What It’s Really Like Being the International Student

(Above photo: a few of the lovely people I've met so far during my exchange that I'd consider part of my "international squad" lol)

¡Hola chicos!

I know I’ve been pretty MIA this whole month of April since I only posted once this month, but it has been hectic so far with Holy Week and Easter festivities, completing my first Spanish essay and other personal things, that I’ll share in a later post.

But I thought I’d take the time to talk about my experiences, so far, as an international student. I don’t know about you, but back at home in Sydney, I knew a lot of people at uni who weren’t the most welcoming to certain international students because of the language barriers and how little English they knew, which led to their inability to participate and contribute well whenever we had group tasks and assignments. And to be honest, that was one of my biggest fears coming into Argentina and starting university here. So I thought I’d share some pros and cons of being an international student, studying and living here in Argentina (this is all coming from my own personal experiences. I’m sure each exchange student is different):

Pros:

  • Being able to live with the locals in a part of town that isn’t so tourist-y and commercialised allows you to practice and get to know the language and slang (here in Argentina, they speak castellano – a type of Spanish that is slightly different to the Spanish that you hear on TV and in Europe).
    • The most noticeable thing is the “sh” sound when pronouncing “ll” as opposed to “y” e.g. for me llamo (I call myself/my name is), phonetically it’s me sha-mo versus me ya-mo
    • AND to be honest, I’ve learned and improved on my Spanish so much more in these past two months than in the 12 weeks of my last semester, haha
  • Meeting other international AND local students! I’ve become friends with some fab people from London, Spain, and the US and I love that we’ve become a cute little group (not to seem cliquish or anything but it’s comforting to meet other exchange students who are on the same boat as you).
    • I’ve even met some locals both in and out of university, who give us tips and tricks about surviving uni and Argentina in general and where the best place to eat, and one is a massive La Boca fan (football/soccer depending on what part of the world you’re from) who can give us advice on where to get tickets and what are good days to watch games without it getting too crazy, haha.
    • Most of the locals here have been super welcoming and lovely so far (I say most because I have met a couple of creepers LOL), you just have to make the effort to say hi 🙂
  • Being able to travel! I mean, that’s the main reason why you are on exchange. You get to experience the wonders and beauty of different parts of the world that you’ve yet to explore!
  • Eventually learning how to live like a local! Living in a different country for a year means that you get to immerse yourself into a whole new culture and standard of living that you’re probably not used to depending on where you come from
    • I’ve mastered catching the Subte (which is the Subway here in Argentina)
    • Plus, empanadas, choripans and medialunas (croissants) are life
    • Siesta times are always great whenever you can fit them in (but not when you want to visit a restaurant in the afternoon and it’s closed lol)
    • AND, I kind of know my way around the main city of Buenos Aires. I’m walking confidently (for the most part) without the need to open Google Maps on my phone for reference. And I ALWAYS used it back in Sydney (those who know me very well know how bad my sense of direction is)

Cons:

  • THE IMMIGRATION PROCESS. Don’t get me started on how many documents I needed to apply for and how much I had to pay for each of them. But to be fair, the things I had to process in Argentina were much easier than the forms I needed in Sydney.
  • Some looks I get from the locals either on the streets when I’m walking (generally the men) or when I try to speak in class. I know they don’t intend to give you a dirty look, but I can’t help but feel intimidated and shy when I speak.
    • But, I did get complimented on my Spanish today by my Boca mate haha
  • The workload. Well for those at my university anyway. Not only do we have to attend classes and complete their exams and assignments, but we also have big research projects that our home university has given us to do throughout the year, which can get pretty stressful and hectic! So it’s not just one massive holiday for us. We’re still students here.
  • Homesickness. It’s inevitable, but it usually comes and goes in little spurts (for me personally anyways) and as long as you keep yourself busy and find great company to be around, you’ll be able to overcome those moments!

I’m sure there’s some pros or cons that I may have forgotten to add to the list, but it’s only my second month here (as of tomorrow), and who knows? Maybe my thoughts on being an international student will change. But I’ll let you know, I still have 10 months ahead of me!

Hasta luego, ¡besos y abrazos!

Love, Marie ♡

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