argentina. I wanted to go to somewhere I really don’t know because I love to know new things.

Where did you stay (host family, hostel..) and how was that experience?

I stayed with host family in Buenos Aires. My host mother was Cristina, she lives alone at lovely apartment. I was really comfortable with her even my Spanish is not good enough. I can’t speak Spanish very well and she doesn’t speak English either, but she always tried to understand what I wanted to say. She was very patient with me.  Talking to her everyday was very helpful for improving my Spanish.

I remember,  when I had trouble(I was robbed of my i-phone), she helped me a lot. She was sad and mad like something happened to her. It made me relieved.

Do you feel that your level of Spanish has improved? How was the experience of being immersed in the language?

I think my level of Spanish has improved. Although I learned Spanish at Bridge Argentina for only 3 weeks, I learned a lot and I really enjoyed learning Spanish there.  Also I really appreciate my Spanish teachers and all the staff of Bridge Argentina because they always cheered me up.

Spanish is a third language for me. Learning another language is not easy, but learning another language and studying abroad broadened my horizon.

I will continue to study Spanish in Japan because I don’t want to forget everything I learned. Actually I found a Spanish class here! It was not easy to find a Spanish class in Japan, so I’m so happy.   I hope I could use my Spanish for a patient who speaks Spanish in the future. It would be great to work as a nurse with my skill of language. It is my next dream.

What are some tips that you’d give to other people coming to Buenos Aires?

My image about South America has completely changed after I came to Buenos Aires. When I came to Buenos Aires, I was feeling I was in Europe or somewhere.  There is  the culture which has a harmony between Latin America and Europe. It was really interesting.

 

September 2011, Lowe Billingsley

September 2011, Lowe Billingsley

Lowe comes to BridgeArgentina from Colorado, where he is the Senior Business Analyst for the global mining company, AngloGold Ashanti. He’s taking Corporate Spanish immersion classes in order to improve his Spanish for work. I met with him to talk about his experience studying Spanish in Buenos Aires and working in Argentina.

Although based in Colorado, Lowe tells me that over the next year and half, he will travel to Santa Cruz, Patagonia about once a month, where his company has a mining operation. This influenced his decision to improve his Spanish so that he could communicate better with his team. Despite the fact that most of his collegues in Patagonia speak English, he wants to build upon the Spanish that he learned in high school and, so far, he really sees the effort paying off. “People appreciate it when you try to speak their language, even if you are making a lot of mistakes, you are still making an effort to communicate and meet them in the middle, and they pick up on that” he tells me.

Lowe sees that his recent efforts to learn Spanish have also helped in team-building and constructing a general sense of comardery between himself and his team in Patagonia. He fondly recalls one meeting that was conducted half in English and half in Spanish, but somehow they managed to understand  each other. “It helps that this field is so technical, we can understand each other through the common knowledge we share.”

When Lowe isn’t in class, (did we mention that he studies Spanish from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day?), he goes out and explores Buenos Aires on foot. With his hotel being at only a few blocks from the school, he’s gotten to know quite well the downtown area, as well as the nearby, trendy Puerto Madero and the historic Congreso neighborhood.

One thing that Lowe wishes that he had had the time to do before coming to Argentina, is to memorize a lot of verbs and vocabulary for every-day life.  Just having 50 verbs and 100 or so nouns memorized would have helped him alot. Although, this approach may not work for all,  I usually tend to forget words three seconds after hearing them! Lowe also advises student to just jump in to learning Spanish without any fear, you’ll definitely make mistakes, but you’ll also learn a lot.

August 2011: Tré

August 2011: Tré

This month I sat down with an exceptional student at BridgeArgentina: Tré, from Sarasota, Florida, came to Buenos Aires to study Spanish and get her TEFL certification. The first time I saw her at Bridge, I was in awe:  she was speaking  on the phone in Spanish and using  Google translator at the same time to quickly look up words and phrases she didn’t know. Her bravery was very impressive…I still remember the panic attack I had the first time I called someone in Spanish. “Google translator has been a life saver,” Tré tells me, “I highly recommend to download a translation application on your iPhone, no matter where you are traveling.”

Tré is part of this group of brave Americans who are taking advantage of the sagging market in order to boost up their job skills and have another chance at an adventure in life. She had been working as an optician for many years when the economy went bad and caused her to think about a new direction in her life. “Spanish is getting stronger in the US, so I thought I’d come here and study it,” she tells me.

She’s been taking our intensive TEFL certification course, and intensive it is. “After 15 years of not being in the classroom, this experience has been exhausting and almost like a full-time job.” Yet she has a smile on her face as she adds: “but it’s a good reason to travel and gets your foot in the door in many corporations.”

Tré tells me that she likes Buenos Aires, but she would love to see some beautification and clean-up projects happen. “The architecture here is so beautiful, but the city reminds me of New York City around 15 years ago, before it was cleaned-up.” The best way, she advises me, to get to know the city and appreciate it for what it is, is to walk around during different times of the day and observe the neighborhoods’ changing personalities .

I ask her about some things that are a must to try while in Argentina. “The Bonafide mint chocolates!” she exclaims as she pulls out a secret stash from her purse and pushes one into my hand. I must admit, it was my first time having one and they are indeed delicious. She also suggests that visitors do things that Argentina is well-known for, like checking out a polo match, tasting the different wines or enjoying the historic cafés around the city.

She also tells me that Buenos Aires is a great city for single women: “If you ever need a boost to your ego, Buenos Aires is the place to come, men are very open about giving women compliments. In fact, I’ve started many interesting conversations that have led to coffee dates this way.” This is also a time when the iPhone comes in handy again…headphones in, wolf-whistling men out.

 

July 2011: Carolina Deseta

July 2011: Carolina Deseta

Before I even met Carolina, BridgeArgentina’s student coordinator, Pablo, told me this about her: “Tiene un accento mas porteño que yo.” Or, “Her accent sounds more from Buenos Aires than mine!” Although, I should mention that Pablo is from Cordoba, and he’s still learning to speak like a porteño :) So, wondering what her secret was to an amazing accent, I sat down with her at the Havanna café next to our school and while sipping on cappuccinos, she dished all her secrets.

Carolina grew up in South Africa with her Argentine parents and younger brother. Although she grew up speaking English, she often heard her parents speaking Spanish, so the music of the language and the Argentine accent was instilled in her from an early age. Carolina told me that although her family is from Argentina, this is the first time she’s actually studied Spanish, the grammar, verb tenses, y’know – the hard stuff.

Carolina is, what us normal people would call, “the adventurous type.” Before coming to South America, she worked as a guide in adventure tourism, until one day she noticed some people sailing and thought “I’d like to try that.” She spent the next few years as a captain, sailing yachts around the world. “I wasn’t in one place for more than two weeks during five years.” She casually told me.

Looking to settle down a bit, she said goodbye to the sea life and moved to Brazil, where she lived and studied Portuguese for 6 months before coming to Buenos Aires. She has been taking the TEFL certification course and Spanish classes at BridgeArgentina. She documents her adventures in her blog: From Brasil2Argentina.

I ask her how she feels about coming to Buenos Aires and she tells me, “Buenos Aires is wonderful, and I feel like I can be myself here more than I could in South Africa. There, I was loud, obnoxious and a tomboy. Those are things are the norm here, much more than in South Africa!”

But being from South Africa and having spent many years sailing the world, she tells me she’s definitely not used to the big city life and would like to take her TEFL certificate to a different area of the country to get a job. “I miss the great outdoors, seeing the horizon and the sky! I would like to try settling down somewhere new, possibly Neuquén or somewhere in Patagonia.”

We both agreed on the most difficult part of learning Spanish: quieting those other languages in our mind. Having studied Portuguese in Brazil, she often finds this language trickling into her Spanish conversations. She calls this special way of speaking, “portuñol.” “Sometimes I am talking to an Argentine and I start using Portuguese words without even realizing it. They look at me like I’m crazy!” Unfortunately this disease never goes away, I still have problems, after nearly 5 years living abroad, mixing English, français and español, sans darme cuenta. Oops.

Another challenge of learning Spanish was acquiring the “lunfardo” or special slang used in Argentina.“The people here use it a lot in daily conversation. Sometimes it’s impossible to understand the meaning of a conversation, if you don’t know the lunfardo.”, she confesses. For more on this slang, check out one of our TEFL alumni’s blog post on favorite lunfardo words.

Carolina had quite a few pieces of advice for people coming to Buenos Aires. Here are her top two:
1) Come with more time before you start your course, in order to get a feel for the city and the language.
2) Definitely get a phrase book to help get around…if you are serious at looking to stay, buy a pocket dictionary, to keep on you all the time and improve the extent of your vocab quicker.

Thanks Carolina and good luck in your future adventures!

June 2011: New Mexico State University

June 2011: New Mexico State University

Our student of the month for June is actually 4 students. In May, BridgeArgentina was invaded by the students of New Mexico State University and I had the pleasure of meeting some of them. I chatted with Talon Waggoner, Montaeya Moore, Claire Thompson and Margot Pace about their time in Buenos Aires and asked them to share their experiences, likes and dislikes.This month, however, we are offering the interview in audio format! Please click on the links below to listen. Enjoy!

June Student of the Month Interview – Part 1

June Student of the Month Interview – Part 2

May 2011: Duaa Al Hasawi

May 2011: Duaa Al Hasawi

I meet up with Duaa on a frigid morning in May to chat about her experiences in Buenos Aires and learning Spanish. She is currently enrolled in Group courses at BridgeArgentina

Duaa is practically a porteña. Originally from Kuwait, she has been living in Buenos Aires for 2 years, and still has another 2 years to go. She moved here with her husband and two small children when he was transferred to Buenos Aires for his job. Although she admits that Argentina is quite different from Kuwait, she tells me that she likes Buenos Aires and feels comfortable here. In fact, Duaa is quite used to moving around from country to country, as her father’s job took the family around the world, to countries like Canada, the USA and France, when she was younger.

Duaa admits to me that although she’s been here for 2 years, she had only ever taken 2 months of Spanish classes. She enrolled in BridgeArgentina in hopes to improve her Spanish, which according to her “still needs a lot of work”, although according to her teachers, she’s got a good intermediate level and is improving quickly. She’s been taking group classes and finds them more fun than private classes. “There is more interaction with the other students, I find it more interesting.”

The most difficult part of learning Spanish for Duaa? “That would have to be reading. Although, even in English I have trouble reading.” Living in Buenos Aires for two years has helped her develop her listening and speaking skills, so daily interactions are a breeze. “I never have problems speaking, and if I don’t understand people are always very nice and willing to help.”

Duaa has been lucky enough to have travelled extensively in Argentina (check out the pictures of her and her family at Iguazu Falls and in Patagonia!), but they are still some places she dreams of going: “I’ve heard that Mendoza and San Martin are really beautiful, and hope to go there one day.”

Duaa tells me that she didn’t have much difficulty adjusting to life here. Her secret? She found a good group of friends and stuck with them. Among her favorite things to do in Buenos Aires is hang out with her friends. Her tips to other students coming to Buenos Aires is simple and true: “Find more friends that speak Spanish. This is really the best way to learn a language.”

April 2011: Zachary Infante

April 2011: Zachary Infante

On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, a few hours before the start of a long holiday weekend, I met up with TEFL and Spanish student, Zachary Infante, for roughly 30 minutes of a roller-coaster conversation during which we talked about everything from New York City to disco music, from arroz con pollo to his group Spanish classes at BridgeArgentina.

Zachary grew up in “upstate New York” and after finishing university in Vermont with a major in English and working in the office of a factory that made catheters, he decided to move to Buenos Aires. “I like putting myself in challenging situations” he told me, with a casual shrug of the shoulder, “I wanted to try out teaching, to see if I liked it and if it would be something I’d want to continue with.” Zachary impressed me how he talked about this major life change as though he were trying out a pair of skinny jeans, just to see if they’d actually look good on him.

He blames this relaxed attitude on living in Buenos Aires. “I’m much more relaxed here. When I was working in the US, I worked for a year straight without any vacations, except for a long weekend here and there. In Buenos Aires, I’ve been on vacation for 3 weeks. But, I’m ready to get back in the workforce.” He added, “I feel like a bum.”

After 4 weeks of intensive TEFL training, he’s decided he likes teaching so far, and is excited to get a job.  “I’ve been sending my CV to a few places, and Karina (the head IDELT trainer) has been helping me out, but so far no one has bit the bait.” He added “Maybe I’ll put that I’m “Student of the Month” on my CV. That might help.”

I ask him what he thought about the TEFL course. “The course was intensive”, he admits, “but I learned a lot of things about classroom management and lesson planning that I hadn’t even realized were a part of teaching. I like that I can be myself, joke around with the students and have a rewarding job at the same time.”

When Zachary first arrived to Buenos Aires he lived with a host family in the neighborhood “Once”. “Buenos Aires was exactly as I had imagined, I had really wanted to live in a big cosmopolitan city. My neighborhood was nice but I was always careful coming home late at night…You never know who’s watching you” he added, looking around suspiciously.

But now, he’s sharing a flat with a friend in Recoleta, where Zachary says doesn’t feel like he’s being watched. He described his apartment to me as an “entrepiso” meaning “between floors”, only accessible by a complicated system of stairs and ladders, to which I immediately thought of the film “Being John Malcovich” and made him promise he’d send me pictures of this architecture marvel.

I ask Zachary if there is anything he would have prepared himself for, now knowing what he knows about Buenos Aires and living in South America. “I would have prepared myself for the lack of vegetables. Most meals consist of meat and potatoes or empanadas and pizza. But then again, I didn’t really eat many vegetables before either.”

Even so, Zachary has been making due by cooking home-made meals with his roommate, like large quantities of arroz con pollo to last an entire week, and even finding the comforts of home in Buenos Aires like hot sauce, which is sold at the San Telmo market by two American expats. His plans for the next few months include not being “such a bum” and to be more active, possibly joining a soccer team.

Any tips for the audience, Zachary? “Be ready to be more patient and have a slower pace in life.” In general: Don’t worry, be happy.

March 2011: Carley Granger

March 2011: Carley Granger

Carley Granger is a TEFL student at BridgeArgentina, where she also studied Spanish in our Group Course. She took some time over her lunch break to talk with me about her new life in Buenos Aires.

What first impressed me about Carley was how mature she seems for her age. After telling me that she had already graduated and worked full-time for 2 years in her home-town of Toronto, I was pretty sure she was around my age (which I’m obliviously not going to tell you). But I find out that she’s only 23 years old (just a babe in my book), and she had already accomplished a lot before deciding to move to South America. “I had a pretty nice set-up in Canada.” She tells me, “I had been working full-time as a registered nurse at a job I loved, but at the same time I felt like I needed an experience living abroad before I could settle down. I found this teaching English program and I thought it would be the perfect way to make money at the same time.”

Carley came to Argentina with her mind wide-open. She wanted to experience the culture exactly the way it is, without judging or comparing it to life in Canada. She was really grateful for the free Spanish classes that she took at Bridge before starting her TEFL course, “I came here knowing absolutely nothing of Spanish, and those courses really helped me in my first days here, and made me realize that I love the language and that learning it is really part of the whole experience.”

The one thing she wasn’t expecting was all the meat. “I’m a vegetarian, but for culture´s sake I did eat some meat. It wasn’t as bad as thought it would be, but I find that you can enjoy the culture and still be vegetarian. I’ve gone to many asados and it’s more about being together with friends and family and sharing a meal than it is about eating meat. Personally, I like to indulge more in the sweets, medialunas and dulce de leche. That’s the good stuff.”

When I ask her what she likes doing in Buenos Aires, she laughs. She explains that her TEFL courses start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. “It’s been a really intensive month” she told me “At first, I thought: What are we going to do the whole day, just sitting in class? But, it’s been really fun.”

She tells me that she had never taught before in her life until the day that she had to do her first practice teaching lesson. All TEFL students have practice teaching before they are certified. They teach a class in front of their peers and teachers, which can be nerve-wracking for some. “All of the studying and classes really paid off when we had to do our first lesson. I was so nervous I thought I was going to faint, because I had never taught before and here was  a group of students in front of me, as well as my teachers and my fellow classmates watching and critiquing me. But, I got through it and now I look back on the first lesson and can see how much I’ve progressed since then. ”

“The TEFL program opened up a new world for me. I’ve learned a lot about myself because this is the first time I’ve been alone. There are 7 girls in the TEFL program and we’ve become really close, all of my relationships seem to have bonded quicker because we are all alone and going through the same things.”

When Carley is not in class, she finds time to go out with the other students and explore the town. “The night life is completely different here than in Canada, where bars stay open only until 2. In Argentina, we usually have dinner at 10 p.m., go out for drinks at 12 a.m., to the clubs at 2 a.m. and then home at 6 a.m.”

I ask Carley what she thinks of Argentine men. She admits that she hasn’t met a lot of people from Argentina, “I went to Spanglish, which is an English-Spanish conversation exchange, and I did meet some people there.  I think I will meet more people when I start teaching. “She did admit to me however, that she met two Argentine boys who, although friendly and gentleman-like, were also very persistent.  This persistency is common in Argentine dating rituals; the guy wants the girl’s number, the girl refuses- again and again – until, either because of exhaustion or the charming nature of Argentine men, she finally gives in. So far, Carley hasn’t given in.

Carley advises those who are thinking about getting TEFL certified: “Just go for it. If you are even thinking about it, just do it.  In such a short time, I’ve done and seen so much and met so many interesting people. Come with an open mind and ready to soak everything in.”

February 2011: Sebastian Knoop

February 2011: Sebastian Knoop

I meet up with Sebastian Knoop, a student from Lübeck, Germany, just as he is getting ready to leave Buenos Aires. After spending nearly 3 months studying Spanish at BridgeArgentina in our Group Course, he’s off to explore the rest of South America during a 3 month trip that will include Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica. Between classes, we chat about his experience as a porteño.

On a blistering hot Monday morning, we meet in one of the classrooms at Bridge’s center in downtown Buenos Aires. We both sit down, clutching our Styrofoam cups of ice-cold water, as I turn the air conditioner on full blast.

This isn’t this first time I’ve met Sebastian. A few weeks ago, I sat in on a group Spanish class taught by Alejandra Rosita. The students were Sebastian and Marianne, a charming woman from England. It was a fun class with an intimate ambiance where Marianne was constantly teasing Sebastian about finding an Argentine girlfriend, something that he admitted to me later proved harder than he had thought. However, this time I notice something different about Sebastian. His blonde hair is a shade lighter, his cheeks have a bit of a red tinge…“How do you spend your days?” I ask, narrowing my eyes suspiciously.

As a person who works in an office all day, I’m curious as to how the rest of the world is spending these beautiful summer days. Fortunately, Sebastian has had the chance to experience both sides of porteño life. His first weeks in Buenos Aires were as a tourist. His mornings were spent learning the basics of the Spanish language and in the afternoon, he met up with a friend and they went out into the streets to explore the city. Every day they went to a new place, “I really like the tourist life, taking pictures, and everything is new and exciting. But, I also like my life how it is now.” Sebastian seems to have found his rhythm is this busy city, and now spends his afternoons doing “normal” activities: shopping for groceries, cleaning his flat or reading a book in the park. Although, Sebastian did confide to me that recently he has been visiting a friend whose apartment building has a roof-top swimming pool with a view overlooking the city. (My guess is this is the culprit of his new summer look).

But, it hasn’t all been fun in the sun for Sebastian in Buenos Aires. I ask him about his experience being far from home in an unknown city and country. “When I arrived here, it was right before Christmas and I was really missing my family and friends. But, that feeling started to fade as soon as I got settled in and met some great people. Now, I think about staying here a year or two.”

Sebastian decided to come to Buenos Aires after graduating college with a B.A. in Business Administration. “I didn’t want to start working right away and I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish. Plus, I wanted to enjoy summer, while everyone is freezing in Europe.”
He took a daring leap when he booked his trip to Buenos Aires, reserving nearly 3 months for studying Spanish and another 3 for travelling around South America, “I was really excited before coming here, and a bit nervous. But, when I arrived to Bridge, the staff was really nice and helpful and the teachers were great. I’m really glad that I chose Buenos Aires.”

I ask Sebastian what he thinks of the constant comparison of Buenos Aires and Europe, and the capital’s nickname “the Paris of South America”. “Honestly,” he tells me “I was really surprised how Buenos Aires is so European. Most people’s parents or grandparents come from Europe, countries like Italy and Spain and you hear a lot of European languages being spoken on the street. It is a good city for people to come to if they want to visit South America and learn Spanish. It’s different but not shocking.”

One thing that did shock Sebastian was the Argentine accent, “I wasn’t aware that people here pronounce ‘calle’ as ‘ca-shay’, but after a while I picked up the accent too and now I use ‘vos’ instead of ‘tu’ and say ‘ca-shay’.”

Besides dealing with the accent, during his first days in Buenos Aires, Sebastian had problems with the small things in Spanish. “I had a problem once when ordering food and I wanted to take it home with me. I didn’t know the word in Spanish for “take-away”, so I tried explaining it with the words I did know and making a lot of gestures. Finally, the woman understood and said: ¿para llevar?, I learned a lot of words and phrases like that.”

Any suggestions from Sebastian? He highly recommends to anyone coming to Buenos Aires to check out a Boca Juniors game at their stadium La Bombonera. He played a lot of soccer when he was younger and had always dreamed of seeing this famous team. “It’s a much different vibe from the games in Germany. People started singing at the beginning of the game and didn’t stop until the end. There were canons shooting paper all over the place and everyone was so passionate about the match. It was an exhilarating experience.” In fact, many Boca Junior fans are known for being incredibly dedicated to their team and even swearing that: “Boca es la razón de mi existir”, “The Bocas are my reason for existing.” So if you plan on checking out a match, you’d better be covered from head-to-toe in blue and yellow and ready to sing!

January 2011: Elizabeth Manieri

January 2011: Elizabeth Manieri

Elizabeth M. is an alumni of BridgeArgentina, where she received her TEFL certification and studied Spanish in our Group course. I meet up with her in late December to talk about her experience in Buenos Aires.

One sunny Friday morning, Elizabeth and I weave our way through crowds of after-Christmas-sale shoppers and businessmen and women late for work, and find ourselves in one of her favorite places– a quiet, shady courtyard of an old monastery.

Indeed, as I talk to Elizabeth I quickly realize why she likes the parks in Buenos Aires so much– they are one of the few places you can escape to and have some moments of peace in this bustling city of 13 million taxi drivers, street vendors, tango dancers, soccer fanatics and passionate porteños. “(In Argentina) you work to live not live to work….in the evening, you see people in the parks laying on the grass, drinking mate with their friends…It’s completely different from the US.”

Besides the parks, Elizabeth tells me some of her favorite places are the Recoleta cemetery, the markets in San Telmo and Recoleta, and the neighborhood Belgrano, which she likes for its calm residential lifestyle. “I think (it’s important) to live that relaxed life, here I haven’t felt pressured to see all the tourist spots, I like taking time to see everything”.

Elizabeth first caught the travel bug while studying abroad in Florence, Italy where she spent much of her free time exploring Europe. In the midst of applying to law school, she had one of those “a-ha!” moments and decided to find a way to keep traveling. Teaching English would be the golden ticket, allowing her to travel and earn money at the same time. So she took the plunge: a one way ticket to Buenos Aires!

Elizabeth was drawn to South America because of friends´ stories of the beautiful European architecture in Buenos Aires and the warm, friendly Argentine people, but she was still quite surprised when arriving here. “It’s a big city, much bigger than any place I’ve ever lived in North Carolina, but it’s a big city with character…and the people are just plain helpful here, I have found that many times I’ve been standing on the street with a map and some stranger has helped me, one guy accompanied me to the street I was looking for. I just wasn’t expecting that.” Another thing she wasn’t expecting was “all the affection”.  “That took some getting used to, the whole kissing everyone you meet on the cheek, I thought ‘Whoa! What’s going on?! , but I really love it!”

Despite her amazing experience travelling around Europe and studying in Italy, Elizabeth wanted something different from her time in Buenos Aires. “This (experience) I want to be different, I want to feel that I live here …. and not just travelling and with that making connections with people and building relationships”. Teaching English has helped her feel like she’s really living in Buenos Aires, and the fact the she is also learning Spanish helps her relate to her students, “ It helps when teaching English to understand the struggle with learning a language because you can be truly and honestly, empathetic.”

One of the first and most important relationships she built was with her host family. “They are like my grandparents, I still go there once a week to have dinner”.  One of Elizabeth´s fondest memories was the night she arrived to Buenos Aires and to the home of her host family, “I was a vegetarian before I came here, and the first meat I had eaten in a long time was the night I arrived at my host family’s house and I was served a steak that was as big as my plate, I had no idea how to even eat it!”

Elizabeth also found great friends in her fellow TEFL teachers, “I feel lucky in this experience because I don’t feel alone even when I’m alone.  I met good friends in the TEFL class, we had a really dynamic class, we were all really different but we had a good energy and we’re all here alone so we really bonded together.”

Elizabeth’s advice to anyone wanting to come to Buenos Aires? Bring good walking shoes and get ready to pound the pavement like a porteño!

Profile written by Kelly Poindexter

Test Your Spanish Level

Test Your English Level Take the Bridge Online
Language Test

Learn Spanish and
Teach English

Learn Spanish

Get certified to teach English as a foreign language!

· Learn More

BridgeArgentina is a member of:

Associations

Thank you!
You have been added to the Language Travel Insider eNewsletter mailing list.

Get the Language Travel Insider eNewsletter

Join the community for study tips, stories from the field, exclusive program discounts, and more.