We’re proud to introduce Evan Bossio, a senior at Penn State University, as our September 2016 Ambassador of the Month!
Evan is a Sociology & International Studies major and volunteers for his study abroad office on campus. He spent last fall in Argentina on our IES Abroad Buenos Aires - Latin American Societies & Cultures Program.
Evan shared with us what it was like to be thrown right into Spanish language immersion (ready or not!) and how difficult it is to quickly describe a semester in Argentina in a way that does it justice.
IES Abroad: Why IES Abroad?
EB: IES Abroad’s guidance helped me find my fit in the city of Buenos Aires. I quickly learned the ins and outs of the city so I could effectively assimilate into the culture. I still had a lot of my own exploring to do, but without their help, I’m not sure I would have been as successful.
IES Abroad: How do you answer the question “So, how was it?” when you’re asked?
EB: This is the hardest question to answer when your experiences abroad are so unbelievable and noteworthy. Was it the beautiful landscapes? The knowledge I gained? The friends I made? I usually end up going on a 30-minute tangent about everything I can possible muster up. I never forget to mention, however, the people who I met along the way and how they have changed my life for the better. After returning from abroad, I have already visited many of the friends that I met in Argentina, and I know I have created lifelong friendships.
IES Abroad: Share a life-changing moment in your study abroad experience.
EB: On my taxi ride from the airport to my homestay, I was completely culture shocked. Not only was I riding blindly through the pitch black depths of the outer city limits of Buenos Aires, but I was forced to converse with the driver who spoke absolutely zero words of English. I didn’t think I would have to immediately speak Spanish to anyone but there I was depending on my so-so Spanish to get me 30 minutes to my destination. I stumbled over my words at every opportunity and turned bright red from the embarrassment.
The driver was so understanding (not of what I was saying, but of my struggle) and we worked together to eventually communicate effectively. In our short conversation, I had already tackled a huge challenge, one that I had been worrying about for the many months leading up to my abroad experience. I communicated with a local! I learned that through some critical, on-your-feet thinking I could overcome an anxiety-inducing obstacle. No matter how small this car ride was in the grand scheme of my experiences abroad, it stuck with me more than any grand adventure I had. These little moments abroad contributed to the confident and problem-solving person I am today.
IES Abroad: What tips would you give a student to help them make their host country home?
EB: Be open-minded, and try new things. Move outside of your comfort zone because those are the experiences that will affect your life the most and make you feel like you belong. My most memorable experiences abroad are the ones when I was trying something new, whether if it was tasting cow tongue in Mendoza or hopping on a random bus to a new neighborhood I had never explored in Buenos Aires. Talk to locals, eat the food, listen to the music, breathe in the air, and enjoy every second of it.
Congrats, Evan!The IES Abroad Ambassador Program connects our future students with our past students. If you’re interested in learning more about our Ambassador Program or have a question for a past IES Abroad student, visit our IES Abroad Ambassadors page.