South, wayyy south… the country so close to the frozen continent of Antarctica that penguins looking for a tropical getaway can be found there.
I think Argentina is the perfect country to study Spanish for a semester. I knew from the very start that I did not want to go Spain (probably the first country most people would think about to study Spanish abroad) because I felt like English is more widely spoken in Europe. I am sure I could have gone to an area where there was not as much English, but I wanted to make sure that I would be forced to use Spanish and therefore learn it. That still leaves most of South and Central America, many of which can still understand English, but much prefer Spanish for everyday communication.
Of all the Spanish-speaking Latin American countries I chose Argentina because I felt like it offered so many things that I would enjoy. I also have a family member who went there a few years ago who I have and will continue to use as a resource (thanks Annie 😉 you da best!).
Argentina seems to have a very interesting culture as well. They are surrounded by many traditional Latin American countries but they also have a lot of European influences making for a different feeling from their neighbors. I get the sense that most of the European “feeling” is found in Buenos Aires, but I am sure it is shared all over the country.
I will be living and studying in Mendoza, Argentina which is closeish to the western border of the country, at the foothills of the Andes Mountains. I think I still would have enjoyed living in Buenos Aires, but Mendoza just seemed to fit me more. From what I’ve read and what I have been told by people who have been there I get the impression that it has a much more laid back vibe compared to the big city. And due to their proximity to the mountains, vineyards, and Patagonia there are a lot of people who enjoy the outdoors; something I’ve only ever dreamt of!
And there’s that: PATAGONIA! This was definitely a factor that influenced my decision. Chile was also a top contender for a study location because it, too, shares Patagonia with Argentina, but ultimately the things I listed above are what tipped the scale to Argentina.
For someone who loves doing anything in the outdoors, I cannot wait to be so close to what I consider the Mecca of hiking and outdoor activities!
Oh, and of course there’s the school part… I really didn’t have much of a choice for what school I would be attending. There are two major universities in Mendoza but the program I am studying through only operates out of one of them. The fact that I am just there to study the Spanish language means that it really doesn’t matter where I am studying, as long as it is taught in or about the language.
Luckily I am a flexible person, so everything that I am not exactly sure about will probably work out to be just fine. I also feel slightly ignorant to general knowledge of Argentina or the specific area that I will be living in. Because of this I need to do more general Googling about the country, that way I at least have somewhat of a clue about where I am about to live for the next five months.