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An Intern's Guide to Argentina

Patio Olmos is a shopping mall that is a central location in relation to other attractions in Nueva Córdoba. It's a good place to purchase a pre-paid plan, as kiosks for the three phone companies in Córdoba are located inside.

Three tips to surviving while you work abroad in Argentina.

My first two weeks living here in Córdoba have been quite a change but also an exciting opportunity to try new things and experience a new way of living. I thought it would be helpful to share some of the wisdom I learned as I got settled, so that those who are about to enjoy this amazing place can keeps some tips in mind as they plan their trip! Here it goes:

1.On fixing your cell phone.

Yes, everyone knows that you need to get your phone unlocked and most will remind you that you will get a pay-as-you-go arrangement (a prepaid plan). However, what I failed to realize before coming here is that barely anyone uses texts and calls for communicating with each other; instead, they use the Internet on their phone to send messages via Whatsapp and Facebook. This applies more than anything to university students and adolescents. Don’t ever be surprised if your new contacts rarely respond to your texts or phone calls; this drains more of the credit on a prepaid plan. Sometimes students don’t even have text messaging included in their plans, and so they are reluctant to use it, unless in the case of emergency.

Whatsapp is a must-have when you’re travelling to another country, for communicating with both your friends at home and your friends in the new city.

Another thing: At least in Córdoba, there are three companies that you can go to for purchasing plans for your phone: Claro, Personal and Movistar. Don’t go with Movistar. Movistar plans are rarely purchased by cellphone users here, and so if you asked a local, they would tell you to stay clear as well; I myself first purchased Movistar on a whim after seeing their promotion (1 peso a day for unlimited internet, 5 centavos for a text message), only to find that it did not let me use Internet—even when I had WiFi—and it didn’t let me change from my Canadian to my Argentinean number on Whatsapp to continue using the app. As it turned out, Personal has the plan for the same price, including 10 days of free Internet and I’m able to use my Internet.

2. On changing your money.

As most may know, the best thing to do is to bring as much American dollars in cash as you feel comfortable carrying and withdraw the rest of your money from an ATM machine. (Using a debit card, as although credit cards have lower fees for withdrawal, they will have higher interest fees for cash advance.) Upon coming here, I briefly heard about the differences between the official and the Dollar Blue rate, but didn’t actually understand how to change my money. Since the exchange rate in Argentina fluctuates every day, it would be best to change your cash in small amounts, instead of changing everything in one-go. Do keep in mind that the official change rate (usually around 8 pesos for a dollar) would really devalue your money, and so it would be best to change with someone you know, who will give you the Dollar Blue rate instead (usually anywhere in between 11-12 pesos for a dollar).

The Dollar Blue rate changes frequently as well. The person you exchange with would more than likely give you the rate in the middle of the “Compra” (purchase) and the “Venta” (sell) rates.

3. On the food.

The food here is absolutely amazing (and not to mention, can be extremely cost-effective as well). Everything from locro, lomitos, choripan, bife de chorizo, carne asada. . .and the desserts! Maicenas, medialunas, dulce de leche. . . Anyways, my real point is that there are a few important, common sense things to keep in mind while enjoying amazing Argentinean cuisine.

First, make sure you are getting your fill of fruits and vegetables as well. Dishes are more often than not comprised of meat or chicken with some kind of starch or carbohydrates (rice, pasta or potatoes). There definitely was a point during my trip that I started feeling lower energy levels and even a weakened immune system. I found the best thing to do was to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from the grocery store or market and eat them at home—instant cure!

Second, always remember to stay hydrated—by not just drinking wine, but water as well.

I hope to have passed on some useful knowledge for those that are looking to travel to Argentina! As well, locals are always very eager to help and can also provide a wealth of information as you adjust to their city. So regardless of what happens, your experience in Argentina is bound to be amazing.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Gillian Jose-Riz

Gillian Jose-Riz is a writer, an AIESECer and a commerce student at the University of Victoria. Her internship in Argentina will be her first time living outside of Victoria and away from her family, but she looks forward to the challenges and adventures!

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