Last year, when I finally decided where I wanted to study abroad, my brother gave me a small gift: a guidebook of Argentina accompanied by a letter from him. He had recently come back from his semester abroad in Rome and, after having an experience he pins as completely life-changing, wanted to share the insights he had gained in order so that I too could make the most of my experience when it was finally my time to go abroad too. I won’t get into all the boring details, but it pretty much said to not let time get away from you and to be intentional. He talked about the theory of self-reliance, harking on a true-to-self mentality while faced with the new situations that await me. He also said he lived by “actions express priority”. Studying abroad is what you make of it, and just like him, I want to take full advantage of what is to come.
As you can tell I look back on that letter from time to time, and hope I remember to live by his words while I’m gone. I still don’t leave for over a month. Usually, at this time of year, I would be preparing to go back to school but now I will have a whole month of time when my parents are at work, my sister is a school, my friends are all away, and I will be by myself patiently waiting to get out of this limbo and finally embark on my journey. I’m sure as I get closer to my flight date I will become more involved in the boring logistics of packing and preparing, but now all I can think about is how privileged I am to be in a position where I can up and go to Argentina for 5 months. In most instances of my life, I would say “try not to have too high of expectations” so as to not be disappointed, but I really can’t help myself from getting excited at the thought of where I will be so soon. I am telling myself if I don’t set all these expectations and goals for what I want to do, that I will fall into a hole of “maybe tomorrow” which I am constantly guilty of now and cannot allow myself while there.
I can’t help myself from imagining the countless days I will have in lively BA. I can see myself forcing myself to drink coffee, just so I can feel like I am a part of the café culture. I can see sunsets at local parks, a few trips to the beach, ending late nights with a choripán, and maybe even taking up a tango lesson. There are three trips that if I don’t go on, past Mae will hate future Mae. The first being Mendoza, or as I like to call it (and literally everyone else): wine country. The second being Iguazu Falls which is the largest system of waterfalls in the world (if you take a look at the header photo you will understand my feelings). And last but certainly not least, the place I have wanted to visit for probably the longest is Patagonia. A region shared by Argentina and Chile, Patagonia includes parts of the Andes Mountains, deserts, rainforests, and even glaciers. I feel like an advertisement and I haven’t even gotten there yet!
I have done a lot of research looking into different parts of Argentinian culture so as to be intentional and respectful during my time there. Going abroad isn’t just about all the somewhat superficial things I have talked about, but it’s also about having an opportunity to come into contact with a new culture that gives perspective to our positionalities in the globalized world. I want these coming 5 months to be something where my learning will be able to exist outside the classroom. Something I have been thinking about is the social justice issues regarding women and labor rights there. Hopefully, I will get to stumble upon some protests and see what the people who live in Argentina have dealt with and will continue to deal with once I’m gone.
Even though I have painted this picture in my mind of how my abroad experience will go and relayed to you all of my amazing plans, I am still nervous about it all. Nervous that I’ll be lonely and not have anyone to share these experiences with. Nervous that my host family will not like me. Nervous that I will get tired of barbeque (Asada) too quickly. Nervous that I won’t be able to communicate in Spanish the way I should be. Nervous that this thing I have given such weight in my mind will not be what I had thought and hoped it to be. I have seen myself as an adventurer waiting for her moment to explore outside the bubble she has lived in for 20 years. Maybe study abroad isn’t all its talked up to be. But, I mean, then again, maybe it is. There is one quote in particular in my brother’s letter I find myself pondering: “On the other side of fear is something that’s worth it”. This experience, while kind of terrifying to be so far from home and so on my own, has something waiting for me that I don’t even realize. I hope I find what I’m looking for.
If you want to keep up with my day to day life in Buenos Aires, take a look at my Instagram @mae.in.argentina!
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<p>Mae Murray is a current junior at Providence College in Providence, RI where she studies Global Studies, as well as minors in Spanish, Music, and Latin American Studies. Within her major of Global Studies, Mae is concentrating in "storytelling", with the goal of her academic life being one that reflects an awareness of and ability to communicate the realities of our interconnected world, including its vast amount of cultures, governments, and economies as well as the global issues which exist within them. Aside from her academic interests, Mae also enjoys participating in orchestra where she plays the flute, experimenting with photography and cooking for anyone she can. Her time in Buenos Aires will not only support her interests in the Spanish Language and Latin American cultures and societies but give her an impactful experience about a new society to relate back to those at home.</p>