Forget Europe

For those who can’t quite afford a jaunt across the Atlantic Ocean for a European extravaganza but won’t give up the desire for cobble-stoned streets, corner cafs and concentrated cultures, consider enigmatic Buenos Aires.

The city, ironically dubbed “Good Air,” is actually very polluted (14 million people make up this dense metropolitan area); however, if “air” is interpreted as a feeling or sense, then Buenos Aires lives up to and beyond its name.

Buenos Aires has the idiosyncratic delights that make South American cultures unique — humble, engaging, personality-driven peoples; traditional cultural activities practiced despite modernization; political consciousness and pursuit; fanatical football aficionados — in addition to the perks of Western Europe: classical architecture, delicious and diverse foods and museums (both conventional and cutting-edge). Moreover, ever since the fall of the Argentine Peso in 2001, Buenos Aires went from being one of the most costly cities in the world to one of the most affordable.

Living it up in Buenos Aires for a week and only spending $250 (yes, that’s $250) is definitely doable. This would include, let’s say, eating out all the time in both cafs and restaurants ($2 to $10); sleeping in a plethora of decent hostels sprinkled throughout the city’s diverse neighborhoods ($5 to $15); mixing up transportation between buses, taxis and subways (a few dollars per day); drinking, shopping and clubbing (cheap, but dependent on how lavish and determined to be a celebrity you are) — you know, the typical college student affairs.

Needless to say, Buenos Aires is pretty cheap, even for all those tightwad goats out there. And as far as mixing it up goes–keeping it fresh and experiencing something new every day–Buenos Aires has everything that could satiate even the most eclectic types. You have dance clubs that play strictly Depeche Mode until 7 a.m.; bar halls that have 15-foot-long foosball tables and require 10 people to man the entire field; the dopest Sunday street antiques market ever; a transvestite red-light district; abounding fashion boutiques; tango, tango, tango; a cat park and great street art–the list really could go on and on.

But if the consumerist frenzy and constant movement that is Buenos Aires becomes too much–or if you start to choke and get teary-eyed from all the “good air” — you can remedy the situation by checking out Buenos Aires’ backdoor: the rest of Argentina, penguins in Ushuaia, glaciers in Patagonia, vineyards and arguably the best wine in the world in Mendoza and awe-inspiring waterfalls in Puerto Iguau.

Buenos Aires, and the rest of Argentina for that matter, is the answer for destitute students seeking an affordable option for something new and promising in travel.

Courtesy of Spencer Young

The simultaneously beautiful and ugly expanse that is San Telmo, one of Buenos Aires’ more neglected neighborhoods, stretches across the horizon. The neighborhood is nonetheless full?of character and host for the wildly popular Sunday antiques market, which any visitor in Buenos Aires shouldn’t miss.