Well, this is it. The IES Abroad school year officially came to an end almost two weeks ago. My fellow IES Abroad classmates have been gradually filtering out of our shared apartment building, and now my last few weeks in Buenos Aires are staring me in the face.
It’s time to say goodbye.
During the week of final exams at IES Abroad, all of us—students, staff, and professors—gathered for a final asado at the IES Abroad Office. We feasted on choripan, lomo, and pork, and for dessert the staff ushered in four fabulous cakes. We all chatted, laughed, and reminisced, oohing and aahing at the food and watching photos of us on our adventures slide across the projector screen at the front of the room.
This asado was the first time that it hit me—our time together was coming to an end. This would be the last time that I would see my professors, and even some of the students.
A week later, I was seated at a table at the Night Market, a restaurant in Palermo that specializes in Asian street food (would recommend by the way). I was surrounded by the three closest friends that I’ve made abroad—Abby, Rachel, and Jocelyn. It was a farewell meal, one of multiple “final” send-offs for Rachel, who would be flying home the next day.
The four of us would get together again before Rachel left, but our conversation from that particular night still stays with me. We intended to go around the table so that each of us could name the high points and low points of our time abroad, but in the end we pretty much talked exclusively about the low points—like that one unbearably cold lunch break during our trek in El Chalten, or the time we walked for about an hour in the middle of nowhere to a zoo in Mendoza only to find out that it was closed. Even though they were unpleasant at the time, these moments were the most new and the most exciting. They were the situations we never thought we’d get into in the first place, and the ones where we grew the most because we had to figure out how to get ourselves out.
It’s funny. As events like the asado and the Night Market start to pile on and I shift into goodbye mode, I also shift my way of looking at my time in Argentina. Instead of just experiencing it, I’m reflecting on it and how it has changed me. The sudden flip in perspective is shocking.
I came here expecting to accomplish certain things, like improve my Spanish, make new friends, etc, and now I look back and realize that these things happened when I wasn’t looking, and none of them happened in the way I imagined. Sure, my Spanish has improved in terms of grammar and vocabulary, but my most significant change has been in confidence. I’m simply not afraid of sounding dumb in Spanish anymore. And sure, I’ve made new, really good friends both from Argentina and in IES Abroad, but I never imagined how much they would change me. With my IES Abroad friends, I traveled all over the country and did things that I never thought I could, like trek through snowy mountains for three days, for example.
Now that study abroad is over and most of my fellow students have left, the main thing left to do is to say goodbye to the city. In other words, my bucket list has become my top priority. And let me tell you, I wish I’d gotten to it sooner! I have a little over two weeks left in Buenos Aires, and I still have the planetarium, Museo de las Malvinas, ESMA, jardin japones and several restaurants left to explore. And the worst part is, the more I explore, the more things I find to add to my list!
As I walk around and explore further, I remember when I first stepped foot onto the tiled streets of Buenos Aires, how overwhelming and impossible it all seemed. Now, the city is home. I know my way around. I know the bus routes, I don't need to look at Google maps anymore during my regular commutes.
I know Buenos Aires, how crazy is that!
And the even crazier part is, instead of being afraid of navigating this city, my fears are about going home. What if everything seems boring now? What if I lose my Spanish? What if I lose contact with the friends I’ve made here?
If you’re reading this and you’re on the verge of beginning your own study abroad experience, everything I’m describing might seem a million years away. Don’t worry, it will come faster than you think. Soon, your “foreign” destination will become home, the “strangers” all around you will become your friends, and your bucket list will be bursting with recommendations from random people you’ve met around the city. Just appreciate and take advantage of it all while you can. Your study abroad experience will be rich but finite, and that’s part of what makes it so special.
Click here if you’d like to take your own adventure abroad with IES Abroad.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>I’m studying for a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I hope to improve my Spanish language skills and learn more about the country’s women’s rights movement. I’m from the U.S. state of Minnesota, where I also attend college and study Spanish, Political Science, and English. I’m on a pre-law track and hope to pursue a career in immigration law.</p>