Over a year of planning was committed to my study abroad experience this past semester. At one point, my study abroad plans were so far away it seemed like it would never come and it would never happen. However, before I knew it I was on a plane with about 50 kids that I have never met to a country that I have never been to before. Four months later, I have made some good friends, I am much better at Spanish and I got to know Argentina.
The most shocking aspect of my study abroad experience is how different it actually was. I have studied Argentine history since high school, studies Spanish since middle school and I have traveled out of the country since I was in elementary school. However, none of it adequately prepared me for my life in Buenos Aires.
It was definitely a humbling experience. Humbling in the best way possible because I have realized what career path I want to pursue, I got to know myself better.
When people ask me I tell them that I liked Argentina and it was a wonderful experience. However, this is not entirely true. I have faced some of the most scary, most difficult and testing experiences while I was abroad. I do not care very much for the porteno lifestyle or for the city of Buenos Aires. This does not mean that I regret going there and that I did not have some of the most memorable and wonderful moments of my life as well. I just have no desire to return to Argentina anytime in the near future.
If I did not love to travel before….I love love love to travel now. My abroad experience has encouraged me to try to live abroad or to stay abroad for at least three weeks at a time. If possible I would like to spend as much time as possible learning new languages (and continuing Spanish) and visiting new countries.
I will admit to some reverse culture shock. I have not ordered food in English in four months. That does not seem like a long time however, be it Starbucks or a restaurant I have to fight the urge to order in Spanish. Also, I am still in the mindset of the laid back porteno culture however, the Schenectady County DMV is not.
At this point in my Blog I would like to thank Argentina for allowing me to experience their culture no matter how difficult or easy they made it for me. I would also like to encourage anyone with the least bit interest in traveling, culture, international affairs, international cuisine or anything foreign or international at all to go abroad. If not for the whole semester go for at least a week or two. I think….NO I know that it was the most valuable decision I have ever made for myself. Not only for academic life but for my life in general. I am extremely happy that I went and very grateful that I was able to.