Tips on Tips on Tips

In The Art of Travel Spring 2017, Buenos Aires, 14. Tips by Matthew G2 Comments

The reality is, NYU Buenos Aires is incredibly insular.  While it is so incredibly convenient that NYU carefully drops us into one of our many abroad sites–where we pay the same price, take classes that transfer back to our home campus, and have access to the same resources–it comes with some drawbacks.  The first, you are constantly surrounded by other NYU students.  There are few options to really connect with young people in the surrounding community.  Your homestay will be a great help, absolutely, but it is surprisingly how easy it is to hardly see someone you live in the same house with.  Many students explain that their contact with their homestay parents is limited to their dinners, and conversations can stay stubbornly superficial.  So if you wanna get out there and meet porteños, do it.  Push yourself.  It can be done, but you have to do the work.  (Tip: tinder helps.)

I should warn you about the education system in Buenos Aires.  There is a shockingly different approach to education here, and it’s pretty lackadaisical.  The goal here is just to pass university classes, yet quite a few students struggle to do just that.  It’s common for students to repeat courses or take semesters off to work or relax.  The professors, similarly, share this attitude.  Many of them believe that a C is a good grade, and don’t understand the American desperation for a perfect GPA.  I also believe that intellectual curiosity is not valued in quite the same way here.  I come from Gallatin, for example, so I had an especially hard time adjusting to the rote memorization and regurgitation that many professors are looking for.  

Let’s talk about the party scene.  Buenos Aires is lit.  Your night starts at 10:00 PM or later when you meet friends for dinner.  Drinks to follow at a bar, until you make your way to a boliche.  The clubs here don’t open until at least 1 AM, and the best ones even later.  Prepare yourself for a long night.  Actually, it’s quite common for porteños to stay out until the sun rises.  But I don’t know of a single NYU student who can keep up, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you have to tap out at 3:00 or 4:00 AM (like I usually do).  But remember that your next day is going to be wrecked, and weekends are the ideal time to either travel or see different parts of the city.

My advice is to really make goals to set yourself up for success while you are abroad.  Decide what your priorities are be open to them changing.  Buenos Aires is not what I expected, but I came in with unfair expectations after spending a semester in a drastically different country.  These expectations needed to change for me to be able to appreciate and take advantage of my time here.  There are moments of intense frustration, but the community at NYU is strong and ready to support you.  Homestay parents are generally lovely, the NYUBA administration are genuine and caring, and the people of Buenos Aires do keep an eye on one another.  I think Buenos Aires is an unexpectedly challenging study away site, but worth the effort.

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  1. Mathew,

    SInce I am a GLS student and I am in Buenos Aires for the entire year, I was curious about why you thought your experience in BA was “unexpectedly challenging.” Was it because of the language? Or was it because the NYU BA campus was too insular and coddled its students too much? Personally, I found BA not challenging enough, perhaps because its so cosmopolitan and because I already knew the language coming in.

  2. Matthew, great piece! It’s fascinating that you note the cultural differences change the way you receive grades in your class. I haven’t really found it to be that way here in Tel Aviv, though I have seen that referring to professors by their first name, or even their nickname, really changes the relationship and the casual setting of the classroom. For example, I feel very comfortable coming to class in my sweatpants, whereas in New York, I wouldn’t dare show up to class like that. How do you think the relaxed energy of grading in BA affects the teaching style and learning setting?

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