The Catholic University of America

Christina Heifferon - Buenos Aires, Argentina

Top Five Reasons to Select the Program

  1. Food - Alfajores, Dulce de Leche, and Empanadas. I don't think I need to say anything else.
  2. There is so much to learn - Argentina has a lot of history that is good and bad. The IES program is focused on helping students learn about the city and the culture. I actually took a cooking and tango class while I was abroad.
  3. South America - Why go to Europe, when you can go somewhere new?
  4. Language - There is no better way to learn a language than to immerse yourself in a culture that only speaks Spanish.
  5. The exchange rate - When I was there, you received 8 pesos for every 1 US Dollar.


What I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Went

  1. The seasons are reversed.  When I left, it was summer in DC and winter when I arrived in Buenos Aires.
  2. You don't need a dictionary.  The best way to learn a language is to use what you already know and try your hardest to express yourself to others.
  3. Language shock.  Argentineans speak Spanish, but their accent makes it sound like they are speaking a completely different language.
  4. Stay longer.  Don't book your plane ticket home for the day the program ends. There are so many places to go and not enough time to visit them all. Stay a little longer and do some extra traveling.
  5. Don't be scared to become friends with locals.  I was really hesitant at first about becoming friends with locals since my Spanish was not perfect. However, I did overcome my fears and realized how friendly and great the locals were. I still talk to a few of the locals I met.


A Funny Story or Situation

"No entiendo su idioma"

During my semester abroad, a few friends and I volunteered at the local Ronald McDonald House. Our solo job was to play with the kids. On my first day, it was me and one other girl from my program volunteering together. Since neither one of us was great at Spanish, we did a lot of talking in English. If one of the kids said something or asked a question and one of us didn’t understand, then we usually translated or explained what they are talking about in English. This one 7 year-old boy who we were playing with got frustrated and started yelling at us. “No entiendo su idioma! Hablan español! No hablan ingles!” (I don't understand your language! Speak Spanish! Don't speak English!) While this was funny and absolutely adorable, this 7 year-old is so right, and he taught us an important lesson about learning a language. This was one of the many highlights of my volunteering experience.


An Embarrassing Situation

This is mainly is female problem, sorry guys.

It is actually really normal to get cat called while walking down the street. At first, I found it to be really weird and I felt very self conscious and uncomfortable. After a while, hearing cat calls was normal and easy to ignore.


The Teacher From Whom I Learned the Most

One of my favorite professors was Maria Pazo. I took her class on Social Entrepreneurship in Latin American where I learned a lot about the social problems in Latin American and initiatives that are being developed to address them. One of my favorite parts of the class was the final project, where students broke into groups to create social awareness campaigns.



I lived with a host family with one other American student. I really liked my housing situation. My host mom lived alone and did not speak any English, even though some of the host parents did. We ate dinner Monday throughFr iday with my host mom. Dinner conversation was a great opportunity to practice our Spanish skills.


Student Profile:

Major: Politics

Hometown: Medford, NY

Program: Buenos Aires - IES Abroad

Term Abroad: Fall 2013

Contact Christina