Argentina is a fascinating and a welcoming country for students choosing to study abroad. The quality of education is excellent and also very affordable. The universities in Argentina have low tuition fees.
Moreover, Argentina has one of the world highest literacy rates and is home to many renowned artists, scholars, writers and scientists, some of whom you will find teaching in the many excellent universities. International students will find a wide and diversified range of higher education institutions offering excellent opportunities for affordable studies of a very high standard. The country used to be a fabulously cheap destination for foreigners, too, but inflation has dramatically increased the cost of living over the last few years. Still, you shouldn’t let a more expensive steak dissuade you from experiencing one of South America’s most gorgeous countries. While you may not be able to get away with paying nothing, you can certainly spend much less than you think. Here are some suggestions on how to achieve that:
1. Apply for Scholarships
There is plenty of funding available to help you offset the costs of your program. Some scholarship opportunities are country-specific, others depend on your field of study, and some are just a free-for-all.
True, you may not qualify for a scholarship, but it’s always worth checking. Talk to your school’s study abroad and financial aid offices to see what your options are, and then go online and do some research.
2. If You’re Going to go with a Program, Time it Right
This is how I pulled off studying abroad in Buenos Aires and emerged with my bank account intact. My university operated on a quarter (trimester) system, which meant we had three quarters in the school year, rather than the normal two. Because the study abroad program was on the semester system, I spent my winter and spring quarters in Argentina – but only paid the price of one quarter! My study abroad program fee was roughly equivalent to the price of a quarter’s tuition, but I was out of the country for two quarters, so I got two for the price of one. Obviously, this strategy won’t work if your university is on a normal semester system, but check out the timelines of various programs to see if they overlap in any way. Very often, the price of a year abroad is significantly less than the price of a year at your regular university – especially in a place with schools as cheap as Argentina!
3. Get a Longterm Visa or a Part-Time Job
An Argentine resident, study or work visa will clear a path for many opportunities in the country – free tuition at UBA, for example! But they’re not just handing out visas like candy at the Embassy. Applying and getting approved for one is often a long, complicated and expensive process. Still, if you’re going to be in the country for a year or longer, especially if you’re affiliated with a university, it’s worth a try.
Tons of people, both fresh out of college and well into their retired years, have moved to Argentina for the beautiful scenery and cheap wine (and maybe some business opportunities). It’s almost a guarantee you’ll be able to find someone from your university or home state living there. Make connections with other foreigners, find people on LinkedIn or Twitter, ask around and use your skills to get hired somewhere. Even if it’s just working at a bar or a hostel front desk, you’ll be getting paid and meeting people all the time. Plus, it’ll give you a great opportunity to practice your Spanish!
If you can, get paid in dollars rather than pesos. This might be hard if you’re working for an Argentine employer instead of a foreign one, but it’s worth asking. With all of the recent inflation and economic issues, the peso is worth less than ever, and the dollar is a much stronger currency. You want your paychecks to be strong, don’t you?
4. Teach English!
English is in high demand in high demand in Argentina. As a native speaker, you have an inherent advantage over other teachers, and you can negotiate to be paid accordingly. It’s up to you whether you want to do this through an institute or possibly your school, or if you would prefer to work independently. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so think about how comfortable you are working on your own, how much stability and control you want over your own schedule, and your time management before getting started. You don’t just have to teach English, though. If you’re an expert in something else – Java, pastry decorating, sculpture – start a class! Advertise through your friends, your neighbors, your school – anywhere people will listen. Find a way to use your skills to your financial advantage, and you’ll probably end up getting some great friendships out of it.And get creative about your sources! If you play your cards right and find willing students, you could probably stay for free for months.
5. Volunteer Instead
If your main goal is learning Spanish rather than being waylaid by overzealous communists on a daily basis at one of Argentina’s excellent, politically active universities, you may want to consider joining a volunteer program instead. As the world’s eighth-largest country, Argentina is incredibly diverse in terms of climate and terrain, and you can find all kinds of different opportunities – anything from teaching English to helping with a community outreach cooking program in Buenos Aires to volunteering with disabled children in Cordoba. Some volunteer programs will provide housing and food in exchange for work, so this is a great method for studying in Argentina for free! Living with a host family will help you absorb the language and culture and you will walk away having learned a great deal about Argentina and Latin America in general. You’ll also be proud of your contributions to a great cause!
BRIEF PRACTICAL TIPS FOR LIVING ON A STUDENT BUDGET IN ARGENTINA:
- Try out Street food! Argentine street food – from empanadas to choripan – is super tasty. And more importantly, it’s cheap!
- Don’t get too addicted to the boliches. The party never stops in major cities, but if you’re out every night, your wallet is going to start looking sad pretty fast. When your nights start at 8 p.m. and end at 8 a.m., it’s easy to spend a month’s worth of groceries. Make a fiesta budget, and stick to it.
- Get a bike! Public transportation in places like Buenos Aires is pretty efficient and not too expensive, but commuting adds up. If you don’t have to go too far, it might be worth investing in a pair of wheels to get across this flat city. But don’t expect any bike lanes.
- Take it to the streets. Art, theater and dance are huge draws in Argentina, and events like tango shows are deservedly popular. But there are tons of people showing their talents almost for free on the streets, especially during weekend fairs. Instead of spending 100 pesos on a tango show, save a few pesos for the talented street dancers at the San Telmo market.