When I arrived in Buenos Aires back in July, four months seemed like the longest amount of time to spend in a country. My first night in the city I was so overwhelmed I felt like I could be here for years and still not get used to it. But somehow, I did. Somehow, four months flew by without me noticing.
It’s crazy how quickly the city started to feel like home, how quickly the streets and the smells and the sounds became familiar and normal. It’s crazy how quickly I got used to the colectivos and the subte, how quickly I found favorite cafes to spend my meriendas at, how quickly I developed a routine that I enjoyed.
It’s crazy how I changed and grew as a person here. On my own in a foreign country, I became more self-sufficient and independent. My self-confidence skyrocketed in proportion to my improving Spanish fluency. Placed in a situation far away from my family and my campus, I started to feel like a real adult.
It’s crazy how I relaxed here. I learned the art of sitting down and taking the time to drink coffee, instead of trying to avoid spilling my sips on my shirt as I ran to class. I learned that it was okay to walk through the streets slowly, instead of rushing to get to my destination. I started to enjoy sitting in parks for hours in the afternoons and getting absorbed in a good book. I learned to appreciate more, worry less, and laugh at the awkward.
So, thank you, Buenos Aires. You’ve made me a stronger, happier person. You’ve made me more grateful for every opportunity I’ve had and every person I’ve met. You’ve made me more contemplative and more content. You’ve given me perspective on how big the world is and how fortunate I am. You’ve made my after-graduation plans of leaving the United States for the Peace Corp seem that much more attainable.
Thank you for an amazing semester, full of ups and downs and highs and lows and greatness and routine. Full of friends and solitude, and richness and poverty, and South America and Europe and all the cultures in-between. I’ve experienced so much of life in such a short amount of time.
When I go back to the United States, I’m not going to remember the time that my homestay lost electricity and water for two days straight. I’m not going to remember the time that I left my cell phone in a park. I’m not going to remember getting sick or getting lost. I’m not going to remember a semester spent without an umbrella in a city with once-a-week downpours. I might remember the instant coffee I was forced to drink, but even that’s starting to grow on me.
I’m going to remember staying up late and sleeping in. I’m going to remember traveling to four countries in the span of four weeks. I’m going to remember sunsets in Montevideo and walking tours in Buenos Aires. Dulce de leche and empanadas. Sharing maté with Argentine friends. Volunteering in the villas. Drinking enough wine to start enjoying the taste.
I’m excited to go home and spend the holidays with my family and my friends. But I’ll never forget everything I’ve learned during my months here.
So, thank you, Buenos Aires.
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<p>I am Maria Oldenburg, and I'm a sophomore Economics and International Studies double major at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. On campus, you can find me pretending to be a professional photographer, exploring the local coffee scene, or hopelessly planning my dream backpacking trip across Southeast Asia. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I can't wait to eat my weight in empanadas, learn quality puns in Spanish, and tango with the best of them during my semester in Buenos Aires!</p>