5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Spanish in Buenos Aires
Studying Spanish abroad in Buenos Aires is a big decision, but one that is rewarding and has lifelong lasting impressions on your life. As with any new adventure, taking such a big leap requires some planning and preparation. There will inevitably be things you wish you had known before arriving in Argentina, but hopefully these 5 tips will help you prepare to get the most out of your Spanish language learning adventure abroad.
Dedicate Yourself to Complete Immersion
Spanish classes in Buenos Aires are an excellent foundation to language learning, but to really master the Spanish language, you must dedicate yourself to a truly immersive experience. When studying Spanish abroad in Buenos Aires, choose the homestay option to live with native Spanish speakers, watch tv shows and movies in Spanish, listen to Spanish music and podcasts, and start reading your favorite books in Spanish.
It may seem awkward and unnatural at first, but aggressively engaging with the language will rapidly improve your Spanish skills. Pushing past your comfort zone will pay off massively in the end, not only in your Spanish language growth but your personal growth as well. Dedicating yourself to learning Spanish wherever you go, not just in the classroom, allows you to excel in the language while engaging with the culture and people.
Get Familiar with the Voseo
If you’ve studied in your hometown or in other parts of Latin America, you will most likely have studied the “tu” form for informally referring to “you”. In Argentina, in particular Buenos Aires, you will commonly hear people use “vos”instead of “tu” when addressing someone informally. For example, instead of saying “Tu eres un estudiante” to say “You are a student”, someone in Buenos Aires would say “Vos sos un estudiante”.
To all Spanish language learners, don’t worry! The voseo form is very easy to learn, and arguably even easier to master than the “tu” form. Expanish’s local teachers mean that they’ll be teaching you voseo from day one and in no time at all, you’ll be an expert of “vos” and will be teaching others about this great Argentine form.
Lunfardo is a Way of Life
As with any language, slang is common practice and can make a conversation feel less formal. It’s useful for any language learner to pick up some slang and incorporate it into their conversations. In Buenos Aires, however, slang, or “lunfardo”, is almost a language of its own. Studying Spanish with local teachers at Expanish will help to expose you to this unruly slang form. Lunfardo can’t be easily learned in a textbook, yet the fun of learning it directly from porteños is an experience that can’t be passed up on.
With words like “fiaca” to describe a state of laziness, “quilombo” to describe a complete disaster, or the ever famous “che” to call a friend, lunfardo is a defining feature of Argentine Spanish. While learning lunfardo is extremely fun and useful to understanding porteños, exercise caution when using new phrases in a formal environment. Argentine lunfardo is quite infamous for its irreverent words.
Learn Some Phrases Before Arriving
Even if you’re a beginner in Spanish, it’s extremely beneficial to familiarize yourself with a few key phrases to help you navigate the city while abroad. Add practicing some common Spanish phrases to your pre-arrival checklist so when you touch down in Buenos Aires, you can feel a bit more confident getting around. Apps like Duolingo help with everyday skills such as reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Just 15 minutes everyday can give you the confidence you need to hop off the plane and maneuver your way around the city until class starts.
Bring What You Need
While Argentina is world renowned for many of its goods like leather, fine wine, or beef, it lacks many of the common goods you may have at home. For example, Apple Stores don’t exist in Argentina, so if you break your iPhone and need to get a replacement, you’re better off asking a friend flying into the country to bring a spare. If you just bought the latest iPhone or Android, you might want to think about bringing an older phone model just in case you lose or damage yours.
Clothes shopping is also a big no, unless you want to spend up to 3 times the normal price. The price of clothing and many imported goods in Argentina is far more expensive than what you can buy at home due in part to importation taxes and inflation. Pack clothes you plan to wear and save your shopping money for indulging in what Argentina does best: great steaks, fine wines, and the best leather goods all at incredibly affordable prices.
While studying abroad in a different country may sound intimidating and downright terrifying, it’s important to remember to take a leap of faith and trust yourself and your abilities. Buenos Aires is the perfect place to learn a new language. With a vibrant global community, the city offers incredible opportunities to meet people from all over the world, have unforgettable experiences, and learn a new language, all while learning more about yourself.