Internships are now part and parcel of a young person’s CV. With globalisation at its peak, it’s no wonder undergraduates from all over the world choose to undertake an internship abroad, to add another string to their bow. Argentina is an ideal location, thanks to its cosmopolitan feel in the capital, gorgeous mountain range across Patagonia, and its numerous ranches up state.
Taking up most of Latin America’s southern territory lies the behemoth that is Argentina. Famed for its world-class beef, alluring gauchos and the national drink, maté, Argentina has been known to draw many a people in - in fact, more than 5 million foreigners land on this patch of green space each year, of which 70,000 students or interns. And no wonder - with so much to do, you’re just as likely to find yourself dancing the tango as you are exploring the vast amounts of unchartered territory in the Pampas regions of the north. Although the crisis of 2001 hit the country pretty badly, it seems that Argentina has clambered its way back up, with a booming tourist market across the country, and a steady increase in jobs for locals and foreigners alike in its towns and cities. Anyone looking to gain some extra work experience, in a country that is as popular for its natural reserves as it is for its exciting culture, would do well to choose Argentina as a first choice.
With over 2 million square kilometres of land to its name, Argentina is no small spec on the Southern hemisphere. The country has one of the longest coasts in the world, as it opens up to the Atlantic on the east. The Andes separate Argentina from Chile, with Brazil covering most of the border up north. Finally, to the east of the nation’s capital of Buenos Aires, lays the (comparatively small) country of Uruguay.
Often standing out in geography books due to its close proximity to Antarctica, with only 1,200km difference between each continent, Southern Argentina holds some of the world’s most beautiful mountain and glacier ranges in Patagonia. Further up north are vast plains, feeding cattle and crops - some of Argentina’s strongest and widely-known exports. However, with over 90 percent of the population residing in towns and cities, rural areas are all the more remarkable for their lack of human population. To the northeast lies one of the seven wonders of the world - Iguazú Falls! Truly one you can’t afford to miss.
It would be impossible to mention Argentina without breathing a word about its capital city, Buenos Aires, home to the grand Obelisco monument, spectacular architecture both old and new, impromptu tango sessions, and delectable food. Home to over 12 million of the total 42 million inhabitants, it’s a veritable hotbed for encounters, networks, and job opportunities. Mendoza, on the outskirts of the Andes, is renowned for its wine production, whereas the cities of Tucumán and Salta have immense ranches and a busy tourist industry.
Argentina has a varied climate, much like its territory. In the north, due to its close proximity with the Tropic of Capricorn, humidity is common, as are high temperatures in the summer months. Winter tends to be a bit milder, although temperatures are not too low. In the central part of the country summers are quite hot, with the opportunity for tornadoes and thunderstorms, whereas winters are drier. Towards the Río estuary, there have been very wet periods around autumn and winter, with the territory prone to some flooding. Further south, heavy snowfall occurs during the winter months, as can be expected, with temperatures going below freezing.
Another point to note are the long nights from May till June, with extremely long days in November till February, due to the geographical location of the nation. It is worth packing some heavy duty boots and thermal vests if you are planning on reaching the southern parts of the country, as well as some general t shirts, jeans, and summer dresses to suit a warmer climate. It’s also worth noting that clothes are relatively cheap in the country, so don’t pack too much ahead of time.
Spanish is the most widely-spoken language, although indigenous tongues and other derivatives are also common in the more rural areas. English, Italian, French, and to a lesser extent, German, are generally spoken, due to the country’s large amount of immigrants and foreign visitors. It is advisable to take a course in Spanish prior to your arrival, to facilitate your integration in the country.
The food in Argentina is known for one thing - its parrilladas. Steak, chorizo, bife de lomo, you name it, it’s all good. With such strong Italian roots, Argentina’s food has clearly felt the repercussions. Many national dishes, such as the milanesa and the pasta, reflecting this Italian influence. Empanadas, small pasties with a choice of meat or vegetarian fillings, are also common. The food in the capital tends to cater to most palates, including foreigners’, whereas the north of the country offers a selection of broths, chowders, and hearty food, to contend with the climate changes.
Argentinians are generally friendly, especially in the capital, where they are used to seeing foreigners on a daily basis. Gauchos can seem a touch more conservative, but this is just first impressions. Although men can be somewhat more demonstrative of their lust, most piropos (that’s chat up lines) are done in jest and are simply part of the extrovert culture.
The peso is the national currency, although its rate fluctuates as there is only one through the free exchange rate, which places the peso at roughly nine U.S. dollars to one peso. Dollars are not easily changed so it’s a good idea to exchange at the airport, or alternatively, make sure you’ve warned your bank so your card will work abroad. The U.K. offers the chance to take out a bank card, through the Post Office, which you top up prior to your entry; you are not charged to use it, either with cash machines or as a normal bank card in restaurants and such, meaning you won’t need to walk around with vast amounts of cash.
The Tango, what we could presume to be a national sport, is fervently enjoyed by generations both young and old - classes are available in a number of places, all you need do is ask or keep a look out for milongas. Football is a big deal too, with millions of fans flocking to the La Boca stadium each year. With such a heady atmosphere, it would be a shame to miss out so make sure you book yourself a ticket to see at least one game, just to witness the joyful ambience.
There are a range of programs in Argentina, with more formal ones set up in cities such as Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Córdoba, Rosario, and Bariloche. As a general rule, tourist hotspots tend to offer interns more opportunities as there will be a larger amount of companies, big and small, willing to take on their services and language skills.
Unless you are working in a hostel or in a bar, offices tend to work a smart or smart/casual etiquette. Regardless of your level within the company, it is generally considered good manners to respect dress code in this way, unless your superiors intimate differently. Paid internships are available, although you won’t be earning as much as you could at home, due to the cost of living. Generally speaking, companies offer between $200 and 500 USD per month as a salary for an intern. Some companies may offer boarding or meals at the office canteen, if there is one.
If you are seeking to earn more, tutoring and teaching jobs tend to offer decent compensation, as long as you go work in a private school. Other internships that are well paid include working for international companies, especially in the sectors of finance and insurance, as these will be able to pay you a proper wage. The advantages of working in such large firms means you won’t only earn more, but you will also be able to put down a recognised name on your CV. However, smaller companies will undoubtedly allow you to get closer to the national culture and also reinforce your Spanish; so you’ll be earning yourself more language skills, if not pesos, in the long run.
Rural internships are more common, if you are looking to work in the countryside many ranches and hotels may take you on. There are not many formal outfits setting this up without a fee, so it’s a good idea to check with the embassy, as well as your school, university, or college to see if anything of the sort has been set up or if they are aware of any specific programs.
Transport within the capital city is cheap, with the opportunity to ride the subway or the bus for a low fare. Outside of the capital, the transport system is less frequent, with buses taking you round the town or city. To reach more rural areas, you will need to factor in the frequency of buses, as these may not be running on a daily basis. To get to most towns and cities, there are generally good (and very comfortable) services available on most days.
Wherever you choose to go, be it the bustling rush of Buenos Aires or the rural beauty of Patagonia, you are destined to have a good time and get to grips with a culture that has fascinated the world for centuries!