The city of Buenos Aires is recognized for its beautiful-green spaces, scattered all around the city. The European design of many of them reminds the belle époque times, at the time the modern design of many others shows another face of this vibrant cosmopolitan city.
During the first weekend, all the students participated in a typical porteño activity: to enjoy the afternoon in one of the many beautiful parks of the city. We selected three emblematic parks: Parque Centenario, Parque Las Heras, and Plaza Vicente López. The objective of this activity was multiple: first, to make a practical exercise of navigating the city; second, to develop a cultural workshop aimed to work on the housing expectations and how to deal with the differences; and last, to enjoy a warm afternoon in a more natural setting.
During the first day of orientation, students learned how to travel around the city using public transportation. The day after, students were accompanied by their host families to the study center, and then every student coordinator led his or her group to a different park, practicing by this way how to use the public transportation with a concrete travelling experience of navigating the city. As a result of this, some students took the metro to Parque Centenario (located in Villa Crespo), while others took a bus ride to Parque Las Heras (in Palermo). The third group just walked to plaza Vicente López (in Recoleta), realizing how common is to walk around this city.
Once at the parks, and tasting mate for the first time, every group could talk about the housing expectations and the cultural differences related to the family life. The perfect summer day helped created a comfortable atmosphere to develop this interactive workshop. Additionally, the entire resident staff participated in this workshop, enriching the cultural perspectives and learning from each other.
In Jessica García's (Claremont McKenna College) words:
expectations, a great skill to have that most of us as busy students trying to
squeeze every last bit of adventure during our study abroad experience, forget
to employ. This is why the great staff of CIEE Buenos Aires created the space
that allowed students to candidly express their expectations, which the
counselors either encouraged or tempered respectfully and honestly. Set in one
of the many beautiful plazas scattered all over Buenos Aires, the group
discussion allowed me to air out my fears and worries with regards to cultural
faux pas. The discussion helped me feel more at ease about the manner in which
I interact with my host family, and everything has been great so far"