Spanish and Mate: making new friends in Buenos Aires
By Open Campus Student, Kelsey Lynn Dearing
CIEE Buenos Aires offers students the opportunity of meeting locals, Porteños, at Mate Club. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Argentineans seeking for new foreign friends and practicing their English and foreigners seeking for new Argentine friends and practising their Spanish gather around Mate and talk. Open Campus and Liberal Arts students participate of a Mate workshop where they learn how to prepare mate; yerba mate healthy properties; the social meaning of sharing this infusion.
Mate Club is such a fun experience! I have gone to almost every meeting since coming to Buenos Aires. I have met Porteños as well as people from Venezuela, Brazil and the United States. (A couple people from the US that I met quit their jobs just to move to BA!) My favorite part about Mate Club is the comfort I feel with everyone there. When we are at Rabieta in Palermo on Saturdays, it is a wonderful environment to stay there and share a couple drinks to converse with anyone and everyone. The conversations often switch between Spanish and English, but it's not mandated at all - we just go with the flow of the conversation! I find myself very welcome there and will continue to attend the meetings as well as encourage others to go. It is definitely a place where you can meet locals as well as practice your Spanish speaking! The Spanish speakers there are also often looking to improve their English, which you can help them with.
In Mate Club, you are set at a table with a mix of other Spanish- and English-speaking people. Every 15 minutes or so, they come around to tell you to switch languages. (I.e., for 15 minutes everyone is only speaking Spanish, and vice versa.) You rotate tables once, then there is a game at the end. After that, you are free to go or you can stay and mingle! There are times when I feel more confident in my Spanish than others. Even between tables, I can have a completely different experience. However, on those not-so-great evenings, what always brings me back is how welcome I feel by the Mate Club members and how encouraging all of the participants are to each other!