Two months at home with nothing to do sounds glamorous, until you realize a semester in Argentina awaits
Hello to all of the lovely human beings that are choosing to take time out of their lives to read this travel blog. My name is Aly and I will be spending the spring semester of 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Because Argentina just so happens to be located in the southern hemisphere and their seasons are opposite of ours, not only are Argentinians enjoying warmth and sun and all of the other good things Wisconsin is lacking right now, but I am enjoying an extended winter break until school starts up in Buenos Aires again. While this sounds luxurious, there’s only so much Netflix a girl can watch before she’s begging for eight hours of homework and a good textbook to read before bed.
Thankfully, it is finally my time to jet. Two weeks from today, on February 25, I will be hitting the road and cozying up on an airplane for the hop, skip, and jump down to South America. One would think that, with all of this extra time I’ve had between semesters I would’ve spent at least a portion of it researching Argentina or brushing up on my admittedly minimal Spanish skills. If you consider researching the top ten cafes in Buenos Aires and watching murder mysteries in Spanish, then I’ve done my job. However, any real research will obviously be left to the day before I depart and will constitute me frantically flipping through Duolingo lessons and trying to memorize my host family’s address. On the topic of host families, we received our placements at the beginning of January which temporarily assuaged my inordinate amount of stress stemming from my overall unpreparedness for this trip. My host mom Natalia seems really sweet. While she did left my on read via email (or she just hasn’t checked it since the beginning of January) she has a dog named Lulu which is really all I need in life, and her extended family seems adorable. I was a more than a little ambitious and emailed her in Spanish, so I’m hoping that doesn’t mean she’s going to assume I am fluent from the get-go, or even close to it. I’m excited to get to know her etc. and all of the other cliche things you’re supposed to say before you meet the stranger you’re going to live with for six months.
Other than my host family placement, the rest of the program has remained largely an enigma. Save a very colorful schedule that arrived in my inbox today, I have very little information of what to expect in terms of scheduling classes or arriving at said host family’s house. While this is very different than the last time I studied abroad in Denmark, where every detail was planned down to the very second my plane touched down in Copenhagen, I am keeping my fingers crossed that someone knows what’s going on and will get everyone where we need to go. The whole arrival and getting settled experience will be a lesson in patience, if nothing else.
As the two week window slowly shrinks down, I am left running last minute errands to buy travel-size face wash, a cellphone that actually works in South America, and attempting to talk myself out of buying a third pair of Birkenstocks. My suitcase has been dragged out of the pits of my basement into my room, dusted off and ready to be filled to bursting with the contents of my life. It hasn’t quite sunk in that Argentina, a country I know next to nothing about, is going to be my home in 14 short days, but sometimes I think that’s the beauty of exchange. You don’t know just how great it’s going to be until you’re three months in and feel like all you’ve ever needed in your life was to be galavanting down the streets of Buenos Aires with a camera in one hand, coffee in the other, your new friends by your side, and a smile on your face.