I finalized my schedule today. I stuck with the minimum of 4 classes just because I’m taking 2 directly at the Universidad Belgrano with Argentine students (most international students only take classes with other international students through a program at the university, offered in both English and Spanish) and I’m accepting a certain higher level of difficulty and work load by doing that. The other 2 classes I’m taking are 400 level courses in Spanish with other international students too, so I think I’ll have my work cut out for me. With Argentines, I have Public Relations and Marketing. The other two are Argentina and the Global Economy and Argentine Societies: Movements Through History. It’s pretty much the most I could have asked for in terms of classes, and they’re all really interesting 🙂
Sorry for posting the above picture Christine, it’s the only good one I have of class…ok the only one I have of being in class.
Anyways, I’m really enjoying my classes with Argentines because it feels like I’m actually going to be integrated into the culture and make friends with people from Argentina. Having talked to so many students who are just finishing their semester abroad here, the most common “biggest regrets” I have heard are that he/she didn’t didn’t make friends with the locals, didn’t connect with their host families enough, or didn’t speak enough Spanish. It doesn’t really make sense to me the way study abroad programs are set up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving everyone from the program! They are already really awesome friends and fun to hang out with/go out with/talk to, etc. But the way it’s set up, you meet your group, take tours and orientation sessions with your group for the first weeksor so, then take classes at the university with you group (and only other international students.) You live within blocks of each other and get a chance to connect with them before you start school. Because everyone has varying levels of Spanish and it’s exhausting getting to know someone when you can’t properly express yourself, you speak English when with your group as well…to me, it’s kind of like going to a different country, but in a bubble thats heated/air conditioned and comes with all the ammenities you’d need to survive, even enjoy yourself.
Although I’m sure that experience would be the time of my life, even life altering, it’s not what I want. I want all the difficulty, stress, excitement and raw experience that comes with studying on the other side of the world. I want to be thrown off the ship into the icy water without a life jacket…but ideally I’d know how to swim. I’m more and more grateful each day that I came with API as I meet people who are still living in a hotel trying to find a place to live and spending loads of money, figuring out on their own how to get a visa or how to take the colectivo. These people have been thrown into the ocean without swimming lessons or a life jacket. API has been excellent with placing me with a terrific host family, helping with the visa process and basically telling me which way’s south 😉 That being said (and sorry I’m kind of talking in circles here), I still came here with the major goal to actually feel uncomfortable, get to know the culture and the people, and learn how to get back to shore all on my own. That’s why I’m so happy to be able to take classes with Argentineans and not just with other people who are just as clueless as I am.
I asked my host mom, who’s hosted 9 other students over the years, if most study abroad students leave with a set of Argentine friends or just those from their group. She told me that it’s rare for the American students to actually go out with Argentines, speak Spanish 24/7 and truly pop their bubble. I’m determined to change that and to not let myself fall into familiar rhythms. I really adore everyone from my group, they’ve already become much better friends than I originally thought, and I plan on developing those friendships for sure, but I don’t want to have any regrets that I didn’t completely immerse myself in Argentina 🙂
So far I’m really loving the café culture though. I wrote this whole thing in my notebook during a break (k more like a 3 hour gap between classes) with this delicious sandwich and cafe con leche (40 pesos!) I sat there for an hour and a half just eating at my leisure not in a hurry at all. It’s just so relaxing and enjoyable 🙂
Posted on August 6, 2012, in Fall Semester, Travel and Study and tagged academic programs international, api, Argentina, Buenos Aires, classes, culture shock, friends, goals, international, standinginargentina, Study Abroad, tourism, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.