Doing an onsite course is especially exciting. Not only are you transplanted into an unfamiliar place but you also get to be a part of a TEFL experience. The first month is a balancing act to say the least. Juggling the rigor of a full academic course while trying to immerse yourself in a new culture can be difficult- sometimes overwhelming. The best tip for becoming a local fast- live like the locals do!

1. Only Gringos (foreigners) take taxis to work:

In Argentina, where I spent my time teaching English, the public transportation system was terrifying at first. I didn’t speak Spanish, so how was I going to pay for the bus? Which Subte (Subway) did I need to take to head downtown? These are questions I found were best answered by jumping right in! I learned more Spanish talking to bus drivers than I ever would in a classroom.

2. Eat With the Locals:

Every country in South America has a dish they are proud to call their own. There will be no shortage of Pizza Huts, but you won’t see many locals eating there. Try an empanada in Argentina, a Churrasco sandwich in Chile or a Chivito in Uruguay. Food is as important to South American culture as language so why not make friends with your local street food vendor?

3. Take the Weekend off:

Use your time wisely. You will have a hectic Monday through Friday schedule so use the weekends to get out of the city! Charming historic towns and booming Estancias are only a bus ride away. Take a day trip to Lujan, Argentina or Valparaiso, Chile. Every South American country has hidden gems where culture abounds, right outside the big cities. Your job as a “local” is to find them and explore!

Managing to follow these tips can be stressful during your onsite course. But remember, you are there for the experience as well as the certificate. Living like a local early in your stay will help you learn Spanish, make friends and create memories unlike anything else.

This post was written by Lauren Davis.