Ashley Cuevas is a young professional from Dallas, Texas, who has traveled to Argentina to do our Teach in a Homestay program. She started her Spanish language adventure in October saying, “I have heard amazing things about Argentina, and hope to be able to experience everything I have heard for myself. I also hope to expand my knowledge of the Spanish language and South American culture. I really want to be able to learn about new cultures to help me grow as a person.” With a background in teaching, she’s hoping to hone her practical teaching skills while also making a positive impact!
Honestly, Argentina was a super last minute decision. For almost two years I was very set on teaching English for a year in South Korea. Long story, short, the paperwork required for the program in Korea was lengthier and took longer than expected. If you ever plan on doing a program such as teaching in South Korea, I highly recommend beginning the application process much earlier than suggested. Anyway, I still knew I wanted to take this year to travel/teach English abroad. I looked into different programs and found new options which lead me to teaching in Argentina.
Before leaving for Argentina, I was very calm until probably a few days before departing—especially the day right before. So many people at the bar I worked at were giving me random travel advice. I looked up everything to “watch out for” on a ton of travel blogs, and my dad was sharing his friends’ scary stories of everything that could possibly go wrong in Argentina. Basically, this was going to be my first time to travel alone to a foreign country for an extended period of time, and I was freaking out.
Although I was freaking out the entire day before leaving for Argentina, my mood shifted to giddy excitement when it was time to actually go. I could not believe that it was happening. Like, Argentina is so random… What!? The plane ride was also perfect because it was set up where we flew throughout the night and would land in Buenos Aires the next morning.
When we landed in Buenos Aires, my state of giddiness continued. I had made it to Argentina! Everything at the airport was in Spanish and English, so I was a bit relieved. I waited for about 30 minutes before finally getting in a cab to head to the main bus station. Once I got to the station, I had to find which bus to take to Rosario.
Upon arriving at the bus station, I realized the airport would probably be the only place in the country that has English and Spanish translations on the signs. I asked for help to find out which platform my bus would arrive at, and I learned very quickly no one really knew English. Luckily I had my tickets printed, so being able to point at a ticket helped a lot. This was the moment I knew the language barrier was probably going to be tougher than I thought it would be. Four hours later I arrived in Rosario to then have to catch another bus to Cañada de Gómez, the town I would be staying in.
Once I had arrived at Cañada de Gómez, I met my host who is a nice woman in her early 60s named Susana. She’s an English teacher in Cañada de Gómez, so it makes communication a bit easier! She owns a lovely, relatively big house for Argentina. She also lives on one of the major streets in the center of the city. It’s a great location because I can walk to almost everything I need. The town itself has 40,000 people, which is relatively small compared to any other place I’ve ever lived before.
The house I am staying in has a small school attached to it which has two classrooms separated by a divider. The schools in Argentina are only open for half of the day. So, during the second half, students take extra language classes or participate in athletic activities. Our classroom consists of having the younger students that come to the school twice a week, and the adults who come once a week. The classes are an hour long, and the adults who come truly desire to improve their English.
The school year in Argentina goes from February to December. So, I have come for the last two months of school since I arrived in October. At this point, they already have a set routine and way that their classes have been set up. With this being the case, we have established that my role in the classroom is to help with conversational practice. I prepare different dialogues that could take place in real life for students to practice at the beginning of each class. I also put together weekly lessons on differences in American and Argentine cultures. This has been really awesome because I have learned a lot from my students as well!
The food in Argentina is slightly similar to America. They have your basics that we normally eat such as pizza, burgers and fries. But, one noticeable difference is that so much red meat is consumed here. I have never been one for red meat, but there’s not much of a choice in Argentina.
Everyone has been way too friendly here… Like, way too nice. For being a stranger, I frankly don’t think I deserve to be treated so nicely. But, I am so thankful for it! I have became friends with the girl I teach with, and she has introduced me to her friends who are studying to be English teachers as well. Being able to hang out with people who speak English has been good for me, and they love being able to practice their English with a “native” speaker.
The only thing I’ve noticed is that since I keep surrounding myself with people who speak English, I haven’t fully been able to practice my Spanish. I would love to become better at it, but everyone around me is trying to practice their English at the same time—so, it’s an odd mix.