Buenos Aires is one of CAPA International Education’s newest exciting student destinations. Here are our top 10 reasons why to choose BA:
1. LANGUAGE. Spanish is one of the most useful languages to learn. It ranks as the second largest native language in the world after Mandarin Chinese. It is the official language in 21 countries. The number of Spanish speakers living in the United States is also increasing. In 2010, the US Census estimated there were 37 million US residents age five and older who spoke Spanish at home. The best way to learn a new language is by immersion. CAPA Buenos Aires classes are taught in English, but Spanish classes are available and encouraged and you will interact daily with local Spanish speakers. Blogger "A Gringo in Buenos Aires" picks out five important Argentine slang words and some of the most commonly used words and phrases in Argentina on Expose Buenos Aires. If you're looking for something to read, visit the Grand Splendid Theatre, renovated and transformed into a bookshop.
If you're interested in learning Mandarin Chinese, CAPA also has a Beijing program.
Photo: Mañana de domingo by Sergio Gomez
2. HISTORY & POLITICS. Buenos Aires has always been a dynamic city and place to learn even before it was founded, and it was founded twice! You can go back in time learning about Buenos Aires by visiting like Museo del Bicentenario located in the historical military fort, el Fuerte de Buenos Aires or Zanjón de Granados, which is considered to be one of the most important urban archaeological sites in the city. Be sure to visit the Museo de la ESMA for photography exhibitions and films that tell the story of Guerra Sucia (the "dirty war") when 30,000 citizens disappeared under military dictatorship in the '70s and '80s. Walking the cobblestone streets and rummaging through antique markets in the Colonial neighborhood San Telmo, a few blocks away for the university will also give you a glimpse of the past. You will discover why Evan Peron (EVITA) was, and is, such a national hero for some people and why a play by her name is popular all around the world. You can visit where Evita worked, where she lived and where she is buried today; at a very dynamic cemetery called RECOLETA (the most visited cemetery in BA). Walk down the Avenida de Mayo from Plaza Congreso to the center of Plaza de Mayo. There is graffiti along the streets which have become a canvas for political expression and often protests can be seen here. Learn about the military regime watching the human rights activists “Mothers of Plaza de Mayo” who have gathered and marched around the city square every Thursday since 1977!
More suggestions on non-art museums can be found on the Vamos blog.
Photo: Tumba de Evita Peron, Cementerio de Recoleta by Hanneorla Hanneorla
3. CULTURE & TRADITION. Tradition plays a huge role in the culture of Buenos Aires. It's found in the gauchos (cattle ranchers on horseback) who are symbolic of the city's past. Some are still around today. Visit Recoleta, the cultural hub of BA. Cafe culture is of enormous importance in Buenos Aires. There are even yearly cafes tours around the city ending at 2 am! For a cafe with character, try the Coco Marie Cafe. Think ivy on brick, a rusted out bath tub as decor, an outdoor patio and turquoise furniture. Tango is synonymous with Buenos Aires and perhaps the biggest tradition there is in BA. Read more about Tango below in section 9 on The Arts. Make sure you soak up as much Argentine culture as possible while you're in Buenos Aires. You'll feel the spirit and passion of the city all around you.
For more on BA cafe culture, stop by Steph and Ben's Travels or Jet Set Times.
Photo: Tango Dancers by Francisco Gaultieri
4. VIBRANCY OF LIFE. BA has been ranked as the most important global cities and competitive marketplaces in Latin America making it an important location to watch and a semester abroad in Argentina will definitely be a point of interest in a future job interview. Like New York, Buenos Aires is a dynamic city that never sleeps. It is a friendly place that embraces different sexuality preferences, gay marriage, transgendered people and others with an inspiring openness not always commonly found in Latin America. The city opened the first five-star gay hotel five years ago. BA has been said to have the best quality of life on the continent (and, fun fact: the widest avenue in the world). At the moment, this lively metropolis is in an exciting bid to host the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics. The vibrancy of this city can be found not only through its bright colors and diversity of its people but through the bustling outdoor sidewalk culture around cafes and restaurants where people enjoy making the time to mingle, chat and laugh in the South American sunshine with their friends, colleagues and families.
See point 3 above and point 10 below for more on food culture and watch CAPA World for some of our favorite suggestions on places to eat in the capital.
Photo: Palermo, one of BA's trendiest neighborhoods by Tosin Arasi
5. THE LOCALS. Porteños, the people of Buenos Aires are notoriously outgoing, kind, and friendly. They tend to be helpful and engaging with visitors. They are passionate, blunt and resilient. You'll find that life in BA is vibrant, stimulating and exciting. You will feel the energy pumping through the veins of this city, in the nightlife and in everyday life. This bustling metropolis, the third largest city in Latin America, is home to almost 14 million people. Porteños have their own self-defined sense of style. In fact, BA has been referred to as the "Paris of Latin America", with a mix of European and Latin fashion. They are also known to dress up pretty crazily for some of BA's big carnivals and street festivals.
For some Buenos Aires street style, check out On The Corner.
Photo: Alejandro in Polermo by Guadalupe Elena Casime
6. SPORTS. In Argentina, Soccer is passion. It's the country's national sport and matches can get pretty emotional. Go see a Boca Juniors or River Plate game. The tickets are pretty cheap and it's an experience not quicky forgotten! If you have the opportunity, visit Estadio Monumental in Nunez, the national stadium where Argentina won the soccer World Cup in 1978. Pato is another sport close to the hearts of Porteños with a long national history. It was first played by gauchos, but banned in the 1880s. It was re-introduced with new rules in the 1930s. The game involves two teams of four men on horseback who try to throw a leather ball with six handles into one of two baskets at either end of a large field. Argentina's polo team have been long-running world champions since 1949. Rugby, tennis, horse-racing and basketball are among some of the other favorite sports in Buenos Aires.
Photo: Bombonera by Joel Richards
7. VIVID COLORS. If you don't mind crowds and love bright colors, take a wander through the rich Crayola-box streets of the popular La Boca neighborhood. It's often sited as one of the most colorful places in the world. You'll notice that the architecture is strongly European as it's based on the Italian city of Genoa. Throughout your time in Buenos Aires you'll find it is a place of much character with its vibrant hues, the details in layers of peeling paint and graffiti and street art covering the walls. Keep an eye open for the work of some of BA's talented street artists. There are also plenty of markets that will keep your eyes entertained for hours with knick-knacks galore.
Photo: Caminito by Ana...anA
8. TRAVEL. Ready for a break from the city chaos? Spend a few days in Tigre and enjoy the boutique lined streets, eat dinner while looking over the water and antique paddle boats and enjoy the green grass and open spaces! For a small, old town adventure, soak up the history of San Antonio de Areco. A day and a half is enough to take in the life of the gaucho (like cowboys), the small cafes and artisan and antique shops. If you have a bit more time on your hands for a breath-taking experience, take a trip to the famous and powerful Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. A visit to the coast is another option if you'd simply rather relax. Mar de las Pampas is small, but has fewer tourists than Mar del Plata.
Time Out Argentina offers plenty more recommendations if you're still stuck for choice!
Photo: Mar de las Pampas - Costa Atlántica by Juan Antonio
9. THE ARTS. Dance and other performing arts embedded around the city are traditional modes of artistic expression. Theater and film are two of the most important artistic forms in BA. From musicals to dramas, there are more than 300 plays to see in BA every weekend - more than in Italy. The government also gives great importance to the film industry. Last year, "El Secreto de sus Ojos" won an Oscar followed by Argentina's Emmy this year for TV’s best foreign actress and actor. There is, of course, a long history associated with the famous seductive Tango dance synonymous with Argentina. Take a tango class if possible! Ballet is also popular. See a performance at the Teatro Colón if you have a chance. The Floris Generica, a giant aluminum and steel flower sculpture sitting above a reflecting pool in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, is one of the most prominent pieces of visual art in Buenos Aires. It was a gift to the city from architect Eduardo Catalano. On a more informal level, Buenos Aires is known to be the political street art and graffiti capital of the world. You'll see signs of this everywhere you look. Even the most wealthy neighborhoods have street murals along their walls. (For more, see the new documentary called "White Walls Say Nothing" which explores art and activism in Buenos Aires.) You'll typically find three styles of architecture in the city: neoclassical, art nouveau and art deco. Much of the architecture you'll notice has a highly European style with Latin influence. Street performers are everywhere in Buenos Aires, and on Sundays you'll find buskers like artisans and painters in the parks and street markets as well.
To keep up with the BA street art scene, follow BA Street Art Blog.
Photo: Floris Generica by Sharon
10. FOOD & DRINK. Sometimes the best way to get to the heart of a culture is through its food, especially when it's prepared by locals. There are many "secret" puertas cerradas (literally "closed doors" popping up around the city lately, dinner parties in private homes for which you can RSVP in advance). As you surely know, Argentina is famous for its steak. The locals are particularly partial to "asado", the short rib. La Farmacia is a great choice for dinner in a restaurant that is popular with the locals. This little gem is an intimate space built in an old pharmacy in the suburb of Flores. Try the picadas! While you're in BA, be sure to have an empanada and some ice cream (probably not together) - a few favorites of ours at CAPA. You can not talk about food and drink of Buenos Aires without bringing up the beloved yerba mate. Perhaps it's an "acquired taste" (it's a blend of dried holly leaves and twigs soaked in very hot water and often drunk from a gourd), but it's something you have to try at least once for a true Argentine experience. Don't forget to stop by one of the popular sidewalk cafes and while away a long afternoon.
If you're feeling a bit lazy and want delivery instead of going out for dinner, try spotlightbuenosaires.com/ba-delivers/
Photo: Entrana - A meal at Las Cholas on Calle Arce by For91Days
Did you already study in Buenos Aires? Are you considering it? For what reasons? Tell us why in the comments!