Adventurous UCSB students will now have the opportunity to trace their Gaucho roots back to their South American origins.

The University of California Education Abroad Program recently added Buenos Aires, Argentina to its list of study abroad options, and the first group of students is set to arrive in early January. Hosted by the University of Belgrano, the new program provides UC students the option of completing an intensive semester of Spanish language instruction in a Latin American country previously unavailable to EAP students.

The program’s core curriculum and activities are organized through Expanish — an international Spanish language school on the University of Belgrano campus. Aside from gaining language proficiency, students can expect to immerse themselves in Argentinean culture with weekend trips to Iguazu Falls and Mendoza, among other destinations.

EAP advisor Paul Rivas said the program exposes students to a rich language in a country known for its incredible atmosphere and natural beauty.

“You’d be daft not to learn Spanish as a UC student, given our location,” Rivas said. “It’s a great way to maximize your Spanish in the shortest amount of time. All the while, you’re in a place that looks like Paris and is reminiscent of New York, but it’s in Spanish and at South American prices.”

UC officials decided to add the Argentina option in October after a similar program in Concepcion, Chile was abandoned because a suitable venue could not be found.

Unlike other programs offered in Latin America, participants can now complete up to 22 units of Spanish while interacting with students from across the globe. This coursework is what sets the program in Argentina apart from others, Rivas said.

“This kind of program is rare for us,” Rivas said. “It’s the only thing we have that features this much language in one semester and nothing else.”

Four UCSB students are currently set to arrive in Buenos Aires in late January and are scheduled to return in May.

Despite feeling anxious about the recent addition, Jacob Abriel, a third-year political science major, said he is anticipating an enriching experience.

“I’m trying not to go in with any expectations,” Abriel said. “Being part of the first student group is a bit nerve-wracking, but I am just excited to be going to such a culturally rich and diverse area.”

According to Karen Mead, University-wide EAP office regional director, the support provided by Expanish has prevented the budget crisis from limiting the introduction of the new program.

“It didn’t cost the UC or EAP any money to set up the program because it already existed at the University of Belgrano,” Mead said. “And, as far as the budget goes, it’s revenue and cost neutral.”

Rivas also said the program is a fairly cost efficient means to obtain University credit, even amid skyrocketing tuition fees. The $12,300 program is estimated to cost just 12 percent more than studying on a UC campus.

“If anything, this is the best thing that you could do in the face of budget cuts,” said Rivas. “We’re adding a new program, and it’s affordable for students.”