Beyond NY Featured Posts Summer 2014

What You Should Do and What You Should Not Do When Studying Abroad


Do bond with your roommates

They are most likely in all of your classes and your study abroad program will have many activities planned for you; so you are spending a lot of time with these people, having a good time with them is a must. Take the chance to get to know them and you will be friends.

My roomates and I. (left to right) Mckenna, Eden and Me.
My roommates and I. (left to right) Mckenna, Eden and Me.

Do bond with the members of your program

Not only should you be friends with your roommates, but with the whole group too. Sol Education Abroad had an activity planned for us almost everyday and every weekend. I can honestly say that I adored my group. I told them all that they must hit me up if they are ever in New York. My program directors, Raul and Beatriz, are the bees knees. I am grateful to have them. They picked us up from the airport and showed us the ins and outs of Buenos Aires.

Do know your program

Understand what your program is about, what classes you will take, what university you will attend, what activities you will have, the places you will go, and if English is not the language of that country, than have some sort of knowledge of the spoken language.

Me at Universidad de Belgrano.
Me at Universidad de Belgrano.

Do know the economy

Argentina is special, because it has an official rate and a blue market (not black market) rate. The official rate is $8.14 Argentine Pesos for $1 USD. Last time I checked the blue market rate, it was $13 Argentine Pesos for $1 USD. In Buenos Aires, it is better for your pocket if you exchanged it at the blue market than at a bank or an exchange counter. The blue market is not an actual location, it is composed of business owners and random locals (like your host family).

Do immerse yourself

It's easier said than done, but open yourself up to the people, to the food, to the lifestyle.

Typical Argentine breakfast: two slices of tostada (toast) with spread options of dulce de leche, cream cheese and marmalade. Don't forget the coffee! P.S. On this day I drank tea.

Do walk around the city

Bring a pair of sneakers and walk around your city, there is so much to see and do. Admire the architecture because it speaks to the history of the city. Walk around the markets, you can learn a lot about your city that way.

Old meets new.
Old meets new.

Do keep in touch with your family and friends at home

They miss you and you miss them. Download communication applications like Tango, Whatsapp, Viber and Snapchat. Depending on your mobile carrier, you may have options of using an international plan (inquire before you leave).

For example, you can pay your regular bill with T-Mobile and get unlimited data, unlimited text and make phone calls at 20 cents per minute, because they have a deal with Movistar, an Argentina mobile carrier. Sol Education Abroad gave us cell phones with local numbers so that we may communicate with one another.

I was really homesick and I called my family almost everyday. My sister would tell me "Abeer, you are in Buenos freaking Aires, go out and stuff! Don't talk to me."

Do know what you can and cannot say

In Argentina, it is considered rude to call yourself an "American." If someone asks you where you are from, don't say "Soy americano/americana." That would insinuate that only people from the United State are American and that [Argentines and other people who are from North America and South America] are not. As citizen of South AMERICA, they too are Americans. So instead say "Soy estadounidense," which means "I am United Statesian."

There are words in Spanish that mean one thing in the Spanish speaking world and then it means something else in Argentina. You don't want to be caught saying something you do not mean.

Spanish English What it Means in Argentina
coger to take/to pick up to hook up (more vulgar though, like the f-word).


Do share who you are with your host family and friends

As a Muslim woman, I wear the hijab (a head scarf). On my last night, I brought down all of my hijabs and dressed my host mother and room mates. I wanted them to know what it was like and demonstrate that it is more than just a piece of cloth on my head (and the heads of many other Muslim women).

A hijabi group photo.
A hijabi group photo.

I also went to King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center with my host mom and room mates, they learned a lot about Islam, mosques and me. I was grateful that they wanted to come and that they had a good time.





Don't be so naive

You are new to the city and you probably stick out like a sore thumb. Have your guards up, be careful of where you place your bag and wallet. If you are going to be out late, go with a group of friends. Be aware of your surroundings and familiarize yourself with the good and bad parts of town.

Don't be hermit crab

If you are staying with a host family, get to know them and bond with them. Offer to do the dishes after dinner and take the opportunity to drink coffee with them. They are your most valuable resource because they know the city better than anyone you will meet. Take advantage of the knowledge they can share with you.

Dinner with my host mother and room mates.
Dinner with my host mother and room mates.