Learning Spanish in South America



OK, here's my deal.....
I want to be fluent in Spanish. I want to speak like a bat out of hell who happens to speak Spanish fluently because he is from Spanish hell.......and I want it badly.....with a vengeance. I have plenty of experience living abroad, I speak intermediate level Spanish, and have 10,000 bucks in the bank at my disposal......not daddy's money thank you very much.....all mine.....god bless Mexican silver stocks.
I want to be in a city that has a decent amount of cultural activites to offer besides getting the same blackout on different kinds of booze. And a place where striking up a conversation with the locals is fairly easy and won't turn into a free English lesson when they learn I'm a Yankee.
So, I've got some questions. I'd greatly appreciate it if you shared your collective wisdom with me. I've already read the threads about learning Iberian Spanish versus other kinds of Spanish, and I've gotten a good impression that BsAs is an interesting, culturally rich place to live. But there are a couple of other things I'd like to find out.
How does BA stack up to Santiago, or any of the larger cities in Peru, Ecuador, or Columbia? Which place would be the best place to learn Spanish? The cheapest or the best deal for the money? Do you think a homestay is necessary in BA or the other big cities? Or is it easy enough to walk out on the street, make plenty of friends and practice your Spanish? Or should I just take my money and hightail it to Spain?
Remember, my top priority here is learning Spanish.
Also, I've been contemplating backpacking through S. America first, checking some places out, then deciding where to settle down. I'm not sure how much money I'd go through backpacking for two months, staying in hostels, taking buses, maybe very rarely taking to odd flight. Any estimates?
Thanks, I know those are some big questions, but I really want to get a better idea of how far my money will take me down there, or in Spain, and what type of living situation will be best for my Spanish. Your suggestions and information will be immensely appreciated. Who knows, maybe I'll get to thank you in person one day at an ex-pat event.
Ex-pats unite!!!! RAAAAaaaargh..........hmmm. That didn't work....could've used some more spirit on my part. But I do like the idea of some ex-pat multinational force with special power rings akin to those losers on Captain Planet. We could kick some ass!!!!! Well.....without the Canadians of course....
Hi Everybody.
Maybe you can clear up this question. Argentinos say they speak Castillano, not Spanish. Duh! I know they don't speak the spanish I speak. I'm from the US and learned Mexican Spanish. In Buenos Aires I asked a waiter for a tenador (fork) he replied "que?". I said tenador, he had this blank look on his face, then some interviened and said "tenador", his face lighten up and said "si". I said to myself that is exactly what I said. I met a woman from Columbia and had no problem making myself understood nor in Chile. I found that with the younger generation it is easier to converse with but the older, no comprendi. I'll be moving to Bs As in June, I guess I'll have to adapt. Maybe you can shed a little light on this subject,
I started out about a year ago with the intention of travelling through South America. I started in Costa Rica then went to Nicaragua and then I came here to Buenos Aires with the intention of traveling through Peru, Equador, Bolivia, and Colombia. After meeting a lot of other travelers and hearing there travel experiences I quickly realized that a trip through South America would not be as cheap as I thought that it would be. I also realized that depending on where you go and how you intend to travel it is also not as comfortable or safe as you might want it to be. As a result I have been living here for almost a year now. I still have the ticket to Cali so I will be making that move in March. So far I would have to say that MY experience has been that people are much more liklely to indulge your halting Spanish in Costa Rica. I found myself speaking to strangers a lot more and having them be really understanding about my errors. The problem is that Costa Rica is about twice as expensive as here. (Don´t believe the hype that Costa Rica is cheap like I did. All of the info that you get on the web is about 3 years out of date). You will find people to talk to you here but generally the conversation will only be in Spanish if they don't speak good English and you will be insulted and condescinded to if you don't speak fairly well and you stay here long enough. (This can be seen as a good or bad thing depending on what motivates you to learn). The good thing is that I find myself HAVING to speak Spanish here a lot because most people don't speak English comfortably enough to talk to me in English and that is a good thing if you want to learn Spanish. I have to be honest with you. I have stayed here for so long because it is cheap, relatively modern, and safe (by South American standards). I'm not a person who is fascinated with Argentine culture or traditions (What would that be...an Argo-file?) I would say that if you don´t drink and party too much you could stay here for 6-8 months comfortably on the money that you have. If you want to take classes for that entire time maybe not quite as long. That is enough time to make some serious progress with your Spanish.
P.S. Don´t worry about speaking perfect Spanish. Stay focused on geting better because as you learn more you realize that there is a lot more that you have to learn to be able to truly express yourself in another language and the learning will never stop.
to Don Quixote The reasons why people people may or may not understand you can run the gamut from...Maybe your pronunciation is not so great (Americans tend to overestimate their language skills)....to maybe they are tired of having foreigners coming to exploit the economic weakness of their country's situation in order to have a good time. Also keep in mind that Argentines speak a dialect of Spanish called Platense and I have seen native Spanish speakrs from other South American countries having misunderstandings with Argentines MANY times.
ericdharma - I was interested to read that your estimate is that the original poster could stay 6-8 months on 10,000 USD. What are you estimating the monthly expenses to be? (not quibbling, just curious). Specifically, what are you averaging his rent (I hear $700 USD is about the average a month).
Maybe I should qualify that a bit. When you first arrive here it is difficult to stay within budget because there are a lot of people here who have an interest in getting YOUR money in their pockets. I know that it is absolutely still possible to find a place here with maid service and Internet for $600US. I pay about 900$ because I want to live in a very specific area and I want space and certain amenities. I cut costs by using the subway (70 centavos a ride) and cooking my own food (130 pesos per week...about 40 something dollars). If you are coming to learn Spanish and don' t plan on trying to be a tourist the whole time you won't spend much more. What adds up are entradas, drinks, and taxis because the fares just went up. You think that you are not paying a lot with the cabs but believe me....it adds up....
P.S. I don't need to recieve a lot of feedback from people telling me how cheap cab fares are here compared to some other country. I think in pesos not dollars.
Thanks for clarifying - I actually have been doing my budget & was interested to hear your feedback. I have friends there & was told to plan on $700 or so for a nice apt but I am having trouble quantifying my living expenses (food, etc). I really appreciate your feedback.
Exchange is 3 pesos to the 1 dollar
Living expenses are hard to calculate because we all live different lifestyles and spend and have a desire to do different things.
fast food = 15 pesos (average meal for 1 person)
expensive restaurant (Empire Thai...I just went)
= 3 appetizers, 2 main courses, desert, 2 bottles of wine
160 pesos
cab from one end of town to the other think Palermo/Canitas border to San Telmo
= 10 - 15 pesos
"ericdharma" said:
cab from one end of town to the other think Palermo/Canitas border to San Telmo
= 10 - 15 pesos
This is inaccurate, Palermo is about the middle of the city, to cross the city you should go from La Boca to Saavedra for example, and I think it would be a lot more expensive ( around 30$ )You can browse the supermarkets websites to get an idea of how much groceries cost ( I have a small blog with some supermarkets and delivery restaurants listed http://onlinedeli.blogspot.com )

You're right but the typical expat will not be traveling to those extremes regularly. If a person is asking advice about the cost of living monthly they need information about HABITUAL travel expenses.
"ericdharma" said:
You're right but the typical expat will not be traveling to those extremes regularly. If a person is asking advice about the cost of living monthly they need information about HABITUAL travel expenses.
It will all depend wether she wants to live in a touristy neighbourhood or not. The average cab ride is not over 15 pesos, I would risk saying that prices are about the same ( in the numbers ) than what you would pay in the US. For instance, a meal at McDonalds is 15 pesos, whilst in the US is 15 dollars, and so on, the difference is that you should be able to live on half the money you would spend in the US ( I say half the cost and not one third cos most expats are charged more for certain things )V