Hello! My name is Charity and if you had told me three months ago that I would be spending 6 weeks in Argentina, I would have laughed in your face and told you that you were crazy. Now, 3 weeks into my program, I am so glad to have made the last second decision to study abroad in such a beautiful place. When I say last second, I mean I finished and turned in all of the paperwork on the last day that we were allowed to sign up for the trip. Talk about cutting it close! I had never thought of traveling abroad, because I am a home-body, but something compelled me to take a chance. Here’s a story about my experience so far:
The day that I left from the airport, I started to get anxious and there was even a moment or two when I regretted my decision to go so far away. I had these feelings often through the entire first week. Adjusting to the new culture and the language was very hard for me. Thankfully by day 3, I started to feel comfortable enough to enjoy myself a little bit.
The first week was a learning experience. We toured Buenos Aires in entirety on the second day. It was exhausting, but I was glad to have some idea of the city. We visited La Boca and Plazz de Mayo, which were absolutely amazing. I didn’t feel like I was in a city at all. On this first excursion, our directors made sure to remind us of some of the differences in culture.
- When you meet someone new, be prepared to get a kiss – on the cheek of course.
- If you smile at men on the street, they may think it is flirtatious.
- Mate is a social drink: you share the cup, eat snacks, and have a good time.
On Monday, everything became real. I took my first every public transportation: the collectivo or bus. My experience with the collectivo and subway has not improved to this day, but it is just another city custom I have to accept and it makes me that much more appreciative that I have my own car in the states. Still, my roommate and I had fun with public transportation. When we’d get onto a packed subte, we would stand facing each other and roll our eyes each time someone pushed us closer. We also had many laughs getting lost in the subte tunnels one time coming up on the wrong side of the street from our home-stay and thinking we had ended up in the wrong part of town. We quickly realized that directions were not our strong suit.
In the first week, my confidence in understanding and speaking Spanish grew. On the first day of classes, after walking over 1 mile to get to school, I fell in love with my teacher and appreciated all the help she gave me. Unfortunately for me, one week of classes still wasn’t enough for me to understand that “medio” means I am ordering 1/2 kg of ice cream and not a medium cup of ice cream. I realized what it meant when the shop owner asked me what THREE flavors I wanted. Needless to say, I ate a lot of ice cream that night.
The second week was full of fun adventures. Over the weekend, we were introduced to Recoleta and El Tigre. A grou of us spent all day exploring the Recoleta cemetery and craft fair spending too much money on the most beautiful hand-made gifts. I was in awe over the grandeur of the headstones and tombs in the cemetery. One tomb had a full sculpture of the woman inside the tomb and her dog. The story of the sculpture was sad. The sculpture depicted a woman in her wedding dress standing beside her dog. The story goes that the woman died on the first night of her honeymoon. On the same day, her dog died in her home country. The two were buried together and they say that if you rub the nose of the dog, you will get whatever you wish for. The nose of the dog was well worn and of course I made my wish.
Another excursion we went on what a boat ride in the El Tigre. I was happy to get a little fresh air and see less city. The river was narrow and lined with home-made docks. It was magnificent to see how the once fruit collecting community functioned today. We were told that the children took boats to school and I smiled as we passed docks were children sat waving at us, waiting for their boat to pick them up.
The last highlight of the second week was taking a tango class. I have no dancing skill, but somehow I managed to learn three whole different tango moves. Aside from being a little proud that I could actually dance a little, I w¿had so much fun dancing with my new friends. All of these excursions gave me a new energy that made me excited to be in a new place. It was a new feeling I had been waiting patiently and hoping for.