Attending the University of Buenos Aires
The University of Buenos Aires is ranked 11th for best universities in Latin America and is ranked 75th world-wide according to QS rakings. UBA consists of 13 faculties, 6 hospitals, 10 museums, and 3 high schools. I had the privilege of attending one of the institutions here in Buenos Aires. I attended La Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) Filosofía y Letras, which would be the U.S. equivalent of the liberal arts college. My first day attending UBA was a unique and life changing experience. The institution is not exactly what you expect upon arrival. The facilities and amenities are scarce and is nowhere near as luxurious as our institutions back home, but the quality of education is truly remarkable. There are a couple of downsides; for example, you need to bring your own toilet paper if you’d like to use the restroom, but you get used to it.
Student Life on Campus
Attending this university made me not only appreciate what we have back home, but it made me realize that we also don’t need a big fancy building to define us and what we learn. UBA’s students are very politically active on and off campus. The walls of what used to be an old cigarette factory are plastered with newspaper headlines, posters, flyers, and stickers. Every day some political movement is happening right before your eyes. The students are constantly voicing their opinions and making themselves heard through writings, student movements, and organizations. You can see a picture of “Che” Guevara, an icon and symbol of revolution, in every corner.
One thing that did surprise me was the number of organizations that promoted socialism and communism (something that as an American can be alarming and confusing at first), but the fact that students are still able to fight and represent what they believe in in such a direct and active way was inspiring. It also made me realize that despite some political differences, the students at UBA are simply making themselves heard and trying to make their country better every day.
Where Do You Go When You Have to Go?
Another surprising thing about attending UBA was the use of the restrooms. The restrooms have no assigned gender. Both men and women use the same restroom. This is a hot topic in the U.S. today concerning the LGBTQ+ community, and it was interesting to see how in Buenos Aires this is not such a big deal. Even outside of the college environment, if the women’s restroom is full, many women will simply go into the men’s restroom without hesitation. It made me think about how serious the whole “gender” issue in the U.S. really is.
We Can Learn a Thing or Two From Buenos Aires
Overall, attending the University of Buenos Aires was an enriching experience. I am definitely returning home with a more open mind about the causes people are fighting for and how I can voice my opinions more. I am also going back with a full understanding of the importance of a good quality education. You don’t have to attend a big fancy school to get educated, and despite the lack of several resources, students (myself included), are proud to attend or have attended UBA. It is an experience I will always cherish.
Stephanie Castellanos is an international relations and global studies major at The University of Texas at Austin and studied abroad on the IFSA Summer in Buenos Aires program in 2017. She is a First-Generation Scholar for IFSA through the First-Generation Scholarship program.