Eating delicious foods, checking out fashion and architecture and dancing in Buenos Aires’ top tango bars, it’s easy to forget one is in the South American city as part of an educational program.

But for two weeks each year, students of Nina Perez’s cultural immersion travel program at the University of B.C. get to do just that, while simultaneously learning about Buenos Aires’s culture from the native Argentinean.

“It was a great trip,” said Vancouverite Bob Beck, who signed up for the program last year with his wife Maria. “We had some great historical and artistic tours of the city, went to a really great tango school, and had a variety of restaurant experiences.”

Perez — who is also director of Baila Vancouver Dance School — says it enables people to immerse themselves and learn about the city in a fun way that may not be easily accessible for tourists.

“I’m from Argentina, so I take (the students) everywhere,” she said. “You get to meet a lot of the locals and find out about a lot of the events that are sometimes not in guidebooks.”

Students also learn practical, every day tips like how to use the subway system.

“I was told that was one of the best things that we did, because some people extended their stays and were so independent,” said Perez. “They were able to navigate the city without knowing a lot of Spanish.”

Beck, who plans on going again, says going with a local at the helm means making the most of the trip and not wasting any time.

The next Buenos Aires trip is scheduled for the fall of 2010. It costs $2,950 and includes tango lessons, visits to tango bars, excursions, some meals and apartment accommodation. Airfare is not included.

While the ability to speak fluent Spanish is not mandatory, the two-week trip is preceded by seven weeks of optional Spanish-language tango lessons.

The University of B.C. also offers a language immersion program, which is similar to the cultural immersion program but requires knowledge of the language. Next year’s trips include Puglia, Italy, and Bordeaux, France.

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