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.

Chau. Suerte.



I will be going home next week. I cannot believe it! The four months that I have been here have not gone by quickly however; it has not been a slow process either. Although, I cannot articulate how this experience has changed me I know that I will forever be a different person. Some of the experiences I have had here, the places I have visited and the people I have met have definitely helped me to discover things about myself and the world that I would have been unable to do if I were at home in New York. Not to mention all the new Spanish words I learned.

As I prepare to leave Buenos Aires, I think about the souvenirs that I would like to bring home for my family and friends. I also think about the intangible things that I would like to take home from Argentina. For example, the beso greeting or a cheek-to-cheek kiss you give someone when you first meet him or her. The more relaxed work environment that I experienced in my internship is another aspect of Argentine lifestyle I enjoy. The ability to sit in a restaurant for as long as you want and the only time you have to leave is when you ask for the check. Certain words like y que mas which means and what else, me cae bien, does not really translate but means ‘it doesn’t sit well with me’.

However, there are several aspects of Argentine lifestyle and culture that I do not wish to take back with me. The low circulation of money in the economy and the cash economy has been very inconvenient for me. There is a lot of pollution in the city and trash collection is very sloppy. Also, the cuisine here that consists mostly of potatoes, beef, bread and pasta has been very repetitious.

I would love to go back to New York and meet Argentine expatriates or studnets and discuss their experiences in the United States. I wonder which souvenirs from the US they want…..

Sight Seeing

Sight Seeing

With only 3 weeks left in Buenos Aires, Argentina I still have a lot of sight seeing left to do. Although I do admit that it does feel rather strange to plan tourist activities in a place where you have been living for four months.

Last weekend I visited Iguazu one of the most popular destinations for Argentines and tourists from all over the world. Iguazu is a small town in northeastern Argentine known for the world’s longest waterfall. Iguazu is located on the borders of Argentina and Brazil so you can see both countries at the same time. The falls are absolutely captivating and I was overwhelmed with how beautiful and powerful they are. Iguazu is certainly, much more impressive than Niagra falls.

The tour guide taught us a little guarani, which is the language of native Argentine people. He told us that I means water and Guazu means big which translates to Big Water which is the name of the falls. I was very fortunate to be able to experience just how big the water was in a little dingy that brought my friends and directly under the waterfall! I was very nervous about being on such a small “boat” underneath the cascading waves that seemed the size of tidal waves. However, the tour guide and my peers assured me that it was safe. It was quite an amazing experience that I was extremely lucky to have.

I really enjoyed the falls but there was one aspect of the trip that I did not enjoy. My study abroad program brought us to an indigenous village to an indigenous village. It was not a reenactment or an old village filled with ruins it was a village where people of “Indian” descent lived.

Apparently, the village’s economy is based on tourists coming to their village to see how native people lived. At the end of the village tour there is an opportunity to buy crafts hand made by the residents of the village. My peers were snapping pictures and commenting on the village children as if they were animals in the pet store. Many people were saying that they felt obligated to buy crafts “to help”.

I found myself in a moral and philosophical dilemma. I was very uneasy about what seemed to me as self-exploitation. What did it mean that a group of American college students were coming to an “indigenous village” as part of our sightseeing adventure? There are a million anthropological problems with this perspective. Why is that we consider people speaking an ancient language and living by ancient traditions or ideals as poor and unfortunate and in need of charity?!?!  I found the entire experience extremely disturbing.  This is something that will definitely stay with me and that I will think about again in the future.

Although, I do believe that a study abroad experience should be organic and that one should be allowed to experience culture in anyway they see fit. I do believe that there should be some discussion and reflection culture, what that means and what occurs when you project your cultures, ideas, values, beliefs and ways of life onto another culture without understand very much about theirs. It is important to understand who you are and how you live in relation to other people.

What I do….

What have I been doing ?!

My very homesick roommate tells me that there are only 40 days left until we go home. She has a countdown and the most exciting part of her day is watching her Google countdown. She has very strong feelings about Buenos Aires; by this I mean that she does not want like any part of her study abroad experience except for her favorite Argentine dish called Milangnesa which is beef lightly breaded and baked…and Argentine staple.

My days here are a lot less consumed with academics and resume building than at Cornell. For this I am grateful, I think it is easy to be consumed with achievement that we forget exactly what we gain from all our hard work besides high GPA and a golden resume. Being here has definitely reminded me that there is a world and a life greater than myself that supplementing my studies with real world experience is equally if not more important than what I achieve in the classroom.

On Wednesdays and Mondays I intern at a non-profit organization called Conciencia. The goal of this organization is to encourage civic participation, provide avenues for alternative dispute resolution, improve community relations and increase democratic activity in Buenos Aires. My responsibilities in this organization is to assist the director with translations, prepare for conferences, communicate with other non-governmental organizations domestically and internationally, and to work on agency programs to realize their missions and goals. It is definitely a rewarding experience and specifically linked to my interests in international relations and community service.

Another aspect of my internship that I enjoy is very simply taking the subway to it. I found it very gratifying to be able to ask for directions in Spanish and be able to find my way around the city. Now, I take the trip without thinking and I feel like a real citizen of the city. It always surprises me how crowded the train is. People are literally millimeters apart from each other on the train. In New York City people would wait for the next train but here people sigh and then scooch their way onto the train. Only when there is absolutely no space do the portenos wait for the next train.  On the crowded train people are still polite and happy despite the extremely uncomfortable situation. They smile at you and when you attempt to move through the mass of people they ask you very sweetly if you will be getting off at the next stop so that you can work together to exit the train.

I take a yoga class here and out of all the yoga classes that I have taken (and I have taken many) it is my favorite. Although, yoga is intended to be a relaxing non stressful practice, I feel that in the States it is still another way of competing with one another and it is more about being able to do some of the more complicated positions than it is about relaxation and spiritual awareness. There is definitely a more communal vibe in the Argentine class and you feel like everyone who is practicing together is working on a common goal.

Living in a dorm in a foreign country definitely been an interesting experience. The students, who are from all over Latin America are very eager to get to know everyone else in the door and learn about whom you are and where you are from.  Although, I am not sure if this is specific to my dorm or is a characteristic of Latin American student residences, but  I find it very welcoming.

One weekend I went to Spanglish. Spanglish is an organization where native Spanish and English speakers converse with one another in both Spanish and English. The format of Spanglish is very much like Speed Dating but the purpose of Spanglish is to improve your Spanish or English and not necessarily to find your significant other, however I have heard it has happened. I was extremely surprised about how exhausting speaking five minutes in Spanish and then five minutes in English for two hours could be! Bilingual individuals must have a lot of stamina and energy.

Bilingualness. In the dorm and in the city those who know English will often switch between Spanish and English mid-way through a conversation or even a sentence.  This occurs for several reasons, everyone wants to practice their foreign language, some ideas are better expressed in either Spanish or English, or they very easily pick up on my American accent. Either way I find it very enjoyable and I definitely have learned more about the Spanish language from engaging in this style of communication.

Copacabana beach


I have never seen waves as beautiful as those in Copacabana beach in Rio De Janeiro. Not that I have been to every beach in the world. But there was just something so breathtaking about this beach…. I just knew I was witnessing something particularly beautiful.

While I sat on the beach of Copacabana with the sun gentle peaking through the overcast clouds above the halfway point of my semester abroad past. It was almost ironic that I was not in Buenos Aires when the halfway point of my study abroad experience arrived.  At this point in my experience I am definitely more at peace and less shocked, startled, confused and inquisitive than when I first arrived here. I have mixed feeling about entering the last half of my study abroad experience.

There were not many people on the beach that day since the weather was less than ideal however, it did not compromise the beauty of the skyline. The green mountains, which looked like green gumdrops from the Candyland board game, the gray-blue skies with the thin long cotton clouds, which quietly and neatly met the light blue ocean. It is difficult to explain but at this moment on the beach, on the day of the ‘half way point’ my experience abroad finally settled. Up until this moment I have spent a significant amount of time adjusting, learning, understanding, questioning interpreting and then in Brazil on a lovely beach I felt as though I just did not need to work as hard anymore.

The waves on the beach rolled into one another just like the do in paintings…it was one of those sights that were beautiful and intimidating at the same time. For me, being abroad has not only allowed me to appreciate the place Buenos Aires and the various other South American cities I visited but it has also allowed me to appreciate my hometown. Living, studying and interning in another city and another country definitely demands the reflection of where you have been, where you are now and where you are going.

I was watching a movie for class one day about immigrant workers in a Buenos Aires restaurant. One character asked the other why she traveled to Buenos Aires if she loves and misses her home so much. She said that you never really understand where you are from if you do not live somewhere else. I have to say that I totally agree with this. I feel as though living where you are only allows you to know it partially. It is not until you have lived in another culture much different than yours that you can really know your own.

One of my favorite parts of Copacabana beach was the coconut I had. Sipping the coconut water with a straw straight from the coconut was particularly refreshing that afternoon.

I really enjoyed Copacabana beach and the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. I will definitely make an effort to come back to Brazil and learn Portuguese. They say that Portuguese is similar to Spanish however; my friends and I had a lot of difficulty communicating although we were Spanish speakers. I definitely learned that 90% of communication can be and is non-verbal.