The Study Part of Study Abroad

On my first day of class, the professor walked in 30 minutes late. If I hadn’t been told this was perfectly normal, I probably would have left after the first 15 minutes. Adjusting to the Argentine university system was a bit of a rollercoaster: my schedule wasn’t finalized until three weeks in, the classroom locations were unclear, there are often two professors teaching one class, four-hour classes exist, night classes are common, and no one knows when assignments are due. All of these grievances were very frustrating at the start of the semester, but as I continually reminded myself, this was part of the cultural adjustment. Two of my classes are now completed, and they were the two  offered by the University, so for students who want to study abroad in Mendoza, here are some points to keep in mind.

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  1. Argentina is a laid back society, so don’t worry too much about showing up on time. As previously stated, professors often arrive close to half an hour late, so only leave class if the local students are.
  2. Double check the class location with your program advisor. On the first day of class, I planned on attending Sustainable Development. When I arrived, the class list said Sustainable Tourism, so I attended that class, thinking it was misnamed. The next day, I found out that the class I originally wanted to take was in an entirely different building.
  3. There is no syllabus, so you will not know what’s going on. I admit that when professors handed out syllabi at DU, I barely glanced at them. They are actually very helpful when planning out study time, something I took for granted.
  4. Make friends with the locals. Going off of point three, you will likely not know if there are assignments and when they are due. The locals usually know what is going on, at least more than foreign students; they are a vital resource when it comes to adjusting to the Argentine education system.
  5. Take classes you wouldn’t normally do. That is my only regret in regards to my study abroad experience. I was so hung up on getting specific courses approved for credit that I didn’t try anything new. If you study abroad in Mendoza, try and take Tango; I wish I did.

It’s hard to adjust to a new way of learning, but it’s an exciting opportunity to gain new insight into a culture. I enjoyed my time at the Universidad de Congreso; it was an enlightening experience.

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Zoe Kaldor

 ARGENTINA – IFSA: MENDOZA UNIVERSITIES PROGRAM, 2018 FALL

Zoe Kaldor is an International Studies and Strategic Communication double major. She is studying abroad with IFSA-Butler in Mendoza, Argentina. Originally from New York, DU’s study abroad program was one of the reasons Zoe chose to attend DU. She specifically chose to study abroad in Argentina because she wants to improve her Spanish skills and experience a new culture, for she believes it is so important in an increasingly global society to be able to communicate in languages besides English as well as experience different ways of life. Zoe is an avid traveler and loves to explore new places; she is excited she gets to do both.

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La Cultura de Argentina (Argentine Culture)

I am over half way though my abroad program. In many ways, I feel like I belong, yet in other ways, I am still learning the quirks of Mendocino society. The period of initial culture shock has long past; however, every now and then I need to remind myself to take a breath and remember that I’m not from Mendoza and any frustration that I still have is normal. Nevertheless, there are three Argentine customs worthy of sharing.

It is common practice to kiss everyone (to an extent) hello and goodbye. I’m referring to a cheek kiss, which can seem odd, especially if you don’t know the person. When I am in the United States, I will greet my family and friends with a hug if I haven’t seen them in a while. If I am walking to class, or frequently interact with them, I usually smile, say hello, and exchange a few words. When I meet a new person, the extent of physical contact is a hand shake. That is not the case in Argentina. My host sister threw a party for her boyfriend’s birthday a couple months ago. Every single person I met went in for the kiss. This happened only three weeks after I arrived, so predictably, I was a little taken aback. When I decided to go to bed, I kissed every person goodbye.

Argentines love their meat, so unsurprisingly, the Asado (barbeque) is a very popular tradition. My host family has a large, outdoor, stone stove, which I was informed immediately upon arriving was for Asados. The meat options usually consist of steak, pork, and sausage and are meant to serve 10 or more people. I am not a frequent meat eater, but Argentina does have good meat.

Drinking mate is a cultural phenomenon. It is impossible to not see someone in possession of this popular tea. It has a similar flavor to green tea and is consumed with or without sugar. I like it both ways. What I find most interesting is how people drink mate. One person brings the hot water, tea leaves, and mug (with a metal straw). He/she then fills the mug with the tea leaves and pours in the water. That person will then drink the mate until there is no more water. Once it is finished, he/she will fill the mug with more water and pass the mug to the next person (the same mug and straw). This continues until every person present has drank the mate and there is no more water. My first thought after witnessing this was “that’s unhygienic.” I was even more taken aback when this cultural norm occurred during class, and the professor was included. After my initial misgivings, I now engage in the same activity.

After two and a half months, culture shock is appropriately named, but as I have discovered, every culture is wonderfully unique.


Zoe Kaldor

 ARGENTINA – IFSA: MENDOZA UNIVERSITIES PROGRAM, 2018 FALL

Zoe Kaldor is an International Studies and Strategic Communication double major. She is studying abroad with IFSA-Butler in Mendoza, Argentina. Originally from New York, DU’s study abroad program was one of the reasons Zoe chose to attend DU. She specifically chose to study abroad in Argentina because she wants to improve her Spanish skills and experience a new culture, for she believes it is so important in an increasingly global society to be able to communicate in languages besides English as well as experience different ways of life. Zoe is an avid traveler and loves to explore new places; she is excited she gets to do both.

Link to Posts

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