Well, I almost can’t believe it, but here I am sitting in the living room of what will be my apartment for the next 12 months in the beautiful neighborhood of Recoleta in Buenos Aires, Argentina! The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind of travel, learning names and faces, and the lingering feelings of exhaustion that come from anxiety and lack of sleep, but I am happy to finally be here and sort of settling in.
Allow me tell you a little bit about how the first part of my study abroad experience is going.
After sleeping a whopping 3 hours (seriously, though, who can sleep before a trip like this?!?) on Saturday night, I left the house with bags in hand on Sunday morning in order to catch my flight out of Chicago to Miami where I would be meeting up with about 15 other study abroad students to fly to Buenos Aires. Saying goodbye to my family and my boyfriend (who will be departing for his own study abroad program in August) was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated, but I knew that this was something that I had to do on my own. Luckily, I had plenty to keep me distracted on the way to Miami, as there were a few other students on my first flight as well. The really awesome thing about the IFSA program is that it draws students from around the country. Besides the three of us from UW-Madison, I have met students from Northwestern, Tulane, Columbia, Macalester, and UPenn to name a few. I still have not met anyone else who will be staying here in Argentina the full year, but I’m sure I will get a chance to chat with them at orientation tomorrow.
Immediately after arriving at the airport in Buenos Aires, we were met by coordinators from the IFSA program office who helped us find taxis to take us to our host families, and we were given the rest of the day off to relax (hence why I have time to write this post). Unfortunately for me, my host mother, Cristina, is currently on a trip and will not return until tomorrow. Someone was at her place to let me in, but I am stuck in the house until later tonight when a young woman from Cordoba, who is working in Buenos Aires and lives in the apartment with us, arrives to give me my house key. It is very strange to spend my first day in a new country alone in someone else’s home, but I have taken advantage of the time and thoroughly explored the apartment.
My room is modest but comfortable, pretty similar in size to your average dorm room (see pictures below). I have added a few homey touches, including the picture blanket that my mother gave me as a special gift before I left. The other cool thing about the apartment is that it is decorated with paintings created by my host mom and her brother. My host mom is an excellent painter, but her brother is apparently a fairly well known artist. There is even a photograph here in the house of him presenting one of his paintings to the Pope! Awesome!
The few conversations I have had with people today have also left me painfully aware of how crude my Spanish is in its current state. After struggling through a conversation with my Uruguayan taxi driver, I somehow managed to understand all of the instructions given to me by the woman who let me into Cristina’s house. But the best moment of my day was the painful discovery that the “C” on the sink handles in Argentina does not, in fact, stand for “cold”. Unfortunately, my sleep-deprived self was not paying attention to the fact that the other handle (where the “C” in the US normally is) had a large “F” written on it. “F” for frío and “C” for caliente. Luckily, I realized my mistake just in time to avoid burning my fingers on the hot water. Yes…my Spanish definitely needs some fine-tuning, but, after all, that’s why I’m here. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week’s orientation will bring.