Goodbye to a Sticky Program
Though my trip here in Argentina is not yet over (I am staying an extra six weeks in Buenos Aires), I feel I must make the last entry a formal goodbye and review of my wonderful experience with the IFSA Butler program.
I must say that the program did a wonderful job of selecting great individuals as students and as professors and advisors. As I had mentioned in the first entry, I don’t know what I would have done without Daniel, Griselda, and Goyo from the program. Not to mention Patricio and Laura. The professors (mine at least) were phenomenal and just incredibly good people, caring and nice. Darío and Max who taught Latin American Literature, Alicia, Argentine History, and Victoria and Cruz, Castellano, truly helped me learn and accommodate myself in this new environment.
We all had different goals coming into the program. Some wanted to do the most traveling possible and see everything. Some wanted to stay in the city and get the most from Buenos Aires. Some wanted to improve Spanish as their number one goal, and others wanted to have fun with fellow IFSA students. Some wanted to make a few intimate friends, and others wanted to get to know more people. All of us had multiple goals, but we all had different priorities too. I didn’t really know what my priorities were. I wanted simply to do everything. And now that the program has passed, I am glad I didn’t prioritize my goals. My friend Lillian had the goal of truly interacting with Argentines and thus improving her Spanish and integrating herself into the culture. She found a group of Argentine ultimate frisbee players, and became really good friends with them. Some of my friends wanted to really enjoy the city with IFSA friends. My friend Noah didn’t come with on the trips with friends to Mendoza and Iguazu. He stayed in Buenos Aires and really got the most he could out of the city. As I look back, I am glad for all of the experiences I have had, and have no regrets.
Being from Korea, I have a different experience studying more or less abroad in America and studying abroad here in Argentina. Though I do identify myself with America, I also feel very distant at times. I thus had a wonderful time getting to know both Americans and Argentines (and English and German and Swiss and Irish people) through the IFSA trip. One of the things that was so impacting was my stay with a host family. Susy and Juan are so kind and now so dear to me. Thankfully I have yet some time until I have to say goodbye to them. Additionally, it was a pleasure to get to know Lucia, Kata, Bibiana, my professors, Daniel, Griselda, and the list goes on. I don’t have to say goodbye yet to them. But I did have to say goodbye to my precious IFSA friends. Even though English was my first language and I have lived more years in America than in Korea, I have the classic Asian-American-identity-crisis sometimes (though in this case it would be a quasi-Asian-American one). Being with great people in a great place, also with new people and in a new place, really helped me understand better how I want to interact socially. Thus (with my tendency to overreact) a highlight of the trip was when my friend Katy from the program invited me over for a proper Thanksgiving. It may have just been a friendly offering, but for me, a proper Thanksgiving invitation, not even the real thing yet, really made a difference. It was really a sign that the program meant not just one experience with people I would never meet again, but a program that would stick with me, with people I felt comfortable enough around to spend a holiday like Thanksgiving with.