IES: Buenos Aires, Latin American Societies and Cultures
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Rachel Fleischer

Major: Political Science and Music Performance
Minor: none
Hometown: Las Vegas

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I always knew that I wanted to include a study abroad program as a part of my undergraduate experience. That being said, I found out about the program in Buenos Aires through both the education abroad fair and the Penn State Global Programs website. My goal was to become fluent in Spanish; therefore, I narrowed down my options of countries to only Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. I also wanted the opportunity to live in a big city while abroad, so Buenos Aires was the perfect fit.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina has been fantastic so far because I have been able to fully immerse myself into the culture by taking some of my classes in Spanish and living in a homestay. Every class I am taking has integrated field trips as part of the curriculum, so I am able to visit the places we learn about in the classroom, which has truly enhanced my educational experience. Another amazing aspect about this program is that it gives us the opportunity to volunteer in the community. By volunteering in the community, I have been able to meet people from across Argentina and even across Latin America, which has allowed me to get to know different cultures while also positively contributing to the community. Finally, during the weekends I am able to travel throughout Argentina and even bordering countries. Traveling has been such an integral aspect of my experience because I have been able to explore different places and get to learn about Argentina from a local perspective.

"Studying in Buenos Aires has been an academically once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would not have gotten if I had not gone abroad."

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience has been a fantastic academic experience because it's been challenging me to step out of my comfort zone in order to see the world around me from a different point of view. Since all of my classes are about different aspects of Latin American culture, they have helped me in understanding the similarities and differences between the cultures in the United States versus in Latin America. Likewise, being fully immersed in Buenos Aires society has pushed me to learn Spanish faster than I would have if I was only learning Spanish in a classroom. Overall, studying in Buenos Aires has been an academically once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would not have gotten if I had not gone abroad.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

Upon graduating, I hope to attend law school in order to pursue a career in constitutional law. Studying abroad, I have learned valuable lessons that have provided me with new perspectives and skills that I will be able to use in my future career. Such skills include learning how to communicate in a foreign language and understanding ideas and concepts that don’t necessarily exist in the United States. I’ve also had the pleasure of learning about democracy, populism, and different kinds of government regimes through a different lens, allowing me to develop my critical thinking skills even further.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would highly recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students. Studying and living in another country is the key to gaining a more expansive and multiculturalist view of the world. Even though it has been one of the most challenging experiences I've had, it has also been one of the most rewarding experiences because every day I'm able to overcome a new obstacle and learn more about Argentine society.

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website. 
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