An ‘Inception,’ of Sorts
I was packed and ready to go. As I rested my head on the pillow, visions of the unfamiliar world in which I would experience the following day ran through my mind. Beautiful mountains, friendly people, copious tango music, and crazy traffic occupied my thoughts while I slept. Off in the distance, I could hear a bus honking its horn at the carefree pedestrians in the street. Oh, wait. That honking of the bus was actually my dog barking at the sun’s reflection through our living room window. My alarm had failed to go off before the sun came out! I had overslept! I realized in a panic that my flight to Buenos Aires was scheduled to leave in just over two hours. I grabbed my suitcases, awoke my brother (he had offered to take me to the airport), and ran out the door without looking back. As my brother drove me to the airport, I was able to catch my breath. This study abroad experience had certainly commenced in an unexpected way, but regardless of the rough start, I managed to forget about my hectic morning and to enjoy my last views of the Kansas prairie until I would return in December. My brother pulled up to the airport terminal and we said our good-byes. I quickly reached the line for security, and a wave of relief swept over me when I realized I would make my flight. The TSA officer at the first security checkpoint kindly asked to see my passport and boarding pass. I froze in terror as I recalled the image of my passport on top of the kitchen counter the previous night. What had I done!? In a matter of minutes, I had ruined this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! The utopian concept of study abroad in which I imagined quickly morphed into my biggest nightmare.
What did I do next? I woke up, overwhelmed with anxiety and horror! (You didn’t actually think that I overslept AND forgot my passport to study abroad, did you?)
This all-too-realistic nightmare is simply one example of the pressure, anxiety, and excitement involved in the process of preparing to study abroad. While it is true that most of what I am experiencing these days is pure excitement (I have less than a week left until I leave for orientation in Buenos Aires!), there are definitely other factors to consider when preparing to make such a drastic lifestyle change for an extended period of time. In the three weeks of summer that I have been able to spend at home, I have been busy with completing routine doctor’s appointments, making phone calls to insurance companies, making audition recordings for the School of Music in Mendoza, going on shopping trips for travel necessities, taking a summer class in order to have less requirements while abroad, working for a little extra spending cash while abroad, and trying to keep up on my Spanish communication skills through any means possible. Not to mention that I am also attempting (and perhaps only partially succeeding) to find time to spend with friends and family, and to enjoy these last few days that I have at home in the Heartland.
I expect my experience in Mendoza to be quite different from my life at home (spoiler-alert, I know). I have lived in suburban Kansas since I was born (other than the past two years, of which I have attended school in a small town in the Shenandoah Valley). City life in Mendoza will absolutely be an adjustment to make from my familiar life in the States, but I am excited for a change in pace. I hope that my soon-to-be reality is not quite as disastrous as my passport-tragedy dream that I described earlier, but I am prepared to face frequent (but hopefully not too daunting!) challenges and mishaps associated with both travel and cultural immersion.
To wrap up my very first blog post (I am so excited to be able to share my experiences with you, by the way!), I would like to share a couple of pictures that I think represent, in numerous ways, my identity in the U.S:
This first picture of my little sister and I represents the importance of family and friends in my life, as she is both a family member and one of my best friends.
The picture below is of the bass studio at Shenandoah University, my home institution. This photo represents my love for music (I am a music major, after all…).
Finally, the last picture is with a leatherback turtle in Grand Riviere, Trinidad, and it represents not only my love for animals, but also my love for traveling and experiencing new cultures.
By the end of my time in Argentina, I am sure that these aspects in which I identify myself will be broadened, along with my world perspective and appreciation of the wonderful opportunities that I have been given, including this chance to study in Mendoza.
If you have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to ask! Feel free to add a comment to the blog post, or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to share my journey with you as I begin my semester abroad in just a few short days!