Aprovechar: that is the one thing that I would absolutely advise when studying abroad and even just traveling in general. It is the word that most encompasses how you should approach the wonderful opportunity of travel and exploration. When I was first learning to speak Spanish I had trouble grasping the concept of this word. I though it meant simply “to use”. But I remember having a conversation with a friend when I heard him use the verb “aprovechar” and in that context “to use” didn’t fit. We struggled with our obvious language barriers to contextualize and explain the verb aprovechar and what I learned is that it really means “to make use of” or “to take advantage of”. And that is exactly what I tried to do this semester, to take advantage of being in the incredible city of Buenos Aires by seeing and doing as much as I could.
It’s really easy to get stuck in the “Oh I have plenty of time for that” mindset. But in reality, four months is not that long of a time. And for me personally, it has gone by in the blink of an eye. Wasn’t I just arriving in the Ezeiza Airport a couple of days ago?!? So, if I were to advise anything, I would say to really try to make the most of your time from the get go. I think that I could have been even more adventurous at the beginning of the semester. Because now my flight is just around the corner and there are still a few last minute things that I am fitting in that I haven’t done!!
Other than the obvious advice of making the most of your time abroad, some Buenos Aires specific tips I would include are the following:
- Bring US money: The dollar is very strong in comparison to the Argentine peso. If you bring actual physical money you can get a much better exchange rate than if you were to use an ATM or other money sending services like Xoom. Instead of getting the official rate which is around 10 pesos to the dollar, you can get about 15.5-16 pesos to the dollar if you use the blue rate.
- Spend time in San Telmo: This is just my personal opinion, but I think San Telmo is one of the best neighborhoods in the entire city. It is the oldest and smallest neighborhood in Buenos Aires but there is still so much to do. It boasts the most incredible street art, has a large variety of restaurants, is the birthplace of Argentine tango, and has a huge antique market in the center with cute knick-knacks as far as the eye can see. You’ll never be bored if you spend time in San Telmo.
- Learn how to use the Subways and Buses: I do love to walk. But sometimes in a city as big as Buenos Aires it’s impractical to try to walk everywhere. And taking cabs all the time can get pretty expensive. So, as intimidating as the buses and subways may seem, it is worth it to put in a little extra research time in learning how to use public transportation to get around the city. I was able to see so much more than I would have if I had not learned how to use the buses and subways.
So, to all the future study abroad students in Buenos Aires, don’t forget…APROVECHAR!