My First Post!
“If all the days that come to pass
Are behind these walls
I’ll be left at the end of things
In a world kept small
Travel far from what I know
I’ll be swept away
I need to know I can be lost
and not afraid”
This is Rebecca DeHovitz, logging on to her first blog post of her study abroad adventure! Over the next five months I will be studying, living, and traveling in Argentina through IFSA-Butler’s Mendoza Universities program (http://www.ifsa-butler.org/universidad-nacional-de-cuyo.html) I will be living with a host family and directly enrolling in a university in Mendoza.
One of my main goal for the semester is to improve my Spanish. I didn’t learn a second language until I began Spanish in my freshman year of high school, and then I realized that I had an affinity for languages and that I had a passion for mastering Spanish. I watched TV shows and read books in Spanish for fun and my skills improved at a fairly rapid pace but my conversational skills have never been as good as I would like them to be, and I’ve found it difficult to improve them within the context of a classroom. I really hope that after this semester abroad I’ll be able to consider myself fully bilingual (ie if there’s a situation you need me to handle in Spanish I can handle it!).
Another goal for this semester is to learn more about Argentine culture, and therefore gain more appreciation for diversity and become more understanding of cultural differences. As someone interested in the humanities I like to think of myself as someone who always tries to learn about and appreciate the diversity of our world, but I have not had very many opportunities to put that universalism to the test.
Finally, I hope that this semester helps me gain independence and confidence in myself. The summer before my senior year in high school I traveled in Spain for a month. The experience of living in a foreign country independent of my parents helped me in so many ways, and to this day I look back on that month as one of the most formative of my young adulthood, and I credit it as the experience that made me realize I could attend college on the east coast, thus pointing me towards Brandeis and all the amazing experiences I have had there so far! I know that the next few months will hold challenges for me and I know that it won’t always be easy to be living in a foreign country far away from so much that I’m comfortable with, but, if this experience is even somewhat as formative as my trip to Spain was, it will be worth it.
Right now, I still have more than two weeks to wait before I leave (my flight is February 20th). I’ve had to explain my presence in California to a lot of family friends who give me a funny look when they realize I’m at home in the middle of the semester! It’s been a long winter break, I’ve already been home for nearly a month and a half. The transition from college life to family life is challenging enough, but the prospect of another imminent transition to study abroad life has thrown even more anxiety into the past few months! However, I’ve found ways to stay productive and keep busy. I’ve been lucky enough to visit friends who go to school in the Bay Area, and I’ve been able to babysit and help out at my synagogue. There have also been lots of doctors appointments and errands to run before I leave! I’m trying to take advantage of this time before I depart to brush up on my Spanish, I’ve been trying to watch some movies from Argentina, and recently was directed towards an Argentine telenovela “Lobo” about a man who is a werewolf.
Sometimes doing these things to get ready feels good, but a lot of the time it just reminds me of the reality of living in a foreign country and makes me nervous! And I know I still have some time before I leave, so I don’t want to work myself up too much before I go! So I try to balance it out by being gentle to myself and reading my favorite books and watching my favorite TV shows. It’s all in a delicate balance, which I know will soon be upended as I embark on my journey! When I get nervous I try to tell myself that I am stronger and more capable than I give myself credit for, and that it will all somehow come together once I’m living the reality of being abroad. I also remind myself why I want to do this, that this is something I’ve wanted to do even before I started college and that all of the best experiences of my life were preceded with lots of nerves. In this way I’m able to calm myself down, but the cycle begins again the next day, and I’ve still got 14 days to go!
In the meantime, as we’re both waiting with anticipation for my adventure to begin, please enjoy this video at the top of this post! For those of you who don’t know, Matt Harding has traveled around the world dancing badly, encountering many amazing sights and meeting different people along the way. He has several videos now documenting his wanderings, but in this latest video he choreographed a dance which he then included citizens from all over the world. I love how through his videos Matt has shown us that the world is not as big as we might think and that the power of music and friendship can unite people across the globe. The song, “Trip The Light” has become one of my favorites; I especially like the line “I need to know that I can be lost and not afraid”. I hope that I can be lost but not afraid on this journey; lost, so that I learn and discover things I never knew to search for, and I hope I can do that from a place that’s not afraid, but rather embracing of this journey I am on!