Finding a Spark in the Ordinary

Alia McLaughlin headshot
Alia McLaughlin
May 23, 2024

It’s mind-boggling to think that just a few months ago, we were exploring every nook and cranny, in search of our favorite parks, cafes, and places to relax.  And, within a few months, it became easier to find a groove within the chaos. Wake up, have breakfast, take a bus to class, have lunch, do homework, and meet with friends. I have found my favorite places to get some filling, nourishing food (shoutout to Club de Ensalata). However, a short moment I had a few days ago helped me appreciate the small sparks in routine again. 

Usually, I stop by the same grocery store Disco to pick up my yogurt and a snack. I came across a small store just near my home that could provide me the same foods I needed. I check out my bag of mani croquetas and two plums and I hear the words, ni shuo zhong ma? I was a bit surprised, as I have yet to meet too many people from Asia, let alone people who speak Mandarin. Our conversation was short, sprinkled with words in Spanish. The unique mix of “Chinglish” gave me a new spark to keep exploring new nooks and creating small connections. A small change to my routine added a new sense of curiosity. In the middle of our program, I thought that to experience something new or get to know the country again meant taking a big trip to another region in Argentina. I was setting unrealistic expectations on how I could re-experience this city and its people again, recognizing that there are only four short weeks left.  Re-experiencing the joys of a new place can also mean simply starting a conversation with a new person from my running club, or trying a new snack.  I realize that the city is grand, but there are still many places to encounter, even near where you live.


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Alia McLaughlin headshot

Alia McLaughlin

Hi! I'm Alia and I am from Park City, UT. I love meeting new people and hearing about their stories, yummy food, running, and learning new languages. I'm psyched to study abroad and I hope to continue these hobbies and try some new ones too!

2024 Spring
Home University:
St. Olaf College
Political Science
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