Good times all around
I’ve really enjoyed Study Abroad but it hasn’t felt like a vacation. While I have had the least work in Buenos Aires I am not probably building my worst GPA ever. What's more, I don’t quite care. Early on I saw that I could either spend as much time as possible doing work and trying to earn good marks but I realized that, at least for me, it might not pay off. I tend to work long hours and get the same or poorer grades than my classmates. I decided that as long as I was going to be here I would consciously try to experience as much as possible while trying my best to get good grades and, more importantly, learn.
It has been an interesting social experiment. I have spent many (though I’d say an average) amount of nights staying out until 4 or 6 AM. I’ve developed a taste for Fernet branca and Coca-cola. I have had some of the best times of my life—that I can remember. I’ve also felt very lonely at times. These are the swings of Study-Abroad which rings of high-school more than college. Actually, much about study abroad echoes the social situations of those formative years. A relatively small group of young adults are dropped in a new environment and though they are unclosed in a semi-permeable bubble the new surroundings (or something else) cause them to jump for friend groups and mates. I have gotten to know a few people in this program quite well but I still feel like a stranger to most. Is this a bad thing? No, yet when our group split up to either go to Paraguay or Salta last weekend I got to know kids that I had not spoken to before and now I wish I had more time with them before we jet back home and blend into the massive student body in the fall. I will have to be better about staying in touch with people who I’ve studied abroad with. Maybe that is what I hope will change most when I return—my difficulty with keeping up with good people. It was also difficult not to think about my worries about social situations and meshing with others on this trip. While I tried to be more care-free, in-the-moment and all that I think I learned that being in a new place can either help or hinder getting one’s groove (so to speak). It’s really up to the person.
I don’t want to end this class and (in a way) this program thinking along such difficult lines. Studying abroad has made me more comfortable with my self in relation to other people more than it has left me sensitized to social interaction. I have enjoyed most all my classes (though Economics needs to be retooled) and have definitely improved at speaking Spanish. I am very happy with my home stay and think that it is one of the best ways to separate oneself from the familiar.
I only have one solid recommendation. I wish NYU Study Abroad made it easier to take classes at other schools in Buenos Aires. I understand this goes against the program’s distinction and organization but that is why I say it. Every argentine who asked me where I studied assumed I was an exchange student or taking classes at UBA or some other school. I know some students in this program who stayed two semesters and, in the second, took some classes outside. I’ve heard that it was difficult for them to set this up. It should not have been.
Things I will remember years from now:
-Hanging with the Bohemians until dawn on Av. Independencia
-My first harmonica lesson
-Radiohead at Club Ciudad
-Bariloche with Liz, David, Summer, and Evelyn
-My night in a tent at the foot of volcan Lanín
-The Village Recoleta movie theater
-Avenida 9 de Julio and Santa fe
-Drinking mate with Malvinas veterans
-Being there when Alfonsin died
-Reading at the Feria del Libro
-Learning to walk before I could tango