Finally hit by “Everyday Life”
Coming from a university where all students study abroad, perhaps I am not as surprised with some of the “unexpected” phases of living in another country most students go through. I was well aware that the initial few weeks of excitement eventually give way to a more patterned, less-exciting daily life. While it usually takes students about 2-3 weeks to get to this point, I think mine came in my 4th week when one day I woke up knowing exactly my weekly schedule (organized around my classes), knowing how to get everywhere I needed to get and knowing fairly well what I needed to prepare for money-wise, food-wise and timing-wise. Of course, having more structure in my life is what I was craving the initial weeks of confusion and new experiences. I was often tired from running around the city all day, every day, getting used to speaking Spanish all the time, and adjusting to the lack of order in Argentina compared to my home of New England. It’s nice to finally be more organized and used to things and honestly, I’m perfectly fine with life slowing down a bit, at least for now. Looking back just a month ago, I am actually quite surprised how nervous I was about walking around the new city alone. Yesterday I passed a place I had passed once when I was lost and realized I was only actually 7 minutes from my house, yet I ended up taking a really long windy way home. I thought finding my way around would take maybe two months…it probably ended up taking a week and a half until I was pretty comfortable and confident getting around without a map or anyone to help. That is definitely one of my biggest accomplishments so far, given my tendency to just rely on my friends’ sense of direction everywhere I’ve gone over the years. Then again, Mendoza is organized in a very easily understood way(basically a grid in the center of town) but still it’s a start for me!
One thing I have been thinking about a lot lately is how much I hope to come out of my shell. Back at school, I’m one of those people who has her nose in her homework all day, every day. I go out once a week most of the time which is plenty for me, and it’s never very late in the night or with people I don’t know. Argentine culture is very different. Most people go out in order to spend time with their friends and family, they go out a lot, often to bars and to go out dancing, and they both go out and stay out so late that sometimes they don’t sleep and just go to work the next day. I’ve stayed out late a couple times with the other program students, but it doesn’t seem study abroad is going to change me so drastically that it’s something I’ll eventually enjoy and go out of my way for. Even going to class at 8pm and walking home at 10pm felt so late and crazy to me and that’s something I need to do. There is some pressure to partake in this part of the culture because it is so integral to friendships and how Argentines bond and have fun. I am thankful IFSA and my host family encourage me to take advantage of my time here and experience as much as I can, but my tendencies always fall back to the same; preferring to be warm, safe and sound at home once it gets dark. Even going out every day during daylight is just too tiring and feels unnecessary to me. I have not completely decided how I feel about this yet. I always have a mental back and forth whether it is better I stay true to myself and just relax at home/take my sweet time on homework once I’m tired after classes or if I should push myself more to attend more of the free/cheap cultural activities happening here all the time. Maybe by the next Blog post, I will know better how I feel! HOWEVER, I do want to tell anyone who is nervous about this aspect of study abroad like I was, it is not a requirement to be extroverted and throw yourself into every opportunity that arises. It’s fantastic if you enjoy that, but I know I am learning and enjoying plenty of Argentina in my more relaxed form of getting to know the country. We are ultimately here to learn and that will happen no matter what as long as you put effort into it.
Speaking of ways I’ve got to know Argentina as well as a little of Chile, the following are a few photos from my recent trips to Chile (Valparaiso and Viña del Mar), more bodegas with IFSA Butler and some random things I’ve done in the past two weeks
(Click the photo to move to the next)