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

Adventuring to Patagonia

“I discovered the secret of happiness is learning how to glide

I discovered the secret of happiness is just enjoy the ride

Don’t let the journey be tainted by pride and

I discovered the secret of happiness is not to mourn the past

I discovered the secret of happiness is not to run too fast

You can still beat them by coming in last ‘cuz

The secret, the secret of happiness is

I discovered the secret of happiness is not be afraid

I discovered the secret of happiness is all illusions fade

Don’t fear the future, you’ll just be delayed ‘cuz

The secret, the secret of happiness is living in the now

Living in the time it takes to blink I think is how we meant to be living”


A lot has happened since the last time I posted!  I’ll try to fill you in as best as I can.  The first couple of days since my last post were spent finalizing my schedule and deciding on classes.  I will be taking four classes this semester, and I’m actually more excited about them than I thought I would be!  In addition to the mandatory Spanish language class run by the program, I will be taking Argentine Literature and Cinematographic Communication, as well as a class on Regional Development offered by IFSA-Butler.  I was uncertain about how difficult it would be to do well in university-level literature classes, but both my professors and my classmates have been very helpful and I feel confident that I will pass.  It also helps that there are other IFSA students in all of my classes so we can always help each other out if we ever feel lost.  


After a half week of classes it was time for Semana Santa, or Easter break!  It felt weird to be going on vacation when classes had barely started but I wasn’t complaining!  The thirty five IFSA students broke up into smaller groups to travel, some went to Chile, some went to Salta, and the rest went to the Bariloche area of Patagonia, among them myself.  I traveled with four other IFSA students and we stayed in a hostel in Bariloche for five nights and used it as our base to explore the area.  


But first we had to get there.  Though Americans don’t always realize it, Argentina is a big country and the only way for us to get to Bariloche was to take a 17 hour long bus ride.  Luckily it was by far the nicest bus ride I’d ever been on.  The bus had seats that reclined to about 130 degrees and included full service breakfast lunch and dinner with drinks and snacks.  In addition to that there was a constant stream of cheesy movies to keep us entertained and even a game of bingo in the morning!  There were also beautiful views to enchant me as we reached our destination.



Party bus!


I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Bariloche.  The city itself felt like a wonderful mix of San Francisco’s chill air and hilly streets, Lake Tahoe’s ski resort feel and what I must imagine the charm of a Swiss Alps village would feel like.  Bariloche is known for its chocolate and as we were there during the week before Easter giant chocolate easter eggs abounded (and they all became half off after Sunday!).  There was even a giant chocolate egg in the city square which they broke apart on Easter Sunday and gave away chunks!



Lake Tahoe?  No, Bariloche


San Francisco?  No, Bariloche.


San Francisco?  No, Bariloche.



Giant Chocolate Egg!


More Chocolate



In addition to exploring the charm of Bariloche we also spent a lot of time in the natural beauty surrounding the area.  We went on two day hikes, one on our first full day and another on our last day (I needed that long to recover from the first hike!)  The first hike we did was to refugio frey, 15 miles round trip and a 2,500 ft ascent, the second was to laguna negra and was 17 miles round trip and 2,600 ft ascent.  I soon fell behind my companions on both hikes but I relished in the solitude and the opportunity to be surrounded by nature and the sense of accomplishment I felt when I reached the top was unlike anything else.


Refugio Frey:






Laguna Negra:









We also explored the area in other ways, we went kayaking on one of the lakes, rode horses on a trail around one of the mountains, and took a gondola to get a stunning view of the area.  The stunning natural beauty of el parque nacional huapi made me think of Yosemite National Park, my favorite place in the world.  Being surrounded by such pristine lakes, mountains and forests gave me a sense of inner peace and gratitude for the opportunity to be on this adventure.








Another plus of the trip was my first experience staying in a hostel!  I loved getting the chance to meet other travelers from all over the world, with fascinating stories to tell.  I had discussions with other Americans studying abroad and other Argentines but also Venezuelans, Canadians, Australians, Germans, and quite a few Israelis as well, so my Hebrew came in handy!  Hearing about the experiences of other people who are putting themselves out of their comfort zone to explore a new place and a new way of life inspired me to come back to Mendoza energized and ready to make the most of the next few months. 

During the week in Bariloche I also learned to relax a bit and go with the flow, more so than I have since I’ve got here.  I’ve been so preoccupied with safety and not embarrassing myself through a language or cultural faux pas, but this week I was reminded that studying abroad is about living in the moment and learning from your mistakes, and that messing up isn’t always such a bad thing.  I leave you with another song from the musical Daddy Long Legs, one of my favorites, “The Secret of Happiness”.  In the coming weeks I hope that, amidst the craziness of life abroad I can remember to live in a state of peacefulness and gratitude, and be reminded of the things that truly matter in life.  


“I discovered the secret of happiness is following my will

I discovered the secret of happiness is that we can run that hill

Happiness comes when we learn to be still and

The secret, the secret of happiness is

The secret of happiness is clear

The secret of happiness is near

The secret of happiness is here”



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