When I set off for Argentina, I had a short list of goals. I’d like to take a moment to look back at how I did during my 5 month stay.
Visiting the family in Buenos Aires—check.
Visiting my friend in Neuquen—check.
Visiting my roommate in Chile—double check.
Hiking in the Andes definitely happened. I took it a step further and climbed up to a waterfall in the Andes.
I didn’t get a whole lot of writing done, but I did do some. Finished a few poems (and even translated an old one into Spanish) and did some work on a few short stories.
I found multiple Argentine friends to do music exchanges with me, and now I’ve got so much music in Spanish, my poor iTunes library doesn’t know what to do with itself. 1/3 of my music is in Spanish now!
Meeting interesting people? Duh. (I should’ve set more challenging goals for myself!)
As far as cooking goes, I learned how to make empanadas, flan, and torta de chocolinas; got a recipe for homemade noqui from my host mom; and ate a whole lot more.
I think the only thing on my list that I didn’t accomplish (and then some) was tango dancing…and I realized very quickly in the program that a) it didn’t actually interest me that much and b) it’s not a Mendoza thing anyway, it’s a Buenos Aires thing. However, I did learn how to dance a couple different types of folklore, under the light of the moon no less!
And I accomplished so many more things that weren’t even on my list:
I got drunk for the first time. I had my first kiss. I learned how to ride a bike. I learned how to ride the subte in Santiago and the buses in Mendoza. I watched the sun rise over Mendoza with three girls I love. I watched the sun rise over Rio Plata with someone I didn’t love but definitely liked a lot. I was mistaken for an Argentine. I was mistaken for a Parisian. I traveled alone. I hung around on the beach on both coasts of South America. I’ve rejected jerks in three different languages, and I know about a zillion new Spanish words to explain to them how big of a jerk they are. I danced in the rain, under the moon, in the middle of the street, in a bunch of different clubs, with my chicas, with a drunk friend, with strangers, with old men, with nice guys. I marched to the casa del gobierno in a protest of 10,000+ people. I watched Charly Garcia perform live in Plaza de Mayo. I learned how to sand board, how to find my way in an unfamiliar city, how to take tequila shots, how to speak Spanish in the voseo, how to file an insurance claim, and how to river raft.
…Plus a whole bunch of other things I don’t have words for and I don’t want to try to explain.
And I made some of the three best friends I’ve ever had. Friends for life.
I could spend months talking about all the things I didn’t do–there’s so much to do and see in this little world of ours. There really is. But, ultimately, I made the choices that mattered to me, and I don’t regret any of it. Even if I didn’t get to see every major attraction, I made it count for the ones I did see, and I made a connection to each place I was, each moment. If nothing else, I have a bunch of excuses to return, no?
I learned what kind of life I want to lead and what kind of person I want to be: the kind who sees more to the world than just my backyard and the things that directly affect me. I want to travel, I want to learn, I want to explore, I want to challenge myself. I want to be the kind of person who can go with the flow and lets life show me what I can get out of it in the moment rather than only relying on plans and lists, because
a) plans fall through. Then what?
b) Sometimes the things you think you want aren’t the things you really want or need when the moment arises.
And I’ve gotten a little closer to becoming that person.
Argentina has definitely made me a stronger, more secure, more relaxed, happier person. And I even learned some Spanish along the way. Bonus prize. 😉 Of course, I’ll be bringing home a whole bunch of physical baggage from Argentina (CAN’T HAVE ENOUGH MATE), but the most important things I take home with me are the ones you can’t see or touch. And no one can take those things from me.
It’s so interesting to look back on myself pre-study abroad and see how much I’ve changed and grown. And I think it’ll be even more interesting to look back on this point in my life after my next adventure.
I’ll end with a quote from my infinitely wise and occasionally, secretly sentimental friend Lorri:
“Study abroad is not about studying. It is and forever will be about LIFE. And life is what you do and how you handle things when you plans go to ever-loving crap. Focus on living in the moment, because nothing else really matters. The purpose of life is being as happy as possible with each little moment, whatever that moment may consist of. The bottom line is that happiness begins and ends with YOU!”
Write it down. Learn it. Embrace it. Live it.
Study abroad? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
El ultimo vocabulario
Dejate llevar – Let it take you. (Go with the flow.)
- Antes de que me voy (Before I Leave)
- Host Families and Fun with Public Transportation
- “Are You the Girl with the Blog?”
- Playing Tourists in Buenos Aires
- Looking Good, Mendoza!
- A Detailed Guide on All Things Micro
- Trip to Las Termas
- Daily life in Mendoza
- Habia una vez en los Andes…
- Night of the Soccer Game
- Road Trip!
- My Mate for Life
- Ringo vs. Chuck Norris
- Pros and Cons
- CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!
- Philosophical Moments in Neuquen
- Cordoba and Oktoberfest
- Some tips about Hostels
- Student Life in Mendoza
- Trabajo Voluntario
- San Rafael
- The Chicas Take Chile
- Soaking up the Last of the Sun – Mar del Plata
- The Return to BA