Archive for the ‘Student Stories’ Category

Benefits of cultural exchange

Monday, November 16, 2015 11:17

Categories - Spanish, Student Stories - 0 Comments

Benefits of cultural exchange

Choosing to study Spanish in Buenos Aires is the perfect form in immersing yourself into the language and vibrant Argentinian culture. The benefits of studying or living abroad are endless, you are able to see how other people live in the world and the politics of various countries, are exposed to new experiences enabling you to grow as a person and change your perspectives on life. Not only do you get to learn a new language, try amazing foods, visit new places but meet some pretty amazing people, it may be that you meet your best friend, a group of friends that will last for eternity or even a partner for life! The following are examples of SOME benefits of travelling and living abroad…

Learning a new language

Learning a language has endless benefits, it opens up a number of doors, allows you to connect with people around the world which leads to this interesting and useful fact..

Spanish is the 3rd most widely spoken language in the world? The advantages of learning spanish are endless, the most significant being that you can communicate with almost 500 million people worldwide! This will create endless opportunities in making friends, practising your spanish and communicating with people from all walks of life.

Learning a language is also great for employment opportunities. Regardless of what level you complete, knowing a little spanish will get you a long way. Like many students here, they go onto travel, this goes hand in hand and is highly recommended by our students. You can show off your soon to be or already amazing spanish skills in 20 official speaking countries. Spanish being the official language in the following countries, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela. Now that’s a great excuse to go travelling-to of course to practise your spanish that is!

Lastly, plain and simple but it’s just fun! Learning a language is always fun and who wouldn’t want to learn our beautiful romantic language? Having the opportunity to learn a language in its mother country and applying/being forced to speak and practise the language is by far the best method in learning a language. Getting to learn about the culture of Argentina is another aspect on why learning spanish is so much fun. You get the opportunity to learn about the history of Argentina and importantly the food of course, and might I add that means tasting our mate, wines and of course chocotorta-by far the best cake in Argentina!

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Without all those crazy and wild travelling stories, what would life be without those moments you can look back at and laugh. Having the opportunity to pack up and just leave, not thinking twice and travelling is by far one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences a person can encounter. Seeing new sights and travelling the world with someone you’ve only known for 24 hours is a priceless experience, there are no words to describe these amazing and unforgettable experiences. Doing what you want without any limitations, feeling free, discovering a new life, isolating yourself from the real world, absorbing in all the positive vibes, doing things you would never have imagined-this is what adventures are for…living your life and filling it with unique and crazy experiences.

Learning Through Experience: This is by far one of the greatest advantages of living abroad, whether it be in a positive or negative context it is all a learning curve that you grow from, become wiser and learn how to face and approach uncontrollable life situations that are unexpectedly thrown towards you.

A form of learning through experience is living like a local. This enables you to see through the eyes of your chosen country, depending on your choice of accommodation, living with an Porte√Īa family or friend is a fantastic opportunity in being exposed to family traditions, the culture, the food, fiestas of course, the ins and out of the city, activities and nightlife! Best of all you have the flexibility of independently exploring and creating your own social life with your school friends, locals and other people you will meet on the way!

Making lifelong Friends

One of the main benefits and advantages of a cultural exchange is making friends overseas that last a lifetime. It’s amazing how much you can learn from someone you just met and connect with someone on such a deep level. The most amazing part is that everyone has a story that gives you different perspectives on life. You will definitely be keeping your time occupied with all these new friends, the sad part about living abroad is many friends have an expiry date and unfortunately goodbyes are no fun! But remember having friends all around the world is a great excuse to go travelling and of course not to forget but free accommodation!



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My experience with DELE

Monday, September 14, 2015 11:38

Categories - Spanish, Student Stories - 0 Comments

Before starting my Expanish experience, originally I had no plans on extending my stay in Buenos Aires. It’s funny how things can pan out in life, from originally being a 3 month holiday, 10 months later I am still here in Buenos Aires. I have been studying at Expanish all up 6 months and have had the amazing opportunity of also working here. Expanish has been much more than just a learning experience, I have made lifelong friends, learnt from others, developed a new perspective on life and created close bonds with my teachers inside and outside of Expanish.

The first month at Expanish I wanted to learn basic spanish for travelling purposes and really wanted to get a grasp on this amazing language. I would then carry on with my South American journey and then in three months return home to Australia. How boring right… Thanks to my spontaneous self it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I recall one of my first weeks in Expanish, I had made up my mind that I was going to stay here in Buenos Aires for a year, there was nothing that was going to stop me. The thought of living abroad for a year is both exciting and overwhelming, without a rough plan or possible opportunities you may encounter/ be interested in, you may find yourself in a pickle. So as you can imagine, I started to come up with a plan. Well let’s say the least, a very vague plan which mind you is the best plan, as I am not constrained by anything, freedom has never felt so good! ¬†But one thing I was sure of was that I was going to complete my Diploma in Spanish (DELE). Why not when I’ve been studying hard for 6 months? It deserves some recognition and it’s just another thing to put on your resume to wow your future employers. In Australia speaking spanish isn’t one of our most popular languages spoken other than english. So I thought that by taking advantage of this and being recognized for speaking the language, it is a great way to brand yourself and most importantly distinguish yourself from others-making you unique and stand out of course!

The next step was to roughly arrange my time. Personally having just finished my two degree course over a four year period I couldn’t embark on another long study journey, so the only answer I could come up with (to avoid studying for 6 months straight) was travelling. Not a bad excuse hey! I decided to break up my studying by travelling to Colombia and Panama. Then on return from my holiday, embark on the last study period at Expanish. Now the hard work started..practising for the DELE exam isn’t exactly easy, it involves hard work, a lot of dedication and a positive attitude. At the end of the day study is study, if you want results you always have to put the hard yards in. What made this experience most enjoyable was my classmates and teacher. The last study for me in Expanish was a 3 month period where I participated in group classes with Eduardo (my teacher) and then in the last 3 weeks before finishing I took on private classes in preparation for my exam. The added bonus of my DELE classes is that Eduardo was my teacher, one of the most passionate and admirable teachers I have ever been taught by and have been fortunate in meeting. And mind you I have been taught by A LOT of teachers, like most of us I would say.

The DELE classes took place every day (Mon-Fri) for 2 hours each day. We covered the four sections of the exam, listening component, writing, conversation and reading. All the materials supplied are from level B2 of DELE exams that were from previous years. There are 6 levels of the DELE exam, A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 (C1, C2-these levels more so for native speakers). I chose to do/in the progress of studying for level B2, as I am currently in C1 level and believe that this is a level I will successfully be able to pass/ receive good marks-given that I also have sufficient time to study for this exam. Doing the DELE exam is also great if you are interested in working in South America as many international organisations require you to have completed a certain level of the DELE exam. Also most of the universities in Argentina require you to have sufficient knowledge of at least a B1/B2 level of spanish. This is definately a great motive in completing your diploma, more work and study opportunities! I know that this diploma will come in handy for me on the next return to Argentina or other Spanish speaking countries.

What surprised me with the exam preparations was that just after the first week of private classes my spanish had immensely improved, my vocabulary had improved, I was using big fancy words when speaking, spoke with very few errors and for longer periods of time. My teacher was impressed of how just one week I had rapidly improved and I too personally recognized the jump in my spanish level. This is a great feeling, my hard work and studying was paying off, but I still have along way to go..

All up, I have not yet completed my exam, little time remains up until the BIG day! I think that by telling you my experience of how it really is or how it has been is a great way in assisting you with any doubts or concerns you may have of DELE and a great insight. As you can tell and get my gist I highly recommend anyone in completing the DELE exam and giving it your best possible shot. It is truly an enjoyable experience where you get to discover and unravel the spanish language, dedicate your time effectively and efficiently to end results that will pay off, have yourself a diploma, oh and did I forget to mention studying in BUENOS AIRES!

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Studying Abroad: An interview with one of our students

Friday, November 7, 2014 12:10

Categories - Student Stories, Uncategorized - 0 Comments

Pete, 29, London

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Why did you choose to come to Argentina?

I have lived here before in 2003 for more or less 6 months, when I was 19 years old. After stopping through Argentina for a month, I went travelling through South America for 4 months and then decided I really wanted to come back. I worked in a couple of bars and really got to know Buenos Aires and my Spanish was at a really good level.

How was your Spanish before you came?

Pretty much non existent. I had studied Spanish for a year in high school learning basic introductory Spanish.

What made you want to come back?

I turn 30 in January and just had a bit of a life epiphany. Having of kept in touch with people I had met in Buenos Aires but had moved to Europe. I kept my Spanish going speaking to them and then realised I can really talk and thought I should dedicate some time to getting it back in to shape.

Why Expanish?

Well, it had a very good reviews and testimonials about this place. As well as the location being right in the centre of town. It also seemed to have broad mix of students with different levels of ability. There also seemed to be a lot of places that just offered introductory and beginner courses. However, because I did have a background of learning Spanish,

When I came here I was fortunate enough to meet Gabriel. The first thing he did was¬†ask me to do a test, to see how good my Spanish was. It was a little bit dissapointing as I was not as good as I thought I was. He then put me in a class with everyone at the same level as me. What I really liked is that the classes are not dictatorial, we talk loads and that really is the best way to learn Spanish! I am really enjoying it! One thing you kind of forget is that Brazil is just next door so you get a lot of brazilians in the school, which is awesome! If I look back at what I learn’t in school in that one year of High School, I have probably more in the one month that I have been here than I did in that entire year.

What do you like about Argentina?

I find that the people are generally really warm and welcoming. Obviously its sad at the moment with the state of the economy. However, on the flip side it means that we can live and travel and come to school quite cheaply, relatively talking. I like the fact that having spent 9 years in London where they are rules and regulations for everything, then in comparison here there isnt much order but in a positive way, there is rules and regulations too but not everyone respects them and it kind of makes you feel free in a way. I have been quite fortunate to end up in a neighbourhood called Caballito, which I didnt know so well prior to coming here. But, its really cool I really really like it.

What activities did you do here?

I have seen a couple of movies, which was really good. Then I went to the Intercambio which was fun and I think I am going to the Mate tasting this week.

How long are you going to be here for?

Well I am here to stay ! I plan to study here at Expanish until December, being 3 months in total, then I am going to do the DELE exam as I think it will be a worthwhile thing to do have a universal accredited qualification of my Spanish. Then, have a go at starting my own business here, with 9 years of Digital and start up experience under my belt so it seems like everything is coming together quite well.

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Learn to dance Tango at ‘La Catedral’

Friday, July 5, 2013 12:06

Categories - Restaurants, Bars, Cafes, Clubs, Student Stories - 0 Comments

Close your eyes, don’t look down at your feet but listen to the music and try to feel it“. My teacher said this to me when he showed me what tango is about. I had my first lesson at ‘La Catedral’, a beautiful place where you can have a tangolesson. At ‚ÄėLa Catedral‚Äô it doesn‚Äôt matter if you are a beginner or already an advanced tango dancer. After your lesson you can see how locals dance the tango at the Milonga (dance event).

To give you an impression of the location: dim atmospheric lighting, art on the walls, food and drinks and a band playing beautiful music. People around you are chatting, drinking wine, enjoying their food while others dance tango. Need I say more? I think ‘La Catedral’ is a great and casual place where you can see and experience this beautiful dance.

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 My first lesson

When I think about the tango, I think about passion, sensual movements, high heals and nice dresses. At ‘La Catedral’ you can wear casual clothes if you like. When I came in I saw a tango lesson in progress, which gave me an impression of the lesson I was about to experience. We started with some exercises (a warming up), followed by learning how to ‘walk the tango‚Äô. This basically means that you walk slowly and sensual. Your upper body is held upright and close to your dancing partner, with faces almost touching. The man is guiding the woman and that is pretty difficult (at least for me). I unconsciously wanted to lead while we were dancing. In this moment my teacher said to me to listen to the music en not to think too much about what I was doing. When he told me this it started to get better. Pauses and abrupt directional changes makes it even more important to follow the man who you are dancing with and to listen to the music. You can imagine that you and the other people dancing around you are very concentrated. Everybody have a serieus expression. Chatting and smiling are reserved for the breaks between songs and when you step on the feet of your partner. This means that looking for a dance partner with similar experience is very important at milongas‚Ķ.

 The Molingas

There are some rules and signals dancers must follow to find someone in the same level. When you dance with someone and he or she say ‘gracias’ after a song, consider that this partner is unavailable for the rest of the night. The signal to dance, known as cabeceo, involves a quick tilt of the head, eye contact and uplifted eyebrows. This can happen from way across the room. The woman nods yes and smiles or pretends not to have noticed (a rejection). If you are at a Milonga and you don’t want to dance with anyone then don’t look around to much; you could breaking some hearts‚Ķ

 So what is tango about?

You can fall in love with the passion of this dance, the music and the way some dancers completely ‚Äėdisappear‚Äô in their dance. It’s a great experience to see and try to feel the music like some great dancers do.

For information about the lessons (including the schedule) look at

Current Music Styles in Latin America (Part Two)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 14:56

Categories - Student Stories - 0 Comments


The music of Cuba, including the instruments and the dances, is influenced mostly by African, European (especially Spanish) and Chinese music. Most forms of the present day are fusions and mixtures of these sources, mainly the first two.  Cuban music has been immensely influential in other countries. It contributed not only to the development of jazz and salsa, but also to the Argentine tango, Ghanaian high-life, West African Afrobeat, Dominican Bachata and Merengue, Colombian Cumbia, Spanish Nuevo flamenco and to various forms of pop music around the world.

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Music in Cuba

The Son cubano is a style of music that originated in Cuba and gained worldwide popularity in the 1930s. Son combines the structure and elements of Spanish canción and the Spanish guitar with African rhythms and percussion instruments of Bantu origin. Its’ derivatives and fusions, especially salsa, have spread across the world.

Son remains the basis of most popular forms of modern Cuban music. Son is represented by long-standing groups like , which was re-established in 1985, Orquesta Aragón, Orquesta Ritmo Oriental and Orquesta Original de Manzanillo. Sierra Maestra. Meanwhile, Irakere fused traditional Cuban music with jazz, and groups like NG La Banda, Orishas and Son 14 continued to add new elements to son, especially hip hop and funk, to form timba music.

 Cubans have never been content to hear their music described as salsa, even though it is crystal clear that this was a label for their music. For the most part, timba equals salsa cubana, though there are claims that it is something more. Since the early 1990s timba has been used to describe popular dance music in Cuba, rivalled only lately by Reggaetón. Though derived from the same roots as salsa, timba has its own characteristics, and is intimately tied to the life and culture of Cuba, and especially Havana.

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Salsa band


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Cuban economy went into decline. Poverty became more widespread and visible in Cuba. In the 1990s, some Cubans start to protest this situation by means of rap and hip-hop.

Government and hip-hop

The Government scheme gives rap and hip-hop groups time on mass media outlets in return for hip-hop artists limiting self expression and presenting the government in a positive way. The hip-hop artists talk about everyday life in Cuba. However, most critics believe that the Cuban Rap Agency will hide rappers’ opinions of the Cuban government.


Reggaeton¬†from Panama¬†is a new genre for the Cubans but by 2012 was so massively popular that “the face of Cuban pop music” was considered to be Cuban reggaeton (cubat√≥n) singer,¬†Osmani Garc√≠a¬† ¬†(“La Voz‚ÄĚ). Other popular cubat√≥n artists include Eddy K¬†and¬†Gente de Zona¬†(“People from the ‘Hood”).

Rockoson¬†is a form made with elements of timba, nueva trova and rock and roll¬†made since the late 1980s by groups like “Vanito y La Lucha Almada” and “Habana Abierta”.


There are many different styles of Mexican music and all of them are steeped in culture and traditions. Before the Spanish arrived in 1519, the area was dominated by the Aztec culture, a culture that maintained an important and complex musical tradition. Even after the Spanish arrival where Mexico was to remain under it’s domination for the following two hundred years, the Mexicans still incorporated their Pre-Columbian roots together with the lasting influence that came with the Spanish. The Spanish regime also imported African slaves, adding a further dimension to the progress of Mexican music through history.  Numerous folk styles and classical music have come from this combination, and regional styles really reflect these traditions.

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Aztec music

Mexican son first appeared in the 17th century and is a fusion of indigenous, Spanish and African traditions, much like Cuban son, and exhibits much variation from different regions, both in rhythm and instrumentation. Mariachi is probably the most well known son-style and is said to be in the very root of every Mexican’s heart After the Mexican Revolution in 1910, it was declared to be Mexico’s national music and throughout history has traditionally been played at weddings and other traditional Mexican functions.  The usual mariachi group today consists of as many as eight violins, two trumpets and one or more guitars.  Mariachi was recognized by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2011.

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Mariachi band

After the introduction of Mariachi, it then further produced some of the styles like Ranchera which really gained momentum and was really popular in Latin America, especially after the Mexican Revolution. Norte√Īo evolved with an intermingling of Mexican son, Czech and Bohemian rhythms. During the 19th century, Czech and Bohemian people brought some new music styles and musical instruments like the accordion. The newly introduced music style of those migrants amalgamated with the existing Norte√Īo and started to be played by local bands. That was the start of the evolution and transformation of Norte√Īo the impacts of which can still be seen as the accordion has now become one of the most integral parts of this music genre.

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Norte√Īo band

The Mexican rock movement began in the late 1950s and early 1960s. One of the early Mexican Rock bands came out of the predominantly Mexican barrio community of East Los Angeles, “Los N√≥madas” (The Nomads).¬† Mexican Rock combined the traditional instruments and stories of Mexico in its songs. Mexican and Latin American Rock en Espa√Īol, remain very popular in Mexico.

Mexico also has a long tradition of classical music, as far back as the 16th century, when it was a Spanish colony.


The diversity in musical expressions found in Colombia can be seen as the result of a mixture of African, native Indigenous, European (especially Spanish) influences, as well as more modern American and Caribbean musical forms, Cuban, and Jamaica.

Colombian salsa 

Salsa music¬†was born among Puerto Ricans and Cubans, but soon spread to Colombia. Native salsa groups like¬†Fruko Y Sus Tesos¬†and labels that recorded them like Discos Fuentes emerged. Artists like¬†Joe Arroyo¬†followed, inventing a distinctively Colombian form of salsa. Other influential Colombian salsa bands include¬†Cristian Del Real¬†“The Timbal Genius”,¬†Grupo Niche,Alquimia,¬†La Misma Gente,¬†Los Titanes,¬†Los Nemus del Pac√≠fico,¬†Orquesta Guayac√°n¬†and¬†Grupo Gal√©.¬†

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Colombian salsa

Colombian rock music 

In the late 1950s, Mexican rock artists like Enrique Guzmán and César Costa became very popular in Colombia. Soon, native rock bands like Los Speakers and The Flippers gained a wide following.

Rock in Colombia gained great popularity during the 1980s with the arrival of bands such as¬†Soda Stereo¬†(Argentina),¬†Los Prisioneros¬†(Chile), and¬†Hombres G¬†(Spain). During the 90’s, many punk and heavy metal bands appeared in Bogot√°, Medell√≠n, and Cali. Colombia has possibly the biggest underground, hardcore, metal and punk movement of the continent, and is known in Latin America as the “punk corner”.¬†Aterciopelados,¬†Kraken¬†and¬†Masacre¬†are some of the most important Colombian¬†rock bands.

But, possibly, the most successful “indie” band is¬†Sidestepper, with its fusion of Colombian traditional music, electronic and African rhythms, who already appeared in¬†Coachella Festival¬†in 2006.

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Colombian pop music

Shakira¬†is the highest selling and most recognized Colombian artist. After the success of her album¬†Pies Descalzos¬†in 1995, Shakira began working with producer Emilio Estefan Jr. and recorded¬†¬ŅD√≥nde Est√°n los Ladrones?¬†which sold millions world wide.

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Other artists include:



Colombian urban and hip-hop music 

Hip Hop came to Colombia in the late 1980s when a few US Hip-Hop tracks by NWA and MC Hammer spurred a break-dancing fever among the young of the less privileged areas of major cities such as Medellín, Cali and Bogotá. Towards the end of this decade groups began to form, eventually leading to complete album productions in the mid-1990s.

Reggaeton took hold in the 1990’s while hip hop took a back seat for a while. Reggae has always been popular in the Colombian Caribbean Islands.

2006 brings a renaissance in Colombian Hip-Hop in the form of Afro-Colombian group ChocQuibTown, fusing traditional rhythms and instruments from their native lands in the Colombian Pacific into their sound. Already hailed as the new phenomenon in Colombian Hip-Hop, their popularity is ever increasing and making way for other Urban artists to emerge.


The haunting but magical sounds of pan pipes have formed a part of the Andean landscape for over two millennia. Andean music comes from the broad area in which the Inca Empire expanded over centuries including Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Peru and even parts of Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela. These days, bands made up of traditional pipes and string instruments can be found easily in these places.

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The extension of the Inca Empire over centuries

Originally from the Cuzco Valley, the Incas expanded rapidly and in little more than two centuries, they stretched as far north as southern Colombia, and as far south as the Rio Maule in southern Chile.

While the Incas certainly employed the instruments we know as ‚ÄúAndean‚ÄĚ, it is important to understand that many cultures preceded the Inca dynasty. Some include the huge Aymaran population in Bolivia, the Nazcan populations of Peru and others such as the Moche, the Huari, Chim√ļ and Chav√≠n, all of which had already developed many musical styles and instruments that the Incas merely adopted later on.

Throughout these dynasties, music was a sacred art and a powerful source of communication with the divine world. It is important to note that prior to the arrival of Europeans, there were no string instruments in South America.  The Andes were dominated by the sound of wind and percussion. Some percussion instruments include the wancara, bombo and chajchas and wind instruments that were utilized include the siku, antara, carina and the quena which has actually been proven to be around before the birth of Christ.

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The quena

Upon European arrival, natives were introduced to new, exotic instruments like the lute, guitar, harp, violin and accordion and later they would be introduced to brass instruments including saxophones, trumpets and tubas. Another pinnacle change to the Andean musical world was the introduction of western musical scales: major and minor keys, sharps and flats.

Andean music is not restricted to traditional sounds; African rhythms from the coast and salsa joined to create a musical melting pot. Over the centuries these styles gradually blended together and what can be heard today is literally a result of centuries of colonialism and the migrations of peoples from different regions and continents.

The pipes of ancient South America continue to be used by native populations, and their popularity shows no signs of disappearing.

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Pipe band

Of course, rock is very popular as well throughout this very huge region and is often heard in the numerous bars and clubs which attract the youth.


The music of Brazil comprises of numerous regional music styles influenced by African, European and Amerindian forms. Throughout history, Brazil has developed some very unique and original styles that are well-known world over.

A great example of this is samba especially as it is the popular music backdrop for Brazil‚Äôs annual Carnaval celebrations. Samba usually utilizes instruments like cuicas, tambourines, frying pans (‘played’ with a metal stick), flutes and guitars and artists including Paulinho da Viola, Beth Carvalho and Alcione are among the most influential sambistas.

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Samba school performance, Rio Carnaval

Bossa Nova is another well-known style, especially because of the song ¬®The Girl from Ipanema¬®that became famous in the mid-1960s¬† ¬†In terms of harmonic structure, bossa nova has a great deal in common with jazz and samba also, although samba but is more complex harmonically and as opposed to Samba’s origins in the favelas, bossa nova emerged primarily from the upscale beachside neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro.

Other popular styles in Brazil today include lambada, zouk, choro, frevo, forró, maracatu, MPB, funk carioca, RAP, sertanejo, Brazilian rock, pagode, tropicalia, axé, brega, and there is also a growing community of modern/experimental composition, including electroacoustic music.

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Drum band

There is also still a huge presence of indigenous music in the country. Much of Brazil’s native music imitates the sounds of the Amazon Rainforest and instruments including whistles, flutes, horns, drums and rattles are used to create these sounds and that type of atmosphere.

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Native music





How to discover yourself and new friends in Buenos Aires

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 15:03

Categories - Student Stories - 0 Comments

The road to self discovery with meaningful friendships can be a reality for you. I have travelled the world and in my estimation, the world¬īs most decorated playground, Buenos Aires, is the place to start your journey.

Why B.A, Argentina?

Argentine people are a very liberated, caring and loving bunch. This is due to several factors; Overthrowing the Spanish rule, mass European immigration, a hugely successful liberalism movement, the fight to freedom from dictatorships, recovering from an almost fatal bout of neo-liberalism in 2001,  a spiritual belief, a creative nature, beautiful landscapes, great food and blessed sunshine. Buenos Aires is a truly idyllic arena to display yourself.

Open your mind, open your eyes and open your arms.
Bring this with you and enrich each others¬ī lives.

Your key to opening the gate to untold personal riches is grasping the Spanish language. Whether you plan on staying here for three weeks, two months, six months or more depends on your circumstances and how you value your time here. Many of you may decide to kick on from B.A and travel to other parts of Latin America where your knowledge of the Spanish language will guide you. From experience I would suggest a minimum of a month in B.A studying Spanish and benefiting from the spirit this great city holds. It will also give you enough time to make new friends from all four corners of the globe.

Making new friends can be a daunting prospect. No question. Below is a 20 point list to help you;

1. Introduce yourself to others

2. Take risks. Don’t anticipate rejection

3. Make an effort to smile and use eye contact.

4. Make an extra effort to remember people’s names.

5. Show curiosity and interest in others. Be a good listener

6. Display your sense of humour.

7. Let your natural self come out

8. Accept a persons right to be individual

9. SHOW UP. Whenever you have the chance to see other people, take it. Go to the party (The Argentine people are incredibly open with their invitations. Take it).  Stop by someone’s desk. Make the effort to see your new friends time and again. Repeatedly. Immerse yourself into the world’s best café culture.

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Typical of the cafe culture in Buenos Aires

10. Join in with activities such as the cinema club, tango history lessons, salsa and reggaeton dance classes and language exchange nights.

11.  Say nice things about other people and communicate with enthusiasm.

12. Make friends with friends-of-friends.

13. Be aware of opened and closed body language.

14. Be receptive to new ideas

15. Find others living in your area who share similar interests. The popular areas are Palermo, San Telmo and Belgrano.

16. Learn, teach, and share things

17.  Rise up, stand up, unite, and make a difference

18.  Be a part of something bigger-both locally and globally

19.  Express your feelings, opinions and emotions to others. Use ¨I¨ and speak of your feelings when you talk about personal things.

20.  Keep up to date with current affairs that affect all our lives. Popular newspapers are The Buenos Aires Herald, Clarin and La Nacion. Try C5N, TN or Channel 26 for T.V news.

The point is to meet as many people as you can and then start to get your circle of friends in place. Then attempt to develop intimate friendships with just a few. These intimate friendships will help you discover yourselves on a much more comprehensive and meaningful level. You will come to know yourself by knowing a friend who mirrors similar characteristics. We do tend to deceive ourselves you know. Your close friend will make you look inside. Minor differences in character will lead you to assess your own flaws that may need adjusting.

Below are a few tips on how to develop those more intimate relationships;

Thoughts, feelings, views, emotions, values, morals, believes are just some of the areas you can address. Challenge each others’ views and believe systems.
Love and concern for others. Building a trusted bond. Understanding family issues. Value the relationships. Ensure each others’ safety on a night out in the capital and most of all, share experiences.

Understand that decent friendships are good for society. Provides a degree of consideration for others. That’s why BA is so friendly. So there is a bigger picture here.

Friends and close friends will enable you to develop yourself. Over and above this, it will depend on your honesty to yourself and your willingness to look inside that enables you to enrich yourself. By knowing yourself more thoroughly you will also be able to develop more meaningful relationships with your friends. There is a genuinely powerful synergy here.

Below is 20 points on how to discover yourself;

(1) Create your own life timeline. Write down those events in your life that you believe have affected you. Often we have clear pictures in our heads. Certain memories. Deal with these with valued friends and family. Failing that see a therapist. B.A is very open and accomplished in this field. It’s almost seen as fashionable. But note if you choose therapy for this reason be sure to address your vanity issues..

(2) kick your vices into touch. Difficult to drive yourself forward looking out the rear-view mirror. (Big Lebowski sketch, Jeff Bridges, Credence song looking out my back door, springs to mind. Hilarious…)


mqdefault 300x168 How to discover yourself and new friends in Buenos Aires

“Looking out my back door”

(3) Let go of the need to be loved by all.

(4) Learn to rely on yourself

(5) Free Associate. Spend time thinking of the things you like and dislike. Things that excite you.  Consider aligning these with possible future careers.

(6) Embrace solitude. A walk around the Ecological Park, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, works for me. Ensure peace to gather your thoughts.

(7) Read a vast array of books and appreciate the beauty of music. Be liberal, thoughtful but above all be emotionally moved.

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The passing down of knowledge

(8) Ask yourself every question under the sun and make a written record of the answers.

(9) Act on your newly discovered knowledge. Write a short story, pick up a guitar, play cricket, take a trip to the dessert, whatever.

(10) Be patient and prepare for dead ends. Relax. Take your time. This is a life journey. You will find yourself eventually and when you do you will be a much stronger and contented being. Also know that the road of knowledge and wisdom only stops when you leave this planet. That’s the joy in life.

(11) “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.
Ghandi. Do some volunteering work or help others less fortunate or less skilled than you.

(12) Be Yourself… ¬†Oscar Wilde once said with his usual wit: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Quite right.

(13) Stop comparing yourself to others.

(14) Create your own identity and individualism.

(15) If these points resonate with you but you feel you’ve already discovered yourself then lose yourself. Let yourself go and then get on the road.

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The Obelisk

(16) Centre yourself with meditation, yoga etc. I practice the Alexander Technique. It works for me.

(17) Do something new. Test yourself. Discover new qualities.

(18) Accept your shortcomings

(19) Watch movies of substance and begin to see them from different views.

(20) Understand that the journey will be challenging but ultimately it will be the most rewarding thing you can do.

tango dancers stock photo How to discover yourself and new friends in Buenos Aires



The main theme to take from this blog is the awareness of the powerful synergy between self discovery and friendship. Work at it, enjoy it and ultimately know that when your times up you have made this world a better place. You really can make a difference.

Bon voyage



Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!

Friday, January 4, 2013 11:42

Categories - Argentina Travel Info, Student Stories - 0 Comments

P1020840 Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!

As an avid traveller currently residing in Buenos Aires, I could not miss out on a chance to travel around Argentina. So as soon as I got a chance, I bought a bus ticket on and headed to Puerto Madryn. The 20 hour journey, unlike it may seem, was surprisingly very pleasant. I opted for ‚Äúexecutive‚ÄĚ seat, which turned out to be very comfortable, received three meals during the journey and thoroughly enjoyed the movies as well as the views.

To be perfectly honest I did not have high expectations of Puerto Madryn. I assumed it is yet another coastal city that happens to be located on the doorstep to the wildlife sanctuary of Peninsula Valdes, but it has a unique character and a lot to offer. Spoilt with 35 degrees weather, I could not resist sunbathing on a beach, but was not the only one who enjoyed the sun.

P10206193 Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!

While strolling on the beach you can not only spot whales, but also you can get to the ship graveyard, which is very eerie. You are not permitted to climb on board, but nonetheless it is an impressive sight.

P1020700 Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!

P10207271 Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!
Puerto Madryn is a brilliant base for travelling, as most touristic attractions are located within 200km distance. Not being a fan of organized travel packages and tour buses I rented a car (for approx. AR$550 a day) for two days. On the first day I headed to Punta Tombo where from September to April over half-million Magellanic penguins breed. Punta Tombo is the largest penguin colony outside Antarctica, and least to say, is nothing on what I expected. It is spectacular to see so many penguins spread through such a dry land lapping up the sun.  While I struggled with the incredibly hot weather, penguins did not seem to be bothered by it and enjoyed sunbathing. It is very impressive to see them from such a close distance as they cross the path in front of you and live totally oblivious to the many visitors that can be passing no more than half a meter away. Entrance fee to the park is AR$60. Petrol for the day works out AR$120, organized tours from AR$350. Definitely worth visiting!

¬†P1020894 2 Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!

P1020862 Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!
On the following day I decided to go to Peninsula Valdes. There are many companies that offer organized trips (from AR$350 plus entrance fee to the park) to this unique place, but to me travelling by car was the best option. While you most likely wont be taken aback by the scarce, flat and bleak landscape, you will certainly enjoy peninsula’s famous wildlife: sea lions, elephant seals, southern right whales, Commerson’s dolphins and Magellanic penguins. If you are very, very lucky you might get a chance to spot orcas. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see them, as I was out of their season (February to April), but in all fairness I enjoy seals too much to see them being killed by orcas.

P1020995 Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!

After visiting Caleta Valdes and Punta Norte I went to Puerto Piramides ‚Äď a small, charming and secluded settlement. If you are up for some fun-sporty activities, there is a lot to choose from: scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and at last whale watching. Most people who travel to Puerto Piramides flock there for the boat rides.

P1030027 Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!

Trips run throughout the day. Other than the company you choose there are two main options: day time trip (AR$350) giving you 1.5 hours on the water (which with its popularity means you will have a boat full of 55 people), or a sunset trip (AR$600), which I opted for, as you get more time on the ocean (approx. 2.5 hours), beautiful array of colors, calmer sea, whales are more active in the later hours, and the real bonus being less people on board. I was told the average is 15 people, but when I took the trip, there was only 8 of us enjoying this unforgettable experience. Even though I took the trip out of the main season I still managed to see 8 whales! The boat trip started at 6pm and ended around 9 o’clock in the evening. Remember that at that time, there is no public transport going to Puerto Madryn so if you don’t have a rented car you might have to stay the night in Puerto Piramides.

¬†P10302091 Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!

Last, but not least I would like to highly recommend to you snorkeling with sea lions. I saved it for the end of this blog entry, as it was the highlight of my trip. There are few companies that offer this activity in Puerto Madryn. I went with, recommended to me by a friend, and it was a great choice! As only 3 boats are allowed at a time in the water of the natural reserve of Punta Lomo where sea lions reside, there is a race between 6 companies to get to the spot first. The company of my choice has a contingency plan and transports 3 people by jeep, and 3 by boat to beat the competition. If you don’t like speeding you better stay home! Once there, you get a quick introduction on how to float on water and behave with the animals. As soon as you get to the water sea lions swim towards you. Don’t be fooled by how many you can see on the water surface, as there are probably 3 times as many swimming below you. Sea lions are extremely curious, and playful and enjoy messing about with people. You get to touch them, and pet them. Never in a million years did I expect these wild animals to be such fun to play with! I know it might seem bizarre, but the way they interact with people they do remind me a lot of my dogs! All in all, the experience was fantastic, one of the best I have ever had! It is quite pricy at AR$900, but so worth it!

snorkeling1 Chubut Province ‚Äď one of Argentina‚Äôs must see destinations!

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Always compare flight fares with bus prices as at times flights can work out cheaper and can save you time. Check out LADE airline for best prices!

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† You get a good discount when you rent a car for 2 days. With Expanish benefit card you get 20% off from Hertz.

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Remember to take a credit card with you if you want to rent a car (debit card is not sufficient).

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† To avoid disappointment prior to travelling check out which animals are in season and plan your trip accordingly.

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Prepare for the weather! Pack some worm clothes and waterproof jackets for the whale watching as it gets quite cold and windy out at see when you seat in the boat not moving for 2 hours.

The Universities in Buenos Aires Part II

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:54

Categories - Student Stories - 0 Comments

‚ÄúUniversidad Cat√≥lica Argentina‚ÄĚ Pontificia Universidad Cat√≥lica Argentina general and exclusive information from a medicine student.

Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina was founded in 1958. This Buenos Aires University is sponsored by the Catholic Church with its Rector Victor Manuel Fernandez. In 2009 there were 18,000 Students, 2007 Employees and 1610 professors at the UCA.

Things to study:  Social and Economic Sciences, law, Political Science and International Relations, Natural Sciences and Engineering, Arts, Psychology and Education, agricultural sciences, theology, canon Law, medicine, Bioethics, Communications and advertising Journalism.

uni blo 2 foto 1 300x174 The Universities in Buenos Aires Part II

Pontificia Universidad Católica on the habour, Buenos Aires Argentina

The girl I met is studying medicine at this university and it will take her 6 years. She told me that per lecture are round about 40 Students and the things she enjoys at the UCA are the campus and the Faculty. This is no surprise because Puerto Madero is an expensive restaurant and night life district, which was renovated in the 90s and earlier was a port city with storage (now it is used by only a few ferries to Uruguay and small excursion boats). Here you can admire the floating casino in an old steamship.

A controversial thing what she likes is the dress code which produces in her opinion an equality. Like in summer you are not allowed to wear shorts. Or you have to use trousers which are not Jeans.

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Pontificia Universidad Católica building Buenos Aires Argentina

The lab practicals could be better in her opinion but she enjoys the extracurricular activities like sports and cultural classes. During my online research I found out that besides for a library there is also a cultural center with a language school for English, Italian, German, French and Portuguese. So besides the language skills the students can also take seminars and professional workshops and cultural training which is really interesting.

For more information go to

The Universities in Buenos Aires Part I

Thursday, June 28, 2012 8:18

Categories - Argentina News, Argentina Travel Info, Argentine Customs and Culture, Spanish, Student Stories - 0 Comments

General Information and student interviews of different Universities

The capital of Argentina has about 40 Universities. Half of them are public and the other half are private. Luckily the ranking of the public Universities is higher than the private Universities. In Argentina Buenos Aires is the best and most popular place to study, while the second ranked city is La Plata. I want to present you with an overview of student reviews about the differences between universities in Buenos Aires.

The University of Buenos Aires- UBA

The most popular university in Buenos Aires is called Universidad de Buenos Aires. This University has buildings spread all over the city. The University has no dress code and students say that while the quality of the buildings are usually quite good and beautiful, there are also buildings which need to be improved. I’ll show you two examples in pictures. Recently the government has begun to invest money in the old buildings for restorations.

I did a survey of 3 students studying at UBA who all come from different countries: Argentina, Chile and Colombia. During the talk to the students I got the feeling that there is a big mixture of nationalities caused by the history and the large mix of immigrants in Buenos Aires. Equal rights exist in Argentina, which means that you are allowed to enter to a university and you can study whatever you want. It doesn’t depend on your high school grades and education is for free.

Students per lecture: In general UBA divides the courses into Practical (20-30) and Theoretical (100+) classes. Firstly the students are grouped together and listen to the theoretical class and after that they get divided into smaller practical groups where they discuss and work in groups. In general I can‚Äôt give you a specific number. ¬†Two of the students said that there are 40 students per lecture in ‚ÄúIngenieria Agronoma‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúPsicolog√≠a‚ÄĚ and one student of ‚ÄúDise√Īo Industrial‚ÄĚ said that there are 120-150 students per lecture.

What the students like most about their university:  The park, good professors, that there is no dress code, that it is a public university with a high quality of education.

According to the three students the following could be better: Infrastructure, organization and old buildings which need to be renovated. Another opinion was the long distance to go there.


UBA Facultad Derecho 300x200 The Universities in Buenos Aires Part I


My last question was about the extra-curricular activities of the UBA. These answers were quite positive: Rugby, Football, Handball, Computer and other seminars or music.

Besides this a sign of the quality of a university depends on the famous people who graduated from there. At UBA there are a lot of special personalities  and five people have even received a Nobel Prize:

  • Carlos Saavedra Lamas¬†,¬†Nobel Peace Prize¬†(1936)
  • Bernardo Alberto Houssay¬†,¬†Nobel¬†Prize in Physiology¬†(1947)
  • Luis Federico Leloir¬†,¬†Nobel¬†Prize¬†in Chemistry¬†(1970)
  • Adolfo Maria P√©rez Esquivel,¬†Nobel Peace Prize (1980)
  • C√©sar Milstein,¬†Nobel¬†Prize¬†in Medicine¬†(1984)

The most popular person who studied there was Ernesto “Che” Guevara¬†(1928‚Äď1967) who studied medicine there before he became a communistic¬†revolutionary.

The Homepage of the UBA is:

Expanish Students’ Favourite Spanish Words

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 12:02

Categories - Spanish, Student Stories - 0 Comments


Here at Expanish we know that learning and keeping in mind new vocabulary can be very hard. Sometimes it happens that you can’t remember the easiest words but instead some weird words you would never use but you remember because you like the sound, the orthography or just the meaning. These kinds of words also appear during the lessons here at Expanish and that’s why I asked some Expanish students and the staff about their favorite words in Spanish. Read their answers and find out if you remember them because they are special:

La burbuja ‚Üí means ‚Äúbubble‚ÄĚ in English. Attention: not to confuse with the words bruja what means ‚Äúwitch‚ÄĚ or br√ļjula which is a compass

La mesa ratona → describes a little and low table you use for example in addition to your couch. And it has nothing to do with the cute little animal all the girls are afraid of, neither with the thing you use to make clicks on your computer! In Spanish these are also known as ratón!

Mesa rat%C3%B3n 1 Expanish Students Favourite Spanish Words

El murci√©lago¬† ‚Üí it‚Äôs an animal that is nocturnal. His famous comic buddy is ‚Äúbatman‚ÄĚ. But when do you need this word in Spanish?

Bat man 241x300 Expanish Students Favourite Spanish Words

refunfu√Īar ‚Üí this so easy to keep in mind because of its onomatopoetic style: a refufu√Īador is a very grouchy person. Have a look at these similar words as well: murmurar (to mutter), gru√Īir (to grumble/grunt) – aren‚Äôt they just lovely?

torpe ‚Üí almost everyone needs this word to describe himself: ‚Äúclumsy‚ÄĚ

Torpe 1 300x269 Expanish Students Favourite Spanish Words

fanfarronear¬† ‚Üí means ‚Äúto brag‚ÄĚ. See as well the word autobombo which is NOT a ‚Äúcar bomb‚ÄĚ, it just means ‚Äúself-praise‚ÄĚ

trucho,-a ‚Üí this word is used for all kind of ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ stuff. A argentino trucho is someone who pretends to be an argentine, or is an argentine who just doesn‚Äôt behave like an typical argentine.

This list could be endless and I‚Äôm sure there are some words that you would add! Test yourself ‚Äď with absolute certainty you‚Äôll keep at least one of the words above in mind.


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