I’ve now been in Argentina for over 4 months, and it’s been an incredible experience. I feel like I’ve been changed by my time here, and I think I’ll be heading back to the states a different person. One thing that my host mom here always says is that our experiences shape who we are, but it doesn’t always happen overnight. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that an experience has impacted us until much later down the road- when we face a situation in which we have to use what we’ve learned. It’s then that these memories surface and we realize that we have been changed in a profound way. I really like this idea, although Alicia definitely says it better . Although I feel like I’m already a somewhat different person, it’s exciting to know that I may not realize some of the changes that have happened until many years later. One thing I’ve noticed already, however, is how much more confident I feel. I definitely felt this the most after my time in Córdoba, but I know my time here in Mendoza has helped as well. In Córdoba, I basically arrived and had to survive on my own. There were some resources to help me out, but I was the only American there, and for me it was complete and total immersion in a new country. This couldn’t have been better for my Spanish, though, and by the end of that month I was very comfortable conversing with others, approaching strangers, all that jazz. I also really had to learn how to get around in a (somewhat) big city, which is something I never had to do at school. Luther College is in Decorah, Iowa, a tiny town of 12,000 people- not exactly a bustling metropolis, but it has its perks 😉 . I feel very independent and self-sufficient here in Argentina, and I know I’ve matured, at least a little bit
Another thing that really boosted my confidence was arriving without knowing a single person here. It’s kind of like it was for me coming to college- a chance to start fresh and “forge my own identity”. I’d heard about people having different personalities when they speak different languages, but for me I don’t think this is the case. It’s kind of reassuring, though, to know that although everything else may have changed, who I am and how I interact with others remains constant.
This abroad experience has also confirmed my confidence in how well I can relate to others. I’ve always had a knack for connecting with others and being friendly and outgoing with strangers, and I wasn’t l sure if this would change when speaking another language. But I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to make a lot of really good friends from all over the world (and all over the US!), and it’s been amazing hanging out with them and learning about their distinct cultures. Overall, I feel very proud of myself for being able to do something like this. It’s been an amazing experience, and I know it will continue to impact my life many years down the road. I also think I’ve caught the travel bug this semester, so I can say pretty surely that this won’t be my last time in South America Anyway, I’ve still got plenty of time left, and I’m gonna make the most of it- I’m not quite thinking about going home yet!