Just a few handy hints for those considering studying in Buenos Aires…
Universidad de San Andrés
It’s tiny. Try 8000 students, so only slightly different to Edinburgh. The cafeteria is particularly reminiscent of secondary school. It’s also a private university = an extremely skewed view on Argentine society, which has it advantages regarding number of cars per capita and amazing party venues but I know some students felt they were living in a bit of a bubble.
Student life is very different to the UK, with most of the students living at home. Saying this, they are all extremely friendly and organised many a fiesta/asado in our honour, helped along by an effective buddy system.
Extra-curricular activities have a predominantly sports focus, however, all sorts of community/art projects seemed to come out of the woodwork as we were leaving, so it’s worth asking.
Predominantly a business/political sciences university, the courses for straight language students (e.g. yours truly) are more limited and also tend to entail more work than the many of the business courses. However, only having to pass, it’s not too taxing.
I did eventually manage to find three that fitted to Edinburgh regulations and my timetable, with Literatura Latinoamerincana, Sintaxis y Semántica and Política Exterior Argentina. They were respectively interesting, a tad dull but useful and difficult yet worth it for coming away with a grounding in Argentine history. The University also offers a Spanish course for intercambio students (which won’t be counted in your credits for Edinburgh as a languages student).
The Year Abroad coordinator at San Andrés deserves a special mention for just how attentive she is. I don’t think anyone would quite understand unless they have experienced it but Carina definitely goes the extra mile. Any questions or worries will get an almost instant reply – maternal is putting it lightly! So prepare for lots of besitos…
There isn’t any student accommodation offered by San Andrés and although it’s in the provinces, most students tend to choose to rent an apartment in the centre of Buenos Aires. This does involve around an hour and a half journey to university (bus-train-walk, depending on where you live) but from my point of view, especially only being in 3 days a week, it was more than worth it. You get used to the trek in and there’s almost always someone to share it with PLUS there are enough advantages to inner city living to outweigh it (one of them being that it’s a lot of hassle to get back after a night out). Although rent is of course cheaper than in the UK, it is slightly higher for foreigners at about $450/month.
Area wise, you want to be looking in Belgrano (home to closest train stop), Palermo (centre of the action although you have to bus it to Belgrano) or Recoleta (slightly more upmarket, gorgeous neighbourhood but again transport links not as good). There were students who chose to live with host families nearer to San Andrés, from whom I heard nothing but glowing reports also.
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I just want to end on reiterating what an incredible opportunity it is to study in South America. Unlike Spain, it’s not an Easyjet flight away and although that might seem daunting, it is so SO worth it to discover a truly different culture and people. Security is a big concern for many people, however, although I witnessed a fair share of petty thefts, I wasn’t affected at all and it comes down to being careful, as you would in any city. Buenos Aires is vibrant, exciting and, with the pound currently worth 6 pesos, very cheap. With the possibility to travel the rest of Argentina and the surrounding countries, you are guaranteeing yourself a rich and rewarding study abroad. I was extremely sad to leave and could honestly imagine myself living in a little Palermo flat in the future. So please GO, you won’t regret it, I promise! Any questions you might have, don’t hesitate to contact me.