Making the Most of Your Early Start

Some CEA Study Abroad programs give students the chance to enroll in an Early Start option. These programs typically occur two weeks before the initial program start date of your semester abroad and CEA says this option “allows you to arrive early and hone your language skills before the program begins.”

As someone who had taken Spanish courses in high school and middle school, but not college, I thought the Early Start program would be the perfect way to refresh my foreign language skills. I had an incredibly positive experience with my Early Start program and I would recommend it for any student that wants to improve their language skills or spend more time in their host city.

As a way to prepare for our field trip to San Telmo, students conducted research on this neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During our field trip, students read their papers (written in Spanish) to the other six students in the Early Start program.

For the spring of 2018, seven students enrolled in the Early Start for the CEA Buenos program. We had class Monday through Thursday and our professor was a native Spanish speaker. Typically her course schedule consisted of morning lectures and afternoon field trips. The lectures informed me about the similarities and differences in Argentine Spanish versus Spanish from Spain and Mexico. The field trips taught me about the city’s layout and history. Rather than quickly starting new courses and a new life in a foreign country, these two weeks enabled me to gradually adapt to the Argentine lifestyle. The field trips were one of my favorite parts of Early Start program. Since our Spanish professor at the Buenos Aires program has a background in the arts, she took my course to various art museums and centers. From visiting photography exhibits to local markets, my professor’s guidance gave me an incredible insight on the history and culture of Buenos Aires.

Had I not opted to travel to Buenos Aires two weeks early, I would not have had these same chances to learn about Argentina and to explore the city.  If a student has the opportunity to do so, I would highly suggest attending the Early Start program.

You can view photos from my early start experience below.

Elena P. is the Spring 2018 MOJO Photographer in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is currently a Junior studying Media Production at Ithaca College.

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