When we first arrived at Buenos Aires airport, I was over the moon! Being selected to travel out to South America with two other girls was a dream come true, more importantly with the opportunity to be working for a multinational pharmaceutical company! I was of course slightly anxious at the same time as I hardly knew the other girls, but as all three of us agreed to travel out a week or so early before starting the internship, I felt like we would have time to get to know each other and also get to know the city we would be living in for the forthcoming 8 weeks.
So in the first week, we got settled in to our apartment in Palermo, which is in the outskirts of the city and is generally a much safer area for tourists, particularly a group of girls. We successfully found an apartment using Air BNB’s website for a decent price, ensuring that the apartment had a bed for each of us, security and other facilities (such as lifts, etc). After having settled in to the apartment, we set out to explore the city and get used to the transportation services. We realised that transport was slightly more expensive than we had thought, particularly due to the inflation crisis and the strikes by bus drivers, but nonetheless, the University of Birmingham helped us and provided us with the additional funds that we needed after we got in touch. It was nice to know that the University was still on call to help us if we were stuck for any reason or if we had miscalculated our required expenses, as this was very important.
One of the greatest things that I realised in the first week was that every single Argentine person that I had met was so willing to help, so kind and so lovely. Many people do speak English, however I would highly recommend taking the time out to learn basic Spanish. It’s really difficult to learn Spanish in Argentina because it is very different to other Spanish-speaking nations (for example, double “ll” is pronounced “sch” e.g. calle is pronounced “cash-jhey”). Nonetheless, I have managed to pick up some basic Spanish whilst being out and about.
We went in to GSK’s office in the week before the first week of our internship, in order to introduce ourselves to our managers and soon-to-be colleagues, and also to make ourselves familiar with the travel route so that we didn’t arrive late on the Monday. The manager was absolutely lovely, and introduced the basics of the project we would be starting on Monday. As GSK is a British company, speaking Spanish was not a necessity within the office or for the project, but many employees do prefer to speak in Spanish (e.g. in meetings), and therefore it’s better to learn some Spanish so that you can contribute and understand what others are saying.
It was a good idea meeting the team before actually starting the job as we felt much more prepared for the week ahead. We then spent the rest of the weekend walking around the city (we found lots of free walking tours by searching Google) and we visited various markets, all of the historical/political sights in the city and learnt a lot within one week. Buenos Aires is truly a lively, creative and thriving capital city, with admirable street art located on every street corner, and live jazz bands performing at local pubs, and the food? Well… I’ll have to save that for my next blog entry as that will take some time to write about! But my goodness, there really is so much to see here. Luckily our hours are 9am-3pm, which gives us some additional hours to do some exploring around after work.
I’m excited to see what the forthcoming weeks are going to bring! The greatest thing though, is that I am getting closer and closer to Alice and Navneet (the other two girls from UOB), and I feel like we are going to become just like sisters.
By Farzana Miah