Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Journeying

“The glow that the sun gets
Right around sunset
Helps me realize
This is just a journey
Drop your worries
You are gonna turn out fine.
Oh, you turn out fine.
Fine, oh, you turn out fine.”

As of tonight I will have been in Mendoza for one week, but in so many ways it feels much longer than that!  I’ve had a lot of free time to relax and adjust to my new surroundings, yet each day still feels long and full of new experiences and challenges.  Some of the things I’ve had to do so far; using the buses here (not an simple task, more on that in a future post), learning how to register with the US Embassy and apply for my student visa, find ways to withdraw money and buy toiletries and other things I need, successfully lock the door and the alarm before leaving the house, take my Spanish placement test for our required Spanish language class, pick up the new vocabulary, verb conjugations (vos!) and adjust to a new accent, among many other things!  I’ve come to realize the little things you have to figure out in a new country can be as challenging as the big cultural shock issues they warn you about before coming, because the frustration of no longer being able to easily complete a simple task of life that you once took for granted can take a toll on your self-esteem, if you let it.  But the confusion of all these smaller tasks will fade away in time as I become used to a new way of doing things.  

I’ve had two big excursions from the past few days.  The first one was on Thursday morning.  I joined some of the other members of the group on a hike to climb el Cerro Arco, one of the smaller mountains in the foothills of the Andes.  It’s at an elevation of about 6,000 feet, and though we were already pretty high up where we started, we still had a long, steep climb ahead of us!  The hike took a little longer than we expected because we got off of the bus one stop two early and had to walk an extra mile to the trailhead, but I didn’t mind, I just considered it part of the adventure!  When we did make it to the trail it was uphill the rest of the way.  I kept thinking we were near the top, but there was always just one more switchback to go.  Plus, it was hot!  I think it got up into the 90s that day.  We took a lot of breaks in the tiny spots of shade that we could find, I don’t know what we would have done if there had been no places to cool off on the trail.  Despite the challenge it was a beautiful climb, with breathtaking mountains surrounding us, a stunning view of the city below and the occasional paraglider floating above.  When we did make it to the top I felt more accomplished than I have in a long time, and we enjoyed the view for a while before heading down.  

 

See the hill on the top left corner?  We’re going there.  You can see the path carved into the hill

 

I was really grateful for moments like this on the hike, when the sky was so blue the color seemed to pervade everything and it took my breath away

 

Paraglider!

 

Resting in scraps of shade

 

At the top, looking down at how far we came

 

I made it!!

 

The view from the top


Last night I went with some of the other group members one of the festivities for La Vendimia, Mendoza’s annual harvest festival. La Vía Blanca is a parade with floats and lights and people throwing fruit at you (yes, you heard that right!) that showcases each district of Mendoza Province and their nomination for La Reina de la Vendimia (Queen of the Harvest).  Being at the parade, surrounded by so many other people and all the sights and sounds of the festival was one of those “Oh my gosh, I’m in Argentina” moments, and I was so excited to be a part of it.  Being there participating in such a quintessentially Mendocinean event, I think I was the happiest that I have been since I got here, and was once again, a reminder to be grateful for the opportunity to live and study here for four and a half months!  I also went out for ice cream with some of the people on my program after the parade, where I tried two new flavors of ice cream (crema del cielo, kind of like cotton candy, and torroncino, a lemon cookie flavor) and proceeded to have an interfaith discussion with some of my fellow program members!  I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the other people on the program, they are all interesting, interested people, and I look forward to many more wonderful conversations with them over the course of the semester!

One other update is that my Spanish language class started on Friday and I’m in the highest class.  I’m looking forward to having a class dedicated to improving my language skills, all the Spanish classes I’ve taken for the past two years have been focused on literary analysis and not on grammar or vocabulary.  It looks like the class will also expose us to more of Argentina’s culture, so I’m hopeful that it will be a great way to supplement the rest of my Argentine education here!  

I’ll leave you with the wise words of Andy Grammer’s song “Keep Your Head Up”.  Among all the successes I’ve experienced in this first week there have also been a lot of moments of self-doubt or worrying about the future.  When abroad I think all the emotions you normally feel are exacerbated, the successes feel amazing and the frustrations are crushing.  When I’m in those lower moments I hope I can keep my perspective and remember that I will soon be happily enjoying another moment of success.   

“Only rainbows after rain
The sun will always come again.
It’s a circle, circling,
Around again, it comes around,

But you gotta keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh.
You gotta keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh.

I know it’s hard, know it’s hard
To remember sometimes,
But you gotta keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh.

Keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh.
Keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh.
Keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down.
I said oooh”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LMVJ2xd1g8

 

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