At risk of sounding cliched, my trip to Buenos Aires can honestly be described as a life-changing experience. To give some context, this was my first trip away by myself, my first trip to South America, and the first time I had lived away from my parents. So, in a way, this was a bit of a coming-of-age trip, and I can think of no better city to do this in than Buenos Aires. A perfect blend of Southern European and South American culture, the city’s sights, architecture, and, of course, food stay in my mind long after I have left.
With Travellers Worldwide, I was working in two schools in the city as an English language assistant, Instituto Nuestra Señora de las Nieves in Liniers, and Escuela del Jacarandá in Nuñez. The areas were nice, as they are not typical tourist locations, and so I was able to wander to the Bolivian restaurants of Liniers, and the leafy glades of Nuñez, areas of the city where I would otherwise never have thought to explore. The choice of schools was particularly good, as it allowed a certain amount of variety between days.
At LN School, I was working predominantly with secondary school age children, usually in a conversational format to improve speaking and listening in this context. This was interesting as it allowed me to find out about the life of a typical young porteño, and see the contrasts and similarities compared with Glaswegian teenage life. I also helped in classes, particularly with 1st year, in relation to food vocabulary, which resulted in a day in which I could sample a wide range of Argentinian cakes. I was able to give a workshop on maths as well, my area of study, which was very enjoyable.
On the other hand, at the second school, I was working with primary school children, within the classroom. I helped with grammar and vocabulary during various classes. A particular highlight was in the 6th Grade, where I read an abridged version of Frankenstein, chapter by chapter, each week (made all the more enjoyable given that I hadn’t read the book myself, and I was as eager to find out what happened next as the rest).
The hostel in which I was staying, BA Stop Hostel, was right in the centre of the city, just beside Avenida de Mayo, and was ideally located to reach any part of the city, being right next to bus and Subte stops.
BA Stop Hostel is a perfect place for anyone staying in the city for a long period of time, as it is quiet enough for day-to-day living but has its fair share of excitement for the partygoing crowd. It also has a brilliant mix of people staying there: you will meet intrepid travellers, staying for a couple of nights before heading off to exciting new locations; students attending conferences for a few weeks, keen to explore the city; and, of course, the other long-term guests and volunteers, with whom you will form lasting friendships.
Buenos Aires is a city with a soul, described by the band Soda Stereo as “la ciudad de la furia”, and there is more to interest a visitor there than I could describe in 10 pages, let alone a single paragraph. Some things which absolutely should not be missed are the market stalls of San Telmo, the collections of Museo de las Bellas Artes and MALBA in Recoleta, and the nightlife of Palermo.
If you can arrange it, try to experience tango in a milonga. If you are looking for a quiet walk on a Sunday afternoon, there is no better place than the Ecological Reserve past the high rises of Puerto Madero.
But my personal favourite will always be a day out to El Tigre, an hour’s train ride north of the city, best described as the Venice of Argentina. Enjoy a boat ride along the canals, tuck into a classic parrillada for a late lunch, and then watch as the sunset creates magical colours across the water.
Overall, I would recommend this placement to anyone who has the chance. It has been an incredible experience, and I feel now that Buenos Aires is somewhat my second home. At some point, I will return, but until then I have all my wonderful memories to remember it by.