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Revisioned Introspection

There was an indescribable bittersweet feeling upon my return to the United States from South America. I am happy to speak my native language and to spend time with my family and friends, but I already miss the daily cultural immersion, aspects of leaning, and adventures that I experienced while I was abroad. Before I left home, I attended seminars and listened to my professors discuss the effects reverse culture shock that I would experience upon returning from abroad, but I never really thought that same experience would happen to me. Every day was a new experience, and I did not understand the significance of even my smallest interactions until I returned. Though I was saddened when these exchanges suddenly stopped upon returning home, I learned valuable lessons outside of the US.

Through traveling overseas, I have learned the value of cultural introspection. Prior to this summer, it was difficult for me to observe culture within the US. At that time, I mostly considered the US to be a melting pot of cultures in which it has become increasingly less common to maintain cultural ties and practices outside the environment of a particular culture. Latin America provided fresh insight to my definition of culture as I was able to observe and become immersed in authentic cultures of people with a shared set of beliefs and values. After some time, my own personal definition of culture expanded, and, over time, I became surprised to find that my culture was more significant to me than I initially thought.

One of the differences I noticed while I was engaged with these other cultures and societies was the vague systems and unconstrained organization which guided the culture. This laxity seemed to create an intricate yet chaotically coordinated web of interactions which functioned just as well, if not better, in the absence of strict systematic restrictions. This was astonishing to me as I was accustomed to the methodical tendencies of my own culture. For example, while sitting on a bus weaving in and out of traffic, stopping for bystanders before suddenly restarting again, I recognized that no other passengers were struck by the erratic bus stop patterns and unspoken communication between the driver and commuter.

Events like these were particularly spectacular and inspired cultural introspection to the necessity of the intense guidelines we follow within the US. While I understand that some regulations are fundamental and others provide preventative measures to problems which could otherwise arise, it is interesting to consider the possible simplification and expedition of processes in our daily lives without a change in results or outcomes. Though I realize that this is often unlikely, and we are the result of generations of work that cannot be undone even within a decade, I think it is important to contemplate the effects of systematic processes on marginalized persons who lie outside of the systems. With the implementation of more encompassing programs and greater flexibility and acceptance of people, our punctuated society could increase its efficiency and effectivity.

While it is not beneficial to compare cultures to each other, it is important to embrace change and learn from others. My experience abroad has increased my passion for helping marginalized people, and it has exposed me to the divides and dangers that exist in our current society. Study abroad is more than studying and living in another culture, it creates an opportunity for inspiration, introspection, and identification within our own lives.

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Felix Amparano is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Spanish, and Biology. Felix is excited to spend six-weeks of his summer studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the UMKC Spanish Program. During his time abroad, Felix hopes to gain a better understanding of Argentine culture and health care with the hopes of becoming more culturally competent in his approaches to patient treatment. 

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Exploring City and Country

It’s eight in the morning and we are waking up, preparing ourselves for our six hour school day. We take a quick shower and rush downstairs to grab a couple slices of toast before heading out the door for our brisk thirty minute walk to campus. We follow this interval five days per week for four weeks, sometimes skipping breakfast to grab extra sleep and other times waking up early to finish homework or a project. Each day in class is intensive, requiring me to focus and participate without a single word in English. We finish class after two in the afternoon and have just over an hour to grab a bite to eat and head to our UMKC class specifically designed for our time in Argentina. After this two hour class, we head back to our host families to start our homework before eating dinner around nine at night. Dinner lasts until eleven, and we head up to our rooms to finish our homework or meet up with friends to hang out. This is a day of my life in Argentina–every moment filled with something to do or somewhere to go.

My experience in Buenos Aires has been amazing, I have tried to take every opportunity to explore the city and make memories with study abroad friends. Since my time at the University of Belgrano, I have made friends with other students from the United States, and we are sharing the Buenos Aires experience. Naturally, a study abroad student wants to have fun, experience a new city and culture, but unfortunately there is one catch with being a study abroad student–you have to study. Thankfully, our UMKC program has incorporated a week before classes to explore the different neighborhoods and districts in Buenos Aires. Ideally one can continue to experience the city after classes, but what about the rest of the country?

During a long holiday weekend I had the opportunity to take a trip to Iguazu falls in northern Argentina with my friends from UMKC and the University of Belgrano. This trip was amazing! We were able to see one of the natural wonders of South America and experience the tropical nature firsthand. While we had lots of fun at the university, our best memories were made at Iguazu and during the eighteen hour bus ride. We want to experience more, but as deadlines approach for final exams and projects we have come to the realization that this was the only trip outside of Buenos Aires that we would be able to take. As the last week of classes come to a close, I am looking forward to heading north again to the provinces of Salta and Jujuy with my UMKC class. While I am excited for Salta and Northern Argentina, my friends from Belgrano are sad to fly back to the United States without being able to experience more of Argentina.

Study abroad has provided me with a motive to advance my Spanish proficiency and cultural competency, and explore South America. I am grateful that my experience incorporates time to explore the city and country before and after classes begin and end. As I prepare for this twenty-two hour bus ride to Salta, I am excited to explore the Andes mountains and spend time with rural Argentines in a rural province without the pressure of school!


Felix Amparano is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Spanish, and Biology. Felix is excited to spend six-weeks of his summer studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the UMKC Spanish Program. During his time abroad, Felix hopes to gain a better understanding of Argentine culture and health care with the hopes of becoming more culturally competent in his approaches to patient treatment.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

The Argentina FIFA World Cup

Every four years, the FIFA World Cup begins. The World Cup is a four to five week tournament in which countries from across the world compete to take home one of the most sought after titles ever. Though the entire world takes this series of fútbol matches very seriously, this tournament is especially important for Argentina. My host dad was quick to inform me that since their last World Cup victory in 1988, Argentina has been thirsty for another title, and now, they are lead by Lionel Messi who assisted them to the runner-up position in 2014.

Messi has become a figurehead for Argentina’s success, and he maintains a godly reputation in Argentina. Businesses throughout Buenos Aires take advantage of this event, and advertisements feature Lionel Messi everywhere. On the sidewalks, he is pictured on fast food and sports equipment street signs in his Argentina game jersey. On the subway he is in clothing advertisements, dressed to the dime in a fitted suit. And on billboards and in television commercials, he can be seen in his jersey, juggling a soccer ball, and drinking mate–an infamous tea-like beverage from Argentina. These advertisements have become rather complex; one particular subway advertisement is interactive and constructed in layers, each layer containing a different aspect of Messi’s face. To focus on his image, the viewer has to stand in such a way to see all the layers from a single perspective, taking time to line each layer up with the next.

Outside of the advertisements, the people of Buenos Aires have a strong passion for their game and country. My host mom was so entranced by the game that she was late to pick us up on our very first day! Argentina’s anticipation the morning before they played Nigeria was outstanding; numerous commuters on the train and subway had painted their faces, wearing jerseys, or carrying flags. Every person knew the significance of the game–middle schools, high schools and universities alike ended class early, whole business closed, and the busy streets calmed to watch the game. In bars and restaurants, waiters sat beside patrons and cooks stood, the whole building filled with the tension. But my favorite place to watch the games was in Plaza San Martin. Here, hundreds of people gathered on a hill slope to watch the game on a 50 foot screen, booming the announcer’s commentary across the city. Throughout the Nigeria game the crowd screamed, yelled, oohed and ahhed in unison with each play, strike, and call of the referee. The whole plaza was filled with raw emotion and anticipation; thirsty for the next goal to win the game. The crowed erupted, screaming, crying, jumping, and hugging each other when Messi and his teammates managed to work past the Nigeria defense to score the final goal. Never before have seen the same amount of unity. The environment and emotion of the entire day, a whole country united around a single cause with expectations of a victory placed heavily on a single player–Messi.

Imagine an entire country united behind a single subject; this is Argentina during the World Cup. For Argentina this game is a release, a moment to join the country in unity behind a single cause. As a study abroad student in Argentina, I am blessed to be in Argentina during this time. Through this experience, I was able to learn more about both the people and country, and participated in an irreplaceable cultural event. Only in Argentina can you feel the intense passion and electricity that I felt during that time!


Felix Amparano is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Spanish, and Biology. Felix is excited to spend six-weeks of his summer studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the UMKC Spanish Program. During his time abroad, Felix hopes to gain a better understanding of Argentine culture and health care with the hopes of becoming more culturally competent in his approaches to patient treatment.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Swinging en el Sur

My stomach dropped as I felt myself settle into the wooden tree swing, gliding out over the Andes Mountains outside of Baños, Ecuador. “Wow, I wonder how much more I could see if the earth were flat,” I thought to myself as the crisp wind whistled past my ears.

For the past four weeks I have been a mochilero, a backpacker, making my way through Colombia and Ecuador with my friend, wearing and rewearing the same sets of clothes and hiking shoes and learning about travel and native culture in each town and city we visit.

In Colombia, we began on the busy streets of Bogotá, touring the city and hiking Monserrate before taking an overnight bus to Medellín. From Medellín to the small coffee town of Salento, we hiked national parks in the Andes Mountains with elevations so high we oftentimes looked down on the clouds. From Salento to Cali, we experienced the national atmosphere during the tense, stalemate election before crossing the border into Ecuador. Through Quito to Baños, we hiked around one of the country’s active volcanos and the deafening waterfall deemed Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Caldron). From the authentic, laid-back native culture of Cuenca, to the fast-paced, modern culture of Guayaquil, we traveled north along Ecuador’s small beach towns, hiking, whale watching, and snorkeling as we went. Now, as we finish this eye-opening experience zip-lining in the quiet, pueblito of Mindo, I am excited for my new experiences in Buenos Aires and Argentina.

Almost every day over the past two weeks, I have found myself thinking of and anticipating Buenos Aires; receiving feelings similar to those I had on that swing in Baños. As I anxiously search the internet for flight advice for solo international travelers, I feel that same uneasiness in taking that first step to fly out over the Andes. Though the change in pace will be different, I look forward to Buenos Aires. I am excited to set feet on stationary ground, establishing a relationship with my host family and classmates, while becoming more comfortable with the people, culture, language, diet, and transportation.

Through stressful, unplanned circumstances abroad, I have tested my capabilities, learning the most applicable knowledge in the past four weeks than I have ever learned before. I am excited to push myself in Buenos Aires, continuing to jump out over the edge of the mountains and swing into my next journey in Argentina.


Felix Amparano is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Spanish, and Biology. Felix is excited to spend six-weeks of his summer studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the UMKC Spanish Program. During his time abroad, Felix hopes to gain a better understanding of Argentine culture and health care with the hopes of becoming more culturally competent in his approaches to patient treatment.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.