After two weeks, my trip to Buenos Aires feels so far away. Without daily use, my Spanish language is still struggling. Without the familiar setting of the city, the memories can easily fade. It is up to me to hold tight to my accomplishments and my adventures. As people ask me about my study abroad experience, they ask about my favorite part, or just the general, “How was it?” It is a surprisingly difficult answer to find. I don’t know whether my trips around or outside the city were my favorite; or if it was the immersion into culture and language, through mate and everyday conversations. How can I pick one? There are so many aspects that go into my experience that I cannot separate them; they are all interconnected.
When people ask about my trip, I also do not want to tell them how truly disappointed I am about my language advancement. I am trying not to let this disappointment color my whole experience. Before the trip, I had too many expectations concerning my language development. I did not expect to use English as much as I did; speaking with my host parents, with the other program participants, with the program directors, during city tours, and even with my Argentinian friends. I expected a little bit of English to be used, especially during the first week or so, but that English use of the first week or so continued until the program was over. If you desire to study abroad for the immersive language, six weeks is not enough time. A summer program did not give me the fluency that I desired. This is not to say that my Spanish did not improve, because it did. I just held too high of expectations. One area that greatly helped my conversational skills was talking with my wonderful language partner. I met with her about four times throughout the course of the program. It was an opportunity for both of us to practice our foreign languages. We would switch from English to Spanish fluidly; it was amazing to experience being bilingual. Switching languages makes your brain go into overdrive, as you balance what you say in one language or the other. While in Argentina, I began to think in Spanish a little. I would run through imaginary conversations in my head, sometimes just to practice, but sometimes because that is what I normally do in English. I am on my way to developing instinctive language skills in Spanish.
But it is up to me to continue to pursue my dreams in the United States. At the very least, I plan to audit a Spanish class and attend mass in Spanish. Attending mass in Spanish is one thing that I miss from Argentina. Attending mass in English was one of the first things I did once I returned to the United States. I experienced culture shock during mass, as I realized that I really was no longer in Buenos Aires. It seems silly, but by hearing the prayers in my native language I felt a tug on my heart because I was not hearing them in Spanish. Evening mass, the night I came back, was the first time I knew that my study abroad experience was over, and I may never return to Argentina. As the school year begins, I will keep my experience close to my heart. Although disappointed in my language outcome, due to my high expectations, this adventure was a key turning point in my life. There is nothing else like immersing into a culture. A part of me will always be Argentinian.
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<p>I am an elementary education student; with a Spanish minor, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) endorsement, and leadership certificate. My passions focus on exploring new cultures. Recently I explored Philippian culture through Tinikling (a form of dance) and Spanish through reading various Latin American authors. I also enjoy expressing myself through art, particularly painting. My mission is to become a dual language education teacher (with Spanish and English) so that I can spread a love and appreciation for culture and language to my future students.</p>