Choose your study abroad site wisely. Studying in Europe and Studying in South America are two different things. I have done both and they can’t be compared. Buenos Aires is still a new site and just celebrated its 5 year anniversary. There are no free trips and only a few activities that are offered are free. Traveling is also much harder to do here than in Europe. There aren’t any budget airlines and taking a bus requires more time. But it’s not all bad. Traveling may be limited to the week-long break and a couple weekend trips, but that allows for more time to get to know the city of Buenos Aires. This site is different from my experience in Europe because pretty much everyone in the program lives in a homestay here. This helps to improve language skills and makes getting to know Argentine culture easier. I recommend living in a homestay but I suggest that if there is a problem talk to the family and then consider moving out. Don’t ruin your experience by living with a family that isn’t the ideal situation. When moving out of a homestay there is an interview process which makes it easier to decide where to live. Don’t put up with things you don’t have to.
With that being said it is important to research information about Buenos Aires. Although it is sometimes fun to go in with no expectations, it could be helpful to know more about the city. We recently had an end of the year party at the site and the student speakers made fun of the fact that many people looked at a map, saw that Buenos Aires was near water, and assumed it was a beach town. Wrong! Unfortunately there are no beaches nearby. Doing research will also help with knowing what to pack. It was pretty cold when I first arrived but it has been 80 degrees and higher every day since November (except for the day after a storm when it briefly falls down to the 70s).
Also, know that not every day is going to feel like the time of your life. There will be days where you really love the city (hopefully) and your new friends, and there will also be times when you just want to go home. This is completely normal and there is an onsite psychiatrist and an onsite doctor if you need any help.
Furthermore, be prepared for what was once referred to as “comida beige.” The food here is not the most exciting. Look for places with spicy empanadas because they will make life more enjoyable. The meat here is delicious, and meat and carbs make up the entire Argentine diet. Don’t feel guilty about eating at McDonald’s (their ice cream is the bomb) and make sure you eat plenty of dulce de leche. Actually, don’t go a day without it. Keep your eyes peeled for new restaurants to try because the food here can get boring quickly. There is a lack of spice here so I suggest bringing your own.
Lastly, travel, eat at Mexican restaurants, drink mate, go to the park, discuss politics with taxi drivers, spend all of your pesos at the San Telmo market, stay clear of ATMs and use xoom instead, and finally, Have fun!