From Tourist to Civilian: Merging into la Vida Mendocina
Today is Day #73 in Argentina. Which means I have 73 days left before I have to return to reality that is the United States. I can’t believe how FAST the time has passed. I was so worried before I left for Argentina that I would feel like I was across the world forever, but now that the program is halfway over and it feels like I just got here, I realize that when I return, it is going to feel like I never left the U.S! This realization is bittersweet: I wish I felt like I had more time here because I love Mendoza so much, but at the same time, if it felt longer, it would probably mean that I wasn’t having as good of a time. Time is flying by because I am loving every minute of study abroad, and I couldn’t be happier or more thankful for that. Recently, I have finally felt like I am blending into the Mendocino society, thanks to small achievements/events that seem insignificant until you add them all up:
-I have stopped carrying my city map EVERY time I walk out of the door.
-I leave my Spanish-English dictionary at home now. (this was huge for me, because it was basically my security blanket for the first month and a half!)
-I had my first music performance in Argentina last week during “La Semana de Las Artes”, or “The Week of the Arts.” (See picture below of our bass trio at the performance)
-I was invited to a classmate’s house for dinner.
-I got my student visa yesterday! I am legally no longer a “tourist.”
-I volunteered at a charity event. It was called “Pintaniño,” and it gave kids the opportunity to paint for free, and donate school supplies to poverty-stricken areas of Mendoza. There was also a raffle for 22 new bikes. (see pictures below)
-People ask me for directions almost daily now.
-I have stopped recording my classes in order to go back and listen to them again to understand the Spanish.
-I gave my first presentation in a class with no other international students. (okay, so it was a group presentation, but I still participated!)
-I actually like drinking mate now instead of just pretending to like it. (Argentine tea-like drink that is very bitter and shared between family/friends)
-The mystery meat at asados is not so frightening anymore—most of it is actually pretty good!
-Eating dinner at 9pm is early.
-I haven’t gotten lost on the micro in over a month. (and I have taken it plenty! See picture below)
-I remember (most) of my classmates’ names, and I am comfortable making small talk before class starts.
-I CAN UNDERSTAND MY HOST DAD. (still not all the time, but he actually IS speaking Spanish after all!)
I am sure that this is not the complete list, but it gives you an idea of my journey from being a complete outsider to now actually feeling like I fit into some parts of society here in Mendoza. I am hoping for another INCREDIBLE 73 days!