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The Adventure’s winding down…

“I get lost in the beauty
Of everything I see
The world ain’t half as bad
As they paint it to be
If all the sons,
All the daughters
Stopped to take it in
Well hopefully the hate subsides and the love can begin
It might start now, yeah
Well maybe I’m just dreaming out loud
Until then…

Come home
Come home
Cause I’ve been waiting for you
For so long
For so long
Right now there’s a war between the vanities
But all I see is you and me
The fight for you is all I’ve ever known
Ever known
So come home
Oh”


It’s been more than four months in Argentina, and this is my fifteenth blog post!  I’ve written more than 100 pages since arriving in Argentina.  I guess I’ve had a lot to say!  


I haven’t spent a lot of time going back to read what I’ve written, but just skimming through my past blog posts, I can see how much my perspective has changed over the course of the semester.  At the beginning, Argentina was one, big scary adventure.  I knew absolutely no one, and no one knew me.  I didn’t know what was expected of me, or what I should expect of myself.  All of this was both exciting and scary, there were days when I surprised myself with what I was capable of, and other days when all I wanted was to be surrounded by something familiar.  Over the past few months I’ve met people, made friends, and tried to build a life for myself here, a life that fits in with Argentine culture, but that is true to who I am at the same time.  


To my surprise I’ve been extremely successful at this!  At this point I feel surrounded by a community of supportive friends, I’ve found things to do that I find fulfilling, and walking down the street is no longer a scary thing.  Mendoza doesn’t feel as much like home as Palo Alto or Brandeis do, but it’s become a livable place for me.  So, while on the one hand I’m excited to return home to the people I’ve known all my life, the thought of giving up the new home that I worked so hard to build for myself fills me with sadness.  I know that I will carry the experiences I’ve had here with me when I return, but I also know that there are things that are unique to this place, that I’ll be leaving behind.  But I’m not sure what will come with me and what will stay behind, and that’s a little scary, too.  This is what I hope I can remember even when I’m back in the states:


* to reach out to newcomers, wherever they’re from.  One small act of welcoming kindness goes a long way when you feel alone


* to use my Spanish.  Listen to the radio, watch telenovelas, strike up a conversation.  I don’t want to forget the fluency I’ve gained here, I want to always feel confident in my language skills


* to try new things, even if I’m scared.  I hope that I remember that nothing can be as scary in the US as it would have been in Argentina, where I’d have to do it in Spanish!  If I can do it in South America, I can do it in an English speaking country

 

* That I’m capable of more than I think I am.  When I have moments of doubting myself I hope I can look back on my time in Argentina as inspiration to keep going


* to not stress so much.  Being here has taught me that punctuality and organization isn’t as important as we all think it is.  Though Argentina takes it a little too far in the opposite direction, I hope I can remember to not let worrying about doing everything on time dictate the course of my day and instead, focus on enjoying the moment


Study abroad has been both similar and different to what I thought it would be.  Some things that were different is I thought that study abroad was like traveling abroad; that I would constantly be going from one adventure to the next.  Instead, though there were plenty of adventures, there were also many days of simply being, with nothing that I needed to accomplish.  Also, unlike a vacation, where you can often put aside many of your needs until you get home, I had to learn how to live long-term in a new environment and how to make that lifestyle self-perpetuating.  That requires a different mindset than the one of an adventurer, and one I wasn’t anticipating, but I’m grateful I’ve learned to use.  


Also, I expected it to be much easier to immerse myself in Spanish.  Sometimes I was on my own or with other IFSA students, which didn’t help me learn Spanish, and when I was surrounded by Argentines I found it much more difficult than I anticipated to follow what was being said or to insert myself in the conversation.  And if I was able to follow what was being said I often got tired and reached a breaking point where I craved English again.  I did have a moment when I felt my conversation skills “clicked” into place, but it came surprisingly late in the semester and this feeling of comfort would come and go.  As a result I’m leaving Argentina with my language skills not quite at the level I’d hoped they be, but that’s ok, it’s just a reason to keep practicing, and maybe travel abroad again someday!


I also was surprised by the lack of purpose I felt here, which I’ve previously mentioned.  Especially at the beginning I struggled to find things to do which would give my time here meaning.  Studying didn’t take up nearly as much time as I was used to, volunteering didn’t start until the second month of the program, and it also took time to build friendships with people.  However, over time these things got easier, and it taught me the importance of staying patient and holding on to a positive attitude.  Often my worst moments of homesickness or anxiety were followed by the best experiences of my time here.  Also, looking back on my experiences here, I see how often a small connection would eventually lead to some of my favorite memories from here.  By holding on to optimism and by trying to have my first reaction to everything be “yes” instead of “no”, I slowly put down roots among mendocinos and among my IFSA friends as well.  


As I write this I barely have one week left in Mendoza.  The next days will be full of studying for my finals (supposed to read eight books in Spanish one week, now the work begins!), spending time with my friends, and preparing for my mom’s visit, she will be arriving on Tuesday and I will get to show her around Mendoza and travel around Argentina with her before going home.  I know the rest of my time here will go by quickly, and like in my favorite One Republic song, I can hear voices calling me home.  I know it’s nearly time to return to the “real world”, but before I go, I hope that I can truly cherish and appreciate the gifts that my time here has given me.  And when the time comes, I hope that I can turn away from Mendoza with acceptance and contentedness, and happily look towards home.


“Everything I can’t be

Is everything you should be

And that’s why I need you here

Everything I can’t be

Is everything you should be

And that’s why I need you here

So hear this now…

 

Come home

Come home

Cause I’ve been waiting for you

For so long

For so long

Right now there’s a war between the vanities

But all I see is you and me

The fight for you is all I’ve ever known

Ever known

So come home

Come home”


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeuIMeSShvQ

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