While my friends back home are celebrating finishing their first round of midterms from their Spring Break locations, my semester here in Buenos Aires is finally ramping up. To be perfectly honest, I still haven’t had a full week of school. Classes here in Argentina didn’t start until March, and the month has been chalk-full of holidays. The week following Easter will be the first week that I will attend all of the classes I have selected for this semester. While the late start means that I was able to spend December, January, and February traveling all over the world (and avoiding the horrible winter months of Wisconsin), it also means that I will be taking my first round of midterms when the rest of my class is graduating in May. Although it is going to be very weird seeing Facebook pictures of everyone in their caps and gowns while I still have two months of school left, I stand by my decision to finish up my college career abroad.
For me, this semester is all about new beginnings. Using the insight and knowledge that I gained from my first semester abroad, I am determined to shape this semester to be exactly what I want it to be: I want to try things I didn’t have time to try last semester, take challenging classes, meet new and really awesome people, and speak as much Castellano has humanly possible. When I arrived here in July 2014, 12 months seemed like a dauntingly large period of time to be away from home. Yet, here I am, just hours away from March turning into April, and I realize that I have just over 3 short months left in this beautiful country. My July 7th departure date looms closer and closer, but I have set some plans in motion to aprovechar the rest of my time abroad and the last few months of my life as an undergraduate.
The class selection process for this semester was much less stressful than the chaotic mess I plunged myself into last August. Now that I have a better feel for the different universities and university systems, I was able to select my classes with relatively few conflicts. I am taking a class on Modern Argentine Literature and Film through the institute of my study abroad program, a class on International Latin American Politics at the University of El Salvador, and a 6-credit class on International Security at the infamous University of Buenos Aires. There were actually several other classes that I was also interested in, but since I only need one class to graduate I made the decision to lighten my course load in order to have more time for extracurriculars.
Speaking of extracurriculars, I will be continuing my weekly tennis lessons with my awesome Argentine coach, but I also decided to join the running team at the University of Buenos Aires. As the only international student on the team, it has been a great way to get some interaction with other Argentine students, although the majority of my team members are in graduate programs. I also signed up to take a theater class for beginners on the recommendation of my program director because he believes it will be a great way for me to meet people and to practice my Spanish. However, I haven’t done any sort of theater since I was 12 years old…and I am more than a little nervous about attempting theater improvisation in Spanish. My class starts next week, and I feel ready to push myself to step outside of that oh-so-lovely “comfort zone.”
To add to the changes, I also opted out of the host family living arrangement and moved into an apartment with my French friend Justine and an Argentine student named Luli. I absolutely love my new apartment, and we live in a great location well connected to several bus routes. Because I lived in a dorm my first two years on campus before becoming a House Fellow, this is the first time in my life that I have lived in my own apartment. I am enjoying the independence of having my own space, although having to cook for myself every day took a little bit of getting used to! However, I see this living arrangement as good practice for…well, basically the rest of my life as I think apartment living will be an inevitable fact of my short-term future.
Back in January when I first moved into my new apartment, I found that a bird had made a nest and laid two eggs on the windowsill of my new bedroom. I got to watch those birds hatch, grow, and fly away as the month progressed. My aunt told me that, after all of the rather life-changing events of December, that bird was a sign that new beginnings were coming for me and that what was waiting for me was even better than what I was forced to leave behind. As cheesy as it sounds, I am starting to believe that myself. This semester is off to an even better start than the last. It is my turn to allow study abroad to help me hatch and grow until I am ready to fly off into the wide world of life after college.