This summer has been filled with beach days, barbecues, concerts, friends and family–ingredients for all great summers. And like all great summers, this one has flown by all too quickly. To be fair, it’s been cut a bit short. Usually I’m fortunate enough to spend my time at home all the way into the middle of August. This time, I won’t be returning to Emory University in the fall. Instead, I’m heading off a month early to meet the adventures that await me in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Time has a way of fooling us. Although the summer as a whole has swept away effortlessly, each day has felt like an eternity, especially when anyone brings up Argentina (and trust me, they bring it up a lot). If I had a dollar for every question I’ve been asked about studying abroad, I would be funding my own private jet down there right about now. There are two issues I have with these incessant queries:
1. I don’t know what to expect. And I like it that way. I’m not one to overthink things; I like to go with the flow. In fact, If I could parachute down right now with nothing but a backpack, I would. I’ve been here in limbo not knowing how to prepare, or what to think or do, and none of that mental restlessness will dissipate until I step foot in BA. So for now, I’d rather refrain from wondering about what my life will be like living in Argentina. I’ll know when I get there. Expectations are overrated.
2. These questions that people have been asking me are (whether intentional or not) directed at my most vulnerable insecurities, namely learning the language, and adapting to the diet.
I consistently hear, “Oh, you’re going to South America, you must be wonderful at Spanish!” Guess again. Yes, I’ve taken Spanish since I was in kindergarten…but I went to public school. It was not serious, not intensive. Honestly, it was kind of a joke. I only took one semester of Spanish in college, and that was first semester freshman year, almost two years ago now. My Spanish skills (or lack thereof) is by far my biggest insecurity about going abroad. I have a feeling that “más despacio por favor” is going to be my new favorite phrase. Will I even be able to speak with my host mom? Will the other students in the group be far more advanced than me? Will I embarrass myself? These questions swarm around my head relentlessly. In the end, I know I’m going to embarrass myself, and I just have to get over that. I know I’m going to improve in time and eventually become fluent. And that’s my primary drive for studying abroad in the first place. It’s frightening, but exciting. I’m ready to jump into the unfamiliar world that is Argentine Spanish.
“Argentina” is practically synonymous with “beef.” This fact is brought to my attention on a daily basis. Especially since I’ve been vegan for the past 2 years. For those of you that don’t know, that means I don’t eat any animal products–no meat, fish, dairy, eggs, cheese, nothing. I had to give that all up in preparation to study abroad. For the past 2 months, I’ve slowly transitioned back to the omnivore lifestyle, and, to say the least, I’ve experienced a lot of cognitive dissonance in the process. Yes, everything tastes delicious, there’s no doubt about that, but I just have lost the ability to enjoy fillet mignon or fried chicken when I think about the environmental, ethical, social consequences. I’m going to try everything I’m served in Argentina because I want to fully experience the culture (and food is a huge part of culture), but I’m hoping I won’t be eating meat for breakfast lunch and dinner. Luckily, I recently found out that my host mom enjoys cooking healthfully, and she has no problem hosting a vegetarian. *sigh of relief*
I started packing yesterday, and it made my whole daydream of being in BA suddenly become a reality. In just a few days, I’ll be 5,288 miles from home! I can’t wait for what’s in store for me.
Peace and love,