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Back in the U.S. of A

Time January 8th, 2014 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars | 1 Comment by

I’m home! After a ten hour uncomfortable flight from a gorgeous 80 degrees Fahrenheit Buenos Aires to an approximately 35 degrees Fahrenheit Atlanta, GA, I arrived home.

Oh Buenos Aires, I was not prepared to say goodbye.Reflecting on my trip, I can sincerely say I loved it! It was not prefect,but I am blessed it was not because as a result of the hardships I know I have grown as a person and I am loving the person I am becoming. For the first few days home I was okay in Atlanta. I was kept busy surrounded by my loved ones, but then I began to miss my friends. It felt strange to know I couldn’t simply contact them to go to get a drink, eat or to chill out and walk a few blocks or take my favorite collectivo 152 (bus 152) to meet them. It felt unrealistic, that almost five months had passed and that I lived in Argentina for all that time. I didn’t want to and I want to go back.

Some may ask what specifically I miss about it, but the truth is that it’s not only one specific thing, but it’s the combination of each aspect of its culture. One, I definitely miss my liberty which being home is not the same because living under my parents’ roof still means their rules. I enjoy my liberty, but I enjoyed what I could do and would do with my days. I had finally made some strong friendships and loved spending time with them. Now at home I am blessed to spend time with my family. Back home I felt a bit out of placed. My family was overjoyed to have me home and I spoke to them about some studying abroad stories, but truthfully they are so many that many slipped my mind. At first I would expand on my experience, but as time has passed sadly I avoid speaking as much about Argentina to my family because I don’t want to be that person that only speaks about their study abroad experience once home. It was great to reunite with my friends, especially my girl friends because we all studied abroad during our fall semester and reunited to share or stories. Being away from campus actually makes me miss Brandeis campus, because I wait anxiously to reunite with all my friends.

Trying to reflect on my abroad experience is like a complicated puzzle because as hard as I may try to explain my experience I give different responses each time and feel different sensations. All I know is I would do it all over again if given the chance.

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Expectations vs. Reality

Time November 18th, 2013 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

Buenos Aires…a cultural shock!
From the very first day Buenos Aires was a cultural shock for me; it did not meet my expectations. My initial thought of the city was a simply, “Ehhh it feels like a new york atmosphere where the light skinned people learned spanish”. I will admit I was completely wrong and I am overjoyed that I was wrong. I judged Buenos Aires a bit too quickly before I even knew all it had to offer and yes at first I was ready to go home, but now not so much. I am not ready to leave in less than a month because I really wished I could stay longer.

I knew Buenos Aires was unique in comparison to other Latin American countries, but experiencing the differences and reading about them are two completely different things. Ok, so before arriving I thought from the very beginning I would love Buenos Aires. I expected to arrive to a busy city with spanish music, especially tango, delicious food, and to easily make Argentine friends. I also knew it was winter once arriving and expected the cold to only last about a month…wrong. I failed to understand the American influence on other countries and that was one of my biggest disappointments. When my friends and I would go out to clubs, bars, or even restaurants, various of the venues would be playing english music, which would have been great music selection if I was in the U.S. In regards to the nightlife selection, the music selection made it a bit difficult for me because on one hand I wanted to be social and go out with people but on the other the really popular venues would mainly focus on english electronic music and let’s simply say that is not my favorite genre. As far as their food, it’s delicious, except for only one complaint…it lacks any type of spiciness! Meeting Argentines is not difficult at all, because they are everywhere. The difficult part is making a friendship with them, because due to the communities structure many of them have been friends for years and well I am only in Argentina for a semester.

Although Buenos Aires turned out to be different than my expectations, the reality is even better. I would say Buenos Aires is about always having an open mind. Living in a densely populated region forces one to be ready for anything. When I speak to some friends whom are ready to return home I don’t understand why. I love it here and want to extend my trip. I love it here because I understand the city’s schedule now. It is literally always busy! I have been so accustomed to the American lifestyle of Monday through Thursday was a work mentality and Friday through Sunday was the time to plan events, but not here. In Buenos Aires, you have the week to fully enjoy it and once I grasped that concept I have been making the best of my time. I enjoy the fact that I can walk anywhere and continue to be surprised by shops, architecture, streets, etc, even if I have walked down that street before. The people are great as well, yes there are the perverts, pit-pocketers, and the ones who simply have a bad day, but overall everyone is really easy to talk to.

The pros of Buenos Aires definitely outweighs the cons and although at first it didn’t appear that way it was simply because I hadn’t even tried my best to get to know the city. Even though I knew before hand to come with an open mind, it took some reflecting to put it to practice.

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All Families Struggle No Matter Where They Live

Time October 28th, 2013 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

As is settling in a completely new country was not enough, settling in to the host families is another experience. It actually really is an eye opener to live with a family that you know nothing about and depending from what perspective it is taken is how much one can grow as a person.

I personally don´t believe I have the most amazing host family or maybe I really haven´t gotten to know them over my past three months, but living with them has made me appreciate even more my own family. I am not intending to generalize all Argentinians families in my post, because the program has made it clear that even though we live with Argentinian families, the families have been taught some American ways in order to make our experience more pleasurable.

So a breif description of my host family. I live with a host mom, whom appears in her 60´s, and a host brother that is 28 years old. Yes, 28 year old son lives with the mother, that was a shocker for me. My initial reaction was that he was a complete momma´s boy, which he is but that is another story. I have learned though that it is completely accepted and not until most recently expected that the sons and daughters lived with their parents until they left for marriage. It has been explained to me that given that most students attend colleges in the region, unlike Americans, there is no reason for the kids to leave their parents home.

Now why do I appreciate my family even more???
Because I have realized all families are disfunctional! Which is great, because it makes each family unique and therefore my family is unique. I always thought my family argued a bit excessively, and they do, but my host family appears to always be fighting over the simplest unimportant events and it makes me realize that all families argue. Some families may argue more than others, but never the less there is still love in the air. I may have had a rough childhood growing up, but I have realized that thanks to my childhood I have become a strong person. I can live with my host family and not allow their private issues affect my life.

All families are disfunctional, but at the end… family is family and well I love, miss, and appreciate my family even miles away!!!

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Ifsa-Butler sponsored activities

Time October 28th, 2013 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

I would say I am pleased with the Ifsa-Butler sponsored activites and it is a great way to partcipate with friends, while integrating with the Argentinian culture. I definitely take advantage of the opportunities given to me and sign up when I get the chance. Signing up is another issue, one has to really keep track of when the events are posted because they get full immediately, but if you want it, simply be strategic.

Through Ifsa-Butler, I have been able to participate in a variety of event. I have played spanish futbol with Argentinians. I have taken a tango class and was able to see others dance tango, which was wonderful. I have done biking to Tigre and even did kayaking another day. Museum visits is a must and I registered for a guided tour of MALBA. Singing up for teatro has given me the opportunity to both enjoy Argentinian art and explore gorgeous venues. I have see a couple teatros actually including 33 variaciones, La Casa de Bernarda Alba,and con Requiem de Guerra de Benjamin Britten.

I am not sure, if I have a favorite activity thus far because they are all enjoyable and unique. The activites are fun and display the Argentinian culture in a perspective maybe not aware to all students. When in Argentina, do as the Argentinians/porteños do and why not participate in events they organize!

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Exploring Outside of CABA

Time September 25th, 2013 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

This weekend was amazing! I went exploring outside of la Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires (CABA) and went to the Iguazu Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world. It truly was amazing and I would reccommend to any future student studying in Argentina to go to see the Iguazu Falls. It is a must do! Words cannot describe the experience. The falls left me speechless and got soaked at the boat ride.I went with a huge group of students studying abroad from all over the world, France, Mexio, U.S., Germany, and even Argentina itself. I would highly reccomend that in order to particpate in large group events to join as many groups on facebook as you can, which is the main form of communication currently through majority students studying abroad in Argentina. Realistically speaking though, if you do go in large groups with friends, the amount of work accomplished will not be what was hoped for, so plan ahead. To be in Buenos Aires is amazing, but Argentina is an enourmous country that every region is different and has something new to offer. I took hundreds of pictures, but to my luck my notebook is no longer functioning, so posting pictures will have to be postponed for a later time.

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Study Abroad Impact on my Career

Time August 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars | 1 Comment by

Ok, so overall the academic process was more complicated than I had originally thought. I guess the perfectionist character I have overly complicated the process. Before I arrived, I thought I had it all planned out to fit with my double major in Business and Latina American & Latino Studies, with my minor in Education Studies. I knew it would work out. I wanted to try two Business Courses in Di Tella and my Castellano course would count towards my LALS (Latin America & Latino Studies) and the remaining one course would be in either UCA or UBA towards my Education Studies minor. Simple, or so I thought, but then I had a change of mind. I was determined to drop my LALS major for personal and academic reasons, I really am determined to drop it except for I haven’t informed my university, and in the process of orientation I became overall excited for doing an independent study. So my academic plan became really an unorganized “going with the flow” plan.

Ok, so now what…I decided that I am going to challenge myself and also take courses that are interesting to me, which just so happens to fall within my major and minor. My study abroad experience is actually enriching my academic profession and future career in an aspect outside of the classroom. I am able to experience a more hands on aspect of the education system. I experienced its complexity in my attempt to create a schedule and live among the unfairness to the acceptability of an education. Completing an Independent Research allows me to 1)gain researching skills 2) improve my Castellano academic level and 3)have an unbiased perspective of the education system through my research. My Castellano course is an overall required course to help me throughout my 1) independent research paper 2)university course and 3) better my immersion into the Argentinian culture. My final course is also fantastic, because its primarily focuses and advocates for university extensions to impoverished regions within the Buenos Aires Province, and it just so happens that they work with an educational organization promoting education equality.

So I guess you can say, it seems to have all worked out at the end. And my career goal to help promote education accessibility to minorities from the financial aspect of an organization, is definitely being enriched in more aspects than the naked eye can see.

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Academic “Shopping” Period

Time August 7th, 2013 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

OK, so I have been here a little over two week now and one would think that academically I have adjusted somewhat… Wrong. The first two weeks I have had orientation, very useful information and everything appeared to be on track and organized. Information of the enrollment process of each four universities was given to us and we are even assigned an academic adviser. We have all the “necessary” assistance to begin classes, which began this Monday, but it was really a stressful and hectic experience (at least for me). There is a shopping period, thank god, but during the shopping period I can only drop courses and that is all. I cannot add courses or adjust courses because of timing issues so it really had to be planned out. OH and did I mention, I can choose from four universities to enroll in. I ended up only enrolling in three though, which is still a lot especially taking into consideration that they are no where near each other. Oh and another little catch to it, attendance does count, duh, but how was I suppose to shop for courses, make sure times don’t overlap, have enough time for transportation and make sure I am there for attendance during shopping period, I thought it was a shopping period. Anyways so I thought I had it all figured out, fail once again. Sunday night came, and I failed to realize that my course for Monday, in UTDT, was selected as a “practica” not “teoria” (difference: practica is where one puts into practice what they have learned in the class of teoria); this would not have been an issue because I could simply email my adviser, but that was not my case. My course was an 8 am course; therefore I would have to wake up at 6 to be out of my home at 6:40 to be there on time. To make it short, I tried it the next morning, not like I had anything better to do other than sleep. Once I arrived to the university I realized, yes I don’t have class today because it is a practica, but how was I suppose to know. It was definitely a learning experience though, I knew on Tuesday to not even try it because I know I cannot wake up three times a week at 6:00 am, so that course is being dropped. Monday night I also had another course, which went great. It was a small class in UCA and everyone was nice, so that became a definite maybe. Tuesday comes around, still shopping for courses, I had two seminars back to back from 9 to 13 and 13-17 (Argentinian time). I like the first one, but loved the second one called Universidad- Sociedad. Universidad-Sociedad is a small classroom, but it gives me the opportunity to work hands on with small impoverished communities. I am very excited for that class, so now I am just hoping I can get credit for my Education Studies minor from my home institution. I still have more courses to shop for, so hopefully the rest of the week goes better. Some advice though: don’t make trying to get home institution major or minor credits your priority because it will drive you crazy, just go with the system.

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Pre-departure Experience to Buenos Aires

Time August 5th, 2013 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

Well, finally days after my arrival I have had time to reflect on my pre-departure. I have written much later than expected, but it gives an idea that that is exactly how hectic it was before my departure. Leaving for Argentina seemed so surreal even though I knew it was around the corner. In reality it didn’t really hit me until 2 days before my departure. I recall being out with my boyfriend late a night for a walk and talking about studying abroad when I saw an airplane flying over us. It hit me, I would be flying for ten hours straight in two days exactly. The lack of emotion for my study abroad experience throughout the summer finally hit me, all at once; at that very moment. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was more than excited to study abroad but it seemed too surreal. I had to be in Argentina to realize I was in Argentina and that night I was excited, anxious, afraid, sad, and angry all at once. I was excited and anxious for the experience waiting for me, but then I knew it meant my hours were being counted down. I had less than 48 hours to pack, have fun and memorable moments with my loved ones, make sure all paperwork is in order, and all the small details one can possibly imagine. I was frightened. I was angry because I had not realized how fast time flew by and questioned whether I made the best of it with my loved ones. It was bitter sweet I wanted to explore, but the timing seemed too soon. So for the next following hours I made sure I had all in place, but most of all I made sure I spent quality family time.

The goodbye was tough. Even when I leave for college it is tough. I am very close to my loved ones and can’t bear to see them sad especially my three year old angel, my sister. So to not upset my parents even more, I smile and speak of my excitement;while withholding all other emotions. I said goodbye to my boyfriend and sister prior to heading to the airport with a strong hug, appreciating every second. Once at the airport my dad said goodbye first, followed by my brother, and because I know that I always want to hold on to my mom’s and sister’s hug the longest, I hug them last. My mom always breaks my heart. She smiles, but I know it is a forced smile. We our goodbyes and I begin to walk away, thankfully because I needed to breath as a tear rolled down my cheek. To my luck, my dad calls out to me. He wants to take a picture of me leaving with my smile, but that smile was the toughest smile I have ever had to force for any goodbye.

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