Although we talk a lot about travelling while abroad, school is still a very important aspect of your exchange. In this blog post, I would like to share what it is like being an international student at the Universidad de San Andrés. San Andrés is a relatively new partnership for the international business program and in my experience, it’s a phenomenal school!
About San Andrés
San Andrés is one of the top private universities in Argentina located north of the city of Buenos Aires. Its undergraduate degrees include administration, education, political science, communication, law, accounting, economics, finances, humanities, and international relations. The school has about 2,000 students from all across the country. The campus is small compared to Carleton with four buildings and a cafeteria. Besides its location in the safe neighbourhood of Victoria, the University is very secure with guards who monitor the entrance to the campus.
A positive aspect of studying abroad at a small school means classes are small, which makes it easy to make friends with other students and get to know your professor. Most of my classes have a midterm, a final, and a group project or paper. The best part of midterms is that classes are cancelled for two weeks during this period so students can study for their midterms. Midterms and exams are either domiciliario, meaning they are take-home, or presencial, meaning you write them in a classroom under an allotted amount of time.
The grading system here is different from Carleton’s. You receive a mark from one to 10 and a four is considered a pass. Most professors assign a variety of readings during the semester. You can buy copies of them from the photocopier on campus, which is significantly cheaper than the textbooks we are used to buying in Canada. Although all the classes are taught in Spanish, there is usually a combination of Spanish and English readings which makes it easier for us international students. This semester I am taking international economics, Spanish, organizational behaviour, and management of organizations and social enterprises.
San Andrés is always providing new opportunities and experiences for its students. Last semester I was fortunate to participate in a new course, “Community Development and Social Projects in Latin America”, where I worked with fellow students to plan and execute a development project in a local neighbourhood.
Here’s a short video about our endeavour:
When you first arrive at San Andrés, you will write a Spanish test during orientation to evaluate your level of Spanish. You’ll then be placed in a class according to your level. I was in the intermediate class last semester and now I am in the advanced class. I highly recommend the Spanish classes to improve your language skills and to learn more about Argentine culture. The professor is very nice and is always willing to help you with your Spanish in other classes as well.
Being an exchange student
This semester there are 35 exchange students from the United States, Europe and Canada studying at San Andrés. In my opinion, this school gets an A++ for supporting its international students. From day one in orientation, faculty members took us to get our criminal record checks done and then to migrations for our student visas. They offered a cultural activity packet to ensure we experience important events and cultural activities in the city, like bike tours and an asado (like BBQ, but better) at a farm. They even organized a buddy program to connect local students with international students. La Mesa de Idiomas (Language Table) is an event organized a couple times per semester for international and local students to provide a social atmosphere to practice languages. Half an hour is spent conversing in Spanish and the other half an hour in the other language (English, French or Portuguese).
Life in dorms
I opted to live in dorms during my year abroad for the convenience of being close to campus and to meet local students. I’m very happy with my decision and have gotten to meet a lot of people because of it. I live in the Maria Rosa Bemberg dorms located next to campus. There are also student residences a few streets away. There are 55 students in dorms and I share a double room with another student from Bahia Blanca in Buenos Aires. There is always someone here who’s able to help me with Spanish or my classes.
This experience has also helped me learn more about Argentine culture, like celebrating the first day of spring and the meaning of hand gestures or slang words. In return, I get to share my Canadian culture with them. A couple of weeks ago while Canadians were suffering from turkey comas from Thanksgiving feasts with family, it was cultural diversity day in Argentina. To celebrate, we threw our own thanksgiving dinner with roast chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots and apple pie. There is a sense of community and family in dorms that I would not have been able to experience living somewhere else in the city.
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