So you’ve decided to study Spanish abroad in Argentina and in the marvelous city of Buenos Aires. You’ve bought your ticket, reserved your classes and homestay with Expanish, and now you’re doing the most exciting part, researching your future temporary home. If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably be a bit nervous or anxious about going abroad, even more so if it’s your first time. Worry not! I’m here to tell you to slow down, take a few deep breaths, and let your travel stress melt away. If it’s your first time in Argentina or you’ve been here a few times before, you’ll probably still want to go 100% prepared. I’ve compiled a list of the top 4 cultural rules of studying abroad in Argentina that you should know.
First thing’s first, make sure you’re prepared with the language. The first rule of studying abroad in Argentina is to make sure you are properly prepared to communicate with locals in Spanish. Argentines are very proud of their language and their specific dialect, and learning to speak like them will help to integrate yourself in the culture and way of life.
Porteños, or people from Buenos Aires, and Argentines located in the southern part of the country are famous for their unique Castellano, specifically called Rioplatense Spanish. Notably recognized by the presence of it’s one-of-a-kind vocabulary and pronunciation, Argentines will say that they speak Castellano, instead of Spanish. For example, the “ll” sound is pronounced as “sh” instead of the traditional “y” sound.
They also have their own vocabulary, which has very indigenous roots. For example, the word for corn in Castellano is “choclo” instead of the traditional “maiz”. In addition to their vocabulary and accent, Argentines also have a very distinctive way of speaking.
Thanks to Italian heritage, Argentines are known for their fast, melodic talking. Here at Expanish, our teachers are all native Argentines, meaning from day one you’ll have first hand experience with the romantic language and accent. Not too sure on vos? We’ve got that covered as well! Unlike you’ve been taught in school, the voseo is the most commonly used “you” form in Argentina. Unless you find yourself faced with an extremely formal event, such as meeting the president or perhaps your future mother-in-law, most people tend to use vos instead of Usted.
One strong characteristic of the Argentines is their unique time schedule. If you’ve ever been invited to dinner or a party, you’ll know exactly when I’m referring to. Argentines are notorious for their late-night, and often late in general, schedule.
Rule number two is quite simple, but tends to go against what we know as being a respectful guest. If you’ve been invited to a dinner party, don’t be rude, show up late. Dinner normally starts around 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. or even later on the weekends, bars start filling up around 11:30 p.m. or midnight, and most clubs will be empty until around 2 or 2:30 a.m.
When people invite you over for dinner or a party, it’s completely normal, and even expected, that guests will start to arrive between 30-45 minutes later than the original start time. Show up early or on time and you’ll find that the host may not even have started getting ready. On the subject of a dinner party, always make sure to show up with a small gift for the host. Normally a bottle of wine or small plant is a perfectly acceptable gesture to thank the host for their hospitality. If you attend a party, gifts are necessarily expected but it is customary to bring your own drinks.
One of the most important “rules” to follow and know before you go is the Argentine salutation, and this is where the European heritage really shines through. Not generally a culture that shys away from physical contact, the traditional kiss on the cheek is used as commonly a handshake would be.
When greeting a person, whether it be a close friend or a first acquaintance, the traditional “besito” or kiss on the cheek is always expected. Even at a party, every person in attendance will expect a besito. Think you can make a quick getaway? Think again! Greetings are the same as goodbyes, be prepared to give a besito to everyone in attendance.
The final must-know rule when studying abroad in Argentina is quite simple and very enjoyable: make time for friends. Argentines are very passionate about many things, such as football, helado, and, above all else, spending quality time with friends. Going for a walk in the city or looking for a place to sit in the park and read a book? One of the first things you’ll notice is the amount of people in groups, sipping on mate, and chatting the afternoon away.
Argentines put high importance on their friendships, and usually spend most afternoons and weekends with friends. The quickest way to become integrated in the Argentine way of life is to respect this rule and spend as much time as you can with friends, exploring the city, drinking mate in the park, or visiting local museums like the MALBA.
From the infamous voseo to the late night schedule, when you study at Expanish, you’ll learn everything you need to survive and thrive in this grandiose city. Our teachers are local experts, and will give you advice on everything Porteño and Argentine related. From students studying one week to those studying 1 month or longer, Expanish is ready to teach you not only Spanish, but the Argentine way of life.