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Madrid or Buenos Aires?
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Soon I will go to sign up for a study abroad program at my university.  I can choose either Buenos Aires or Madrid.  What do you think would be the more useful place for learning Spanish?

Answer 1: I'd choose Madrid. If you do the whole academic year you will get a much more thorough knowledge of the language and culture. You'll be surprised how much you learn. But don't hang out with your friends from home who also go on the trip, or you'll only speak English when not in class. Travel when you get a chance. Getting away from the classroom and into the daily life of the people is what will make your education complete.

I'd personally choose Madrid, too, if only because of the travel opportunities. There are tons of fabulous sites just a few hours away, and weekends in France, Portugal, and Morocco are possibilities, too. Accent won't matter in the long term, and in any case Argentinian Spanish is just as peculiar as Peninsular.

Nine months will be plenty of time to markedly improve your Spanish if you minimize speaking English to the point that you only speak it when absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, this is extremely hard to do. Your friends will tend to be English speakers, and you'll get very frustrated not being able to communicate perfectly in Spanish. The best possible thing, in my experience, is to figure out who the other "committed" language students are and spend your free time with them. They'll be willing to speak only Spanish, but if you get stuck you can ask for help in English, or if nobody knows the right words you can talk in English for a while. I'm not saying avoid other students who only want to speak English after a couple days overseas, but make the committed students your best friends.

And of course, look for ways to make native friends, too.

Answer 2: I agree with all the previous comments, although, as a European I tend to favour Madrid. I too studied Spanish at University and ended up spending a full academic year at the University of Granada. I had a fantastic year, made some nice Spanish friends and definitely improved my level of spoken Spanish. However, I made far too many English-speaking friends.... Be careful, in today's world many of the other Europeans that you meet will speak fluent English, so if you meet Swedes, Dutch, Germans, etc., they will have a tendency to want to communicate in English.

As for Buenos Aires, if you are dead set on improving your Spanish and not coming into much contact with fellow English speakers, this may be a good bet as I imagine that there will be fewer Europeans there.

All I can say really is research the two places well and make a calculated decision. It all depends on exactly what you are looking for.

Respuesta 3: Tambien, recomiendo Madrid, por las razones ya dichas, y porque creo que el calendario académico es diferente en américa del sur.  Si posible, no viva con otros ingleshablantes.

Answer 4: I would think whichever your pick and wherever you go I'd think you would have a wonderful time.  You'll speak English, sure, that's natural, but because you want to learn, all you need to do is make it a point to get out and talk to people.  Actually, the talking is the least of the problems.  It's hearing and understanding what is said back to you. 

Note: This question and these answers were taken from a discussion on the bulletin board. To read the original discussion, go here.

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