Formally known as San Carlos de Bariloche, this gorgeous town, now simply referred to as Bariloche, is set in the middle of Nahuel Huapi National Park. Bariloche not only has dozens of summer and winter activities (skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and fishing galore!), but it’s also home to some of the oldest Spanish as a second language schools. Since it’s also Argentina’s chocolaté capital, many study abroad students enjoy snacking on this rich and creamy dessert as they lounge and cool off near Lake Nahuel Huapi. Ready to dive into your Spanish studies, a bar of chocolate, and that beautiful lake while studying in the Switzerland of the Andes yet?
Study Abroad Programs in Bariloche
For those with a Spanish vocabulary no more advanced than a simple “hola,” have no fear because Argentina is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Therefore, it’s only natural that the university’s main subject focus is foreign language studies, and Spanish specifically; some schools have even been teaching Spanish to study abroad students in Bariloche since 1989. Thanks to German immigration in the 1870’s, students of Bariloche are lucky to master their subjects in the company of some of the best-preserved Central European styled campuses in Latin America.
Spanish language courses are wide and varied in Bariloche, with short-term and year-long options available. The most important deviation with the Spanish classes in Bariloche is whether students prefer private or group lessons. Once that’s decided, there are options for super-intensive 30 hour lessons a week, but also more relaxed schedules that mix in salsa dancing and trips to museums. Spanish classes begin with evaluations of the students to put them in appropriate levels in which are organized by focus area such as listening, speaking, writing, vocabulary, or grammar.
Another common subject of study in Bariloche is culture. Throw on your dancing shoes and get your Latin groove on with tango dance or explore the hauntingly intriguing history of Argentina as a colonial power and later a leader in South American politics.
Since Argentina is in the Southern hemisphere, the best time to study abroad in Bariloche is from November to March, during Argentina’s summer. The weather may be too warm for skiing and other winter sport activities, but students would have plenty of time to soak up the warm Argentina sun while sunbathing near one of the many pristine mountain lakes nearby.
Life in Bariloche
Aside from binging on the deliciously creamy chocolate Bariloche is known for, international students can keep busy and active by participating in outdoor activities, such as skiing, hiking, and watersports, while studying in Bariloche; gotta burn those chocolate covered calories somehow! You’ll never have to travel far for a breathtaking view that will surely fill up your Instagram with double-tap-worthy pictures of you and your classmates posing in front of the Andes.
Besides the plethora of outdoor activities, students can explore the town and take on the impossible challenge of counting the many gnomes (of every shape and size) featured in shop display cases. They might be the only thing that’s in more abundance than the chocolate.
A typical day for students will start with classes in the morning at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. until noon, with an hour or two for lunch, then depending on what program the student chooses, there could be another four hours of class. If not, students can then spend time at home with their host family or shared accommodation for lunch, then go out and explore the city. Most schools and accommodations are located near the Civic Center, located right in the middle of downtown Bariloche, a popular spot for students to socialize and study at the many cafés. Along with being able to relax downtown, you can hang out outside, sip on the views, and perfect your subjunctive verbos all in one-fell-swoop when you aren’t busy studying in Bariloche.
Accommodation & Visas
Bariloche’s Swiss alpine-influenced architecture made with locally cut Argentinian hardwood results in uniquely designed housing for students coming to Bariloche. Accommodation is usually provided through study abroad programs in Bariloche, and usually comes in the form of homestays, houses, or shared apartments.
International students who are fluent in Spanish or have a strong desire to pursue the language are strongly recommended to stay with host families. Staying with a host family means students will be living in an Argentinian household, giving them the chance to indulge more intently in Argentinian culture and language. Students who prefer to be more independent often have the option of a shared apartment or flat with other foreign students, which will give them the opportunity to mingle with fellow foreigners as well as locals. Independent housing is great for students who want their own space. The good news is: housing is very affordable, even for students.
A visa is required for all individuals that plan to study abroad in Bariloche for longer than 90 days. All that’s needed is a blank page on your passport for a stamp upon arrival, however, because students who plan on studying in Bariloche for longer than 90 days will be able to get visa help from their host school, who will assist them through the process. For more information about how to acquire a visa to study in Bariloche, visit GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Bariloche offers a bevy of advantages to students with a desire to study abroad in Argentina. These include all the outdoorsy, adventurous excursions imaginable, delicious chocolate, seductive tango, and top Spanish language schools. However, as with all study abroad trips, the perks always come with their set of obstacles to overcome, too.
Bariloche is host to a lot of tourists and out-of-town Argentines that results in a bit of a tourist trap environment that can be an obstacle for international students trying to meaningfully immerse themselves in the culture. On the other hand, Bariloche is a relatively small city with a population of about 100,000, where if students engage themselves enough, they’ll be recognized not as tourists, but as locals. Don’t view the touristy side of Bariloche as a complete downfall, but as an opportunity to balance “playing tourist” with indulging enough in the culture and language to become a true local.
Mingling with the locals and venturing out into the city is the best way for students to perfect their Español. The greatest teacher of them all is experience, and Bariloche has no shortage of experiences. From bartering for those peculiar gnomes to asking whether or not you should indulge on the dark chocolate OR super dark chocolate (hint: the correct answer is both), every student's Spanish will improve tenfold.
A mix of sugar, spice, and everything nice, Bariloche is the perfect quaint, South American haven with a mix of European for students looking to avoid the big city, but still hoping for an authentic Argentine experience. If you combine Curanto (Google it, then order it!) and dulces de chocolate for dessert, you’ll have the perfect mix of Bariloche in a nutshell.
So, what are you waiting for? Bring an empty stomach, an open mind, and be ready to experience the perfecto balance of two continents in one country by studying in Bariloche.