As I type this first entry in my kitchen, it’s really starting to sink in that I’ll be on the other side of the equator in a mere few days away. The last few weeks have been hectic with going from task to task with my parents, including withdrawing U.S. dollars, buying last minute clothing, and looking for electronic adapters. But now my clothes, books and miscellaneous supplies are laid out upstairs, ready to be packed. So it’s nice that things have settled down for a bit.
Still, I look back in amused disbelief about how near my departure date is- how long have I anticipated this? It must have been since March when I was officially accepted into the program. Since then, a mental clock has ticked onward- through intense finals & Short Term at my humble Bates College, watching the class of 2016 graduate at Bates, then the class of 2016 at my old high school. From the scorching laid back summer days catching up with friends I wouldn’t see until December, to 4th of July with family I wouldn’t see for much longer. With each passing day I’ve been reflecting more deeply about everything I’ve taken for granted, from the people I’ve bonded with to the particular customs I’ve only ever known as an American. All of these are about to be snapped away from me, and to be honest; part of me is feeling a lot of trepidation. Yet at the same time I know this will be a life-changing experience, one in which I’ll be able to record right here.
Even before the opportunity to be an IFSA student blogger came up, I knew I wanted to document my journey- both for something to look back on, to remember, and to share my experiences with family, friends and professors. I’ve always been aware of the value of journaling, especially last year after seeing the movie Inside Out, though it was something I was never able to stick to. I remember when documenting my senior year of high school I was actually able to write for six months! I’m hoping that the uniqueness of this event in my life will inspire me to record my adventures with as much detail as possible. Of course the small financial incentive from Butler is also nice.
As a sociology major, I am planning on pursuing the Diversity, Minority and Gender Studies concentration through Butler, where I will explore contemporary Argentine society. While many perceive Latin America as very multicultural, Argentina is actually more similar to the United States, with the majority of its citizens descending from European immigrants. With that in mind, it will be fascinating to learn about the various intersections and tensions of Argentine identity between race, class, and particularly sexuality. As part of this blog, I will highlight my unique experiences as a gay cisgender male in Buenos Aires. The city has been called the gay capital of South America countless times. Not only did the city enact civil unions long before the rest of the country legalized gay marriage in 2010 but has also enacted a host of anti-discrimination measures. However, the subject is apparently somewhat taboo, especially in the rest of the country with its strong Catholic roots. Therefore it’ll be especially interesting to explore the Argentine queer community, and how it compares to their counterparts here in the U.S.
While I will certainly be sharing my own experiences, I hope my blog also becomes a place where I record the stories of the people, which occupy this fascinating country. It is one that has seen the riches of prosperity as an economic powerhouse as well as rock bottom of despair of dictatorships and stagnation. With their tumultuous history, it’s no wonder why many Argentines don’t take anything for granted.
I know the first week in BA will be a whirlwind of activity, but hopefully once I settle down, I’ll be able to write a new entry about my first impressions and some more I’ve learned about Argentina. Until then,