Sunday 21 February 2010

Sin Mente Argentina

I booked my programme in Buenos Aires through a company called Mente Argentina. Mente is Spanish for mind. They arrange everything for you: a four week cooking course and a language course running neatly alongside. They provide you with an apartment - a luxury single apartment in my case. They loan you a cellphone, gym pass, offer 24 hour support should you need it, and lay on activities and excursions. Hell, they even meet you from the airport.

Well. They met me from the airport. The apartment might well have been considered a luxury pad in Stalinist Russia, but at no point since would it qualify for such lofty status. Apart from the wafer thin walls, the tiny kitchen and the wobbly bed, I am now sin agua caliente and have been taking cold showers all weekend.

The cooking course isn't actually a course. What they mean is they book you classes for four weeks. So there is no real cohesion. I lucked out with the tartas, pizzas y empanadas gig in the first week. Next week he has me down for some individual lessons, which could be promising. Hopefully the profesor will speak English, so I can actually ask some meaningful questions. After that I have Mediterranean (check the map), and then he's signed me up for something called ABC de la cocina. I've declined that, but God only knows what alternatives he will produce. Something Argentinian wouldn't go amiss.

The Spanish classes are very good. But because he is trying to fit them around the cooking, I won't be doing level 2 straight after level 1, in the time honoured tradition, but will have individual classes instead. So to complete level 2, I will have to cough up for an extra week. None of this makes any sense to me.

Opting for the path of least resistance has caused me a lot more hassle than I had hoped. It would have been a whole lot cheaper and easier just to sort it out myself. Oh, and I'm still waiting for my gym pass. But to cap it all off, my fucking cellphone just stopped working. I was about to hurl it against the wall when it occured to me that it would almost certainly penetrate the flimsy partition, probably catching my neighbour a glancing blow on the temple as he takes his fiftieth piss of the day.

Mente my arse.


  1. Hi Joe. I took the cooking program last Dec 2010 - Jan 2011. WHY HAD I NOT STUMBLED INTO YOUR BLOG BEFORE I ENROLLED?

    This is basically what I've been posting on review sites:

    MENTE ARGENTINA = Highway robbery!

    I took the cooking course in Dec 2010 - Jan 2011, my classmate and I were very disappointed it almost seemed like a joke. Before coming to Argentina, I was told we were going to learn in a cooking school, instead we ended up cooking in a studio apartment with a poorly kept kitchen. A month after the program, we still do not have the recipes to the meals we made because apparently, the teacher/"chef" is still on holidays.

    The apartment they put you in is far from the "1st class" type they market. No airconditioning, and fans were given only after you request for them (my poor flat mates had to wait for more than a week before they even got a fan!). If you're staying for less than 6 weeks, you will most likely be placed in a cupboard of a room. Or the maid's quarter. But you still pay the same price as everyone else.

    I did not enroll in their language school (and thank goodness for that) but those who did told me that it was no good either. They ended up taking a course elsewhere on the side or after their program with Mente.

    Foreign students can put together their own program at a much cheaper price and get better quality.

    Such a rip off!

  2. No kidding -- Mente is a total rip-off. Their internship programs are over-glorified and expensive! Never work with Mente--it's a lot of money for a whole lotta nothing!

  3. Hey just wondering if the Mente Argentina people had you wire money to a Wells Fargo account under the name Marcelo Litvan to pay for your program. I'm looking at doing the internship program with them and I get that it's expensive to wire money to argentina, but it seems weird that it is under a personal name and not the company name. Thanks!!

  4. Thanks for the advice. Do you suggest going through a program at all or just setting it up myself?

  5. Just do it yourself. Mente book Spanish lessons at IBL school in Bs As. Cooking classes at Gato Dumas, but you need to speak Spanish.