Field Report. Why ESEADE in Argentina?

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1 Field Report Stephanie Behnke ESEADE, Buenos Aires Why ESEADE in Argentina? The reason why I have chosen a semester abroad in Buenos Aires was simply the interest of diving into the fascinating world of South America with regard to the cultural and economical differentiation. I already read articles concerning the unstable political and economical situation of Argentina. Hence, it was interesting experiencing theses topics first hand. Another decisive factor for me to go to South America was that I wanted to study in another language. Due to my limited Spanish skills before the semester abroad, my focus was set on having a challenging last semester in order to get prepared for the business life. Preparation for my semester abroad in Buenos Aires Beforehand, I just booked a flight and an accommodation for 4 nights. I decided to not propose for a Visa since it is not mandatory for studying there. The only restriction was that I needed to leave the country every three months. This is pretty easy because Uruguay is close to Buenos Aires. I started searching for an apartment on the ground. I landed in Buenos Aires one week prior to the beginning of the semester. Therefore I had to postpone travelling until the end of exam period, by the mid of December. The reason for that was that South America is cold as well in winter, at least in Argentina. Therefore, it made more sense to me travelling after December when summer starts there. In advance, I covered insurance for travelling abroad for 6 months with HanseMerkur. It costs about 250. I have not completed baggage insurance. I am of the mind that the whole continent (and this semester I have seen almost every country) is very safe. The flight to Buenos Aires was priced similarly to other major cities in South America, somewhere between The price depends on how early you book and whether you want to change flights spontaneously. The cheapest flights go via the USA. I booked with Lufthansa, which was relatively expensive (approx.1250 ) but I was able 1

2 to switch flights to another date. And that is what I actually did to extend my stay in South America for three more weeks. The fee was about 120. Over there, travelling is not as cheap as it is on other continents and on that account, I paid the price difference for my flight without hesitating. Information on cultural customs In the beginning, I was shocked by the allegedly unfriendliness of the Argentinians. Later it turned out that the locals are very warm and gracious. Nevertheless, some time is needed to adapt to the culture and understand their behavior. In the so-called Sube, which is the metro in Buenos Aires, usually ladies will be offered the seat. Additionally, women retire five years earlier than men. In order to help the poor, you place plastic bottles and carton next to the trash. The reason behind that is that the poor do not need to dig in the garbage. As for saying hi or introducing yourself, you mostly give a kiss on the cheek just one on the right cheek. Important to know For the ones who have never been to Argentina before, the following information might be weird but they are relevant. First of all you need to bring cash for the first weeks!! Argentina has serious problems with the currency, peso. The fiscal problems lead to the current situation that bankcards are practically useless: You can indeed withdraw money but only at the official exchange rate which is about 30-50% more expensive than the unofficial rate. For instance I bought sneakers in the beginning and paid them via credit card. The price was around 990 pesos. With the official rate I paid around 90, whereas with the unofficial rate they would have only costed 65. Therefore, it is advisable to bring enough cash. Something between should be sufficient for the start. It is possible to withdraw dollars in Uruguay, which is really close to Buenos Aires. However, you can only withdraw 600$ per day over there. This is a normal principle of Argentine life, too. As of changing money in the black-market, my favorite shop is located in the center, called microcentro at the intersection La Valle and Florida. There is a mobile shop at the corner. Usually you should be able to recognize this shop because there is always a line in front of it. I tried out several shops 2

3 but they offer the best rate. I would not recommend changing currency on the street called Florida. There are a lot of people shouting and announcing Cambio but the rate is mostly lower. With the so- called Blue-Dólar-rate, Argentina feels cheaper. Not outstanding low but already noticeable. You can check the daily blue-dolar rate by using this link: I also tried out Azimo, a system where you can transfer money to a bank account and pick it up at five different shops in Buenos Aires. The rate is lower than the blue rate but still fair. Do not pick up your money too late, they might run out of money in the late afternoon. Accommodation I have followed the recommendations of the previous years and did not look for accommodation in advance. I would also recommend that because it greatly saves money. I was very lucky and found my accommodation from the landlord where I booked the first four nights. He usually rents apartments via Airbnb and had a free one for us. I moved in together with another German girl and we paid 350 each, which is conveniently cheap. Like every other big city, Buenos Aires is really expensive in terms of renting an apartment for sub-lease and limited time. Nevertheless, Palermo is a nice place to live. We lived in Cañitas in Baez. There are a lot of clubs and restaurants. We could even walk to nightclubs, etc. In terms of safety, I found it as safe as, for example, London or New York. If you are not behaving too naïve, nothing will happen. However, pickpocketing in clubs is a problem. ESEADE The ESEADE is a small private institution next to Plaza Italia. This allows a familiar, almost friendly relationship with professors and other staff of the university. Before and during my semester abroad I could contact the coordinator concerning all kinds of organizational matters who took good care of the exchange students. We are allowed to take courses from the MBA program. It is said that there is also one class taught in English but for my part, I just took classes entirely taught in Spanish. The classes are very small: in the MBA program we had lectures with approximately students (aged 30+ years). Also during the bachelor's degree, it is customary to work in Argentina. Therefore, the majority of courses are offered in the evening (usually from 19 to 21:30 3

4 o clock). That is to say, Argentine students have little free time and getting connected is correspondingly difficult. Lectures during the summer term (In Germany corresponding to the winter term in Germany) will start around the 10 th of August. For Control de gestión we prepared a business plan with approx. 45 pages. In addition, we had a final exam for this class, as well as for Recursos Humanos. Ética and Gobierno comprised a paper. Taller de tesis prepared students for their final thesis within weekly tasks to work on. Buenos Aires, Capital Federal In Buenos Aires, you can always do what you want at any time. I don t know any other city that has so many cafes, restaurants, beautiful parks, shopping, and cinemas. In addition, the city of Buenos Aires organizes a lot of exhibitions, music festivals, etc. What I observed very strongly was the high inflation in Argentina. The price level - apart from beef and taxi or bus tickets - was already higher in August 2014 and rose further during my stay. In terms of airfares for example, there is a huge difference between Argentines and foreigners and there are no cheap airlines such as Ryan air. One should be aware of the fact that Buenos Aires is indeed the perfect base from which to explore South America but it is also associated with high costs. Nightlife in Argentina is quite different in comparison to Germany. Everything starts and ends much later. It is unusual going to a club before 1am because they are not open yet. If you are on a list, you do not need to pay entrance. Sometimes I pretended to be on one and entered for free. Nice clubs are: Las Terrazas del Este, Rosebar, and Jet. Regarding eating out, I would recommend Las Cholas, which is a nice restaurant located in Cañitas. I tried several others but in my opinion this is one of the best and cheapest steak restaurant. I would not recommend buying clothes in Argentina: it is usually not only more expensive than in Germany, but also of lower quality. Quite the contrary, it is advisable to invest in leather products. 4

5 Conclusion I had a really great time during my semester abroad in Buenos Aires. I feel blessed for having been able to gain priceless experiences and get to know the Argentine culture. I would recommend to not missing the experience of doing a study abroad in Buenos Aires to everyone who is ready to embark a "laissez-faire" attitude. You have to be able to live with a little chaos and unorganized institutions - just exercise patience and you will be fine. 5

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