Skyrocket your Spanish by spending a year in one of the southernmost countries in the world. As an AFSer, you could live with a host family and attend a local high school in either Argentina or neighboring Uruguay. With tango music drifting out of windows and doorways in every town of the country, you will have endless opportunities to perfect the moves of this exquisite dance. You can also perfect the art of drinking mate – their traditional tea – best enjoyed while lounging in a sun-drenched plaza with friends.
You will likely be placed with a middle-class family in a city ranging in population from about 10,000 to 3,000,000. You may be placed in any region of Argentina, from the southernmost province of Tierra del Fuego, to downtown Buenos Aires, to the northern province of Jujuy. Few participants are placed in rural areas. AFS Argentina also places a few students each year in Uruguay.
Family life plays a central role in the social structure of Argentina, and you can expect the same to be true for your own host family. They tend to be close-knit with grandparents often living at home and many extended family members always nearby. Families are known to be warm, close, and not lacking in spontaneous displays of affection.
Check out the Host Community Map to view where previous AFS-Argentina students have been placed.
Host families in Argentina and Uruguay, like all AFS host families worldwide, are not paid. They open their homes to students in order to share their community and culture as well as to enrich their own family lives.
The populations of both Argentina and Uruguay are mostly of European heritage, with a strong Spanish and Italian influence seen in the food and lifestyle. Both Argentines and Uruguayans are generally sociable people who value courtesy and respect, especially toward their elders. Although they are strongly Catholic countries, families and society welcome people of all beliefs. Both parents in a family generally work, although they probably come home for lunch and a quick nap, or siesta.
Teenagers in Argentina are known for their active social lives. Friends are around so often that they are like siblings. What teenagers enjoy the most is getting together at friends' houses or in the central town square, going out to eat or to the movies, going to parties and dancing, or just hanging out in the local café. Most students are on sports teams (soccer is very popular), and many attend a gym or other sports club in the afternoon. You may be able to join groups involved in music or arts activities.
Argentina is a proud cattle-raising country, so beef is present at almost every meal. Parillada (mixed grills of all parts and cuts of cow) are very popular, especially during social gatherings. Milanesas (breaded fried cutlet) and empanadas are other popular dishes that reveal the strong influence of Italians. You'll also find Italian gelato to be quite common.
Argentines are also known for their love of mate, a local green tea. This is more a socializing element than a beverage served with a meal: mate is shared among people during any kind of gathering and the special gourd it comes in is offered from person to person.
Spanish is the official language of Argentina and Uruguay. German, Italian, French and English are also spoken.
You will most likely be placed in a public school in the second-to-last or final year with classmates ages 16 to 17. You will attend classes Monday through Friday either in the morning (from 8am to 1pm) or in the afternoon (1pm to 6pm), but not both. Unlike schools in the U.S., teachers change rooms while you will remain in a classroom with your classmates.
School uniforms are required and the volunteers in your host community will try to help you find a gently used uniform.
Because fall in the northern hemisphere is spring in the southern hemisphere, you will be arriving during the middle of the school year in Argentina. You'll be enrolled in the second semester of the year, then will get to enjoy a summer break in January and February. You will then start the first semester of the next grade level along with your classmates.
Check out the Host School FAQ (.pdf).
Orientations & Activities
In addition to the online and in-person orientations that you will participate in before you depart, you and your fellow AFSers will have several orientations while abroad. These are intended to help you maximize your AFS experience, prevent culture shock and gain knowledge, skills and a global understanding. Topics covered will include Argentinian or Uruguayan society, culture, family, school, language, safety and health issues. Each orientation will be tailored to your group and your group's needs. All orientations are several days in length, and will occur just after arrival, 3-6 weeks into your stay, and prior to your return. They will likely be international, giving you a chance to make friends with AFSers from around the world who are also studying in Argentina and Urugauy.
In addition to orientations, many local volunteer chapters organize activities for students and host families throughout the year. These will vary from chapter to chapter but may include get-togethers or trips to other cities or regions in Argentina. Unlike the orientations, these activities are optional and are not included in tuition.
Your program will begin in New York, where you will meet your fellow AFSers from the US, attend an overnight orientation, then travel together to Buenos Aires where you will be met by AFS Staff and Volunteers. International airfare is included as part of the tuition, but it will be your responsibility to arrange your travel from your hometown to New York. Details will be provided after you start your application.
To get more information about the visa requirements, view the Argentina Year and Semester Programs Visa Overview.
To participate in this program, you must:
- Be within the age range upon departure (located in the 'read more' drop-down)
- Have a minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale
- Be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy in accordance with AFS Medical Evaluation Policies
- Have a valid U.S. passport, or a U.S. Permanent Resident Card at least 4 months prior to the departure range
- Have an open mind, willingness to be flexible, and the ability to adapt to new a culture, school, and environment
Vegetarians will not be accepted by AFS Argentina.
AFS Argentina is not able to accept students who have graduated from high school.
The ability to speak Spanish is not a prerequisite for the program, but we suggest you learn as much as possible prior to departure.
Students must be prepared to accept a smoking environment.