After spending four and a half months in Buenos Aires, coming back to the US was a shock. I had heard from other students who had studied abroad that going back home is difficult and that many go through another round of culture shock when they are back in the US. I was skeptical of this and thought students were just being dramatic. I never thought the country I had spent 21 years in could ever seem strange to me. I thought things would click back into place instantaneously as soon as I landed in JFK. But that was not and still is not the case.
I have been home for approximately one week. Of course being able to see my family and friends has been amazing. Being able to drive my car, play with my dog, and eat all the food I was craving three weeks ago is great. However, there is a part of me that is yearning to go back to the country that helped me expand my horizons beyond belief.
I miss all my international friends. I miss speaking Spanish. I miss the carefree culture. I miss the newness that Argentina had to offer.
Now I find myself feeling boxed in. Maybe it has something to do with my history here—my established relationships, people that depend on me, people that expect things of me. In Argentina, I put myself first. I strived for my own happiness. I lived spontaneously and freely and did not make others my priority.
Being thrust back into ‘reality’ has been one of the hardest things I have had to deal with. It’s like waking up from a blissful dream. Every day I feel like I am riding a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I am content with being home, but then I’ll catch myself longing for the excitement and unpredictability of Buenos Aires. I will be going about my day and then a person will hold a door open for me and I’ll respond with, ‘¡Gracias!’. People will ask me to articulate what I loved so much about studying abroad and I gush about the culture, food, landscapes, you name it. Sometimes, before I can stop myself, I’ll remember these small but perfect moments and I’ll start to wallow and my eyes will glaze over and I become completely lost in my memories. Everything will start flooding back and I become overwhelmed with the fact that my semester abroad is over and that I won’t see a lot of my friends for a very long time, if ever.
But I think it’s important to remember all the crazy things I went through in Argentina. From the first day of struggling with the language, to the last day…still struggling with the language. I refuse to forget all the friends I have made from all over the world. I will not allow myself to fall into my old pattern of trying to make other people happy before myself. I will be more selfish and go after what I want because as the people of Argentina have taught me, there is only one life to live. Life is about living in the moment. We cannot constantly look towards the future because the future is not guaranteed. We have a choice in our own happiness and we must live it up every single day.
Extraño Argentina, pero nos vemos.
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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Victoria Nieto. I am a junior at Ithaca College majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications with a minor in art. My hope is for you to be able to see Buenos Aires through my eyes as I immerse myself in the beautiful country of Argentina. I hope to see more than I can remember and to remember more than I have seen. For me, these memories will be everlasting.</span></div>