Who I am and how I got here!
With less than three days remaining before study abroad, it seems time to introduce myself! My name is Amanda, I am 20 years old and I am currently in my third year at Soka University of America (SUA). While my university is situated in Southern California, my home is actually about 3,000 miles away in Massachusetts, and I have been bouncing back and forth across the country since the summer of 2014. Sure, being away from home and family the majority of the past few years may have prepared me for study abroad to an extent, but somehow, this semester away in particular feels like it could be very, very different.
Still, I can’t say I don’t feel fairly prepared. I have been studying Spanish since 6th grade (9 years!) with only a 1 year break to learn French (that indirectly improved my Spanish along the way), I have been lucky enough to travel internationally since I was just 11 months old (to my parents’ home country of Sri Lanka) and thanks to the study abroad requirement at my university, I’ve had plenty of upperclassmen (and now my own classmates as well!) to talk to about what to expect and remember during study abroad. Since all SUA students study abroad, once it came my time to choose a location, I had already thought up some criteria – I wanted to go to Latin America, I wanted a challenging program, I wanted to go Spring semester and of course I NEEDED to go with at least one other SUA student so I wouldn’t be completely alone for my first time spending months in another country. Well I chose a place that fit all these criteria, applied, got accepted and then…it didn’t quite work out. I had to choose another IFSA Butler program in less than 2 weeks and basically chose Mendoza based on some good feedback from a former SUA student and a general feeling that it was the right choice. Since then, Mendoza has grown on me quite a lot and I am just as excited to be going. While the Mendoza program met most of my criteria, it did not meet one that previously, I would not have compromised on; no other SUA students would be going, in fact, none had gone since 2012! I chose Mendoza with the hope that not only would I be able to handle living in a country away from everyone I had ever known, but also benefit from just that; by furthering my independence and coping strategies while alone in an entirely new environment. Hopefully, I will be returning to this blog in July to say I did just that!
Back in 2013, I applied to SUA knowing I would be expected to study abroad Junior year. In 2014, I accepted and entered campus, still curious how I could ever handle it, stashing it away in the back of my mind. By 2015, I still wasn’t convinced I could manage living and learning abroad, but by 2016, I was choosing a program and applying. Now it’s 2017 and it’s actually happening in just a few days! Maybe it still hasn’t sunk in fully, but soon, life in Argentina will be my everyday reality. I’ve already grown up a lot in college and perhaps I’m at a point where I’m too comfortable. I guess a whole new challenge in an entirely new environment is just what I need right now.My first time seeing snow in 3 years back at home!