Are you interested in improving your Spanish skills, experiencing a vibrant new culture, and meeting dozens of new friends? Consider spending a semester or academic year in Argentina like Rachel from Indiana! Rachel just returned to the United States after a fun, challenging, and life-changing year in Cordoba, Argentina. In this excerpt from her own blog, she talks about how she got involved in her local community by volunteering to speak at local schools. Check out her post to learn more about her experience as she takes us on a tour of some Argentine escuelas!
“Recently I have been graciously blessed with the unique opportunity of getting to know new schools and students in my town by helping out in various English classes. I usually begin by organizing these classes through going out and talking to the English teachers first. Once I introduce myself and explain that I am a foreign exchange student, I begin casually probing to see if I can receive an invitation to one of the teacher’s English classes. (This basically happens every time). The teachers here tend to work in more than one school, so for example in many cases I have gone to two different schools (on different occasions of course) with the same teacher.
The classes always begin with an introduction in English (since I technically am put up in front of a class of 30, 40, or 50 students to speak in my native tongue).
Me: “My name is Rachel Peigh. I am 18 years old….”
Students: ¿Qué dijo? (What did she say!?) More giggles.
Teacher: (explains in Spanish)
Me: “I am from the United States. I live in a state called Indiana. I like Argentina!”
Then as they begin shooting me questions in their native tongue, I leave behind all English thoughts and naturally respond in Spanish.
What’s your family like? Where does your mom work? What will you study in college? Do you like Argentina? What differences have you observed between Argentines and Americans? Do you like the food from here? What is typical American food? What do you like most from Argentina? Do you have a boyfriend? What do American teens do on the weekends? What is an American high school like? Is it like from the movies? Do you have lockers? Are there cheerleaders? Were you considered popular? Did you study Spanish in high school? Have you ever visited other countries? Why did you pick Argentina? Do you like maté and dulce de leche? What do you think about asados? Do you like to go to the nightclubs? Have you been to Disney World? What other places have you visited in Argentina? What’s your opinion of Trump? Have you met anyone famous? What type of cell phone do you have? Is it the 6 plus? Have you gained weight while living here? Will you come back? When? What’s your daily schedule like? How can you eat so much food for breakfast? It doesn’t make you sick? Why do you eat dinner so early? You don’t wake up in the middle of the night famished? What do Americans think about Argentines? What soccer team do you like most from Argentina? Are you a Messi fan? Do you celebrate fifteen year old birthdays like us Argentines? You don’t sleep during the siesta? What are some bad words in English? Do you have a car? Do you miss your family? Does your family miss you?
(Students from other classrooms who find out that a foreigner is amongst them gather outside the classroom, knock on the door, and/or stare through the window).
When the class ends…
Me: Que buenas ondas que son ustedes. Muchas gracias por recibirme y darme esta piola oportunidad. (You all are really cool. Thank you so much for letting me come here and for giving me this awesome opportunity!)
Students: Podemos sacar una foto con vos? (Can we take a picture with you?)
Me: Dale! (Of course!)
When I exit the “English” classes I always leave with more friends, a higher self esteem, and a very content heart that craves to repeat the moment una y otra vez—time and time again.
Here I am at the entrance of the largest school here in Villa Dolores called Escuela Normal Superior. It is a two story public high school that has classrooms for all 12 grade levels. The little children have their classes in one wing of the building, and the teens have their classes in a separate wing.
Here is what the classrooms look like. It’s noticeable that this is a senior level classroom because it is decorated with balloons and banners to celebrate the student’s last year in high school.
A statue of the man that founded the Escuela Normal located at the entrance.
Here is one of the hallways in school. The students don’t have lockers here to guard their books since they don’t have that many. Normally if they need a school book (for example a science or history book) they have to go to the library, borrow the book, share among themselves, and then return it that same day. Checking out books to take home isn’t permitted usually.
Photo with the students from Normal.
Routinary group picture at the end! Oh how I will miss this!!!
Has Rachel inspired to have your own study abroad adventure? Visit https://aspectfoundation.org/study-abroad/ to learn more!