Eighteen students are immersing themselves in Latin American culture this semester in Mendoza, Argentina, guided by Professor of Latin American Studies, International Relations and Economics Scott McKinney P’13, who was born and raised in Peru. Nestled against the Andes, Mendoza offers students the opportunity to become fluent in the Spanish language and learn about historical and contemporary Latin American issues at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo.
The HWS Argentina program is offered through the Center of Global Education during the fall semester every other year. Students take classes on the Spanish language, the history of Argentina, economic growth and water, and a parallel study of Argentina and Chile’s economies. Students can also participate in community service during their stay, arranged by the resident director and the Centro de Español como Leguna Extranjera, a department of the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. The program is designed for students studying economics, international relations, environmental studies, and Spanish and Hispanic studies. Students are enrolled in one Spanish language class, “History and Culture of Argentina,” “Parallel Economies of Argentina and Chile” and “Economic Growth and Water.”
Students also live with Argentine families during the semester. For sociology major Sage Harris ’15, Argentina already feels like home.
“It’s already been a month and my Spanish has improved immensely. I can already tell that I will return home to the U.S. with proficient skills speaking Spanish,” she says.
Staying with “the best family in Mendoza,” Harris enjoys the big-family culture of Latin America. “Most of the extended family lives within four blocks of each other and someone is always knocking on the door bringing over food or just stopping in for a coffee. I love how generous and welcoming everyone in my host family is.”
In addition to the opportunities for vibrant family life, the Mendoza program offers a wide variety of ways to explore the culture. Students have full access to student life at the university, including clubs and organizations.
The program also guides students on excursions throughout the region. “My favorite part is sharing reactions to life in Argentina: frustration with the irregular schedules of the buses, puzzlement at the amount of time spent washing cars in dry, dry Mendoza, and wonder at the amount of water going over Iguazu Falls,” says McKinney.
He and the students recently returned from their trip to the falls, located on the border of Argentina and Brazil. “This place is truly amazing-a sight to see. I recommend that anyone who gets a chance to see Argentina come and experience it,” says Harrison Wasserbauer ’16. The group also plans to visit Patagonia, Santiago, and the villages surrounding Mendoza.
Nearly 60 percent of HWS students study abroad, compared to two percent nationally. Students interested in studying abroad begin the process one year before their desired departure. The Center for Global Education hosts general information sessions and “Which Program is for Me?” workshops each semester to assist students before applications are due. Additional information, including a full list of programs, is available online.