Breaking News: I’m staying the full year!
When I arrived at the airport in Chicago to begin my travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the semester, I met a girl who was going to be in my IFSA program in Argentina and she told me she was staying for the year. I honestly could not believe she would want to stay abroad for that long. However, just recently I officially decided that I am going to stay another semester. While studying for one semester in a different country is an incredible opportunity, I feel that a full year abroad provides a completely new type of experience. In a semester abroad, I learned so much about the culture, feel almost fluent in Spanish, and was able to explore Buenos Aires, and now feel as though I know it very well. However, in the next semester in Buenos Aires, I am so excited to be able to use the skills I learned first semester and fully immerse myself in the normal life of Argentina. Living abroad is such a unique experience, and IFSA has provided me with the opportunity to make it my own and to get involved in what I am passionate about, whether it be the classes I take, volunteer jobs, or extracurricular activities I am involved in.
Important things I have learned in Buenos Aires:
-Be flexible – many things in this country are much less coordinated (there’s no set schedule for buses, teachers may show up a half hour late, stores don’t open when they say they will, etc)
-Being independent – having to navigate the city and daily activities (going to the fruit stand, taking public transportation) definitely increases independence.
– Confidence – Walking into a class full of Argentine students who all have known each other for years definitely teaches you some confidence. As does walking around a city where it is not a good idea to appear as though you are foreign.
-Take every opportunity to make new friends (even at the fruit/vegetable stand!) – it makes being in a foreign country a lot more comfortable
All things considered, I have fallen in love with Buenos Aires. I recommend to anyone abroad, while it is important to have friends in your program, spend as much time with locals as possible. Meet friends in your classes, at the supermarket, or in a volunteer job and ask them to grab almuerzo or a café with you. Keep your eyes and ears open all the time and be excited to learn about the daily life of where you’re at. Notice the little similarities and differences between your culture and theirs and appreciate them. Never stop learning each day and being in wonder at the opportunity you have to live in a different country for some time!!