Based in Mendoza this semester, a tight-knit group of HWS students are accelerating their Spanish-language learning and their understanding of South American history while experiencing daily life in Argentina.
“I was attracted to the Argentina program because I have always wanted to be fluent in Spanish,” says Nicole Guardino ’18, who has been able to fulfill coursework for both of her minors (Spanish and psychology) while abroad. Through the “home-stay” living arrangements, she explains, the program has “helped us to learn more about the culture and is definitely helping us with our Spanish.”
Julia Sipos ’18, a Spanish and international relations double-major, agrees. “My time living with a host family here has immensely improved my Spanish skills,” she says. And with courses that feature a global outlook and excursions to the Andes Mountains, Uruguay and Chile, Sipos also enjoys a “better understanding of the relationships and similarities between these countries.”
In addition to the cross-cultural psychology course taught by Assistant Professor of Psychology Brien Ashdown, the 13 students are enrolled in courses at Centro de Español como Lengua Extranjera, an institute dedicated to teaching Spanish as a foreign language. The institute is housed in Mendoza’s large regional university, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, where students are taking additional courses, but equally instructive has been the direct cultural immersion – the weekend excursions, the community engagement, the food.
The group visited the Puente del Inca, a natural bridge formed over the Vacas River; hiked around Aconcagua, the largest mountain in the western and southern hemispheres; and went rock climbing, repelling and zip-lining in the Andes. Another trip exposed the students to gaucho culture, with horseback riding, folk dancing and traditional culinary techniques.
“Gaucho culture is a huge part of Argentina history, so it was extremely helpful to get a sense of their lifestyle, attitudes and their role in Argentine culture,” says Sipos.
Meanwhile in Mendoza, students are immersing themselves in the contemporary culture of the local community, taking judo lessons and tango classes and connecting with students at the university.
“I have become accustomed to eating a weekly asdado every Sunday, which is the Argentine version of a barbecue,” explains Craig Phillip ’18, who has also “fallen in love with the baked goods and dulce de leche. However, there is so much more I have enjoyed about the Argentine culture. I came to Argentina to better my Spanish and continue my study of psychology, but I found myself playing varsity basketball at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. I have also attended several tango classes and play rugby with the locals when I can. Mendoza has been the perfect match, and I am truly living a dream.”
Learn more about the Mendoza program and other abroad offerings at the HWS Center for Global Education.