Study Psychology in Argentina: is it a good idea?
Psychology is a young science and, as such, its study is still complex. Each faculty of psychology throughout the world prioritizes some theoretical frameworks with respect to others, and the differences between the academic curriculum are remarkable.
One of the countries with the greatest tradition in the study of the human mind is Argentina . The South American nation has a long list of psychologists and psychoanalysts (especially the latter) who have made important contributions to the science of behavior.
Stories of a Spanish in Buenos Aires
In order to better understand the particularities of the Psychology career in Argentina, we wanted to talk with Daniel Tejedor Pardo, who at 21 years of age has had the courage to study psychology both in the University of Valencia (Spain), where he is from, as in the Catholic University of Argentina , thanks to a scholarship that allowed him to know how this discipline is studied on the other side of the Atlantic.
Interview with Daniel Tejedor
Is it worthwhile to study Psychology in Argentina?
Bertrand Regader: Daniel, how's everything going? We wanted to talk with you to know your experience as a Psychology student in two different continents. The first is a mandatory question: as a Valencian by birth, what motivated you to want to travel to Buenos Aires to study the first semester of the fourth year of psychology?
Daniel Tejedor : Before I entered the University, I knew I wanted to do an exchange abroad. I have traveled and studied in other countries previously on my own, and they have been, by far, the greatest experiences of my life. How not to want to repeat it again, but studying what I like the most?
On the other hand, I must confess that the idea of making a university exchange came to me in the third year, but because it is too hasty I can not confirm my registration on time. Because of this, in my last year of my career I was determined to do it and I had everything studied to turn my dream into reality.
B.R. : How did you choose your destiny? Did you have other countries or universities in your sights?
Well, the truth is that it was a complicated choice. At the University of Valencia we have a large number of destinations to choose from. The first thing I had in mind was the language. Most people who make an exchange of these characteristics, prioritize the idea of learning a language or improve it. At first I thought about traveling to the USA. but, in my case, since I have studied and worked previously in Anglo-Saxon-speaking countries, as I have said, English did not worry me.
Then I shuffled to learn Portuguese or Italian and go to a country where they spoke these languages. After a while, this idea was evolving and I realized that since my true passion was psychology, knowing languages was not as important as my training in psychology. Traveling to a foreign country where a language other than your mother tongue is spoken is an impediment to develop 100% in the field you study (unless you study a philology, for example, or have a special interest).
In this way, I limited my choice to countries where Spanish was spoken. That forced me to travel to Latin America. In Spain, by the way, there are three major types of university exchange, the SICUE Program (between Spanish universities), the Erasmus Program (between European universities) and the International Program (outside Europe). Therefore, the latter was my choice.
B.R. : What Latin American countries did you find most appealing to go to study Psychology?
In principle, any Latin American country seemed an interesting option, but of course, I could only choose one. That's when I started to consider other factors. In Spain (and I think in Europe), Latin American countries have a reputation for being insecure. In fact, many of my colleagues discard the option of traveling to these countries because they perceive them as very dangerous. For my part, it was something I had in mind, but I was not afraid, so I did the following, I looked for information on robbery and crime statistics throughout Latin America, to take it into account.
In addition to this, I also had other factors such as the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the Level of Life and the Level of Happiness. Maybe it can be excessive, but I wanted to base my choice on solid information and not just opinions or television news; because I live so long abroad, without knowing anyone, knowing that I will never see any family member or friend until my return, more than 10,000 km away ... it's like taking it seriously.
Thus, the result was that Argentina (and specifically Buenos Aires), had a good standard of living, a crime rate and murders very low with respect to almost all other countries (although it was still considerably higher than in Spain), Good universities and many points of interest, both within the capital and outside.
Some points against Argentina were its economic instability and inflation, having an extremely high non-violent robbery rate (especially in Buenos Aires) and its extension (which is 5.5 times larger than Spain, being the eighth largest country). of the world). The latter was very important for someone like me, who loves to travel and knew that he would travel the entire country, from end to end.
B.R. : You chose as a center of studies the Argentine Catholic University. Why?
To choose the University, I first thought of the countries I was willing to go to. Mainly two, Argentina and Mexico.
At the University of Valencia, when you make the request for the scholarship, you are allowed to put five Universities of the country you want. I chose the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), in that order.
Taking into account my academic record, I knew that one of the first three would be granted. Mexico, as you can see, was my second country on the list and my third University for several reasons, such as the incredible culture and its fascinating places, but the main reason was for the quality and fame of the UNAM.
To know the ranking of the best universities in Latin America, see the famous QS University Rankings; that not only informs you about the best universities, but also about the best cities to live as a university student. The UBA, the UCA and the UNAM occupied positions in 2015, 15, 26 and 6, respectively. As a curiosity, Brazil is the country with the best universities according to this ranking, but as I said, I discarded the option of dedicating my trip to learn languages.
B.R. : You went to Argentina during your fourth year of the race, as I understand it. What subjects did you attend?
First of all, we must clarify that I went to Argentina to study the first semester of a quarter (I was exactly 171 days). In Spain the Psychology degree is 4 years, and the practices are done in the last one. That is why, in addition to taking a certain amount of credits in subjects (which I had to validate when I arrived in Spain), I also had to make another amount of credits in terms of academic practices.
I studied 3 subjects and participated in 4 different university internships. The subjects were: Seminar on Philosophy and Psychology, Psychoanalysis and Research Methodology.
On the other hand, the practices were at the J. Borda Psychiatric Hospital; in the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires (where I did two different ones) and in the Mayéutica Psychoanalytic Institute of Buenos Aires.
B.R. : I suppose that the differences in the way of teaching psychology were remarkable with respect to your previous stage, in Valencia. Did you appreciate this in the subjects you studied, and in general in the mentality of teachers and students?
The general methodology is very similar. Master classes supported by teacher slides, one or several group assignments per subject with their respective exposure, compulsory attendance (you need to attend a minimum of 70% of the classes and if you want to travel is a problem) ... Regarding the subjects , I prefer to analyze them one by one, because I lived them quite differently.
First of all, I must clarify in passing, one of the great reasons why I chose Argentina for this adventure, and it is the importance of the psychoanalytic movement, both at an academic and cultural level. There a large part of the population has its own psychologist (usually a psychoanalyst), since in fact, Argentina is the country with the most psychologists per capita of the world.
B.R. : You noticed the special influence of Psychoanalysis.
Yes of course. From my point of view, Psychoanalysis, especially its latest contributions, where the classic dogmatism imposed by authors like Freud or Lacan is already overcome, is essential to train a good psychotherapist. This is why I chose Argentina, a place where I can train in orthodox psychoanalysis, from which I must start, to build a solid base in order to know the most current psychoanalytic currents. Oh! In case I have not said, in the University of Valencia, and in almost all the Universities of Spain, there is no subject of psychoanalysis, hence my interest.
Having said that, taking Psychoanalysis in the UCA allowed me to learn in a very broad way all the teachings of Freud that I consider fundamental, even though some of them must be updated, because they allow you to see where this great current was born. Although, I must admit, it was a really difficult subject, and it was also the one I spent the most time on.
Research Methods turned out, I must admit, to be very easy.I attended it because I had to validate it with a similar subject at my university in Spain. The difference is that in Europe, the training we receive psychologists in Statistics and Psychometrics is colossal compared to the training that is given in Latin America (usually). Moreover, the subject of statistics as such, was formerly in the UCA in the first year of career, and changed to third or fourth, because people saw it too difficult and left the race. In Spain the latter is also common, people are surprised to see numbers in psychology, but a university does not allow to change the order of the subjects for this; especially Statistics, which is fundamental to understanding research in Psychology.
As for the Seminar in Psychology and Philosophy, it was a point of view different from any other that it had had before. A point where philosophy and psychology are added to address issues in a reflective and holistic way. Subjects such as love, freedom, happiness and power were openly debated in class by all students. In addition, this seminar was also attended by people from other careers, so it was truly stimulating to hear opinions from all areas of knowledge.
B.R. : Focusing now on the practices that you have commented that you did, what can you tell us about them?
The practices were a great boost for my training. It was something that I had in mind when I chose the International Program, instead of the Erasmus. While in PI it is allowed to do internships, in the conventional Erasmus * no. In addition, curricularly speaking, having done internships in a foreign country is a great incentive.
In this sense, in Buenos Aires I did not have any problem to do them. The university gave me a lot of paperwork and I did not have any problems at any time. This is, in fact, one of the great bureaucratic differences I have found in Argentina. While in Spain the bureaucracy is slow and serious, in Argentina it is infinitely slower, but more flexible. This allows you to delay or rectify issues of paperwork, because everyone gives you things late, but, at least, they are aware of how it works, they take it into account and they do not put up with you.
While in Spain, to access some practices, you need certificates, justifications, periodic follow-ups, signatures from all over the world and a thousand other things; in Argentina the same day that I communicated that I was interested in an internship, they assured me that I could do it, they told me where and when to start, and that same day I started.
Without wishing to dwell more on this point, I will summarize that, in the practices of the J. Borda Hospital, I was working in a therapy group with patients with psychotic disorders, with whom I had direct contact, something very difficult to access in Spain. We did weekly sessions and I was able to witness the ravages that these disorders provoke and the joy that comes with their improvement.
In the Italian Hospital, in the department of psychiatric pediatrics, I attended lectures on research done by doctors of this hospital, at the same time that we discussed their results and implications. I also participated in a case supervision group, where psychologists and psychiatrists from the hospital shared the most difficult cases they had, in order to seek advice and guidance from the rest of the team we formed.
Lastly, at the Mayéutica Psychoanalytic Institution of Buenos Aires, I attended lectures on child phobias from Lacanian psychoanalysis, where we discussed some of their seminars.
B.R. : As much as there Psychoanalysis has a wide acceptance among professionals, I am sure that they have an open and updated mentality.
Of course, it is obvious that we can not keep Freud on a pedestal. But this can be applied to all classical authors. To think that the theories based on concrete casuistry 100 years ago still have the same validity today, is a serious error.
I repeat that starting to study the classics is essential, but to hear that there are still psychoanalysts who continue to relate all psychological disorders to sex; or that they overinterpret all the acts of their patients, seems to me an outrage. To this we must add that the importance of neurosciences and cognitive psychology, if in Spain they displace everything else, in Argentina they hardly have a leading role. Both extremes seem to me to be criticized. It is essential, in my opinion, that a balanced synthesis between these perspectives be achieved.
B.R. : Did you notice a special interest on the part of your Argentine colleagues towards the methodology and the typical teaching methods of the Spanish faculties?
If I am sincere, they showed much more interest for the opinion that I had of Argentina, curiously. It is also true that it is assumed that the methodology is different, but it is not so.Some notable points are, for example, that the subjects were once a week; that is, Monday Psychoanalysis, Tuesday Research Methods, etc. In contrast, in Spain, most subjects have less time, but several times in a week. This also impacted me a lot, because it involved giving five hours of psychoanalysis (for example) followed. It runs the risk of being tedious, but for my taste, it improves the organization of the week and allows you to focus more on the subject of that day, without losing the common thread.
It should be added that I have friends who have traveled to countries such as Germany or England, and they do say that there is a substantial difference in methodology. General knowledge is more important, having a critical spirit about what is taught, doing more practice, spending a lot of time reading current articles in psychology, doing more debates in class and exhibitions about free topics. Things I have not seen in Spain or Argentina.
B.R. : To make this type of exchange and travel thousands of kilometers from home to study in another place on the planet must be an incredible experience, and not only in terms of the study itself. Would you recommend psychology students to do an exchange experience similar to the one you have lived?
Academically, I think that the advantages of studying abroad, both in terms of training and curriculum, have already become clear. Having said that, I recommend traveling. No more No matter your age, if you study or work, your purchasing power **, your destination or origin. Traveling will always do you good, even when the trip does not go as you expect and some things may have gone wrong; because you will learn You will learn from the mistakes (that we all make) and you will learn a lot of things, how to manage yourself financially, plan your trips ... You will even learn to combine partying every week, study as if there were no tomorrow and travel to learn a little more the world in which you live.
The day you are going to die, you will only remember two things, the most important people in your life and the happiest moments, and the best way to achieve both is to travel.
Notes of Daniel Tejedor:
* There is a new Erasmus modality, called Erasmus Internships, where you can do the internship, but the duration of this program is 2 to 3 months maximum.
** I have met many people who travel through Argentina and other parts of the world "with what's on". Without credit cards and only a couple of hundred dollars; spending months away from home. Obviously, do not stay in luxurious hotels, but because the real luxury is given to you by the country if you dare to visit it.