I feel so fortunate to go to a university that encourages students to pursue an education outside of the classroom and into the real world. The interactions with the local Argentinians, the camaraderie with the other students in my classroom, and the ability to learn first-hand about the history and beautiful culture of a country has been truly incredible.
I have realized how fortunate I am to have the education I have and live in the country I do. Buenos Aires is a rich and vibrant city but many of its citizens are plagued with economic insecurity and many are refugees from Venezuela. During my time here, there have been over four protests, two strikes (closing busses and subway transportation) and an extensive power outage that impacted all of Argentina and Uruguay. I have learned how to adapt to these differences and prevail in my studies regardless, and all in all it has made me a more well-rounded individual with a thirst to learn more.
One of my close friends on this trip is Black and I have noticed that when we are together we are constantly looked at, as there is a very small population (around 2%) of Black people within Buenos Aires. I know that it really bothers her and that upsets me, as it is overwhelming to look so different from the locals and then on top of that to struggle with a language barrier. I also look different than many of the people here. But since the city is such a European melting pot of people from all different ethnicities, which is portrayed in the varying races present within the city, I do not stand out particularly much.
I was surprised by the extensive access to mental health resources offered through both the program and in the city of Buenos Aires. As someone who regularly sees a therapist in Michigan, it was comforting to know I had that option if need be. I was able to exercise regularly, write and practice self-care to manage my mental health and I was really happy that I had the cushion of seeing someone if I needed to. Additionally the IFSA staff was an incredible support network and so was the preparation Michigan provided pre-departure.