So I've been studying abroad for the last year now. I spent three and half months in London last fall, and am now three and half months into a 5 month semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since London is the most common study abroad destination for US students, and Buenos Aires is quickly becoming more popular, I figured I'd do a little comparison to help prospective students decide where to go.
The housing in London was basically dorms like you would find anywhere in the USA. You can come and go as you please and because the drinking age is 18 in the UK, you are allowed to drink in the dorms. Most people had roommates, but there was an option to pay more for a private room. The only big negative was that of the 100 or so people living in my building, over 90% were from the USA, so it would be very easy to spend the entire time only with people from the US if you wanted.
I have a home stay here in Argentina. I have my own room and get to experience what daily life is like for locals. While many host moms can speak English, I only speak in Spanish with my host family which is a great opportunity to practice. The only downside is that I am living with a family, so there are more rules then their would be if I lived alone.
I went to Richmond, The American University in London to take my last 5 upper division international business electives. I did not have much work to do the first month or so, but the last couple of months were brutal. I definitely needed to study a lot and spend time writing a lot of papers. Just about everyone I knew had a pretty good amount of work to do while at Richmond, but I definitely learned a lot.
This semester is definitely way more laid back. Since I finished my international business classes in London, I'm just finishing up a couple gen eds and my Spanish minor in Argentina. Generally speaking, my classes do not have the same kind of work load that I had in London, but there is a new challenge as 4 of my 5 classes are entirely in Spanish. My second language has improved A LOT from being forced to write papers, take tests and participate in class all day in only Spanish.
Advantage - Even
Getting around London is easy as you can take the bus, the tube or a taxi to anywhere you need to go. The bus costs the USA equivalent of a couple bucks, the tube $4-6 each way, and taxis...taxis are expensive. Don't take taxis unless you have a group to split the cost.
Buenos Aires has the same options in the bus, the subte (subway) and taxis. The main difference is that it is dramatically cheaper. The bus is the equivalent of about 30 cents, subway 50 cents and even taxis are very affordable. You can take a taxi 30 blocks and it shouldn't be much more than $5.
The bars in central London are all pretty expensive and close around midnight, even on the weekends. Your options are to get dressed and go to a club, which will have a $30 cover, or take the tube to another part of London, which will have a lower cover. It's a lot of fun, but it adds up quickly.
Much cheaper than London and everything stays open much later. I've never paid more than $12 for a cover and you can literally stay out as late as you want any day of the week.
London is one of the safest cities in the world. There are cameras every where so crimes get solved pretty easily. I know very few people who have every had any problems with criminals in London.
I do not want to say Buenos Aires is a dangerous city, but you definitely need to be aware. I have not had any friends physically harmed, but I personally know a couple people who have been robbed at knifepoint. It's one of those things you just need to be aware of and be smart about.
|Oviedo, Spain is a short flight from London|
Flights in Buenos Aires are a lot more expensive than in London, and you have to pay additional charges to enter a couple of countries in South America as a US citizen. That being said, there are tons of places one can jump on a bus and go to for a relatively low price. I've personally been to Uruguay and northern Patagonia, while I have friends who have gone to Chile, Ushuaia (the southern most city in the world), and Iguazu Falls (one of the 7 wonders of the natural world in northern Argentina.)
|Take a boat into Uruguay, and then jump on a bus to check out Los Dedos in Punta del Este.|
So there you have it. I do not want to take up too much space on the blog, so I'll end it here. Both awesome cities to live in and explore. If you have any questions on either of them, feel free to send me a message.