How Studying Abroad Gave Me Three “Last Days” in Argentina

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I remember my first “last day” in Buenos Aires, Argentina in excruciating detail: I spent the morning packing and saying goodbye to my friends. Then, after agreeing to take a taxi with my friend to the airport, miscommunication, a late taxi, and traffic made me miss my international Delta flight home on Tuesday night. I cried as I heard the take-off announcement for the flight I was supposed to be on. Since I had few pesos left, I made friends with a group of Colombian travelers and geared up to spend night in the Ezeiza International Airport for 24 hours. My first “last day” in Argentina would sadly not be my last.

Around 10 pm after missing my flight, I messaged Juan, a classmate from my Argentinian Foreign Policy class, about my impending 24 hour travel sleepover. Thankfully, his mother took pity on me, and within an hour, he and his father picked me up and took me home to sleep.

My second “last day” in Argentina started off much better. After a light Argentinian breakfast of mate and toast, I showered and stared out the window down on the street in the neighborhood of Belgrano. Mentally preparing myself yesterday to leave Argentina after a successful semester abroad had been difficult; and now I would have to take the one-hour bus ride (this time much earlier) to the airport—again. My brain was confused. I was supposed to leave yesterday: How was I already back in the city of passion, the city of great steak, the city of my friends? Being in Buenos Aires felt so right and leaving it again felt so wrong. When Juan’s family dropped me off at the shuttle station, my words of thanks came out, but my feelings of sadness of having to leave a culture and people I had grown to love did not.

On the flight home, I sat next to a Mormon guy who had just spent two years in Argentina and was finally coming back home as well. We spent the entire flight chatting about our experiences in Argentina and both agreed that our mutual “last day” could not be the last “last day” in Argentina of our lives…

When I got back to school a month later, I still couldn’t shake off the nostalgia of my previous porteño lifestyle. I missed taking the bus wherever I wanted to. I missed staying up late and ignoring my phone and the time. I had to get back to Buenos Aires, but how could I do it?

During the winter semester, I managed to push my longing for travel away to focus on getting an internship in New York. However, my enthusiasm for finance was missing and I ended up getting no offers. While interviewers had been interested in hearing about my study abroad challenges, my skills just didn’t seem to align with the jobs I was applying for. Finally one night, my friend was looking through our school’s job database and one came to my attention: Consulting Internship Buenos Aires, Argentina. While I had never heard of the The Mind Company, the firm’s orange logo seemed energetic and inviting and the idea of working abroad seemed too good to be true. When I read the description, they wanted business major applicants with experience living and working abroad. I was the perfect match! I applied immediately and waited for a response.

Within days, the Human Resources manager reached out to me for an interview. While we discussed my academic background, as an expat herself, she was most interested in hearing about my study abroad experience, my Spanish language ability, and my interest to Buenos Aires. We discussed the differences in the public and private universities I attended, our mutual hate for long administrative lines, and the challenge of making friends in a different language.

Within another week, she reached out to me with an internship offer and I was ecstatic. Not only would I be compensated to live in Buenos Aires for two months over the summer, I would also work at a foreign consulting firm! I couldn’t believe that my study abroad experience with IFSA would lead to professional opportunities as well! I bought my flight early and couldn’t believe that within a month, I would return to my favorite city, this time, armed with good bus route knowledge, a network of Argentinian friends, and a perfected Argentine accent.

Upon arrival to the office, I knew that studying abroad in Argentina was the only experience that could have successfully prepared me for living and working alone in a foreign city. I found a Venezuelan roommate online, I bought my own bus card, and I had to go through immigration on my own without the help of a program. While the work at TMC was difficult and engaging, my relationships with my coworkers, with my new and old friends, and especially with Juan’s family strengthened quickly because of my 5-month trial of study abroad and my current 2-month extension.

Unfortunately, my final “last day” in Buenos Aires came too soon. While the two months had gone by in the blink of an eye, this final day will always stand out to me as perfect. In the morning, I ate brunch with my roommate Adri and walked around the parks in the city. Later in the day, Juan’s family brought me to their home and we ate and laughed together. Juan’s mom had prepared gifts for me to bring home to my family and this time they all offered to drive me early to the airport too.

Once at the terminal, they waited for me to check my luggage and offered to carry it over to the security line. This time, both my thanks and my sadness to leave came out as we exchanged hugs and promises to see each other again. I will never regret studying abroad in Buenos Aires because my decision to spend five months in Buenos Aires turned out to be such an influential and expansive part of my life. While my first three “last days” in Argentina were stressful, happy, and short, I hope to have many more of them in the future.

Linnea Cederberg is a student at the University of Pennsylvania and studied abroad on IFSA-Butler’s Argentine Universities Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Article by Linnea Cederberg