6 Weeks Until I Study Abroad in Brazil!

Lee Kaplan-Unsoeld
December 28, 2015
A nice meal among new friends on Cerro López

As I lay here in bed having just arrived home from a 2-week vacation in Argentina with my mom, it is hard to believe that in another 6 short weeks I will be headed to Brazil to study abroad. It was fantastic to get out of the country again and visit Argentina for the first time, first making a couple day stop in Chile to see some old friends there, but it had a much different feel to it than studying abroad does.

Don't get me wrong, I love traveling with my mom, but it is a different vibe. I act as her cultural interpreter and language translator since she doesn't speak Spanish and has never lived in Latin America, and while this is an exciting and engaging role to play much of the time, it lacks some of the independence that studying abroad can afford me. Additionally, we whipped through the places we stayed at in quick succession. We landed in Santiago, Chile, and I had a couple days to stay with some friends in Valparaíso, Chile. Then, I took the bus back to Santiago to meet back up with my mom, and we took a flight to Mendoza, where we hiked up to the base camp at Aconcagua one day, then left the next day to Bariloche. After a few days hiking there, we went further south to El Chaltén, hiked a few days there amidst the stunning peaks of the Cerro Torre range, before going to the nearby city of El Calafate. We hiked one day there and saw the Perrito Moreno Glacier, before catching yet another plane back up to Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires, we spent a few days wandering around the city, and then hopped on a plane to Seattle, Washington, and drove home to Olympia. It makes me exhausted just remembering it all!

On a vacation like that, there is no time to waste, every day is precious, and, with my mom at least, every day is planned. The experience that studying abroad provides is much different. You are less frantic to go full speed ahead every day, and when you do end up doing that, you can take a breather when you're done. There is also the opportunity to meet people in a different way. When you are traveling, you meet people in passing. There is an ever-present clock that is ticking above your new friendships. Often times you'll meet a person one day, and find out ten minutes into the conversation, just after you realize that they're a cool person, that they're leaving the next day. And you put up a small wall, and enjoy the time you have with them, but never really profundizar (to make more profound), or deepen the friendship.

In these next six weeks, I will be doing a number of things. Jumping through bureaucratic hoops to get my visa for studying abroad Brazil, moving all of my stuff into my mom's basement, starting my  5-week job as a lift operator at Crystal Mountain Resort, and trying to check in with all of my friends here at home with whom I already have friendships that are already profundizadas. Then, before I know it, I will be off again, to Rio de Janeiro, to put my feelers out again, lose myself in a soup of unfamiliar sounds and sensations, and see what magic comes out of it all.

Until then, I'm going to be enjoying the snowy mountains, my friends, and the growing anticipation that always precedes a new adventure!

Lee Kaplan-Unsoeld

<p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 20.0063px;">I am a sociology and cultural anthropology student from Olympia, Washington, who has been lucky enough to study abroad in Spain, Costa Rica, and Chile. I am now headed to Brazil for my final semester of my undergraduate studies, and could not be more excited to learn a third language and enjoy some of Brazil&#39;s natural and cultural beauties. In addition to traveling, studying people and learning languages, I like to read, write, rock climb, play violin and drums, hike, swim, do yoga, and enjoy quality conversations that run late into the night. Please join me on this blog in processing some of the crazy stuff going on in my life, and in Brazil.</span></p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
Saint Martin's University
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