Going to a new place always requires an adjustment, but I was surprised by what felt completely normal and what I’m still getting used to here in Argentina. When I first arrived, Buenos Aires was in the middle of a heat wave. From my first step out of the airport until the miraculous day a week later when a storm hit and the heat broke, I could’ve sworn the climate would kill me. (Side Note: I should’ve packed more dresses. All the pants I have caused me to overheat.) After a week of normal temperatures, while my home in Minnesota goes from a tornado, to snow, to sun, I know I will enjoy Argentinian weather. Read More »
Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler
I have now been in Argentina for 11 days and it’s been quite a ride! The other program students who I did not even know 2 weeks ago, already feel like good friends, the city of Mendoza’s roads are slowly taking shape in my brain and I feel quite comfortable with my host family and their daily routine.
So I arrived in Buenos Aires with many other IFSA students yet only one seemed to be going to Mendoza with me. Turns out, the others were so hard to find because we have only 9 students in the group this year, along with 1 full year student! For me, 10 students has been great since we’ve all gotten pretty close and we will likely get a lot more personal attention and support this semester than if we were a group of 50 or more students. For some reason, I left my college feeling I have a pretty strong command of the language since I have taken Spanish for 8 years, but turns out, I still have much more to learn than just eroding my American accent! At first, I was intimidated knowing the other students were much more fluent than me and had actually taken serious, complex Spanish classes back in the US. I was constantly pausing and tripping over words which was frustrating (it’s way easier to conjugate on paper than in your head in real time!) . Sure we’re all in the same Spanish class since we’re a small group, but being expected to know more and surrounded by students who can already speak well will undoubtedly force me to catch up and learn quickly.
We spent our first days in Buenos Aires largely doing tours, adjusting to the Argentine accent (it’s not as hard to understand as people led me to believe thankfully), and trying typical Argentine dishes (Argentina’s beef definitely lives up to its fame!). Those few days flew by and by the end, I had seen La Avenida 9 de Julio (the widest highway in the world), Recoleta Cemetary (a huge cemetery where some of the most influential Argentines have been buried the past 2 centuries), El Ataneo (a theater converted to a bookstore), La Casa Rosada (the White House for Argentina) and so much more that I had only heard or read about before! It was truly an incredible and exciting few days.
Still, I think we were all pretty eager (and a bit nervous) to meet our host families. After a short plane ride, we arrived in the lovely city of Mendoza where we will primarily be living the next few months. I was lucky enough to get a fantastic host mom and brother, in a well-located part of town and even get to enjoy the cuteness that comes with having a pet guinea in the house. Mendoza itself is a great city, full of fantastic views, cute cafes, friendly people, walkable streets, a great park and nice plazas for relaxing or spending time with friends. The Andes mountains are not only amazing to see, but provide plenty of opportunity for hiking which I really love! Though Mendoza may not be the capital or even the second largest city, it has quite a lot of unique features. It happens to be the home to the Aconcagua (the tallest mountain outside the Himalayas), be the site where the largest dinosaur remains in the world were found and be the birthplace of one of Argentina’s most beloved comic writers, Quino (who created the popular series “Mafalda”). The timing of our program couldn’t be better as we were able to watch the parades and Fiesta de la Vendimia which occurs after the grape harvest (a very important crop in this region of the country). Watching the parades helped form my understanding of not only Argentine culture and the parts they take pride in, but also specifically Mendocino culture which is rich and complex itself. At the Fiesta, I watched some of the most beautiful dancing I’ve ever seen and could not help but feel incredibly thankful for the experience. Honestly, I wish more people would enroll in this program to get to see and learn about all of this!
While I am really enjoying myself, I have realized that this program appears to be perfect for my needs. With little experience with following maps or public transportation, Mendoza has allowed me to slowly practice and get better while the city is safe enough and organized enough that I don’t have to be too worried when I do get lost. There is also such little English spoken and such few other students, we are all forced to continually use Spanish and thus I’d say we have all already seen a fair amount of improvement! Overall, those and many other aspects of Mendoza give me confidence that is may be the ideal place for me to challenge myself, try new things and continually strive to improve many aspects of my life.
Our time since our arrival in Mendoza has been dedicated to orientations, the first of our Spanish classes, getting to the know the city and acclimating to a very different way of life. Classes will begin next week and hopefully that will give me more of the routine I have been craving, though following schedules is not always easy in Argentine society. I know it’s early on, but right now, I am entirely content with my choice to come to Mendoza and am excited to see what the next few months have in store!
With less than three days remaining before study abroad, it seems time to introduce myself! My name is Amanda, I am 20 years old and I am currently in my third year at Soka University of America (SUA). While my university is situated in Southern California, my home is actually about 3,000 miles away in Massachusetts, and I have been bouncing back and forth across the country since the summer of 2014. Sure, being away from home and family the majority of the past few years may have prepared me for study abroad to an extent, but somehow, this semester away in particular feels like it could be very, very different. Read More »
“Should I bring three dresses?”
“What about another pair of sandals?”
“Will I really need a sweater?”
These are the questions I ask myself as I pack to live in a warm climate for the first time in my life. I’m Lily Frenette, a girl from Minnesota, who goes to school in New York. While both places have their warm seasons, most of the time it’s cold, bordering on Arctic. But this semester I’ll be living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, studying with the Argentine Universities Program. While I’m very excited to be studying Spanish in a Spanish speaking country, I have no idea what I’ll wear on a regular basis in a place that averages between 76 and 53 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.
I end up keeping the dresses and a sweater, but leave out the sandals. I have a pair of flats and hiking sandals, as well as hiking boots and my trusty pair of converse high tops – that should get me through the semester. I have other packing issues though. I’m unsure of how much of my hiking gear and clothes I need to bring. Hiking is a passion of mine, but I currently have no idea of my schedule and so don’t know how much time I’ll have to go explore. I’m also unsure if I’m bringing too many notebooks and cameras. At school I concentrate in writing and photography, which means I always have four different notebooks and three cameras on me at all times. Even though I know I would regret it if I leave one at home, I still worry that I won’t end up using them.
My flight leaves in two days. I believe I’m as ready as I can be, but with a new place there’s no way to be sure. It’s almost guaranteed that once I get settled into Buenos Aires, I’ll realize I left something important behind. As awful as that feeling is, I just have to accept it. Once I’m in Argentina, I can’t have my parent mail me items like they used to bring me my gym clothes when I accidentally left them at home. Plus, there’s an upside to this. If I find I’ve left something in the US, maybe I’ll realize it’s not necessary at all.
When I write next, I’ll be in Argentina – wish me luck!
— Lily Frenette
I’m finally home!! After my program ended, I was fortunate enough to travel around Argentina with my parents for ten days before catching a flight back to the States (I’ll insert some pictures of our adventures below) and since then have been having a relaxing holiday week with family and friends.
To wrap up this blog series, I wanted to share three takeaways on my study abroad experience now that I have been home.
Some thoughts now that I’m back home. Thanks for watching
As the new year approaches, I’ve been enjoying home for the past two weeks; catching up with friends, wolfing down pizza and bagels, and indulging in the English music I’ve blocked out the past five months. It was an adjustment going from the sunny 80 degree weather of Buenos Aires to the cold 35 degrees of New Jersey, but it’ll a good transition for when I return to the tundra known as Maine where Bates is located. The biggest shock has definitely been being able to understand random conversations from people I pass on the street. It’s also been a change reading signs- the words simply glazing past with no effort while in BA there was usually some degree of delay from reading the words to processing their meaning.
Post-study abroad slump hasn’t hit me…yet. I’m hoping that staying busy will keep me occupied so I don’t look at abroad pictures for too long. If I get nostalgic, I’ll have the music of Soda Stereo, Gilda, Tototomas, Jorge Drexler and Julieta Venegas to name a few. I brought home my mate gourd and managed to squeeze three bags of yerba in my suitcase, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep up my addiction somehow! And of course, I have my memories of a time I’m sure will become even more positive as time passes.
At this point looking back, I’m not sure if my experience has necessarily changed me. Rather, I believe it confirmed a few things.
My own privileges. Buenos Aires, and Argentina as a whole may be liberal, but just as it wasn’t the gay capitol of South America I envisioned, there’s always something underneath the surface. My black and Asian friends in my program had to deal with all kinds of offensive behavior and harassment, sometimes beyond simple curiosity or misunderstanding. It wasn’t enough to ruin their experiences, yet it was something they had to deal with nonetheless. And while as a white gay man I would be considered a minority, I didn’t have to take as much percussion when going on dates with men from dating apps than my female peers, or even walking the streets.
Taking risks are usually worth it. I made great friends in my program, but I found that I got other unique parts out of Buenos Aires by either hanging out with Argentine friends, or going to places by myself. Perhaps as a natural introvert it seemed more logical for me to break off, though there were certainly times in the beginning I didn’t want to seem anti-social. Yet in the end, it’s your experience, and it might be your only time in this place. After all, me taking the initiative was the reason I ended up going to La marcha del Orgullo, one of the highlights of my experience. So I would say to go out of your way- it’ll make your trip so much more worth it.
Un monton de gracias for those who have kept up with me throughout my journey! For those who are going to BA in the future or want to know more, feel reach to reach out in whatever capacity.
Un gran abrazo
After almost 5 months I’m finally home. When I’m asked how my experience in Argentina was, I immediately respond “AMAZING!!” and start telling stories. However, when I’m asked how it feels to be home, my response is “it’s kinda weird actually”. It was weird walking through the Denver airport and seeing all the signs written in English, and being able to understand every conversation that’s going on around me. It was weird walking into my house and sleeping in my old bed. The normality of home makes it seem as if the whole thing was just a dream. Read More »
My last week in Argentina was spent backpacking in Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes, in the southern part of Argentina. My travel buddy on this trip was an amazing friend and Argentine native who has been traveling here almost every summer since he was a child, so he knew the ropes. Read More »
After we finished our final exams, all 50-something students on the IFSA Argentine Universities program got to go on an excursion to Uruguay to celebrate the end of the semester and Thanksgiving. At first, my friends back in the states were jealous that I was already finished with school, but when I reminded them that my semester started in July, they realized that my semester was just as long as theirs. Read More »
The Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil, are the largest waterfall system in the world and one of the natural wonders of the world. A lot of my friends traveled to the falls on a bus with a travel company called BAIS (Buenos Aires International Students). However, the bus ride is about 22 hours, and after my experience with the broken down bus on the way home from Mendoza, I decided to save this trip for when my family visited and take a 2 hour plane ride instead.
The trip can be done in two days because the tiny town of Iguazu itself doesn’t have much to offer besides a small downtown area with some restaurants and tourist shops. It’s possible to see the falls from both the Argentina and Brazil sides, but it’s extremely expensive to get a visa to visit Brazil. Unless you play on traveling more in Brazil, it’s best to stay on the Argentina side.
If you’re going to see the falls, you MUST pay the extra money to go on a boat ride that goes right under them. It is so worth it. The sound of the water falling is thunderous, and you get soaked from head to toe. You’re given dry bags to put you shoes and electronics in, and we dried off quickly in the hot summer sun.
The waterfalls were truly the most beautiful thing I witnessed in Argentina. After the boat ride there’s a ton of trails and boardwalks you can walk on to see the falls from all angles. I felt like a monkey while walking through the jungle, so I couldn’t help climbing a tree and posing like one for a picture.
Standing on one of the lookouts and viewing the waterfalls framed by a perfect rainbow from all the mist was an unreal moment. I’d seen pictures and postcards of this place, but they don’t do it justice. You know that you made the right decision and that all of the struggles of studying abroad were worth it when you get to see a view that takes your breath away.
The second half of my semester abroad flew by! My life got busy with planning trips, final exams and presentations, and my family visiting me. Trying to cram in as much as I could, combined with spotty wifi while traveling through Argentina, caused my blog to be pushed to the back burner. But, now I’m stocked up on amazing photos and stories to share about this crazy life abroad!
My friends and I decided to take a break from the city and travel Mendoza, Argentina for a long weekend. When we arrived to our hostel, we couldn’t help but giggle at the translation mishap that read “your funniest travel experience”. The sign was comical, but the rest of the hostel was overflowing with good vibes. We befriended some Germans backpacking through South America, and ate an amazing asado (barbecue) with them.
I was craving a little adrenaline, so I convinced my friends to sign up for one of the excursions that the hostel offered. We woke up early and took an hour long bus ride from our hostel to the mountains. The first half the of the day we hiked with our tour guide to an over-hang that we could repel off of. I love heights and I was the last one to jump, so getting to watch the expressions on my friends’s faces who feared heights was priceless.
In the afternoon, we geared up in wet suits, life jackets and helmets and headed to the Mendoza River for “white” water rafting. Even though the water was completely brown from sediment and runoff, the experience was exhilarating. The rapids soaked us and our guide excellently guided us through the tricky parts.
After another full day of a bike tour through vineyards, we were exhausted and ready to get on the bus for the 14 hour trip back to Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, at about 4:30 am we were awoken by an announcement that the bus had broken down. We waited for a new bus to arrive, but were then told that there were only 30 available seats. There was a titanic-esque moment when they announced that only women and children should get on this bus, but we were lucky enough to all find seats. The 14 hour bus ride ended up being closer to 20, but through the midst of the travel chaos I was able to snap a picture of the sunrise and was reminded that you need a certain amount of resilience and flexibility when traveling in a foreign country.
Despite the heavy rain, the march went on..and it was one of the most incredible moments of my time here.
It’s my last few days here in Mendoza (wow time flies!), so I thought that I would do a wrap-up of some of my favorite places and things to do (as well as some tried-and-true tips and tricks) in and around the city!
Top 3 places to get ice cream (obviously the most important thing):
- Bianco & Nero – Any flavor is good to be honest. I went there so often that the woman who works there felt comfortable enough correcting my Spanish…
- Mailhó – The oreo flavor is my favorite!
- Ferruccio Soppelsa – Go for the fruity flavors here
Yummy Argentine foods:
- Milanesa de pollo – Chicken milanesa is most definitely the best of the milanesas.
- Homemade alfajores – Kiosks sell packaged ones, which can also be good (try Avila or Pepitos brand). But best of the best are homemade with dulce de leche in the middle and coconut flakes around the outside – most bakeries sell them!
- Medialunas – Pure flaky, buttery yum
- Tartas – My host family made a lot of tartas (kind of like quiche, but without egg) – my favorite was spinach and chard.
- Empanadas – Done right, they are absolutely delicious.
- Gnocchi – In Argentina, it’s good luck to eat gnocchi on the 29th of every month. Not all families abide by this tradition, but mine often did!
Fav packaged snacks:
- Toddy’s chocolate chip cookies – The perfect cheap cookie (tentative consensus that they’re better than Chips Ahoy)
- Frutigran cookies – My “healthy” cookie of choice
- Peanuts – In the search for a healthier and more sustaining snack than cookies or bread, I came to discover a soft spot in my heart for peanuts. I often go for the unsalted just because I eat a lot of salt here already. But other good variations are maní japonés and maní con miel.
5 fun restaurants:
- Fuente y Fonda – Traditional Argentine food in large portions for sharing.
- Anna Bistro – Get the vegetable salad with goat cheese pastries!!
- Decimo Resto Wine Bar – I haven’t actually eaten here, but the restaurant is on the 10th floor of a building so it’s the ideal spot to share a bottle of wine and watch the sun set.
- El Club de la Milanesa – A good place to take someone visiting Mendoza that has never had milanesa before – huge portions and lots of fun milanesa toppings!
- Brod – Super fun for a more American-style brunch – definitely get the ginger and mint lemonade!
Places to study/hang/get wifi:
My favorite cafés:
- Café Petrona – Cute, tea party vibe with an outdoor patio!
- Café Leon – Simple place, friendly staff
- Kato Café – The service here leaves something to be desired and the wait staff can get a little snarky, but it’s a good place to study i.e. never too busy, open during siesta, comfy couches, lots of space and plenty of fun (and sometimes distracting…) throwback music
- Silla 14 – Haha haven’t been but I’ve heard it’s great!
Good places to get free wifi (if like me, your home wifi slowly crumbles before your eyes or you just need to send a text while out and about):
- IFSA office – Always dependable if you arrive while it’s open (plus air-conditioning)
- Outside of the IFSA office – The wifi still works when you stand outside of the door!
- Outside of Starbucks – The Starbucks outside of the IFSA office has wifi without a password, so it’s easy to connect when you’re on the run. I would also recommend Starbucks as a study space – lots of nice tables and chairs, wifi, air conditioning when it’s hot. There’s also more of a typical “college-student studying” vibe going on there than in any other part of the city, which can be nice at times.
- Outside of McDonald’s – Same deal as Starbucks – no password, so free wifi outside!
Bonus: On the go and need to pee? The Carrefour on Belgrano and Las Heras has free public bathrooms!
Tried-and-true things to do (in no particular order):
- Hike Cerro Arco – The classic thing to do for tourists in Mendoza, but I think it’s worth doing once.
- Go to all the ferias – It’s always fun to go to ferias artesanales (artisanal fairs) when they pop up in Mendoza, specifically in Plaza Independencia.
- Try out events in the plazas – I went to an event in Plaza Chile to celebrate Chilean independence and an event in Plaza España to celebrate the Spanish harvest.
- Take a trip to Chile – It’s a cheap and easy bus journey to get to Santiago and/or Valparaíso – both are definitely worth a visit! I’ve also heard amazing things about the desert in the north of Chile – San Pedro de Atacama – if you’re in the market for a longer adventure.
- Go to happy hours – Lots of bars and restaurants have happy hours where you can get 2 for 1 drinks or drinks at a discount (Antares has artisanal beer and also delicious peanuts)
- Sip mate in a park/plaza – Argentines like to “no hacer nada” (not do anything) and can spend hours just sipping mate and chatting with friends – it’s a great way for us Americans to learn how to “take a chill pill” if you will and not be on and doing something every second of the day.
- Exercise in Parque General San Martín – A great place to take a run (I recommend around the lake) or to go to a free exercise class.
Part 2 coming soon!
Whispy by Hyleo (w/ Ollygon)
My Heart by Subtact
I realized I haven’t really included much about how being gay has affected my time here (especially since I’m being paid specifically to talk about this). However, this aspect of my life really didn’t impact me during the first half of my experience. As I mentioned before, there is not the same kind visibility in BA as there is in other “gay-friendly” areas of the world. I have only witnessed glimpses when I least expected it- a man on the collectivo with a rainbow pin, or picking up signals from people on the streets with dyed hair. I have seen a grand total of THREE gay couples- in all these instances I wanted to marvel at how amazing this was but I didn’t want them to see I was staring and ruin the moment. At boliches I would sometimes dance with guys. Otherwise, zilch.
This changed two months ago while I was doing work at Bosques de Palermo, and I saw something in the distance I couldn’t believe- a rainbow flag. I almost ran towards the flag, until I saw what it was for- a tent for La Fundación Nacional Argentina LGBT. I talked with one of the organizers, who told me about weekly volunteer meetings the Fundación had every week and gave me the address, I couldn’t believe my luck. Read More »
This past weekend, I went on an IFSA-sponsored trip to Cacheuta, a small touristy town about 45 minutes away from Mendoza. Despite some bad weather, the trip ended up being really fun and a great way to wrap up almost four months in Argentina.
I realized I haven’t talked about any of the trips I’ve been on during my study abroad trip. I’ve been exceedingly blessed to have gotten to explore so much of Argentina. Buenos Aires is lovely and chaotic, but it has been nice at times to leave the pollution-filled air behind to travel to sparsely populated provinces. All of these trips feel like centuries ago, so I am going to try and generally summarize them instead of providing a lot of details.
My first trip outside Buenos Aires was to Iguazu Falls, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. I went with some of my closest friends here, and it was super fun! That trip was definitely a blast because of the nature and companionship. I would say the hostel we stayed at was one of the best I’ve been to in Argentina.
Speaking of hostels, it’s really interesting how the quality of hostels vary so widely. You really never know what you’re going to get. Some are $10 a night and basically 5 stars(as far as hostels go) and some are $10 a night and really feel like you’re getting the absolute minimum for what you paid for. Isn’t that interesting?
Continuing on, Iguazu deserves its name as one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world. I was in awe most of the time. The surrounding town was quaint and had a lot of nice murals that my friends and I took pictures next to. I remember going to a Mexican food place that was decidedly not Mexican food. Well, they tried.
In Mendoza, I got to ride a horse! That was my highlight. I also got to eat bread and olive oil, which is always nice. Wine tastes the same to me no matter the brand, so I must admit I got a little bored on the wine tours. Still, I’m glad I got to go on them. I got sick on the bus coming back from Mendoza which was the opposite of fun. But overall that trip was really fun.
Salta was a lot of exercise, travel, and beautiful scenery. I don’t even know how to describe Salta/Tilcara. I think, in this instance, a picture is worth a thousand words. I remember coming back very dusty from that trip. I miss the sun and the dry heat of Salta. In Buenos Aires, when it’s hot, it’s sticky and humid.
Well, that’s a not-so summary of my experiences. I’ll end by saying I had an amazing time in all 3 places and am definitely blessed that I had the opportunity to travel to 3 very different places within Argentina.
So sorry this is about a week late!
I struggled to decide what to write about for this week’s post – should I just write a happy update and leave politics out of it? Or should I address how I’m feeling in Argentina after the results of the 2016 presidential election? I’ve decided to share a little bit about my feelings on the election, as well as an update of what I’ve been up to for the past three weeks.
The typical study abroad blog consists of flashy photos and videos as well as lots of sightseeing *all eyes look towards me, yes I know, I know* But in reality, this is only half the experience.
Believe it or not, there’s actual schoolwork! I have finals coming up- one next week and three the week after (pray for me)! If there isn’t a language barrier, there are cultural barriers that you constantly have to navigate. There are the little things often overlooked- homesickness, insecurity about belonging, seeming like you’re having a good time etc. Then there are the positive things- having meaningful interactions with locals, being able to give directions to tourists, appreciating a new part of the city and discovering your new regular restaurant.
However, there are some feelings or ideas that are really difficult to put into words. That’s partially why I make vlogs for particular places in order to better convey how I’ve felt, with the aid of some background music. I feel like I wouldn’t be doing places like Iguazú or Mendoza any justice by simply calling them “incredible” or “interesting”- I’d rather have my audience see for themselves.
Hence I have another video here about my daily routine and some of the sights and sounds I regularly encounter. Like my other videos, hopefully you can get a better idea about how I’ve spent the majority of my time here in BA for what they are.
Even though I’ve been on many adventures in Chile, my adventure in Buenos Aires, Argentina was definitely one to remember. While I was accustomed to certain social injustices in Santiago, I wasn’t (or maybe I was?) expecting the distinct effects history of immigration has on a population’s socialization. On Friday night, one of my friends activated a group going-out app to meet other groups of jóvenes who were going out. Among ridiculous conversations about a random assortment of things, we stumbled upon a group of Argentinian jóvenes who wanted to show us a little bit of porteño culture. One guy sent us a song to listen to and another promptly responded, describing the song as “n*gger music”
My friend and I showed each other the messages simultaneously, in disbelief that, despite the porteños having such a radically different context and conceptualization of race, they would feel inclined to use that word so freely and around someone of color. The group unmatched but I thought about that comment all night and decided to later ask a porteño friend what that word meant for them, or him at least.
He explained to me, or at least tried (I wasn’t really having it) that the word “n*gger” had nothing to do with the color of someone’s skin but was rather a synonym of “poor, fleite, commoner” and was more to do with socioeconomic status.
For me, I was more accustomed to the classism I had been experiencing in Santiago more than anything else so to encounter this ignorant response to a word blatantly dipped and soaked in racist history and thought left me amused and puzzled. I’m actually still processing this event so I’m going to stop writing here but maybe when I’ve accurately gathered my thoughts I’ll write another blog post!
This week I’m writing a blog from Buenos Aires, Argentina! I’m visiting my friend who’s studying through IFSA-Butler’s BA program. I’m excited to observe the changes in these two major Latin American cities up against their personal histories of immigration, politics and social climate. For starters, Buenos Aires is much larger than Santiago. The layout of the city seems to be a little different as well- I don’t see any major Costanera centers and there seems to be generally less chain stores (where is my Jumbo and Unimarc, am I right?) The vibe seems to be a lot more old European and my Air BnB has a bidet. More to come as I explore the city tonight and learn what it means to be a chileno-porteno in my own context!
The title is a misnomer because I’m not really going to be talking about budgeting during study abroad. If you are a firstgen college student/ poor and planning on studying abroad, I really hope you’ve been planning for this for awhile now. Basically, study abroad is different from “real life” at whatever university. If you don’t treat study abroad like it’s different, you’re going to have a bad time. Don’t expect to be as frugal as you are back home. It’s definitely possible, but you will be miserable. There are expenses in study abroad that don’t come up in regular school situations. You will be going out more, eating out more, and hopefully travelling more. Anticipate these expenses and plan for them. The two biggest money-handling mistakes I’ve seen on study abroad are:
- Spending as frugally as one would back home and not being able to experience study abroad as it should be experienced
- Spending more money than one normally would because it’s #studyabroad but then constantly berating oneself for the reckless spending
Both of these behaviors are a MISTAKE and will detract from your study abroad experience. I was in the first boat for about 3 weeks, the second boat for another 3 weeks, and now I am free from both! I already sort of went over why number 1 is a mistake above. Don’t treat study abroad like it’s back home. If you have a college budget, don’t just carry it to study abroad and expect it to work and be fine. Number 2 should be obvious to everyone. If you’re berating yourself for your spending, you’re just going to make yourself feel awful. Also, study-abroad spending is not “reckless spending”. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and should be treated as such. The best thing to do is spend the extra money on the study abroad experiences (relative to each individual person’s means/ budget) and be fine with it.
Alright, so how do you get to that point where you can spend and be fine? This is where the planning comes in…That I hope y’all were doing way beforehand. If you are like me and don’t have family members to hand you money at your every whim, having the ultimate study-abroad experience takes a little finessing.
Apply for IFSA scholarships/jobs! The IFSA first-generation scholarship literally saved me so much grief. Apply for other scholarships as well. Apply for all of them, if you have the time. If you are eligible, apply for the Gilman scholarship. There are also a lot of university/region specific scholarships out there. These are usually less competitive than the nationwide scholarship programs. Brush up on your writing skills because you will be writing a lot of essays. My university has people that specifically help with proofreading scholarship/fellowship application essays. Check to see if your university has something similar.
For those that have a job during the school year: SAVE. I am serious. It is painful and hard, but it must be done. I managed to save a significant amount of money in a little over a year by consciously restricting my spending. That is in addition to paying for my miscellaneous expenses( like soap, conditioner, etc.). I created an incredibly restrictive budget for myself and stuck to it. My sophomore year social life suffered considerably, but I saved that $$$. Watch Netflix with your friends. It is free and fun. Don’t eat out. Don’t buy Starbucks. Don’t take that Uber to the bar/wherever. Obviously, it’s impossible to completely follow these guidelines unless you are a complete recluse, but you need to make a concerted effort to spend less. Sometimes I’d go to random club meetings/career events to get the Pizza/catered food when I really, really wasn’t feeling the dining hall.
Other options are, of course, loans. But taking out a loan is a personal decision and everyone qualifies for different types/rates.
Also! IFSA specifically provides students with budget calculators, so look that up. Just make sure to be realistic and don’t plan on spending $5 USD a week in expenses. Good luck!
On my blog, I have often highlighted exciting trips or fun moments from Mendoza. So I thought that this week I would switch it up a bit. Here’s how a typical Monday (October 24th) in Mendoza goes for me:
8:50am – Wake up. I tried to get up a little earlier this morning because I thought that I needed to put more minutes on my Argentine phone. I tried two stores with no success, but then realized that I didn’t actually need to call anyone (email did the trick).