Recommendations to Students Traveling to Buenos Aires

Bogota Travel Blog

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            Sitting in the Bogota airport awaiting my flight home, I have plenty of time to reflect back on the trip and all that we did together as a group.  I had a great time getting to know two countries that I had never seen before in my life with a group of people who were also new to me.  It was definitely the greatest experience of my life, and choosing to participate in this trip was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  It was a great mix of almost everything that I had always wanted to do in Argentina and Brazil as well as some great things I wasn’t expecting at all.  That being said no program, despite all of its high points, is without room for improvement.  There are some things I would change from both a location standpoint and from a schoolwork standpoint.  The list is minimal, but I think it would allow the next group to have an even better time than I did.

            The first item I would change is the timeframe of the program.  The total length of the program was good in my opinion, but I would rather see it as one program and not have the extra week where only part of the group goes to other cities.  I would also change around the length of time we were in certain places since some cities were more interesting and more appropriate for our program while others just were not.  Buenos Aires was my favorite place of the entire trip, so I think 1 month there was perfect.  It’s just enough time for everyone to settle and see all the sites and get the feeling of what it is like to live in a South American city without becoming monotonous and repetitive.  Florianopolis was a beautiful city and I had a great time there balancing work with relaxation on the beach.  I know many in the group felt that we may not have had quite enough time there, but I actually disagree.  In fact, I feel that possibly 7 or 8 days instead of 10 would have been better.  This mostly comes from the fact that I get easily tired of the beach no matter how beautiful it is and I tend to prefer a bigger city environment.  Iguazu Falls was the right length of time and since there was only really one site there to see, I couldn’t justify extending the stay there any longer.  Curitiba was the city that was unfortunately the low point of the trip.  In all fairness we didn’t give the city the same chance that we did other cities and that was most likely because of the workload which I’ll discuss later.  Not that I didn’t manage to have fun in Curitiba or anything like that, but the city was always just too quiet and not vibrant.  I would rather see it shortened to 6 or 7 days to allow for more travel to other cities that have more to offer in terms of entertainment and nightlife.  The stay in Sao Paulo was about perfect; any more would have been too expensive and repetitive, and any less would not even justify traveling there in the first place.  With the extra 5 or 6 days or so that I cut out from Floripa and Curitiba, I would rather see the group go to Rio de Janeiro for that length of time.  Being the most popular city in Brazil and the most desired destination on most peoples’ lists, I don’t see why that should be left out of the regular program.  Rather, I would like to see the optional course from this year incorporated into the regular program and therefore everyone would get to see the same sites.

            As far as the workload is concerned, I believe the amount of work we did was fair.  In all honesty I took the program maybe a little less seriously from a grades standpoint as the other group members and maybe that’s why I never once felt that schoolwork was interfering with my opportunity to experience my surroundings.  I didn’t mind writing the blogs for the individual assignments, however that was mainly because I had a laptop with me.  People complained about these assignments on more than one occasion and I tend to agree with them that since we weren’t required to bring computers, our main coursework shouldn’t have been internet-based.  Not only from just a laptop standpoint, but I found it difficult in some places, mainly Floripa and Sao Paulo, to find easy and convenient internet access without having to wait in line or pay.  If we could have written the blogs by hand (I know that defeats the purpose of a “blog”) and turned them in on paper, I feel the same results would have been received with far less complications for the students.

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photo by: caliphil007