Makena Sage - 2010 Program Participant

 Study abroad students traveling in Northern Argentina

Traveling through northern Argentina with friends.

What influence you to study abroad in Buenos Aires?

I have always loved to travel, so I knew before I even chose a University that I wanted to study abroad. One of the main reasons I chose to major in International Business was because of the emphasis on languages and international study. 

This worked out really well, as I was able to do a full semester (plus an extra month of language immersion) in Buenos Aires, as well as a shorter study abroad trip to Costa Rica and Panama earlier that same year. Both trips were with Academic Programs International.

I wanted to go somewhere Spanish speaking, but I had already spent some time in Europe, so I chose to explore Latin America instead. I was curious about experiencing a completely different part of the world, and out of all the options, Buenos Aires just called to me.

Why did you choose API over other study abroad options?

There were a few factors that made me choose API over the other study abroad options: 

  • I had really enjoyed my shorter study abroad experience with them (to Costa Rica and Panama) earlier in the year.
  • They offered an extra month of language immersion (before the semester began), which was something I wanted.
  • All of their housing was homestays with local families, which felt safer and like more of a cultural immersion experience to me.
  • I got the impression immediately that the organization was more like a close-knit family, than a big corporation where I would be just another number. (And thankfully, I was right!)

Academic Programs International group trip to Colonia, Uruguay

API group trip to Colonia, Uruguay.

What were your housing arrangements in Buenos Aires?

I stayed with a family who lived right in the center of Buenos Aires, on one of the nicest and busiest avenues. I had a small guest bedroom in their apartment, and really enjoyed getting to know them over the nearly five months that I was there. 

What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad with API?

It’s difficult to pick just one, so I’m going to “cheat” and say that traveling throughout Argentina was the most memorable part of my study abroad experience. Some of my favorite destinations included Iguazu Falls (the stunning waterfalls that border Brazil), Mendoza (wine country!) and Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world).

La Boca neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina

The colorful neighborhood of La Boca, Buenos Aires. Photo credit to Makena Sage

What was challenging about studying abroad in Argentina?

The language was a challenge at first. Even though I had taken a couple of years of Spanish, it took me a while to adjust to the accent, and get used to speaking it everyday. But that passed more quickly than I would have believed, and I was near-fluent by the time I left. 

The other big challenge for me was the food. There is plenty of delicious food in Buenos Aires, but it tended to be fairly bland (with only salt used as seasoning most of the time). Since I’m originally from Texas, I like a lot more spice and variety in my food.

Any advice for others going abroad to study in Buenos Aires? 

Take tango lessons, immerse yourself in the language as much as possible, and TRAVEL! Argentina is a huge country, and there is so much to see. Not to mention all the incredible countries that surround it. Oh, and visit the markets in Buenos Aires (San Telmo and Recoleta were my favorites)! 

What are some reasons why you’d return to Buenos Aires?

  • To take more tango lessons
  • To immerse myself in the language again
  • To see even more of Argentina (I’m still bummed I didn’t make it to the Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia)
  • To travel more in the surrounding countries (Brazil, Chile, etc.)

Study abroad students horseback riding in Salta

Horseback riding in Salta.

What benefits did studying abroad provide you?

Studying abroad gave me a broader perspective of the world, improved my Spanish, and left me with fond memories that will last a lifetime. 

Would you recommend the API program in Buenos Aires to others?

Absolutely! API is incredible. Their staff are so nice, and their programs are generally smaller than some of the other study abroad companies, so you really get to know everyone. By the end of my time in Argentina, the other students I went with felt like family.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

I would probably go to China, India, Thailand, or Australia. I know that’s a very wide range of countries, but there are just so many places I would love to visit and immerse myself in the culture!

Paragliding over Mendoza, Argentina

Paragliding over Mendoza.

Did you experience reverse culture when you came back to the US?

Yes, I did. In fact, I wrote an article about my experience on my blog.

If you could go on another API program which one would you choose?

There are so many I would love to go on, but I would probably choose China because it is so different from anywhere I have ever been (and I feel like one of the main goals of study abroad is to immerse yourself in a completely different culture). Plus, China has such a rich history, and has become a major world economic power. So it would be fascinating to spend some time there and experience it for myself.