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Harvard Summer Program - Cultural and Spanish Language Immersion in Argentina’s Historic Capital, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Publish Date: Sep 29, 2015

Deadline: Jan 28, 2016

About the city

Buenos Aires, Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital and one of the largest metropolises in the Americas, has enticed and entranced its visitors for generations.

Founded in 1536 as the City of the Most Holy Trinity and Port of Saint Mary of the Fair Winds, or Buenos Aires, it was a sleepy Spanish colonial capital until Argentine independence in the early-nineteenth century. By 1880, it was Argentina’s capital, the center of rapid economic expansion, the destination for waves of immigrants, and the heart of a vibrant culture. One writer has called the Buenos Aires that emerged “the most beautiful, sophisticated, and civilized city in Latin America,” while countless others have described it as “the Paris of South America” or “New York in Spanish.”

About the program

Home to such diverse figures as Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Gardel, Eva Perón, and Maradona, Buenos Aires provides you a fascinating setting for complete immersion in the Spanish language and Latin American culture.

You live with Argentine families in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, near the Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social, where your classes are held. Lectures by distinguished Argentine scholars and artists, as well as numerous excursions around and outside of Buenos Aires, are included.

You also spend a week in the northeastern provinces of Corrientes and Misiones, learning about Guaraní influences, chamamé music, and biodiversity in this subtropical region, bordering Paraguay and Brazil.

Course of study

SPAN S-Dx Study Abroad in Buenos Aires: Spanish Language and Latin American Culture (32104)

Johanna Damgaard Liander
(8 credits: UN, GR) Limited enrollment.

This is a second-year-level course in Spanish language and Latin American culture, with a focus on Argentina. The goal of the course is to quickly move students toward fluency in Spanish using Spanish grammar review and language instruction. This language work is combined with an in-depth study of the culture and character of Buenos Aires through history, music, literature, and ethnography, focusing on four periods: the second half of the nineteenth century, the 1920s, the 1960s and 1970s, and contemporary Buenos Aires. Students study Buenos Aires in the greater context of Argentina by comparing the city to the provinces. By participating in language sessions, instructional excursions and lectures, and film screenings; listening to popular music; and viewing art and photography, students expand and strengthen their linguistic skills and learn about the history, language, and culture of Buenos Aires. The course provides students with numerous occasions to speak Spanish with native speakers from diverse backgrounds. In class, students compare levels of formality in both written and spoken language. Students become familiar with the vast and fascinating lexicon of Argentine Spanish, develop their written and spoken academic Spanish, and attain an advanced linguistic level by the end of the course.

Morning sessions integrate language instruction with cultural materials and readings. Afternoon and evening sessions include a weekly writing workshop, lectures and conversations with scholars and artists, a retracing of Borges' Buenos Aires, visits to museums, La Recoleta cemetery, the Teatro Colón, San Telmo, La Boca, Tigre, and San Isidro, plus a tango class and performance.

All afternoon and evening sessions are directly related to classroom study and assignments, and provide students with greater exposure to the cultural life of the city. Additional weekend excursions enhance the understanding of the richness and diversity of Argentine culture. These include visits to San Antonio de Areco in the province of Buenos Aires, where students can visit the pampas and experience the life of the gauchos.

Prerequisite: Harvard students must have completed Spanish Aa and Ab, or Spanish Acd, or received the equivalent score on the Harvard University placement test. Other students must have completed one year or one accelerated semester of college-level beginning Spanish.

Course credit

See Study Abroad Credit Information.


Johanna Damgaard Liander, PhD, Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University


Before applying, review the Admission and Policies and FAQs pages.

You must be at least 18 years old and have completed at least one year of college or be a first-year student in good academic standing to apply.

The application materials, outlined below, are due January 28, 2016:

  • A completed online application (available in early December) that includes:
    • A $50 nonrefundable application fee
    • A statement of interest in the program, including information on relevant coursework in Spanish and travel experience abroad (previous travel is not a prerequisite)
    • Transcripts (student record accepted for Harvard students)
  • The names and telephone numbers of a personal and an academic reference

Program directors may ask for interviews.

You will be notified of admission decisions by mid-February.


There is a nonrefundable $50 application fee. The cost of the program includes the following:

  • Tuition
  • Room, breakfast, and dinner
  • Excursions (including meals when appropriate)

In addition to the program fee, you are responsible for:

  • A health insurance fee (waived if you have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
  • Transportation to and from Buenos Aires
  • The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
  • Any immunizations

How to pay and funding options

See Payment and Funding for payment deadlines and more information, including funding options for Harvard College students.


Students are placed in homes with local families—chosen by the experienced staff of Buenos Aires Homestay—to have the best chance to experience life in Argentina and speak Spanish. Families live in Palermo, a residential neighborhood in the center of Buenos Aires. Classes are held at the Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social, also located in Palermo.

Additional information

Contact Johanna Damgaard Liander, jliander@fas.harvard.edu.

Students with disabilities

Contact the disability services coordinator as soon as possible. See Students with Disabilities for more information.

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