In all honesty, I thought this blog post would start differently, way differently. After months of contemplating life and my future (typical), I thought I would be announcing that I would be staying here in Buenos Aires for another semester. But, as the saying goes, if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans. After emailing my academic advisors advisors at Emory and realizing I wouldn’t be able to get any more credits here, I realized that taking a semester off would be a feasible and frugal decision. Everything was falling into place. My host mom even told me that I could live with her again for another semester if I wanted to (have I mentioned that she is the sweetest?!) At that time, my parents would be coming in a few days and I told Nelly that I would talk things over with them and finally have a solid decision. But alas, my parents weren’t as on board with the whole “locura” as I thought they would be. Which in the end is alright because I really do miss Emory and my community there. It was a decision between two life choices that would both make me happy, and I completely understand and respect my parents’ perspective. So fear not friends, I’m coming home.
All that aside, I was able to share an amazing week with my parents here. On Monday, I picked them up from the airport in the evening. They had flown in from Santiago, Chile, where my brother is also studying abroad right now (we are an adventurous bunch), and had visited him first for the weekend. Which by the way really worked in my favor because the whole time, my parents couldn’t stop comparing Buenos Aires to Santiago and gawking over how much more beautiful my city is (sorry, bro). Throughout their visit, I really got to fall in love with this city again. Taking my parents around to my favorite spots and seeing how impressed they were with the architecture, the food, the culture, virtually everything, made me reflect upon and appreciate my experience that much more. Through my parents, I was also able to reflect upon how much I’ve grown while being here.
In my mom, I saw my cautious, intimidated self from the first few weeks. When our cab from the airport pulled up to their hotel, for example, a kid around 10 years old came up to the cab and tried to sell us something. It being night and not being used to this, my mom got startled and said they were staying in a “sketchy area.” They were staying in Palermo Hollywood. Probably the least sketchy place in Buenos Aires. I’ve become so accustomed to things that would have normally made me think twice, like crossing 4 way streets with no traffic signals, talking to “strangers” on the street, or brushing off cat calls. Granted, all small things, but things that have made me more sure of myself, more confident, more aware of my surroundings.
In my dad, I saw my confused, yet perseverant self from the beginning of my study abroad experience. My dad understands and speaks a little bit of Italian, which means that he can understand a bit of Spanish as well. I didn’t really realize this until Nelly invited my parents over for dinner (again, I need to emphasize here not only what a sweetheart she is, but also how well she cooks). My dad could generally follow the conversations, and would try to respond, usually in a mix of Spanglish or Italian. While it’s easy to laugh and just say “come on, Dad. Let me just translate for you,” I admire him for making the effort. Sitting at the dinner table, I was transported back to those first few weeks at the dinner table with Nelly, having to ask her to repeat herself way too many times, not having the vocabulary to express myself, and feeling lost and defeated more often than not. Now, our conversations range anywhere from comparing the funeral industry in Argentina and the U.S. to what I’m thinking about doing with the rest of my life (again, typical).
So, after all my reflective-meta rambling, what exactly did my parents and I do? A better question would be what didn’t we do. Tuesday I spent the whole day in class and they went on an 8 hour bike tour of the city that they loved. That night we had dinner with Nelly and her son. Wednesday I took them to one of my absolute favorite spots, El Rosedal, the most gigantic rose garden I’ve ever seen.
After dining like royalty in probably my favorite cafe with an outdoor patio area and stopping for ice cream afterwards, we headed to the airport for a quick trip to Mendoza, wine country. Highlights of that trip included:
-taking a bus tour of the stunning rapidly changing landscapes of the Andes mountains
-visiting three bodegas and tasting several wines before 11 am
– Enjoying the best and largest picado ever
-Trying goat for the first time (it was really good) and also rabbit (not as good)
When we got back to Buenos Aires, the adventures continued. Saturday we took the train to San Isidro/Vicente Lopez, some suburbs outside of the city with beautiful views of El Rio de la Plata. Then, we ate steaks that Argentina is famous for at an incredible parrilla and finished the night off with a tango show that blew us away.
Sunday morning we headed to San Telmo, probably my favorite barrio of Buenos Aires with tons of graffiti, cobblestone streets, and a mix between old-school charm and hipster vibes. We had brunch and then walked around the huge fair that takes place every Sunday. I said my goodbyes to my parents, (which is always difficult but I’ll be seeing them again in a few short weeks) because I had to head over to play my last ultimate frisbee game with my team. It was an emotional day, to say the least. Tears were shed, tears of joy to have had the most amazing opportunity to play with and get to know some of the most down to earth, welcoming, fun, silly, weird people from all over the world, and tears of sadness for it to come to an end.
The following few days were stressful, which is only fair after having had such an inexplicably unreal time with my parents. I had three papers, two presentations, and an oral exam within 3 days of each other. And as you can tell, I had really been studying hard and preparing the week before…but I got through it and now it’s all done!
Next stop: a quick 24 hour bus ride to the north to check out some desert landscapes and llamas. Life is really rough.