Follow in Che Guevara’s footsteps, sort of. Rather than start a revolution, take your studies to his home country of Argentina, which is also home to Patagonia, Iguazu Falls, the Paris of South America, and a Spanish accent unlike anywhere else. The grace of Europe and the spirit of South America coexist in Argentina, with an identity forged via Amerindian, Spanish, Italian, and French influences. The impacts of this diverse cultural background are manifested audibly in its wholly unique form of the Spanish language. So brush up on your vos querés conjugations, get in the habit of pronouncing “ll” as “sh,” review the rules of fútbol, and head south for a language program in Argentina!
Argentina has no shortage of enticing destinations for language programs. There are language programs in Argentina to suit students seeking a variety of experiences during their time abroad, but some of the most popular cities are listed below.
Buenos Aires. This destination is the number one student choice for study abroad in Argentina, and for good reason. The city is well-known for its cultural diversity and lively atmosphere, and its (relatively) peculiar European vibes. The nation’s capital city is also home to Argentina’s best university, the Universidad de Buenos Aires, as well as other top universities, including the Universidad de Belgrano. For students seeking a more university-style Spanish language program in Argentina, Buenos Aires may be the spot for you.
Bariloche. Study in this Patagonian town if you have a budding love for glacial lakes, coastal living, and chocolate! San Carlos de Bariloche (commonly called Bariloche) is surrounded by snow capped mountains and offers students a more remote backdrop for language study in Argentina.
Córdoba. The second largest city in Argentina, Córdoba is home to six international universities, including the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, and hosts the largest number of international students in Argentina. Language students will be kept busy inside and outside of the classroom, as the city is chock-full of cultural and historical relics, as well as colorful neighborhoods and the occasional street-tango showdown.
No matter where you choose to attend a language program in Argentina, what remains most important is your personal commitment to utilizing the target language on a regular basis. It’ll take a few days (okay, maybe weeks) of getting used to, but your diligence will pay off in the long run, and you might be mistaken for a local before you know it!
Language Programs in Argentina
It's extremely important, albeit sometimes difficult, to sift through all of the options and choose a good, reputable language program in Argentina. Ultimately, you will want to find a high-quality learning environment that is both productive and fun. Consider reading reviews and comparing all of your language program options before you submit any application fees. When trying to differentiate between programs, try considering these distinct types of language programs in Argentina first, and decide which one speaks to what you are looking for. Keep in mind that, not suprisingly, Spanish is the most common language of study in Argentina.
University Study Abroad. Argentina has four universities that rank in the top 500 academic institutions on the planet: Universidad de Buenos Aires, Universidad Austral, Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina Santa María de los Buenos Aires (UCA), and the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA). Spanish language courses taken at a local university will likely be completed alongside other international students, but participating in a foreign campus will ensure a rich learning experience. University language programs in Argentina are typically six months to one year in length, to fit with normal university schedules.
Language Schools. Another option for language study in Argentina is to attend a private language school. The chief aim of language schools in Argentina is to increase student fluency in the Spanish language. Your class size will likely be smaller than that of a university, allowing you to develop a more personal relationship with your profesor(a). Classes at language schools can typically be completed from two to six hours daily, depending on how motivated you are to learn! Most language schools in Argentina allow for more flexible durations too, for anywhere from one week to one year.
Combo Language Programs. If you want to focus on developing your Spanish language skills, but would also like to participate in more immersive activities, such as volunteering or cultural events and lessons, then it is best to seek out a combination program. These language programs will organize language classes for you in Argentina, and then fill your free time with other interesting, cool, and educational activities that will allow you to truly soak up the Argentine way of life (delicious steak dinners and tango lessons may be included!).
Scholarships & Costs
There are various scholarships available specifically for language study in Argentina, for students who want to lessen their program expenses. Check out GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory to browse through scholarships that can be applied to language study abroad in Argentina. Also be sure to check with your language program provider, your academic advisor, and your study abroad advisor to find out if there are any untapped financial resources you can take advantage of!
The cost of living in Argentina is relatively cheaper for most international students, but daily expenses can certainly add up if you aren’t careful. The economy has gone through ebbs and flows over time, and is still recovering. The exchange rate will generally work in your favor however, as it is at around nine Argentine pesos to $1 (but continually fluctuates, so be sure to check it before you leave!). Save your time at boliches for special occasions, and pass on a daily Argentine steak in exchange for empanadas on the street, which will be much more affordable.
Accommodation & Visas
Language programs in Argentina will offer a variety of accommodation options for students to choose from. Most language programs in Argentina will even organize housing for you, but if you have a strong desire for independence, you can try your luck at finding accommodation on your own too. You can ask an Argentine friend with a garantía to rent you an apartment, splurge on a rental in a fancy neighborhood, score a student apartment, or find an open room in a shared house (casas compartidas) quite easily.
Students are encouraged to find a señora or local family to stay with during their language study in Argentina. Living with locals will challenge you to use your language skills regularly, and reward you with the opportunity to have a more intimate experience with Argentine culture (and language skills that improve rapidito!).
Officially, the government requires student visas for those studying in Argentina for more than 90 days. However, there are a number of longer-term students who choose to exit and re-enter the country every 90 days in order to maintain a tourist visa. Your visa requirements will vary depending on the setup of your language program in Argentina, and whether or not you desire official credits or transcripts from a local institution. Make sure to save some cash when it comes time to leave Argentina, as you will have to pay an airport exit fee, too. Also be sure to chat directly with your program provider to clarify any specific immigration questions you may have.
Benefits & Challenges
It’s safe. Despite its problems with poverty, particularly in comparison to some of its more fortunate neighbors, Argentina remains one of the safer countries in Latin America.
It has it all. You can check off all of the items on your bucket list by choosing a country as diverse as Argentina. Epic nature? Check. Cool and colorful neighborhoods? Check. Awesome environment for improving your Spanish language skills? Check. Likelihood of mastering an exotic dance with a single rose clenched between your teeth? Check.
Translation can be difficult. Students who have previous language skills may find their transition into life in Argentina to be surprisingly more challenging than their newbie-counterparts. For the first few days, your mental translations may be a three step process: Argentinian Spanish to Castilian Spanish, and then, finally, to English. Due to this translation workout, some students may unconsciously feel tempted to bypass the challenges and utilize English regularly. However, it is best to go about it the right way and practice your Spanish as much as possible with locals!
Avoid touristy-hot spots. Students are strongly encouraged to consider enrolling in a language school in the more far-flung cities of Argentina, places that will expose them to fewer English speakers (the temptation is real, folks). Smaller cities, such as Bariloche, Córdoba, and Mendoza, have many excellent language schools, and will provide students with a more intensive language learning environment than Buenos Aires.
You’re in for a treat. Despite its relatively modern, Euro-feel, Argentina remains a distinctly Latin American country. For students seeking an authentic Spanish language study abroad experience, Argentina is an unmatched cultural backdrop (and playground) that is not to be missed.