Courtney Luster is a student at the University of Denver and an ISA Featured Blogger. Courtney is currently studying with ISA in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Buenos Aires, a place vastly different from any life I have ever known before in every way possible, has won over my heart with its free-spirited atmosphere, abundance of life and excitement, and depth of culture and history that fascinates me to no end. It is, as the locals would say, muy lindo (very beautiful).
Here are 5 reasons you should study abroad in Buenos Aires:
1. Coming to a Spanish speaking country after only a year of Spanish in school was a giant step out of my comfort zone, but what is study abroad for if NOT to challenge yourself? Immersing yourself in a different language is the hardest/ most rewarding thing you can do studying abroad. Do not doubt that you will experience what I like to call “brain constipation” for the first week, and only slightly less and less every week after that, but when you start thinking in Spanish and can spend an entire night with locals and realize you haven’t spoken English in 12 hours, it’s an incredible experience.
2. Argentinians do food right. The food of Buenos Aires sums up pretty succinctly its nickname of “The Paris Of South America.” This is not a typical Latin American country; you will not find tacos or anything spicy here. What you will find are cafés on every street corner that will serve you medialunas (think sweet croissants), café con leche, and every eye-catching dessert you could imagine.
The national dish of Argentina is asado, or steak, and believe me there is a reason it is the national dish. All around the city are parrilla restaurants with huge cuts of beef cooking over a fire for all the customers to admire– and later feast on. You will also encounter lots of Italian food, like pizza, pasta, ice cream, and gnocchi. My personal favorite? Tartas, which are basically like fritattas filled with eggs and cheese and vegetables… and of course chocotortas (the Argentine version of chocolate cake).
3. The architecture and history are quite incredible. Due to the colonialization of Buenos Aires by the Spanish in the 16th century and architectural influence by the French, followed by a large influx of immigrants from France and Italy in the early 20th century, Europe has left its mark on Porteño culture. You can walk down the street and see a towering apartment building from the 1970s next to a Parisian style building with wrought iron balconies and ivy growing up the side.
4. Buenos Aires is unique because, I keep telling my friends and family back home, it is literally impossible to get bored here. If you follow the tourism pages on Facebook and keep an eye out for events going on around the city especially, there is some kind of cultural event going on every single day. From outdoor markets (usually on Saturdays and Sundays) to park frolicking (when the weather is nice) to exploring all the old churches and museums, there is always something to do and a lot of it is free.
5. Aside from the city itself, the people of Buenos Aires are incredibly unique. They are blunt and in general, friendly. People will randomly come up to you in restaurants and on the street when they hear you speaking English and ask you where you are from and what you’re doing in Buenos Aires. One night, a woman came up to my friend and me in a restaurant and wanted to know everything about us. When I told her I was studying journalism it turned out she was on the news for a long time in Buenos Aires. When she left she just kept saying, “Sos muy bonita,” “You are very pretty.” This random lady I had never met before. I will probably remember that forever.
While I did experience culture shock in a variety of situations at the beginning of my time here, it took about two weeks to be completely replaced with my awe and wonder at this city. I love walking down the street and never getting bored because there is always a new store window to look at, or interesting people to watch or the dog walkers who somehow navigate these sidewalks with 25 beautifully groomed dogs at one time, or the extensive flower stands on every block that bring even more color to this already diverse, wild, exciting city.
Want to read more about Argentina? Check out “My Love for Patagonia, Argentina”