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Adjusting to Home

Time September 15th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well, I’ve been back in Seattle for about two months. My summer was crazy busy, and now I’m back at Saint Martin’s. Being home and adjusting back to home has been weird, and at times it’s been uncomfortable.

The hardest part of adjusting back into my group of friends and my family was that, at times, it felt like everything had changed without me there. Other times, though, it felt like I had grown and changed SO MUCH and everyone else had stayed exactly the same. Also, no one really wanted to hear about my whole five months in Argentina, which was hard because I wanted to tell everyone about every little thing that had happened.

Over the summer, I stayed really busy. I spent a couple weeks with my friends, went to a family reunion, performed in a musical, and then spent time with family from out of town. Now, I’m back in school, and it’s different. My classes are more difficult, although it’s kind of weird to have all of my classes be in English, and I feel like I have less time to get out and explore my surroundings. I guess I don’t need to, but it’s weird how I feel like I know Recoleta and Palermo better than I do the town I’ve lived in for the majority of four years.

The other hard part is remembering that a semester passed here without me; the memories of SMU that seem so recent to me are almost a year old. Especially odd are the “recent” memories I have with one of my best friends – he studied abroad the semester before I did, so we barely saw each other for the entirety of the last school year. It kind of feels like I existed for five months in an alternate universe.

I think maybe this post makes it sound like I hate being home or like adjusting back to the US was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – I dont, and it’s not. Some days are harder than others, and you keep the experiences you’ve had close to your heart, and falling back into step with your friends does have it’s tough moments. However, getting to cuddle up with my dog pretty much makes every hard moment worth it. I loved my time in BA, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I think I’d like to go back there someday, but at least until I graduate, I’ll be staying in Seattle.

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Don’t Cry for Me Argentina

Time June 30th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The truth is I never left you” 

I have about an hour and a half until I head to the airport. I wanted to talk about my last week in Buenos Aires, and I will, but first I want to talk about leaving and let me just say: It’s hard. I don’t want to go, and I don’t know how I’m supposed to leave the beautiful city in which I have lived for the last semester. But as my clichéd title and opening quote say, I will never have truly left Argentina, or more accurately, it won’t leave me. I will carry it around with me forever, and for that I am thankful. Read More »

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Am I really “Studying?”

Time June 24th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This could be what you’re thinking if you’ve read through my posts. A brief mention of “oh classes are good” here and there, but not much more than that. I promise that I am taking classes; although, I have found out that they aren’t necessarily the most important part of study abroad. Anyway, I figured (now that classes are over) I could go a bit more in-depth on what they were like.

General Overview: None of my classes were too hard, and they definitely weren’t the most important thing about my life in Buenos Aires. (Don’t worry, family, even though they weren’t the most important part, I still passed everything). My grades transfer back to my university at home as Pass/Fail, so they don’t impact my GPA at all. All of my classes were in Spanish. Here’s a little bit more about each of them.

Gramatica y Literatura: This was by far my favorite class. Our teacher would start each class with “Preguntas? Sobre gramatica? Sobre Buenos Aires? Sobre la vida?” Which means “Questions? About grammar? Buenos Aires? About life?” Leo was so passionate about what he was teaching that it made me want to learn everything I possibly could about Latin American literature. He was also SO patient with all of our mistakes and things we didn’t understand; not to mention, he gave some really great restaurant (and other things to do in Buenos Aires) recommendations. Other than that, we focused a lot on the subjunctive tense, and I definitely got better at using that. The grammar half of this class was really nice because it taught slang and the different dialect that Argentines use. In general, it just made me feel like I wasn’t making a million billion mistakes while talking to the general population.

Cine Argentino: This wasn’t the real name of this class, but it’s what we called it. There were two parts to this class – one part where we watched Argentine films and learned about the history and cultura of them, and another where we learned about the different types of scripts, planes, and generally how to produce a film. It was interesting, and for our final project we made a short film in Spanish .

Teatro Argentino: Okay this class was so fun and silly; it was great. We played improve games, which is hard enough in your first language, but they helped better my Spanish by miles and miles. In the middle of the semester, our teacher broke her collarbone, so we had a substitute who was so funny and she helped us use movement to connect to text (read: we had  a couple dance parties, which was incredible). For our final project we did an obra called La Isla Desierta, which was so funny and ridiculous, but like Amy Poehler says, “There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.”

Politicas Latinoamericanas: This was arguably my hardest class. It focused a lot on the history of Latin America and their politics. The vocabulary was hard, and the way the teacher wrote her notes on the board was really difficult to read. It was also a lot of theory on political science, such as “what is a revolution?” and that kind of thing. I wasn’t really in love with this class.

 

I learned a lot from my classes, but I quickly realized that they weren’t the most important part of my time in Buenos Aires. Traveling the country, experiencing the culture; those were the most important things. The classes weren’t hard because they wanted us to spend more time experiencing the cultura of the city and what it had to offer, and that was really where I learned the most.

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Family Ties

Time June 10th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A little over a month ago, I was so lucky because my parents were able to come and visit me. It was really cool to do a couple things I hadn’t done yet, but it was also neat to be able to see the city through fresh eyes again. It was also so nice to see some familiar faces; when I’m at school, I live about 45 minutes from my aunt and uncle, and an hour and a half from my mom, so I’ve never gone this long without seeing anyone in my family. Dad and Becki were a welcome treat!

The first day we were here, we sat at a bar for a few hours and caught up on all the family gossip I had missed. Then we went to dinner, but it was a pretty calm night; we were off to an early start the next morning.

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Welcome to Buenos Aires, fam!

The next day they were here was an adventure to say the least. Dad and Becki are avid Harley riders, so when they saw there was a Harley dealer in BA, they were all over it. I looked up the location, and it looked like it wasn’t too far off the track from the train to Tigre, which was our ultimate destination. Unfortunately, google lied to me about which train stop was closest, and we ended up walking probably three miles before actually encountering the HD dealership, which unfortunately ended up being closed! We found our way to a closer train station (in the location that google gave me the name of the other train station for *eye roll*), and hopped on the train to Tigre. Once there, we got tickets for a paseo on the Delta. We had lunch and chatted while we waited for it to be time to do our boat ride. It was quite lovely and enjoyed by all. That night for dinner we went to one of my favorite standard Argentine restaurants, Cumana, for Locro (a bean and beef stew). After dinner my dad and I went to Temple Bar, which was close to their hotel, and had a pretty nice time.

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The delta

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Dad and I on the boat!

Their third day in Buenos Aires, I showed them around the city. We went to Plaza de Mayo, saw El Obelisco, Teatro Colon, and other sites in Microcentro. We stopped by Hard Rock Cafe for a quick bite to eat, and then we took a quick look around the cemetery.  After that, we headed off to a wine tasting in Palermo. It was quite a lovely night of conversation. We stopped by Burger Joint, and headed home.

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 Becki and I on our rainy day in Microcentro!

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Dad and I :)

On their final full day in BA, we met up with my Host Mom, Alicia. We ate cookies, and I played translator for them both. After that, I took them to San Telmo, of course. I don’t think any trip to BA is complete without at least one San Telmo Sunday. They loved it and were able to buy several gifts for people at home. It was a nice final day. After the market, they explored Recoleta for a while, and I went home for a much needed nap – they’d worn me out! We met back up for dinner; we went to a cute Italian place close to home.

On their last day in Buenos Aires, I had class. We met for breakfast and coffee, and we sat across the street from my school until it was time for me to go. It was a peaceful and pleasant morning. I’m told they explored Recoleta and went back to the cemetery, but who knows what they did without me!

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The three of us on their last day

 

It was so wonderful to have my family come visit me in this city I’ve fallen in love with. :)

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Ice & Adventure

Time June 9th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This sounds like a really clever title, but in all honesty it is just the name of the glacier tour company. At this point I’m pretty sure we’ve all come to realize that I am terrible at creating titles.

Anyway, this past weekend I got a chance to go to the southern region of Argentina, Patagonia. Specifically I visited El Calafate. It is a small tourist town which has recently exploded in popularity because it’s located relatively close to the Perito Moreno Glacier. This post will once again be mostly pictures because it’s hard to describe the beauty of this place. However, I will start with some fun facts about the glacier (Thanks wikipedia and tour guide Luis!)

  • The reason the glacier isn’t flat like the ones you see in Antarctica is because those are actually just covered in frozen snow; this one doesn’t have that, so you can see all of the cool ice formations
  • Parts of the glacier rupture throughout the day, which means parts of the ice just falls off the front of the glacier every day.
  • It is 97 sq miles with a depth of 578 ft!
  • it is 300-400 years old!
  • The spikey things on my feet are called Crampones, and they’re so I have a better grip on the ice.

Okay here are some pictures :)

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Ya girl being adventurous as ever!

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me: *walks on 300 year old glacier* *throws up peace sign* “nice.”

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A pano – Gorgeous, right?

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After our glacier tour, there was a giant rock that I climbed, and some other girls generously took my picture.

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Honestly this is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been

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Just chillin’ (get it?)

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Another pano – this time of the glacier itself

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Soy una exploradora!

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Cool, right? (HA! I kill me.)

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Another pano

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From the boat that we rode to the glacier on

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I really like the lighting in this picture!

Anyway, Patagonia was incredible, and I can’t believe i almost didn’t go. It is the most beautiful place I have ever been, and probably ever will go. It was truly awesome.

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What Am I Even Doing with My Life

Time May 28th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So, let’s talk about what I’ve been doing for the last… little while…

San Isidro:

I went on a bike tour to San Isidro! It’s one of the northern suburbs of CABA (Ciudad Autonomo de Buenos Aires). It was super fun, but you know that saying “It’s like riding a bike”? Well, turns out that’s not exactly true. I hadn’t ridden a bike in a couple years; I climbed on thinking “oh well it’s like riding a bike”, and promptly hit a car. After I got my bearings, though, it was really great. We rode next to the waterfront of Rio de La Plata, and we stopped at an ecological reserve.

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Me and our tour guide, Goyo, outside the ecological reserve

 

After that, we rode a little bit further, and stopped on the water to eat some empanadas for lunch, which is always alright with me. After that we went to the San Isidro, which I was just mesmerized by – it was absolutely gorgeous, and I would highly recommend it if you visit Buenos Aires.

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Various Teatro visits:

I’ve also gotten the opportunities to go to two operas and one musical! The first opera we saw at Teatro Avenida, and it was lovely. I thought one of the supporting actors had a better voice than the lead, but I often feel like that if I’m being honest.

The next week, I got to go to the National Theatre of Argentina – Teatro Colon. The interior and exterior both are so gorgeous, and the quality of the show exceeded my already high expectations. It was truly incredible, and I know it’s an experience I won’t soon forget.

Last week, I went to a musical, which I was just super pumped about because, of course, I LOVE musicals. The one we saw was called “Forever Young”, and it was silly and wild and I didn’t totally understand what was going on the whole time, but I don’t think anyone else really did either. It was perfect.

The interesting thing was that both operas were in italian with Spanish subtitles, and the show at Teatro Colon had English subtitles as well, so those were much easier to understand than the musical, which was in Spanish sometimes, and sometimes the songs were in English, and it was weird to mostly understand what was going on while having your brain switch between both of the languages you know.

Things You Don’t Realize You’ll Need to Know:

I feel like everyone has goals for their language of choice when they study in a country that speaks a different language than their own. We know that we’ll learn to communicate with natives, and that we will be able to order food, give directions, and hopefully be able to talk about important issues in the language. There are some things, however, that you don’t realize you’ll need. Case in point:

After three and a half months in Argentina, and five months since my last one, I was in desperate need of a haircut. The thing is, curly hair is notoriously difficult to cut, and I always get nervous when I go to get my hair cut, even when I’m very fluent in the language. How do I say “I need more layers, and also I would like bangs that look like this?” well, thanks to google, my wonderful host mom, and an array of pictures,I felt Super Prepared when I went into the salon, and I was not disappointed! My hairdresser also said my Spanish was great, so that was a really nice confidence boost :)

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Although a good picture of me, it’s pretty obvious my hair needs some help.

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After! Thanks, Juan!

BIRTHDAY!!!!

It was my Birthday a couple of weeks ago!!! I turned 21!! I had the most wonderful birthday in recent memory. I woke up and took full advantage of the empty apartment by having blasting music and dancing around the house. After class, I went out with some of the girls for cheesecake and coffee, and we laughed so much; it was just fabulous. I got home and Alicia, my darling Host Mom, had made a steak dinner that was delicious! She wished me a very happy birthday and told me that it was a very exciting birthday because now I could drink “con la puerta abierta” which translates to “with the door open,” which made my host sister and I laugh a lot. My host sister also got me a super yummy chocolate with chocolate sprinkles and chocolate chip cake, and the three of us ate that and laughed so much; it was absolutely perfect.

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Happy birthday to me!

Host Mom:

There’s nothing really new with my host mom; I just wanted you guys to see how cute we are.

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“Find Something That’s Just for You”

Time May 20th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

About two weeks ago, our Program Director, Mario, had us over to his apartment for dinner. We discussed how the program had been going, how we were feeling about our classes, our Spanish, each other, etc. He asked us if we thought the final two months of our program were going to fly by, and of course we all said yes. He laughed and told us that we were wrong; we had spent the past three months figuring out the best places to go for everything: lunch, coffee, helado, cheap clothes, good places to study, everything. Now that we had everything figured out, our time would pass much more slowly. With all of this extra time we had, he proposed, we should find something that was solely ours. Take a class, play a sport on a rec team, whatever. Get in touch with Argentines and also yourself. However, he warned, don’t sign up together. You have classes together, and I’m sure you hang out on the weekends. “Find something that’s just for you,” he said.

This was an exciting proposition for me because one of the things that’s been really good for me here was being able to find a good balance between time alone and time spent with others, and it’s surprisingly hard to make friends if you don’t go to school or work with them. I’m definitely an introvert; I need my alone time to recharge, and it’s not pretty if I don’t get it. It’s hard, though, to figure out how much time is me recharging, how much of it is getting comfortable with solitude, and how much is too much. The other thing is it gives me is an opportunity to practice my Spanish with native speakers – Not that Alicia (my Host Mom) isn’t great to practice with, but she has unending amounts of patience that most of the people out on the street do not.

At this point, I’m not really sure what my thing is yet. I’m thinking of joining a coro (choir), but I’m not sure. I have started seeking out The Best Cup of Coffee in Buenos Aires, and it’s shocking how friendly people are in cafes, so I’m getting to actually converse with Argentines, and I’m always doing that solo, so maybe, inadvertently, that’s become my thing. Whatever I choose to find for myself; I know I’ll be happy doing it, for one of the most important things I’ve learned in my time here is to not waste time doing things that don’t make you happy.

(END SAPPY POST)

Up next on Susannah’s Study Abroad Adventures: Several day trips, a visit from the parents, and things you don’t realize you need to know when studying abroad!

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A Tropical Escape

Time April 27th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Over Semana Santa (Easter weekend), a group of us traveled 18 hours by bus to one of the Northernmost points of Argentina in order to visit Iguazu Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

This post will probably be mostly pictures because it’s hard to verbalize (is that the right word when I am only writing? Describe feels too vague.) how incredibly breathtaking the falls are.

11062682_10205056767792844_3881986190372603617_n Read More »

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Becoming Porteño

Time March 30th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, Argentina, College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So I know last week (or maybe it was two weeks ago now) I talked a lot about the excursions and the exciting things I had been doing, so I figured this post could talk about my day to day life and how adjusting to life in Buenos Aires has been.

I have started classes, and as I mentioned before, I’m taking film theory, theatre, and Latin American politics as well as the required literature course. I’ve only had one film class, but it seemed to be interesting, and I’m excited to learn about the different aspects of film, and we also get to make our own short film throughout the semester! Theatre is amazing, it’s one of my great loves, and I’m excited to get to have an opportunity to look at a culture so rich and full of theatre and playwrights. It’s also very fun because we get to do a lot of improv. Latin American politics is by far my most difficult class, but it’s interesting to learn about the political structure and history of this culture. I love my literature class so much – my teacher is amazing and cool and I love reading and literature anyway.

Adjusting to the city has been kind of crazy, but also one hundred percent average. There are three stages of culture shock: Excited to be experiencing a new culture, absolutely hating everything and wanting to go home, and being adjusted to life in your new city. The first and second stages for me kind of mixed together – Sometimes I was excited to explore the city and everything just seemed surreal and amazing, but other times I missed home and my dog and my friends so badly that I couldn’t imagine being here for the rest of the semester. At this point, I’ve evened out. Of course I still miss everyone, but it’s easier as I get closer to the people here. Often, I miss certain conveniences of home, but I also find myself thinking “How am I supposed to live without (insert Argentine thing here)?”

It’s not always a picnic – speaking Spanish all the time and having to think about exactly what i’m trying to say can get really tiring, but I also notice my Spanish improving every single day. I find myself stopping at least once a class to think “this is amazing that I can understand this.” I really think that all the hard work is worth it.

My host mom is so kind and I am so grateful for her. I live with her and two other American students, we get along so well, and we laugh all the time. Also she is an AMAZING cook – I’m always happily full after dinner. On the weekends, I will usually go to read my book in the park for a few hours, then my friends and I get dinner, go to a bar, and then sometimes we all go to a boliche, but I don’t really like dancing, so I usually head home after we go to the bar. After school most days, I stop at the little empanada place by my house; they’re so kind there and they know my name and my order, which really makes me feel like this place really is home. Day to day life is pretty normal, but still different from anything I’m used to in the states.

It’s hard to believe I’m close to being halfway through the program – time has really been flying! I really feel as if I’m adjusting to the culture and (hopefully) becoming passable as a Porteño. I think it’s working because I have less and less people asking me where I’m from, and I have more and more people asking me for directions.

Next week, over Semana Santa (Easter break), my friends and I are headed to the beautiful Iguazu Falls for the full moon, and I can’t wait. That’s what I’ll be talking about next time! Until then, have a great week! :)

 

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The Past Month

Time March 13th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, Argentina, College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Wow I really thought it was going to take at least a couple weeks to break my promise to myself to update once weekly, but here we are. I think it’s been about a month since I’ve posted, so let’s catch up! Read More »

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La Semana Primera

Time February 13th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, Argentina, College Study Abroad | 2 Comments by

That’s Spanish for “The First Week,” which has been amazing (but also strap in, because it’s been full of stuff). I arrived in Buenos Aires last Friday morning, and I stayed in a hostel until Monday morning. The hostel was fun, but it was definitely a party hostel – They had one every night, and then they took you to “un boliche,” which is a nightclub. I only participated in this one night of the three, but it was crazy. The bus from the hostel dropped us off at 2 AM and the club was almost empty, but by 5 AM it was packed. Los Porteños party until the sun comes up, that’s for sure! We left around six, and it still wasn’t clearing out. I met some really cool girls from England, and I roomed with some guys from Germany, and most of them were just backpacking around South America which I think would b be really cool!

Here’s the view from my balcony:

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While at the hostel, I went exploring around Buenos Aires for a bit, and probably my favorite thing that I saw was the Casa Rosada – this is their version of the white house, although the president doesn’t live there. Evita gave one of her most famous speeches on the balcony there, and it was an amazing feeling to know that.

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Then on Monday, it was time to move in with my host mom. She’s a single, older, woman who is one of the nicest people I have ever met. We live in the barrio of Ricoleta, which is a really nice area with a lot of shopping. She showed me around the neighborhood and we had ice cream together, and I began to feel like maybe Buenos Aires could be home.

Orientation has been jam-packed. My program is really small, only six people, and they’re all really cool people that I’m excited to spend the next five months with. Monday, after settling in with my host mom, we went to dinner at a really good Italian restaurant, and Tuesday we had a long presentation on what was safe, what our healthcare plan was like, and a lot of valuable information. After that, we went on a tour of the city; we saw the Ricoleta Cemetary, and I got to see Evita’s tomb, which is something I have been wanting to do for as long as I can remember. We also saw San Telmo, which I have a feeling is going to become my favorite neighboorhood; our tour guide described it as “very bohemian, and where the artists live.”

I’m also having to figure out the public transportation system which is crazy – it gets so packed in the morning that sometimes the buses won’t even stop! It seems kind of difficult now, but the city of Buenos Aires has a transportation app, which has proved to be very helpful.

We also started our intensive spanish class – it’s killer; it’s four hours each day of speaking and listening only in Spanish. On top of my host mom only speaking to me in Spanish, I think my brain is going to melt. However, even in the five days the program has been going, I can understand and speak so much more Spanish than I could when I got here. I’m also a lot braver – it turns out that people get really excited when you just try to speak their language, and they can usually get the idea of what you’re saying. Here’s a view from my school (our class is on the ninth floor).

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So far, adjusting to the culture has been pretty easy. I know it gets harder as time goes on, and then it evens out, but right now I feel like this city is where I am supposed to be. I mean, of course, I miss my dog, my sister,  and my family, but I’m making some pretty cool friends here, and I know that everyone at be waiting with open arms (and wagging tails) when I get back.

That’s pretty much all I can think of to post for today (It’s not like there isn’t a lot here), so I guess I’ll go do some homework.

Ciao! :)

 

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What’s New, Buenos Aires

Time January 22nd, 2015 in 2015 Spring, Argentina, College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey everyone!

I’m Susannah – I’m 20 years old, and I’m junior studying music at Saint Martin’s University. It’s a really small university located in the town of Lacey, Washington – about ten minutes from the state capital. I spend most of my spare time drinking coffee at Beth’s cafe in Seattle; I also love to bake cookies and hang out with my little sister, Allie.

Honestly, I still can’t believe this is actually happening. I’m so excited and nervous to go to Buenos Aires. I am nervous to leave everything I have grown accustomed to, but I know that Beth’s and my friends will be here waiting for me when I get back. I’m also really worried about the language barrier, but what better way to learn a language than to immerse yourself in it, right? (At least that’s what I keep telling myself!)

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is “Why Argentina?” I’ve actually wanted to go to Argentina since I was really young. It may seem kind of silly, but what originally inspired my desire to go to Argentina was watching the musical Evita. Ever since then, I have been enthralled by Eva Peron and Argentinean culture. I am so excited to get to experience the culture firsthand. Some of the things I’m looking forward to are seeing Iguazu Falls, going to the Lujan zoo, and possibly going bungee jumping and/or skydiving!

I’m so excited to see what adventures this semester holds, and I am excited to tell you guys all about them! :)

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