Horseback Riding Like a Real Gaucho
Just a short distance outside of the city center, you can find yourself in a “campo,” Spanish for the countryside. You will hear this word frequently while in Buenos Aires, as many families like to spend long weekends away in the countryside to escape from the crowded streets of B.A.
For those who do not have their own secret getaway, you can find an escape in the many different campuses–typically offering a bed, meals included, and horseback riding in the vast fields all weekend long.
To supplement your Spanish immersion program in Buenos Aires, you can add on a few horseback riding lessons each week. Because it only takes about an hour to put the city streets in your rear-view mirror, it’s easy to take a few day trips to enjoy your favorite outdoor hobby and learn some extra Spanish vocabulary. Start with “Gaucho,” a name originally given to men who rode the plains of Argentina. It roughly translates to “cowboy.”
Volunteering Outside the City
Because a lot of people come to Argentina to spend three or more months, there is ample time to dedicate hours to those in need. Not only will you be giving a helping hand while abroad, but you will also be exposed to Argentine culture in local neighborhoods. A couple of popular volunteer choices are teaching English or giving academic support. While teaching English is typically a good option for those with a low Spanish level, most organizations require a Spanish knowledge level of A2 or higher. A volunteer program in Argentina exposes you to the language, pushing you to learn Spanish quickly so you can better connect with the people in the organization.
Volunteer programs also typically require a minimum number of hours. Because this is a predetermined commitment, you are exposing yourself to the culture and language almost every single day in a very interactive way–which is how most people learn a language quickly! It will lead you to speak Spanish and, most likely, feel great about where your time went.
Food and Spanish Lessons in Buenos Aires
Attention Foodies! Buenos Aires is a meat-lover and wine lover’s dream. Fan of both? You’re in luck. Getting Spanish lessons while eating is definitely possible in a city like Buenos Aires.
While there are plenty of ways to take amazing classes to learn more about the local cuisine such as an empanada or asado cooking class, which are typically taught in English. In order to maximize your Spanish learning, I recommend finding a Cata de Vino, or Wine Tasting somewhere local. There are plenty of cellars throughout the city where you can ask more about a specific wine or spend a cool evening trying a few different ones.
Argentines love sharing their local culture and they famously enjoy cooking “asado” (barbecue) for guests. Find a few local friends and invite them out for a steak dinner. I’m sure they’ll be happy to explain the different cuts. Alternatively, you can cook a dish from your home country in exchange for a plate of this world-renowned asado. Enjoy a delicious, educational, cultural exchange served up any Sunday of the year!
Dancing Spanish Into Your Heart
I’m sure you’ve heard that Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango (have you also heard that it’s the Paris of South America?). Two very overstated phrases, but both are very true, nonetheless. Every tango class I attended while living in Buenos Aires was an ideal mixture of Spanish and English. Enough English so I could follow along yet enough Spanish so I could learn.
It’s impossible to breathe life into tango without Spanish–the two go hand-in-hand. With ample ways to take classes in the city, it’s a perfect add-on to Spanish lessons. Plus, it’s an active and fun way to learn about the culture and meet new people.
How Do I Choose?
Flip a coin? Better yet–try a mixture of all four during your time at Expanish. Spend a quarter of your time volunteering, another quarter of your time taking tango lessons and the rest of your time eating your way through Buenos Aires! Spend a weekend away in a campo and there you have it: an eclectic cultural experience in Argentina. Buenos Aires is a city that demands all your free time in order to get to know it well. You can spend months here learning Spanish and still leave with pending things to see and flavors of empanadas to try.