So as I’m finding myself getting done with midterms, and my friends in the US are finished with their semesters or graduated from college (!), I know it’s about time that I finally write a post. After all, an embarrassingly long amount of time has passed since I’ve last written. Maybe it’s because I finally feel like I live in Buenos Aires, rather than am studying abroad here. Either way, in an attempt to catch up, I’ll go over the essentials of the new changes I’ve made this semester:
This semester, I live on a different side of town. For those who are familiar with Buenos Aires, I live right off of Plaza Italia in the barrio (neighborhood) Palermo. I couldn’t be luckier: I live right next to the subway (getting to class is a breeze), near my favorite running spot, and most importantly, less than one block away from one my closest friends. My only complaint is that by living off of one of the busiest streets in Buenos Aires, the noise from the colectivos (buses) is often so omnipresent that my dreams often involve traffic.
However, this slight downfall of my “new space” is made up for the fact that I live with what I can only describe as the fairytale version of all host moms (or in this case, host grandmothers). She is a little, elderly lady who is absolutely one of the sweetest people in the world. On days I am diligently working on my homework in my room, I often hear a quiet knock on the door and find her offering tea and pan tostada (small pieces of toast) for “study fuel”. On Wednesday mornings, the day that I have class at 7:45am, she leaves me notes wishing that I have a good day and apologizing for not waking up because her telenovela (soap opera) went until 1am.
Like last semester, I wanted to get involved in a new activity this time around. Although I liked Frisbee and running club, I wanted to try a new sport that was part of my new university. My friend, Emma, invited me to come to fútbol (soccer) practice with her one day, and I ended up loving it. I’m definitely not as good as the other girls on the team (especially the Americans who have been playing for years), but I use my ability to run to try and keep up, and I like the challenge of learning something new.
I was also fortunate enough to travel with my team to Colonia, Uruguay, to play in a weekend soccer tournament. Although I only had two weeks of experience, I was able to play in every game (even if just for a little bit), and I learned so much. The best part was that I was able to spend time meeting new people, including one of my now good friends, Laurie, from Canada. Colonia also happened to be a beautiful little city on the coast. The main road was along the coast, next to pine-filled beaches (the beach area actually kind of reminded me of “The Island”: a place I go camping every year with family and friends in Minnesota).
As you might remember from last semester, I had the option to choose between four schools. Last semester, I chose to go to La Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), the large public university. Although I surely learned so much from going to la UBA, I wanted to experience something different this semester. Therefore, I chose to go the both the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (UTDT) and the Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA), both private and smaller schools. I take two classes at Di Tella, and one at la UCA. The smaller atmosphere of both schools has helped me to know my professors better (essential as a study abroad student) and also make more connections with my peers.
Yet regardless of the schools, what I have noted most this semester is my ability to understand and speak Spanish. I can now sit in class and zone out, return to the lecture, and understand exactly where we left off. Although I still find it easier to read in English, I now find it much less of a challenge to read texts in Spanish. As proof of this, I have already read six books, in addition to the weekly texts, for class. Writing has also become much easier-I wrote my last midterm of 20 pages in two days (and no I wasn’t procrastinating, I wrote it two weeks before it was due!).
New Sense of Self
Perhaps the hardest to describe, but by far it is the most important change this semester. Through all of the struggles and questioning I went through last semester, I feel as if I have developed a new sense of self. I’ve learned to accept (or work on accepting) myself for exactly who I am. I don’t need to speak Spanish better, lose more weight, become more relaxed, or change anything to find Argentine friends. Similarly, I’ve come to understand that in order to cultivate true friendships, I needed to let down my guard and be 100% authentic and loving with the people I truly care about (a lesson I’m still learning how to put into practice). I learned that I didn’t (and won’t when I return to the US) need to prove anything (that my Spanish is better, that I traveled to more places, etc.) to anyone. Perhaps they seem like obvious lessons to some, but after learning these simple things, I already feel like a more confident and loving person. For that, despite all of the other “new” changes this semester, I am definitely most grateful for this one.
I hope the quick update helped! I’ll be writing more!
From your long-lost traveler,