Here's a few tips on studying abroad in Buenos Aires for those who are interested. Although, no matter what guidance I try to give, you'll most likely be filled with anxiousness, excitement and confusion all the same. 1. Try to speak Spanish As obvious as this may seem, you'd be surprised at the amount of people who follow this rule to the bare minimum. You're going to want to me meet Argenitines, you're going to want to make friends and go out, so you're going to have to be able to communicate in Spanish. Taxi drivers here love to chat so it also saves you from just nodding and awkwardly chuckling without knowing what's going on. Also, if you speak sufficient spanish, uoi are able to take Spanish content courses and therefore have better choices in classes. 2. Take whatever class Mariano Lopez is teaching. 3. Buy yourself a Guia-T and take collectivos Yeah BA is insanely cheaper than NYC, but riding taxis all the time is 1. unnecessary and 2. adds up. You can buy a guia-t at any one those little stands on the street which tells you which collectivos will take you where and it comes with maps. Recently I've been using this fabulous website www.comoviajo.com which is basically a hopstop for buenos aires. 4. Housing I had a less than desireable experience with my homestay. I hated my homestay mother and I hated her cooking even more. But I'd still recommend it over living in a dorm. I had much more freedom and flexibility than those who lived in dorms. In dorms you can't have people over, they're not in the most happening areas 5. Don't Stay in Palermo and Recoletta I can't stress this enough. Today I felt ashamed when my friend who has only been here for 2 weeks has already ventured to barrios that I've never heard of. Buenos Aires is a very large city and there will be times when you leaving the comfort of your barrio seems like too much work, but it's much more rewarding than going to the same bar (sugar) and the same club (niceto). I use these websites literally every single day. The first two are fabulous websites that tell you about daily events and nightlife spots. The last site is the hopstop of Buenos Aires. www.wipe.com.ar www.whatsupbuenosaires.com www.comoviajo.com Have a blast. Get lost. And enjoy the affordability of Buenos Aires.
I think the most important piece of advice that I would give to anyone coming to NYU is France, is to find as much as possible to get involved in outside of school. For anyone interested in an immersion experience who wants to become fluent in French, it takes quite a bit of effort to leave the NYU community and meet French people. I have a lot of friends who never spoke French for more than 5 minutes and were never once isolated in a French environment. It can be scary and intimidating, but with a little bit of effort, taking dance classes, finding an internship, volunteering, having a language exchange partner, it makes a really big difference in your overall experience. I would warn anyone interested in France, that the French are infamous for their bureaucracy. Don’t expect things like opening a bank account, buying a phone, and signing a lease to always be easy, but NYU is very helpful in getting you started. I’m really glad that I stayed for a whole year because it made all of that work worthwhile. I know a lot of people who spent nearly half of a semester just getting a bank account open. I would recommend living in an area that has nightlife, like the Marais, Oberkampf, or the Latin Quarter, because the trains stop running at 1 or 2 and it gets expensive to get home late if you live far away. Also, these places have the best shopping, restaurants, and movie theaters so you’ll always have somewhere to go. Paris is a beautiful city, and all of the major sites are must-sees, but some of my favorite parts are a long ways from the open promenades of St. Germain des Pres or the spectacular monuments along the Seine. Explore the areas of the city that don’t attract tourists, La Goutte d’Or, the Algerian neighborhood, Belleville, the Arabic and Chinese neighborhood, the 15th arrondissement, with its chic new buildings and also Chinatown. There’s a lot more to Paris than just tradition, and your eyes, budget, and tastebuds will thank you. And last but not least, if you can only come for one semester, come in the spring. Paris is a very grey city so they’ll be a lot of winter no matter which one you pick, but the parks in springtime are not to be missed.
This has been the most enjoyable time of my life and easily my favorite semester of college. I would highly recommend this NYU study abroad site to anyone considering studying abroad. It is NYU’s only site in Asia and is a clear contrast to the other study abroad sites. I didn’t know what to expect and came into the program not knowing anyone. I just knew that the site in Shanghai was the newest option at the time and had only been around for a few semesters. I didn’t even know anything about the city. Looking back, there wasn’t any information I lacked that would have drastically changed my experience here. The staff and available information online were both great in providing insights to the semester abroad. If you are considering this program, be sure to choose off-campus housing. It is slightly more expensive than on-campus but well worth the perks. Apartments are either 3 or 4 bedrooms and include two bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, and a balcony. These apartments are in a full service building and have housekeepers that come in to clean twice a week. It is only a 15 minute ride to campus by moped or bus, and NYU provides a shuttle in the mornings. If you’re easily culture shocked, then be prepared for Shanghai. The food, sights, and smells are all going to be different from what you’re used to. Most public places and local restaurants don’t have western toilets, but use squatters instead. People with food restrictions are going to have a more difficult time as vegetarian and dishes without pork can sometimes be hard to find. Shanghai is a large city and there are a lot of things to do. Off-campus housing is located near Zhongshan Park and is an awesome location. The park itself is big and contains amusement rides, and lakes. Shanghai itself is most famous for The Bund, which is a strip along the western side of the Huangpu river that is home to most of Shanghai’s rich history. These historic buildings contained many hotels and banks. The view from The Bund is amazing as well because just across the river is Shanghai’s Pudong Economic Development Zone. Home to two of the world’s tallest buildings and soon to be the location of a third. Shanghai’s most expensive residential properties are located in Xintiandi. This recently converted neighborhood houses a shopping mall, cinema, bookstores, restaurants, and cafes, giving it an almost European feel. Prices in this area are priced high, even by international standards. Shanghai also has the world’s first commercial mag-lev train as well as the tallest bar in the world in Jin Mao Tower. I’ve been here 3 months now and there is still so much I have to see and so many places I have to visit. I am staying another week past the program and I know that it won’t be enough.
Be forewarned, Paris is an expensive city, particularly in the current economic climate when the dollar is so weak.
Lodgement: For those who don't know, Paris is divided into twenty section, which are called an arrondissement, and they spiral outwards, with the first right in the centre and the twentieth lining the péripherie. The general consensus is that the closer one is to the centre, the more desirable the property. However, there are exceptions to the rule: the eleventh is extremely up and coming, particularly around Rue Oberkampf and the Bastille area. The sixth arrondissement is also a favourite with students, since the Sorbonne is situated there.
Pour manger: Like most other European cities, the best places to eat are often found by accident or word of mouth... and there's no yelp.com to consult. One of these such places is Chez Gladines a tiny Basque restaurant set in the 13th arrondissement. It's very popular and they don't take reservations, so if you ever do go, be prepared to wait for at least an hour. Another is the Relais de Bretagne on Ave Victor Hugo in Boulogne, which has the best couscous in Paris for cheap. And there's of course the Rue Roisier in the Marais, which is dotted with shops selling the best falafel I've ever tasted.
En boites: Personally, I'm not that big a fan of clubs in Paris, which often have the reputation of being terribly snobby. However, the most popular ones are Le Cab (of the aforementioned variety) and Mix, which often has Erasmus parties, which means international students get free entry before midnight. Another alternative is Barrio Latino, which is technically a salsa club, but doesn't necessarily mean that people are always dancing salsa. Being five stories high, it also incorporates a restaurant and a bar.
Which brings me to my next alternatives: bars. Because universities here are state-run, they're often built with only the bare minimum and often lack the common areas for hanging out that are so crucial to American collegiate life. Instead, especially because of the lower drinking age, most students hang out in bars. Of the thousands that populate the city, the most popular ones among NYU students are Chez George (very cool and chill), Popin (cute and dinky), Hideout (two locations, both with absurdly cheap beer).
This is a hard post for me to write, because I am still trying to assess how much I took advantage of my study abroad opportunity, what I have learned, what I regret, what I really have to say about Buenos Aires. It was a very big adjustment for me. I guess one thing I would say is identify needs that are not being met and make sure they are met, if that’s not vague enough for you. For me it was my home stay… like I described in a recent post, my home stay mother did not really abide by the contract in a few ways. One thing I never made a stink about and regret now is I never had a desk in my room. It is in my contract that I am guaranteed my own room with a bed, closet, and desk. As a result of my lack of desk, I tried to study in my bed, and it put me to sleep, and I tried to study in cafes, but I was always uncomfortable and distracted. It took me half the semester to find suitable study spaces for me, and it made the first half of the semester a bigger adjustment than it needed to be.
Also, Buenos Aires is shockingly and purposefully different from South America. I have read this post on other people’s blogs and I have noticed that many people say do not go away too much, stay where you are and get to know your abroad site. I only half agree with this advice when it comes to Buenos Aires. If you stay in Buenos Aires all semester you will not have a true South American experience. The stark contrast between Buenos Aires and the rest of Argentina is shocking and worth experiencing. I recommend staying in South America when the semester is done if you can manage it, because Buenos Aires is truly atypical for South America, for the better and for the worse as a South American study abroad site.
Finally, I would say leave Recoleta and Palermo! See other parts of the city. This is probably the thing I regret most. It is daunting, I know. Most parts of Buenos Aires feel utterly inaccessible to foreigners, but attack them in accessible ways. And learn to read the Guia T as soon as you get it. It will absolutely revolutionize your experience of the city, and your ability to grasp it as a whole. There is a lot to find here, too much, if you have your eyes open; sometimes it is too much to take.
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To every one but especially those with classes they need to take in London or jobs they want to get n Shanghai:
Try tango. People stare will stare at you on the streets, in cafes—people-watch, and, as a veteran of this program told me, look back. In the weeks before you go it would be helpful to keep up with you blog posts; I didn’t because I was a bit scholastically disoriented but I think it would have prefaced my trip in a different way. And yes this is a trip. Did I live here? Yes. But it was travel, constantly travel, if very subtlety so.
If you want to see more disco balls than appear in Saturday night fever go to Museum in San Telmo on Peru. If you want to see Frida Kaulo with a parrot on her shoulder or a painting called “The Disasters of Mysticism” and so much more go to the malba in Palermo. If you can’t stand the site of mass quantities of meat don’t go, Argentina thrives off cows, ham, and feed. If you want to see villas fifteen minutes away from the capital where Peron made most of a country fall in love with him what you should do is look behind the Retiro bus station. I have yet to visit the Holocaust museum because I found out about it yesterday but I would bet its worth seeing too.
You may not see more than an eighth of the barrios in Buenos Aires. NYU is situated very centrally and the building is beautiful. It also used to be Angola’s embassy here. I don’t think they pay the guards enough to work there as some have to stay overnight but that is normal for Buenos Aires.
If you can speak any Spanish at all I would recommend trying the home-stay option. I lived in Retiro, relatively far from most everyone else in the program. This made it somewhat more difficult to meet up with people and I was always the guy holding everyone’s money at the end of a cab ride with multiple stops. But it was great. I’m not going to guarantee a thing but living with Argentines is different than living with people (like you might be) traveling through Argentina. Try to remember, you’re not staying here. But that doesn’t mean you can’t feel comfortable.
Get to know the bars, the cafes, the monuments that strike you, the customs that puzzle you. Make argentine friends. Get to know indie kids, scenesters, club-goers, travelers, dancers, people who talk to you, and people who you want to talk you. Learn who Sarmiento is and if you meet someone named Facundo it won’t be interesting unless you have read about Civilización y Barbarie. It’s a big theme here. Leave Buenos Aires. See, if not touch Perrito Moreno which s growing at the same rate that it is disappearing.
Almost everyday has clear blue skies which makes it difficult to get used to the weather here. I will miss the weather so much. Drink the wine. Know what telos are. Its ok to be a little jubilant. Study Abroad is an idea that you will get but shouldn’t cling to.
If I don’t come back here I will regret it.
Before I came to London, the only preparation I had was what I could read in books and what I saw on the travel channel. There was no way for me to know what life abroad was going to entail, and there is only so much one can "experience" through reading books and watching television. It would have been nice to have first hand advice from someone who had gone through this program before, but it did make the trip an adventurous one!
So, for anyone interested in traveling abroad through the NYU in London program, I have compiled some tips and recommendations that I hope will be helpful.
Traveling to and from London: If it is possible, take advantage of NYU's travel agency to book your flights to and from London. They get you a great deal on flights and you will be traveling with other NYU students, which is extremely helpful when you get to Heathrow. Making your way through a huge, foreign airport is much less stressful when you have other people with you!
Packing: To pack for four months is a bit daunting, I know. But don't bring any heavy "appliances" such as hair dryers, etc. They are bulky and will only make it difficult to pack. When you get here you can find really inexpensive hair dryers, etc that will work with British outlets and will be suitable for your four month stay. Plus, because they are so inexpensive, you won't mind leaving them behind when you head home. Also, if you are traveling during the Spring semester, bring warm clothing. London does have some beautiful days, but during this time of the year it does get a bit chilly (not like our New York spring semester).
Excursions: NYU in London makes a big effort before classes start to put on events that will help you get adjusted. Don't just ignore them. Surprisingly, they are extremely helpful. And a lot of the events are meant for students to get acquainted with one another and also help you get to know your neighborhood. Once classes have begun, NYU in London plans trips outside of London. They can be either day trips or overnights, to places like Bath, Greenwich, and Cambridge. Definitely go on them! Again, you will be traveling with other NYU students and its a great and free way to see England.
Accommodations in London: A majority of NYU students live in one housing building, but you do not have to choose this option. I suggest it though. NIDO, the student housing building, is open to not only NYU students, but other students studying in London. It is nice to have all NYU students in the same building, and you also meet a lot of British students as well. Although the rooms are a little small it is only a twenty minute walk to campus and is a safe building.
Transportation: Invest in an Oyster card. It is London's form of the Metro card. It can be used for the underground and the buses. You can "top up" at any station and it saves time and money. It does cost you three pounds to purchase, but when you are ready to leave London and head back home to New York you can return the card and get your three pounds back. (Or you can keep the card as a souvenir!)
Seeing the sights: I know that the studying abroad program is very understanding of the students' need to travel. And London being a close distant to Ireland, Scotland, France, etc, it is very enticing to want to leave London as often as you can. But don't! I mean, yes, travel. As much as you can, but don't forget about London. It has so much history and excitement that you don't want to miss. Make sure you schedule time to check out all the tourist attractions and get in some good quality London time. Make a list of places you want to see and MAKE SURE YOU DO THEM! You are in London after all!
I hope this has been at least a little bit helpful. I know that my time in London has been amazing and I hope if you are planning on visiting you can enjoy the city as much as I have.
Things to be weary of in Prague:
• If you are studying in the spring, the weather is rainy and cold until the end of march
• Avoid getting into tiffs with Czech bouncers (I have witnessed numerous fights ending in black eyes and bloody noses)
• Try not to venture in Wenslecas Square at night (unless its for sausage). Hookers will follow you and shady old men will try and usher you into strip joints.
• Yoga is awful here. The one Bykram class I took was more about survival than exercise.
• Don’t try and ride the subway for free. Both times I attempted this, I was fined 700crowns (35USD). Not worth it.
• Though I have made an effort, Czechs are rather stand-offish
Things to be excited about:
• The nightlife is great
• The classes are…a joke. Literally. One of my finals is a two paged double spaced essay on the subject of “arrest” (it’s a Kafka thing).
• The city is beautiful, especially when the weather is great
• Try and live in Slezka—it’s definitely the nicest dorm
Things to Czech out:
• Marksmen island—here there is a great Italian/French restaurant and during the day, you can rent paddle boats
• The local beer garden, Riegrovy sady is next to Slezka and you can enjoy a 25Kr (1.25USD) famous Czech Gambrinus and challenge some local Czechs to a game of foosball. On a night with nice weather, you may just want to stay here as the open half-acre of benches and beer make for a very social, friendly setting.
• Definitely go to the quieter, more intimate setting at café Sudicka, a wine bar/restaurant that has quasi-quality glasses of Moravian Czech wine for 20Kr (1USD).
• Lavka, a smaller, less ear-blasting nightclub than its five-story neighbor, Karlovy Lazne is my favorite club. Stride into Lavka like you own the place; be sure not to speak English and the bouncers will most likely not charge you the 100Kr (5USD) entrance fee. Once inside, either go downstairs to get a 30 Kr (1.50USD) beer and dance to the retro hip-hop remixes with a packed room of Czechs and foreigners alike, or talk it up outside where a more chill, less packed atmosphere of the same crowd views the Vltava river and Charles bridge while sitting at circular wooden tables and chairs on the large, narrow patio.
My biggest piece of advice about going abroad is to go abroad. Go abroad as many times as you can. Travel, a lot. I really loved my program. I feel that the NYU in Florence Campus was amazing, and I suggest it to anyone.
Now for some real advice. When packing, get a bathroom scale, and as you put stuff in your bags, weigh them. Be as realistic as possible. If there is a food, a hair product, a certain blanket that will make you a lot more comfortable in your home away from home, just bring it. I would also suggest bringing notebooks and hair-care products if you are studying abroad in Italy. I had a really hard time finding both of these items, and they ended up being a lot more expensive.
For weekend travel… Save a lot of money before you go. You will be really disappointed if all of your friends are jetting around every weekend and you have to stay home. Make sure to book flights in advance because they will cheaper, but not too far in advance. I know several people who booked a ton of flights there first week with their new friends, and soon realized those people are not good travel buddies. Make sure to bring a good small carry on bag with you, and it is good to have small bottles to fill with shampoo and soap. Also, hostels can be a great and affordable way to travel, but you can often get great deals on hotels. In several places we found that to share a hotel room was cheaper or similar in price to a hostel, plus you get towels and sheets for free. Also, check of the hostel has a curfew, some will lock you out of the building at a certain time.
Don’t save a million things for the last month. The whole semester we put off going to museums and seeing stuff in our city, and just assumed we would do it later in the trip. This lead to us missing out on a bunch of amazing experiences in and around Florence. NYU gives museum passes, so it is easy to run in and out of museums. In retrospect I should have done some research about the museums, and then split my trips up based on the art I wanted to see.
Food can be a big issue for people while abroad. I am not a very picky eater, and quickly adapted to the Italian diet. If you are less adaptable, learn how to cook some food from home before you go. Also, do some research. Florence has several stores that sell international food. We also found a place that sells iced coffee and bagels. While I do suggest taking advantage of the fabulous Italian cuisine, sometimes a taste of home can be really important. Finding markets and cooking at home can be a lot of fun, and can also save a lot of money. I tried to make going out to dinner a special occasion, and usually cooked my meals at home. Villa Natalia has a cafeteria with really amazing and cheap food. I would really suggest that for afternoons stuck on campus.
My final piece of advice is to make sure and do some stuff you never though you would do. Get out of character for a little while, enjoy yourself. It is this amazing experience you only get to do once (unless you try and do it twice, my personal philosophy). The experience is only what you make of it.
Hello all you future NYU abroaders....and Steve. =) So, I’m going to tell you the real skinny on the beautiful city of spires and cheap beer (and awkward and hilarious encounters with Czechs...don’t worry, they get friendlier as the semester goes on, I promise) known as Prague, here in the beautiful (and beautifully cheap!) Czech Republic. To begin with, I will be completely honest: I do have mixed feelings about Prague. Prague is a gorgeous city that looks like something out of a Disney fairy tale. A breathtaking castle, classical architecture and horses (yes, horses!) are more than enough to make you feel as if you’re having a strange dream where you are a royal out of a Disney film after watching the movie Enchanted right before bed. However beautiful Prague is though, I have to say that I didn’t care for the usually dreary and depressing weather and the not-really-all-that-friendly-to-foreign-people Czechs. The weather doesn’t really get half decent until the end of April here (if you would be studying abroad in the spring), and by then, you’re just irritated that it took so long to get nice outside! While this is bad, this is not a Prague bashing post at all. You see, while Prague has its cons, it is also the site I would recommend most for students looking to travel Europe.
Because Prague is smack-dab in the middle of Europe, it is relatively easy to travel almost anywhere, and the other great thing is that flights from Prague are usually relatively cheap when bought in advance, and bus lines such as Student Agency Bus make exploring eastern and central Europe a snap. This, added to the fact that Prague is rather inexpensive (though comparing almost anywhere to New York City would make it seem inexpensive by comparison) means you’ll have more money to save for your travels. An added bonus for those who choose to study abroad in Prague is that the program is one of NYU’s smallest programs, meaning there is a definite sense of community, which is rather difficult to find amongst NYU’s 40,000+ students back in New York. Words of advice to those studying in Prague: watch where you walk, as owners almost never curb their dogs, you will pay for water at restaurants (even for tap!), tipping is a modest 10% (except in the city center, where NYU is located, of course), most of the Czech population still doesn’t speak English, so please do pay attention during your intensive Czech lessons (this will come in more handy than you think!), and have brunch at least once at Radost FX, and you won’t need about 60% of the clothes you initially pack. Additionally, don’t be afraid to explore Prague! Most people never venture from the typical NYU haunts, and there are so many amazing places here! I also recommend taking classes that include excursions to places in Prague, such as Reporting the Arts and Czech Architecture. Lastly, if you want the “nicest” dorms, live in Osadni, which are rather out of the way, but the most spacious. However, if it’s a community you’re after, Czech out (oh yes, I went there) the Machova or Slezka residence halls, which resemble more traditional dorm-like setups. I hope this helps, and feel free to ask anything else!