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21 October 2020

That One Time I Got to Play Fútbol with Locals #HogsAbroad in Argentina


Blog post courtesy of AIFS Study Abroad


It is no secret that fútbol (soccer) is extremely important throughout all of Latin America, but I have found this to be especially true here in Argentina.

Argentina has a long history of success with the sport on both international and local levels, and rivalries are strong on both levels as well. Coming to Argentina, I was really excited to embrace this emphasis on soccer, as I played the sport throughout my childhood and high school and was excited to be in a culture that placed it front and center — unlike that of the United States. I was even more excited when one of our program leaders organized a night for us to play fútbol in Argentina with the locals.

We held the game at one of the many indoor stadiums here in Buenos Aires and it was fun to watch some of the more competitive groups play while we waited for the field that we had reserved to be free. Our game was very casual and we split up into three teams so everyone would have a chance to take a break while other teams were playing. Honestly, I was a little nervous that my skills would be embarrassing compared to those of the locals, but they were all so kind and welcoming. Thankfully, my high school soccer days are not too far behind me, so I felt like I fit right in!

While playing a sport that I loved was super fun, my highlight of the night was getting to know the other university students who lived in Buenos Aires. It turns out that a lot of them were from other places throughout Latin America or Europe, so I had the chance to not only learn about Argentine culture, but also that of many other countries. It was so cool to connect with people from all around the world through something like soccer.


After the game, we rented a grill at the stadium and had a traditional style parrilla — similar to a barbeque-style grilled meal. I had eaten parrilla multiple times already during my time here, but this time was different because I was eating it with Argentinians. For them, it was just a typical part of life. During the meal, we were all able to relax and share stories about our various soccer experiences from the past and I learned that some of my new friends played at a semi-professional level!

This night was one of the times throughout the semester that I felt the most a part of Argentine culture. For the other students, a soccer game and parrilla is a normal Saturday night and I was so grateful that they invited me to be a part of it!

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Political science major Megan Rodgers spent the fall 2018 semester studying abroad with AIFS in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"My name is Megan Rodgers and I am a sophomore Political Science, International Studies and Spanish major at the University of Arkansas. I believe that experiential learning is one of the most important parts of a well rounded education and within my field of study, study abroad is the perfect opportunity to fulfill that goal. I chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires because it is the perfect place to study a wide variety of political and cultural topics while increasing my Spanish proficiency and enjoying life in one of the biggest South American cities!"

Don't miss your opportunity to study abroad! Start your search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/

06 October 2020

Navigating Public Transportation in Buenos Aires #HogsAbroad in Argentina #TravelTuesday


Blog post courtesy of AIFS Study Abroad


As I prepared to study abroad, I was warned about the many difficult transitions that I might face. I knew to expect culture shock, homesickness and difficulties caused by the language barrier so I made efforts to prepare myself mentally to face these challenges. However, for me, one of the most difficult adjustments that I’ve had make living in Buenos Aires had nothing to do with culture or language or distance from loved ones. But rather, that for the first time in my life I am living in a large metropolitan city and therefore have to figure out the craziness of public transportation.

I have never lived in a city with a big enough population to support a substantial bus system, much less a metro. The subte (metro) here in Buenos Aires is fairly easy to navigate, but it was still extremely intimidating to me at first — especially during high traffic times when we manage to fit more people in one subte car than I would have ever imagined possible. However, due to its more simplistic layout, I quickly learned to embrace the chaos and it was a huge confidence-builder when I began to be able to navigate it easily and use it regularly without fear and with confidence that I knew exactly where I was going.

The buses, by comparison, can be extremely confusing, as there are over 200 different routes and you have to know the city well enough to know when you want to get off or the bus will just keep on going. For my first month of living here in Buenos Aires, I let my fear of the bus system prevent me from going to events or places that were not accessible by other means of transportation. But eventually I got tired of letting my fear make me miss out on amazing opportunities and took my first solo bus ride to an event on the other side of the city.

Buenos Aires is a huge city and it is impossible to know every route, so the city has an app called “Cómo Llego” that works similarly to a GPS to tell you what bus to take, where to find it, and where to get off. However, you still have to know when you want to get off and there is no system announcing where you are. Therefore, I learned that I could follow myself on my downloaded Google Maps and know exactly when I need to get off. The bus system is still intimidating for me, but I am slowing learning more and more routes and, after getting over my initial fear, I have found that it is much easier than I originally thought.

The train is the last mode of public transportation that I have yet to completely figure out, but I took my first train ride last week. Now that I understand the system I look forward to the new places I can reach by taking the train!

The city is also filled with taxis, which are always my fall back if I’m not sure how to get some place and don’t have the time to figure out the public transportation — or if I don’t feel safe taking public transportation for some reason. But as taxis are significantly more expensive it has forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and fully embrace city life with all of the glories of public transportation.

Despite all of these amazing options for public transportation, I have found that one of my favorite things about living in Buenos Aires is its walkability! Now that spring is coming here (Pro tip: the seasons are the opposite of the United States) and it’s getting warmer, I have found myself skipping on public transportation when I’m going to relatively close locations and just walking instead. This has given me the opportunity to know the city better, window shop and discover lots of new restaurants and parks near my homestay.

After living here for almost 3 months now, I have come to view public transportation in Buenos Aires as a perk rather than a drawback. There are routes all over the city, it has forced me to step outside of my comfort zone, embrace the Buenos Aires lifestyle, and get to know this beautiful city even more!

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Political science major Megan Rodgers spent the fall 2018 semester studying abroad with AIFS in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"My name is Megan Rodgers and I am a sophomore Political Science, International Studies and Spanish major at the University of Arkansas. I believe that experiential learning is one of the most important parts of a well rounded education and within my field of study, study abroad is the perfect opportunity to fulfill that goal. I chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires because it is the perfect place to study a wide variety of political and cultural topics while increasing my Spanish proficiency and enjoying life in one of the biggest South American cities!"


Don't miss your opportunity to study abroad! Start your search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/

01 October 2020

Exploring South America: 5 Weekend Trips from Buenos Aires #HogsAbroad in Argentina #ThrowbackThursday


Blog post courtesy of AIFS Study Abroad


As amazing and exciting as the city of Buenos Aires is, one of my favorite parts about studying abroad here has been the opportunity to travel around the Southern Cone and get to know the rest of Argentina outside of the city. I just now got back from my last of five weekend trips from Buenos Aires during my time here and I would love to share with you a bit about each of them!

Here are five weekend trips from Buenos Aires, Argentina that you can’t miss.

1. La Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay


This trip was actually only for one day and it was organized by AIFS which made it super convenient and fun because I didn’t have to plan anything. La Colonia is just across the river in Uruguay, so we woke up early to take the ferry and spend the whole day there.

We spent our morning on a bus tour and then a walking tour, and then had the rest of the day to explore the town on our own. I really enjoyed my time in La Colonia because it allowed me a glimpse into the Uruguayan culture. The town has lots of really interesting history and architecture due to the fact that it changed hands between the Portuguese and Spanish seven times during colonization. Colonia is also a common weekend vacation spot for people from Buenos Aires, as it has a small beach on the river and is really quiet and calm.

2. Mendoza, Argentina

Of all my weekend trips from Buenos Aires, Mendoza was my first independently planned one. I was a little nervous but it ended up being lots of fun. My friends and I took an overnight bus from Buenos Aires to Mendoza that was surprising comfortable and rented an Airbnb for our time there.

We were only there for a long weekend, so we spent one day exploring the city itself, one day on a tour of the Andes that stopped at Mount Aconcagua (the tallest mountain in the Americas), Puente de las Incas (a small Incan settlement) and the border between Argentina and Chile, and for our last day we took and all day wine tour.

Mendoza is known for being the wine country of Argentina, so we enjoyed the traditional Argentinian Malbec, but there is so much more to do in Mendoza than just wine tastings. My favorite day was our day in the mountains! There are horseback tours, a natural hot spring, bicycle routes and hiking. If you are in the mood for a relaxing weekend outside of the city, I definitely would recommend Mendoza!

3. Santiago and Valparaíso, Chile

The third trip weekend trip that I took was to Santiago and Valparaíso, Chile. This was my first time staying in a hostel and it was so fun getting to know our companions, most of whom were from Brazil. We spent two days exploring Santiago and then took a bus to the costal town of Valparaíso for the day.

Santiago is known for its “cerros,” which are big hills throughout the city. My friends and I spent a lot of time hiking to the top of these cerros to enjoy the amazing views of the city and the Andes mountains in the background. Additionally, one of my favorite parts of Santiago was the human rights museum that was built to commemorate victims of the Pinochet dictatorship from the 70s.


Our day in Valparaíso was my highlight of the trip. The coastal town is picturesque, with brightly colored buildings built into the side of a steep hill, artisan markets, a beautiful harbor and delicious seafood. I would definitely recommend this trip — it allowed me to see a bit of the Chilean culture and enjoy some great views!


4. Iguazú Falls, Argentina

My fourth trip this semester was to Iguazú Falls in the northeast corner of Argentina. This was one of the optional trips from Buenos Aires through AIFS and it was really nice to have someone else in charge of the logistics for the weekend, and to have our amazing Resident Director, Eva, with us!

It was a quick trip, so we spent one day exploring the town of Iguazú and visiting the “punto de las tres fronteras” where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. We then spent the entire next day in the Iguazú Falls National Park. This may have been my favorite trip because the views were absolutely spectacular and, after being in the city all semester, it was really nice to enjoy nature for a bit.


There truly is no way to explain how amazing these falls are without being there in person to hear the rumble and feel the spray, so I’ll just say that if you study abroad in Buenos Aires this is an absolute can’t-miss opportunity.

5. Chaltén and Calafate, Argentina

No semester in Buenos Aires is complete without a trip to Patagonia. Patagonia is a huge expanse of land that covers southern Chile and Argentina, so there are lots of places to choose from within the region, but I chose to visit Chaltén and Calafate because they are home to the famous Mount Fitz Roy mountain range and the Perito Moreno Glacier.

We spent our first four days hiking in Chaltén, which is known as the trekking capital of the world. My highlight from this time would definitely be hiking the Mount Fitz Roy trail. It was definitely not an easy hike, but the views were incredible.

After Chaltén, we spent two days in Calafate which is the closest town to the Perito Moreno Glacier. We took a full day tour of the glacier, seeing it from different angles from the boardwalk and on a boat, and finishing the day with a mini trek on the glacier itself. Trekking on the glacier was a surreal experience and may be the highlight of my entire semester! It may just be because it was my most recent trip, but visiting Patagonia was hand down my favorite.

There are so many other places throughout Argentina and the rest of the Southern Cone that I would love to explore, but unfortunately I am almost done with my semester — so naturally I am already planning my return trip. Argentina is such a beautiful country and I would 10/10 recommend spending your semester here so you can enjoy all that it has to offer!

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Political science major Megan Rodgers spent the fall 2018 semester studying abroad with AIFS in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"My name is Megan Rodgers and I am a sophomore Political Science, International Studies and Spanish major at the University of Arkansas. I believe that experiential learning is one of the most important parts of a well rounded education and within my field of study, study abroad is the perfect opportunity to fulfill that goal. I chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires because it is the perfect place to study a wide variety of political and cultural topics while increasing my Spanish proficiency and enjoying life in one of the biggest South American cities!"

Don't miss your opportunity to study abroad! Start your search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/

25 September 2020

Food Allergies Abroad: Living a Gluten-Free Life in Buenos Aires #HogsAbroad in Argentina #FoodieFriday


Blog post courtesy of AIFS Study Abroad

For most students, one of the things that they look forward to the most about study abroad is trying new foods and experiencing the culture of another country through its cuisine. Unfortunately, for me this was actually one of my biggest concerns. When I was 11 years old I found out I had celiac disease, meaning that I am allergic to gluten. At home I have been able to adjust my lifestyle so that my allergy does not influence me at all, however it can be difficult for me to find gluten-free options while traveling. But I was not about to let that stop me from studying abroad and having the greatest experience.

Thankfully, AIFS was able to work with me to find a homestay that would accommodate my gluten allergy. My host mom, Marta, is the sweetest lady and she has gone out of her way to provide me with gluten-free options. Instead of the usual toast or pastries for breakfast, she bought me rice cakes and gluten-free cereal. She has even started making homemade gluten-free bread so that I can have toast when I want it!

Dinner might possibly be my favorite part of the day, as Marta constantly goes out of her way to provide me with gluten-free versions of all of the traditional Argentine meals. From tartas to millonasa to empanadas, I have been able to experience all of Argentina’s favorite foods despite the fact that they are traditionally full of gluten. Additionally, Marta always double-checks with me about things that she is unsure about, giving me the chance to practice my Spanish vocabulary that relates to food and cooking, and giving Marta and I a unique way to bond as we work together to find gluten-free alternatives.


Eating out is also far easier than I had imagined it would be. The Argentine government started an initiative a few years ago requiring restaurants to provide gluten-free menus to their guests and waiters here often understand my requests for food “libre de gluten,” “sin TACC,” or “para celiacos” better than waiters in the United States do.

Additionally, due to the fact that Buenos Aires is such a big city, there are many restaurants that cater especially to celiacs. There is a bakery a few blocks from my apartment where I go every week to get empanadas, pastas and sweets for the week. The lady who owns the cafe is so sweet and every time I stop by she asks me about my classes, helps me with my Spanish and asks about my experience finding gluten-free options. There is also a restaurant in a nearby neighborhood with a full gluten-free menu and one of the best gluten-free pastas I have ever tasted.


The normal diet in Buenos Aires in full of bread, pastry and pasta due to their Italian roots. However, the people here are so accommodating and there are so many different options that I have never struggled to find something that I can eat. I also have several friends here who are vegetarians or vegans and were afraid that there would be a lack of options due to the traditional gaucho dependence on meat. Just like me, they have been surprised by the vast array of vegetarian options and the extent to which their host families and the people in Buenos Aires will go to in order to accommodate them and make them feel at home. I am so glad that I did not let my food allergy prevent my decision to study abroad and am so grateful for the ways in which people here have gone out of their way to provide me with food that is delicious and gluten-free. My allergies have not hindered my study abroad experience at all. In fact, if anything they have made the situation better as they have revealed to me just how amazing and welcoming the people of Buenos Aires are.

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Political science major Megan Rodgers spent the fall 2018 semester studying abroad with AIFS in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"My name is Megan Rodgers and I am a sophomore Political Science, International Studies and Spanish major at the University of Arkansas. I believe that experiential learning is one of the most important parts of a well rounded education and within my field of study, study abroad is the perfect opportunity to fulfill that goal. I chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires because it is the perfect place to study a wide variety of political and cultural topics while increasing my Spanish proficiency and enjoying life in one of the biggest South American cities!"

Don't miss your opportunity to study abroad! Start your search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/

04 September 2020

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Mollusks #HogsAbroad in Italy #FoodieFriday


This was a reflection on my time spend abroad in Rome, Italy. It was submitted to the U of A Honors College in acceptance for a study abroad grant I was fortunate enough to receive.

​As our redeye flight descended into Rome, I peeked out the window to see the coastline creep into view as the land met the sea. I didn’t know this at the time, but memories made on the coast would be some of my most cherished memories from Rome.

Let’s backtrack a little bit. I dreamed of studying abroad since I was in high school. Once I learned about the Global Studies program at the University of Arkansas Rome Center, I knew I had found what I had been dreaming of. It provided me everything I had wanted: courses on culture, art, and history, all in an environment that was authentic and personal. The Rome campus exposed me to a completely different experience, with classrooms adorned with jewel-toned painted ceilings and creaky windows showering rooms in light within the 14th century palazzo. Walking to campus took me past small storefronts and a massive castle that boasted people young and old from around the world. My instructors were seasoned and sought to introduce students to what Rome had to offer—weekly expeditions to nearby places of significance, visits to worldwide organizations based in Rome, and in-depth knowledge about anything a student could ask about. I was able to stand in the home that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe spend years writing “Italian Journey,” which mirrored the exact experiences I was having nearly 250 years later. I cooked alongside Syrian refugees, learning the tradition and meaning that goes into making traditional dishes as part of my Contemporary Human Rights course. I was able to gaze up to see the frescos of the Sistine Chapel, reveling in its splendor.
Dar Zagaia, the oceanfront restaurant of our dreams.

​About a month and a half in, a friend approached me with the news of “Mollusk Weekend.” This weekend was supposedly celebrated every 621 years and served as a celebration of life. I was quickly persuaded to believe this weekend to be true with confident tales of tradition. Little did I know, the ulterior motive here was to visit a coastal seafood restaurant with the “best mollusks in the world," according to my friend Morgan’s Italian professor. My roommate Ellie and I overslept the day of and had to take an expensive taxi to meet our cohort of friends already frolicking in the ocean. At this point, I fully believed in the mystic Mollusk Weekend and the tradition I couldn’t find any backing for during my online research. I had promoted it to friends, encouraging them to join in the festivities. They knew better. I wasn’t confronted with the truth until I commented to Ellie in the taxi about how my friends were non-believers—Ellie had a good laugh at my expense. But that couldn’t dim the weekend of celebration.

Once we arrived, the group trekked through the sand to the fully packed restaurant. The restaurant sat right off the ocean. We wasted no time ordering buckets of buttery mussels, which came and went from our table in rapid succession. We relied on our friend Morgan, who was the only one in an Italian class, to communicate with our non-English speaking waiter about what we craved. Rounds of seafood dishes arrived full of shrimp, tiny squids, and even octopus, and departed our table empty. Morgan’s Italian professor was correct; this was the best seafood any of us had ever eaten. Between bites, we celebrated these friendships, these opportunities, and the life we are all blessed to have. That was the true mission of Mollusk Weekend—to celebrate our lives and Rome bringing us together. After four hours spent dining, we walked directly onto the beach and dipped our toes in the freezing ocean. Italian families lounged in the sand, including one naked toddler who didn’t have a care in the world. We listened to classic songs, let our feet sink into the sand while playing football, and basked in the reality we were blessed to be living. After a while, the sun began to set, and we made our way back home with three bus rides, one train, one metro, and a swift walk home.
Ellie took this photo of one of our many rounds of mollusks.

​This weekend was coincidentally the last weekend before we needed to return home because of coronavirus fears in Italy. It reflects the best parts of Italy to me—a laidback lifestyle of slow dining, celebrating life and togetherness, and savoring moments because they could end at any time. Studying abroad was not what I expected, in the best and unanticipated ways. One can prepare for studying abroad, but the real beauty of studying abroad lies in the unknown and unexpected. Our pursuit of mollusks signifies my newfound love for Italy and the adventures it gave me, and I know in my heart that we’ll venture back to that beachside restaurant again someday.

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Before the suspension of Spring 2020 study abroad programs, one of our social media interns, Journalism & Political Science major Hanna Ellington spent the Spring 2020 term at the University of Arkansas Rome Center with the help of the Honors College and the Fulbright Honors Sturgis Study Abroad Grant

Read more from Hanna at https://hannaellington.weebly.com/blog/life-liberty-and-the-pursuit-of-mollusks

Don't miss your opportunity to study or intern abroad! Start your search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search

31 August 2020

2021 Critical Language Scholarship Program Application Now Open!


The application is now open for the 2021 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program. The CLS Program is a fully funded study abroad program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State that provides intensive overseas language and cultural immersion and is open to U.S. students enrolled in all degree programs at the University of Arkansas.

Through CLS, students spend eight to ten weeks abroad studying one of 15 critical languages and earn academic credit for their work. The scholarship includes travel expenses, coursework, group excursions, and even a small stipend to cover your daily living expenses. Most languages offered by the CLS Program do not require applicants to have any experience studying critical languages.

The CLS Program seeks participants with diverse interests, and from a wide range of fields of study and career paths; students from all academic disciplines, including business, engineering, law, medicine, science, social sciences, arts and humanities are encouraged to apply.

They're hosting a series of information sessions for students, including sessions for students with no language learning experience, students interested in studying a certain language, etc. You can check out the full schedule and register to attend one here: https://clscholarship.org/events

The Office of Study Abroad is here to support you in applying for this and other study abroad opportunities! Please reach out to us to set up an appointment if you’re interested in more information, or want help brainstorming how learning a language could benefit your future career! Email us at studyabr@uark.edu or call the office at 479-575-7582.