¡Que vivan las universidades públicas!

I hopped a plane from Michelle to Cristina.  (Michelle Bachelet is the president of Chile; Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is the president of Argentina.)  I figured that was a good sign for a solo female traveler.  In Chile, I picked up an Economist in English for a full $10!  Still, I needed some familiar reading and to get back into current events.

Four things I LOVE: maps, navigating public transportation systems (here I bought a Guía T in a local kiosko for about USD $2), speaking Spanish, and urban centers.  Using the combination of the three to navigate myself around the latter has been quite an enjoyable adventure.

FOR THE RECORD, a little myth-busting: I want to comment on the EXCELLENT service I have received so far as an international student at Argentina’s public university.  Everyone told me that I should try to enroll in a private university because surely there, I would find much better assistance and services.  I was told that the public system and bureaucracy would be a nightmare to navigate.  So far, so good.  I have found the class lists online with little difficulty and have navigated their website easily.  I was given a list of requirements to apply, which I fulfilled, and when I arrived, there were no surprises about some form they needed.  I showed up to my Facultad (college) yesterday my first day; I thought class enrollment could be a potential nightmare.  I was given one, (again, that’s ONE) sheet of paper to fill out with my desired classes, which it seems I’m guaranteed as part of the services and courtesy I receive being a visiting student.  ¡Que gentileza!  True, finding the office of International Services on the 2 ½ floor above the graduate school offices was tricky, but it was a pleasant adventure wandering the halls of the lovely, old colonial building.  At every step along the way, I encountered kind people willing to help direct me and/or chat.  La Secretaria directed me to the foreign language school, and I am enrolled in an intensive Spanish class for a month until the beginning of September in Level 7 of 8.  So far, Universidad de Buenos Aires….te amo.Early on in January, I attempted to contact the Universidad de Palermo, a private university.  I got bounced emails and unhelpful responses, sometimes no responses.  I got responses that the woman in charge was on vacation.  Apparently, she was on vacation for months.  I tried to get help from their MBA offices, explaining I was still an undergraduate.  All I got was their newsletter – which I still get.  I STILL have not heard back from them.  In short, a private university, UP, whose MBA program costs maybe $15,000 a year has – terrible service.

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