My comfy chair in Milwaukee
I’m sitting in a very comfy chair staring numbly at my still unfinished packing. Tomorrow I fly from Milwaukee to Newark, where I’ll meet the group flight headed to Buenos Aires. All this month I’ve been saying my good-byes and assuring my loved ones I would see them in a year. One year. One whole year. I say the words, I see the words, I think about the words “one calendar year” and yet they still seem to have not sunk in. Like when you picture a million dollars; you can’t really fathom what that is unless it’s right in front of you in cold, hard cash. That’s how I feel about leaving for a whole year. I’ve left the country before, but it was never for more than a month. This time, I have no familiar faces to guide my way, just names on a screen I associate with messages from the kind and helpful staff at IFSA-Butler. This, of course, has been exciting for me to think about: the independence I would develop knowing my mom and papi are no longer just an hour’s drive away. Leaving for college was exciting too. Yet I distinctly remember, on more than one occasion, being homesick enough to beg for that hour long drive back to the familiar and comfortable. As time went on, my campus became my new familiar comfort and my homesickness would be towards school and not my parents. Then again, that’s because they’ve only ever been an hour away. Now, in anticipation of my absence, I have been teaching my technologically-unskilled parents how to use Skype, Google Earth and the various bookmarks I have set up so they can see the weather, exchange rates and of course, my blogs. I’m relieved to announce that they’re getting the hang of it.
My family has been voicing their concerns and advice. I’ve been told everything from “Don’t fall in love in Argentina!” to “Mija, they don’t have Mexican food in Argentina, how will you eat tacos?” . Of course, an obvious solution to one of those was the pack of tortillas sitting next to my luggage right now. Packing for a year abroad has been really different from packing for my dorm room. My microwave, dishes, laundry hamper, bookshelves and futon all sit dejected in the basement. One of my suitcases is home to my year’s supply of Proactiv, a year’s supply of contacts and what I’m hoping is a year’s supply of contact solution (which I have been advised is very expensive over there). I had to sort carefully through my clothes. My luggage space is precious and if I wasn’t sure I’d wear it, I had to peel my own fingers off of its hanger and say bye to it. I’m still not finished with that process, oops, procrastination at its finest.
The two most daunting aspects have been how well I will survive a WHOLE YEAR and how quickly I will be able to accustom myself to Argentine Spanish and break away from the Mexican Spanglish I use at home. My papi has just gone up to bed, telling me the whole time that I should get myself to sleep. I think I’ll take that as my cue to get out of this comfy chair that reminds me I’m home and kneel on the cold kitchen floor to finish packing up my future.