In three days, I’m boarding American Airlines flight 997 from Buenos Aires to Dallas. My classes and internship have finished, I’m done traveling and my only responsibilities are to pack and mail out some postcards I promised people I’d send months ago. Whoops.
I don’t think you actually get credit for study abroad unless you blog about things you’ve learned while abroad, so here’s a list. I promise you it’s different than the hundreds of other ones you’ve read, because my experience was different than the hundreds of other students you’ve known who have gone abroad.
Study abroad is a risk, not a guarantee. I thought for sure that these four months would be one of the most fun, incredible periods of my life. I’d heard nothing but amazing things about Argentina and past students’ experiences abroad, both here and in other countries.
The reality my time abroad was quite different than my expectation. I spent most of my time in an uncontrollable, ever-present homesickness that gnawed at my ability to enjoy and appreciate what I was experiencing. One of Buenos Aires’ key attractions is its nightlife and young culture, where the fun doesn’t start until after midnight, hours after my usual bedtime. As a byproduct of a program with four students, we quickly ran out of quality conversation topics and instead recycled them for weeks and weeks. It got to the point where I knew what stories were going to be told once we breached a topic and, if I happened to think of a new conversation topic, I made a mental note and actually felt excited that we would have something fresh to talk about. I don’t blame my classmates at all; they’re awesome people and any combination of four students would have yielded the same result.
The golden kernels of my study abroad experience were any time we travelled outside of the city and when my parents came to visit. Some of the best days of my life were spent traveling, but even that ended on a bad note. I planned a ten-day trip around Patagonia, the southernmost region of Argentina and one of the most naturally beautiful places on the globe, for our last two weeks in the country. Sometime on the second or third day, I sprained my knee, preventing me from participating in several other hikes I had planned the rest of the trip. I’ll never forget how frustrating it was to sit inside a café on a beautiful day while an unattainable trail to an incredible mountain sat tantalizingly close, especially after three and a half months of telling myself that Patagonia would make all of my boredom and frustrations worth it. Reaching that part of Argentina was expensive and time-consuming, and realistically it will be very difficult to go back. although you better believe I’m going to try.