Check out Expanish in Buenos Aires Argentina, a language school offering 3-month semesters abroad and overseas designed for college students, GAP year students, and high school seniors. The text below was submitted by Expanish in Buenos Aires, so read on if learning Spanish and traveling to a fantastic country is part of your Gap year plan. If you are contemplating a trip abroad to South America, Buenos Aires is an amazing city with tons to discover and is full of great people from all over the world.
Take Me to Zen Yen
By Aliza Goldberg
The young Vietnamese boy sat patiently at the Yen River’s edge, his hands resting lightly on the bamboo oars tied to the thin, red, metal rowboat. He looked up at us, wrinkles forming on his forehead as he raised his eyebrows, and waited until we had boisterously situated ourselves in his boat. Without a word, he began to back up his boat into the water and steer us out into the wide expanse of vegetation. No introduction, no complaints. Strong black coffee, the smell of burning incense, the startling clash of a metal gong, the gleam of gilded wood and lacquer statues, seven hundred and sixty two slick stone steps, the squeaks of bats, the dank wonder of an underground niche, and the tickling sensation of sweat trickling down our spines had energized us and we hardly noticed the thin boy, tan like the twigs floating aimlessly in the ripples.
He wore a maroon fake Dolce & Gabbana shirt with a white flap on the left shoulder and another white flap on the right breast. His uneven brown hair was carefully combed over his dark brown eyes, which gazed at us four American teenagers uneasily and with a hint of envy. Meanwhile, we joked around with our school friends in the other rowboats, taking pictures and splashing water. And then suddenly, all the boats were gone. That’s when we finally saw the boy struggling to fight the current.
The five of us were totally alone--no sounds but that of the oars dipping into the glittering water, nothing to see but mountains soft with tufts of green trees, tall grasses and pink lotus flowers, and the reflection of the grey and white clouds in the water. The river was ours. The silence was a peaceful break from the smoggy chaos of honking motorcycles that defined our new home, Hanoi.
His name was Trung. This was his first time rowing tourists from the Perfume Pagoda. He was sorry he was taking so long.
I was sorry he was our age, yet had dropped out of school to take us from one unfamiliar shoreline to another. I was sorry his arm muscles did not have enough strength to continue rhythmically circling the oars. I was sorry I could not help him.
He would stretch a tired smile whenever we did something silly to amuse him, like singing Santigold or daintily dangling slices of bread in front of his face for him to bite. Otherwise he wore a light-lipped grim line of a mouth, eyes squinting in pain.
Middle aged women in conical hats streamlined past our rowboat, laughing and teasing our faithful Charon.
He was sorry he was taking so long. I was sorry I could not help him.
As we inched along, I felt something puff up and expand under the bottom of my right ribcage. A sense of relief and satisfaction perhaps, or elation. After three weeks in Vietnam my regrets and hesitations had splintered and were being carried away by the river’s current. It occurred to me that we might never be reunited with the other Americans waiting patiently for us at the shore, that if the clouds decided to burst and send down rain our rowboat would fill up within minutes. But these thoughts did not worry me. I knew I would be all right. And I knew Trung would not be.
"I have spent a year studying in Viterbo, Italy and a semester studying in Hanoi, Vietnam. In the fall of 2010 I will attend Barnard College of Columbia University and try to study as many languages as I am allowed without becoming a language major." Read more travel writing from Aliza at www.alizid.blogspot.com and see see her video below:
My Carpe Diem Testimonial
by Dannielle, 21
I took a semester off from college in February 2008 and went to Central America for three months. I traveled in a group of 8 students and two leaders. We studied Spanish at two Spanish schools, volunteered within the communities that we lived in, and spent time discovering more about ourselves. I was coming into my second year at College, and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I felt lost and confused about my future and about who I was. I wanted to go to another country and not only learn about a new culture, but learn more about myself, and how fortunate I was living in Canada.
Noah Stern, from Los Angeles, CA decided to take a gap year before college rather than waiting until junior year. Noah went to Israel in 2007-2008 on a Masa Israel Journey Gap year program. Noah studied Hebrew, Arabic, Middle Eastern Politics, History, and traveled independently in Israel, North Africa and Europe. He has contributed his story to inspire others to consider the benefits of a gap year before college.
Noah says of his gap year.."Not only has my Hebrew improved tremendously, but I can now read and write Arabic and I have learned a great deal about the political situation in the Middle East."
Gap Year Story
by Noah Stern
Lauren Rhode is currently on a gap year between high school and starting college in fall 2008 at Princeton University. She spent the first three months of her gap year last fall in Morocco with Global Learning Across Borders (Global LAB), a non-profit that runs international immersion gap year programs. Lauren's gap year experience living with a Moroccan family and learning Arabic, working on community service projects, and traveling to Marrakesh and the Sahara desert have given her time to explore her interests and passions without being burdened by assigned curriculum . Lauren says of her gap year...
Erik spent his gap year on three continents. He learned outdoor leadership skills through a NOLS semester in Patagonia, volunteered on a conservation project in the Philippines and studied Italian culture and language in Florence, Italy. He is a freshman at CU Boulder studying engineering.
Jeff is a senior at Tufts University in Boston, Mass. Jeff's Gap Year experience included Spanish language study, homestay with an Argentine family, and a volunteer work experience teaching children.
For the first half of my junior year I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Butler University’s Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA-Butler). I had always been really interested in Latin America, and had been studying Spanish since I was about 14 years old; so, when I began thinking about places to study abroad Argentina seemed like the perfect match.