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Although, it is the end of week 4 I feel like I just got here. I remember the first day getting off the plane and getting into a random taxi headed to a random persons house. It sounds kind of freaky, but once I did it all it wasn't scary at all. I got to my host moms house and she was very welcoming and helpful. She helped me set up my room and get comfortable in my home away from home for 6 weeks. The transition was super easy and ifsa-butler does a great job of matching students with the perfect host family.
Then class started, in my mind there was no way this class could be any different from any of my other spanish classes and it hasn't. It has been so much more interesting and I have learned so much. The reason I feel this spanish class was more interesting than past was because it wasn’t just spanish. We spent a lot of time reading about the history of argentina and we talked a lot about recent political issues. It made me learn more because I used spanish in the discussions and i wanted to share my thoughts on the issues. We had our oral exam this past week and it was such a great feeling that I could communicate with someone for almost 11 minutes it a different language. At this moment, my mind started to wonder and i started to thinking about making spanish a minor.
Today we also just got back from a trip to Uruguay with our class and IFSA coordinator. It is amazing the trips and museums they put together for us. They have everything set and stone and set up to make sure we have no problems. They basically take care of everything. There was plenty of museums and it would have been a great way to learn about specific historical stories in Argentina, but all of the tours were in spanish and it was really hard to learn when some words the guide says you do not know.At first trying to listen to the tour guides was difficult, but then I realized towards one or the last museum tours we went on I was understanding what the tour guide was saying. It became my gauge, and I realized how much spanish I was actually learning. But as many tours and trips we did, Uruguay was especially special because it is a small town a boat ride away from the big city of Buenos Aires. It was a really cool little city, that I could definitely see myself going back to for a honeymoon or winter family vacation. We stayed in Colonia, Uruguay.The small city itself reminded my of home, not the amount of tourist, but how quiet it got at night and no hustle and bustle like Buenos Aires. After spending so many weeks in the busy city, it felt good to rest up. It was similar to a vacation, where we got to free our minds and not have to think about class and learning for a couple days. It was definitely needed being the busy city and with and overload of class work. For me though, it gave me a sense of belonging because of the small little town I am from. It was so nice to actually be able to hear the wind and the waves crash.
14 days left. During this trip I have learned so many things about myself. I probably have almost learned more things about me as a person than I have spanish, which I find super interesting. It's incredible what being completely surrounded by a new culture can do to a person.
The first new thing I learned about myself is I am a scaredy cat when it comes to unfamiliarity. For example, I have not found myself out with my other classmates on a Saturday night mostly because of the idea of getting lost and having to pay 17 dollars for an uber home. I find it hard to be adventurous when it comes to things like that because of the extreme extents and on what “could” happen. Like if someone stole my purse, phone, wallet, or sexual harassment, it would have been hard to communicate with authorities. If something like that would have happened it would have been so stressful and wIth class and everything else it would have been so hard. But the “could’s” did not completely kill my adventurous side. I still enjoying wandering the streets, seeing new sites, and losing track of time, but all, of course, while the sun is still up.
One thing I have also learned about myself is the homebody I am. I do recommend for the people that know they are homebodies to do a trip like this, it will be hard but super rewarding. It was rewarding when I could finally have a full conversation with another spanish speaker. It's weird because everyone or most people on this trip, have studied abroad before or have spent most of their time in a different country. Which is kind of awkward for me because the only time i leave the country is with all my friends or my family. I have never gone and done anything by “myself” before in a sense. As the trip continued, I noticed how I became more comfortable at my host mother's apartment. It almost became my home away from home, which once I started feeling like that time flew by. Homestay in my opinion was better for me than staying with my classmates. I learned a lot more because it forced me to use spanish. Also, my host mom has been hosting for 10 years so she was super relaxed and helpful with everything. It was also nice to have someone who knew every inch of the city and could tell me how to get places. I am super excited to get home all while enjoying this incredible experience I have embarked upon.
I am finally on my way home. This trip had some ups and some downs. It is definitely a trip and an experience of a lifetime. I will be forever grateful that I received a LSA scholarship for my CGIS program to have this experience and I will do whatever I can to make sure in future if I have the money to give a kid like me the same chance.
Looking back on my trip, I think the hardest part was creating friendships with argentinian people and even other students in the class. To change this though, while I was in Argentina I would have went to more cafes in the city rather than my neighborhood. The city had more english speakers or other students from the states too, that was a missed opportunity. But, I realized that everyone learns about everyone on the first day and people kind of create their groups from there on out. It was interesting to see what groups formed and how they changed as people started to learn more about one another.
Finally, I find it hard to believe that I spent 6 weeks in Argentina! You don't really realize where the time goes until it's over. Me and one of the girls in my class were on my flight and we just talked the whole time about where the time went and how fast it actually went. This trip was incredible and I learned a lot about Argentina and the culture. For example, we learned about the dirty war of Argentina which I found super interesting and was saddened it’s not in our history books in the US. We also talked a lot about politics because the government in Argentina was changing and there was quite a few of strikes while we were there. As my time in Argentina ended, I realized that it made me think about minoring in spanish and wanted to continue to learn a new language. It was interesting how my thoughts shifted. I also found myself looking for tango groups to join. Which my professor actually brought up the club at U of M that a lot of students are in. Also, I could definitely see myself every friday morning at RLL’s coffee hour. Study abroad is an experience of a lifetime and I hope more students get the chance to study abroad.