Language & Culture Programme, Argentina

19 March 2019

Seren from BASc received funding from the Santander Universities Mobility Bursary to support a short-term opportunity in Argentina. The language and culture programme helped Seren to progress her Spanish in advance of her year abroad in Buenos Aires.

language and culture
Seren John-Wood, Arts and Sciences (BASc)

My short term global opportunity funded by the Santander Universities Mobility Bursary was a one-month intensive Argentine Language & Culture course hosted by Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, the university at which I am studying during my year abroad in Buenos Aires. The programme consisted of 3 hours of lesson time a day, as well as a number of excursions in and around Buenos Aires to complement the curriculum. The course itself provided a valuable framework to understanding and navigating the peculiarities of Argentinian and Buenos Aires (porteño) Spanish, with a lot of time dedicated to understanding ‘voseo’ (whereby the pronoun tú is replaced by vos, with corresponding alterations to the verb) and lunfardo (Argentinian and specifically porteño slang). 

As well as being really helpful in bringing my Spanish up to scratch ahead of starting a year of courses in a language that prior to the beginning of July I could barely understand, the course provided an opportunity to learn about recent the political history of Argentina from both our teachers and through visits including a city tour and a trip to the memorial park. This was extremely helpful and vital in the first few weeks in proving context to the political landscape of Argentina at the moment. A real highlight of the experience was getting involved with the ‘Aborto Legal’ campaign and protests through feminist activists who I met at a conference in central Buenos Aires, and beginning to understand the legacy of the activists called ‘Las Madres (or las Abuelas) de Plaza de Mayo’. We also had the opportunity to do a short presentation on an important political or cultural figure in Spanish, and I was lucky enough to see a performance by Miss Bolivia at the San Juan festival in La Boca, and presented her music to the class and the teacher. 

The course enabled me to feel as though I had a route and a method to immerse and engage in the cultural and political aspects of Buenos Aires, which was extremely valuable in the first few weeks of a year abroad in such a dynamic city, which might have otherwise felt overwhelming or inaccessible. To any other students considering a short-term global opportunity I would recommend going to as many venues, concerts and political events as you can in order to meet people and get a sense of the vibe of the place you’re studying in, as touristic activities can often feel a bit separated and isolated from people who live and work in the city you’re staying in. 

seren in buenos aires