One of the most effective ways to learn about a study abroad program or location is by connecting with its alumni! When you get the firsthand account of someone’s experience, it gives great insight into what it’s actually like to go abroad. Being able to talk to someone who has gone to a place that you are interested in, or done a program that you’re considering, is invaluable. We caught up with AIFS Alumni Ambassador, Hanna LeBuhn, who chose to study abroad in Argentina with AIFS during her Spring 2018 semester. Read on as she reflects on her experience and gives advice.
Why did you choose the AIFS Study Abroad in Argentina program? How did you learn about it?
I chose to study abroad with AIFS because they offered a program in a location less common and not offered by my university. I learned about AIFS through our study abroad website and was encouraged by my advisor to learn more. I found it extremely affordable to study abroad with AIFS and the classes offered aligned directly with my Spanish minor.
What is or was your major in college and was there a connection to your decision to study abroad in Argentina?
I am an Individualized Major in Global Health and am minoring in Spanish. My real motivation for going abroad had to do with my Spanish minor and the fact that I wanted to live and truly immerses myself in another culture in order to improve my language skills.
What are the strengths and unique features of the AIFS program in Buenos Aires, and the city itself?
Buenos Aires is an extremely cosmopolitan city and a beautiful blend of European and Latin American influences. Living in the capitol, there are a multitude of places to explore and never a shortage of things to do or see. The culture of the city is so rich and, as a student studying abroad, I was forced to speak the language because a majority did not speak English.
I believe Buenos Aires is the perfect location to step out of one’s comfort zone and dive into fast-paced city life. The program offered multiple excursions and short day trips to help acclimate the students to the area, as well as cultural workshops to further immerse us in the way of life.
Can you tell us about some of the highlights of your experience?
One of the greatest highlights of my experience was truly enjoying the simplicity of everyday life, even in an extremely bustling city. I lived in one of the more residential neighborhoods and would sit in the park everyday before school and meet friends, drink mate, people watch, and just observe my surroundings. The lifestyle in Buenos Aires is more laid-back then one would except in a capital city and the open-air shops and markets were my favorite ways to spend my days off.
Another highlight of my experience was the traveling I was able to do while abroad. Argentina is an extremely mega diverse country and the ability to see almost every part from the very north to the south was an unforgettable part of my experience.
Was there anything you did not expect?
When I first arrived, I was very surprised that no one spoke English. I had a very difficult time navigating everyday life for the first month and felt very anxious even walking outside my door. I think this challenge strengthened me more than I could have imagined and looking back, I am very grateful that I had to struggle a bit in order to get by.
How did you learn, grow or change by studying abroad?
I think I learned to believe in myself and trust my instincts even in a foreign place. I was forced to meet so many new people and find friends that could support me being so far away from anything I’ve ever known. I think I grew in more ways than I expected and became a more competent student, traveler, and person in general.
Do you have any advice for future students who also study abroad in Argentina?
My greatest piece of advice for future students is to participate in the events that AIFS offers and learn how to live like a local. I think being able to understand a culture from an outsider perspective is extremely valuable and will enhance your experience abroad. I think living in such a large city can be extremely overwhelming if someone is not used to it, but the more you put yourself out there, the more confidence you gain everyday.
Would you recommend the AIFS Study Abroad in Argentina program to other students?
I would absolutely recommend this program to other students, especially those looking to improve their language skills. I think Buenos Aires has a little bit for everyone and is the perfect venue to learn another language, experience a new culture, and see the beauty that South America has to offer.