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Failing and Flourishing but Adapting Nonetheless

Me, second from the right, and my new friends from across the globe 🙂

I had been speaking hypothetically about this journey for over a year before I actually departed. I knew I had wanted to come to Argentina for a long time but I never really put too much thought into what I would experience while I was there. I had caught a case of the travel bug after my first volunteer trip to Mexico just a year after I had graduated from high school. I stayed and worked there for two months trying to preserve the environment there. Never once did I get homesick even though my living conditions consisted of just a cement block with carved out windows. When I returned from my first adventure, I knew I needed to get out again. I had learned so much from being in another culture and traveling alone for the first time. My mind had been opened and a travel bug ventured in. I traveled once more to Guatemala for six weeks the summer before my present journey, here, in Buenos Aires. This is by far the longest I have ever been gone. Weeks before this semester-long trip, I moved out of my apartment and threw out the majority of my belongings and put the rest in storage. I was living with my sister with nothing more than the two backpacks I was going to take with me to Argentina. It began to sink in that I was leaving the United States for a while this time.

I didn’t put much thought into how my life would work in another country. I knew I was going to be taking classes in Spanish and living in a hostel, but I never imagined how it would actually feel. After having been here for three weeks now all I can say is that my adjustment was very smooth or maybe I have just gotten used to the daily cringe-worthy awkward language moments and hostel lifestyle.

When I first arrived in Buenos Aires I was immediately met by a leader of the program I was traveling abroad through and guided to a meeting point with upwards of ten other traveling students. Fortunately, I immediately felt secure. However, once we left the airport and went to our respective living accommodations is when I began to realize just how far I had come. I knocked on the door to my hostel and I was shown around my new rustic and eco-friendly home. Showers were archaic and dirty with everyone’s belongings mixed together. The kitchen as well was a mixture of all of the resident’s food. My room contained four beds, all of which were full after my arrival. I put my stuff in my room and had to attend a meeting at the school just thirty minutes after my arrival. I didn’t have time to process what I thought about my new home. However, it began to sink in during moments of boredom in my orientation meeting. I was thinking ‘oh my god, my stuff is just sitting there open for the taking’ I hadn’t met any of my roommates to deem them trustworthy or not. I thought of the showers and when would be an appropriate time for me to wash off the 24 hours of travel musk I was wearing. I didn’t know the rules around cooking or storing food in the hostel… I felt very alone.

When I returned, my belongings were still there. My roommates turned out to be some of the coolest people I have ever met. And turns out we have a cook here at the hostel that prepares dinners for us regularly. Additionally, the hostel is incredibly eco-friendly and sustainable which perfectly aligns with my studies of Environmental Science at University. I felt amazing and all of the fear I had before melted away. The next adventure was navigating the language barrier.

My biggest obstacle by far has been communication. Every single day I feel like I am just hurdling over one awkward moment to the next. Honestly, I have cried many times over this. I want to learn this language so bad but I cannot understand or communicate how I’d like. I am not able to explain my thoughts in Spanish. I have been studying and communicating as much as I can each day and sleep heavy from mental exhaustion each night. I am nowhere near where I would like to be at this point, but I am improving immensely each day.

The most monumental thing I have noticed so far in my life here is that I am learning so much every day. If I wrote down all of the little things I have learned I would have written a novel already. My roommates are from Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, France, Germany, Venezuela, and many more countries as well. I am learning about so many different cultures. I am discussing heavy topics including feminism, LGBTQ rights, corruption, racism, etcetera within many different countries all the while speaking a foreign language. Everyone has been incredibly patient with me and really try to hear what I have to say even if it takes me 10x longer to explain. I have already made lifelong friends here. Not once have I felt homesick just like on trips before. I never learn this much in a day in the United States. I truly believe traveling teaches me sooo much more than school ever could. I am already intending to continue my travels after I finish my degree.


Ashley is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing an Environmental Science degree along with a Spanish minor. She is studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the ISA Latin American Studies program during the spring of 2019. She hopes to become fluent in Spanish and attend graduate school to study marine biology.

Disclaimer:  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.

It’s not goodbye, it’s a see ya later

It’s been two weeks since I got back from Argentina. I sometimes forget that I don’t need to constantly speak Spanish. Driving felt weird as well since I was constantly walking to get to places while abroad instead of driving. Whenever I have driven around since returning home, I have been more cautious, especially on the highway. I kept worrying if I was driving in the center and not merging into the other lanes correctly. I still remember what the highway was like in Argentina. The memory haunts me from driving. I kind of miss walking around to get places. Everything was so conveniently located since most places were all close to each other.  As soon as I got back to the U.S, I ate my favorite food every day until my stomach could burst. I gained some weight as well. I was kind of disappointed by how much I gained.

I can’t really tell if I experienced any culture shock since I got back or if I am currently experiencing it. My daily routine has definitely changed. My eating habits have been changed as well. Argentina was experiencing winter at that time and didn’t have many fruits and vegetables available for purchase. Host families will not buy a lot of vegetables and fruit due to the high cost of seasonal produce. Luckily I was able to receive plenty of nutritious food from my host mom. She was a nutritionist. Her food was amazing and was better than the food that I found outside the home. I have been making adjustments and changes throughout my return. I definitely think that I have learned a lot from my study abroad experience. For example, I think I improved in listening to Spanish. I wished that I was able to study abroad longer and improve my skills more. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to go study abroad and travel by myself. I wouldn’t have done it without the support from my family and friends. There were many difficult and happy times throughout my study abroad trip as I was able to explore a new country and eat different types of food. If I had an opportunity to do this again, I definitely would. Hopefully, later in the future, I will be able to visit Argentina again and explore more cities and landmarks. My journey of studying abroad ends here but I will cherish these memories until I die. There are not many people who have the opportunity to study abroad and therefore I am thankful for this opportunity and hope others have an opportunity like I did.


Julie Jeong is currently a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Entrepreneurship, and Spanish. Julie will spend the summer with the UMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She plans to attend UMKC’s Dental School after her undergraduate study. She plans to use Spanish in her career as a future dentist who strives to help patients and eliminate miscommunications.

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 Retransition: Coming Home

My mom and I when she picked me up from the airport

Some people have asked me what I miss most from Argentina, expecting an answer about a food, the weather, or a daily ritual. In truth, I miss the struggle of trying to communicate with less-than-fluent Spanish abilities, the discomfort of not knowing how to behave in an unfamiliar situation, and the unpredictability of wandering through six weeks with a loose schedule. After throwing myself completely into experiencing and enjoying the difficulties of studying abroad, the ease, comfort, and predictability of life back home seems foreign.

I was warned about “reverse culture shock” (the culture shock one experiences when returning home from study abroad) even before I had left for Argentina. At the time, I didn’t take it that seriously. Home is familiar, I thought, how could coming home be shocking? Towards the end of my stay in Argentina, as our class discussions turned more frequently to the prospect of returning to the United States, I began to consider it more seriously. Our professor, who has had lots of study abroad experience, advised us that the “shock” would come from the abrupt, begrudging return to reality, to real responsibilities and obligations, to due dates and work schedules and to-do lists. So this is what I expected upon my return to the U.S.. After all, though study abroad is definitely not just a vacation, it did often feel like a break, or at least like a separation, from “reality.”

What I have struggled with most, however, is not the abrupt return to reality but the feeling that a part of me is stuck in South America. It’s messaging in Spanish with friends I met in Santiago who are now skiing in Patagonia while trying to appear interested in my aunt’s small town gossip. It’s reading contemporary Argentine novels then watching the American Netflix shows I missed while abroad. It’s sharing memes about capitalism in the group chat with my classmates from Argentina while trying to catch up on the missed inside jokes in the group chat with my Conservatory friends. It’s trying to finish up coursework for my Argentine culture class while trying to prepare to return to a intense semester of music education classes. It’s having left my mind and heart in Buenos Aires while my reality and responsibilities are here in Kansas City. This would be my definition of reverse culture shock: feeling shockingly not ‘at home’ in your own home.

A lot of people say that one of the best parts of traveling is the feeling of coming home. I would argue that the beauty of traveling is gaining more homes in places and people scattered around the world. Even if I never feel totally “at home” here again, I think the experience of building new “home”s abroad is more than worth the cost.


Amber Litteken is a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Instrumental Music Education and minoring in Spanish Language and Literature. Amber will spend six weeks of the summer abroad with the UMKC Faculty-Led Spanish Language Summer in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a Gilman Scholar. Amber is from Breese, Illinois and plays bassoon.

Disclaimer: 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.

Three Days Without Internet? Yes, Please!

After finishing our final exams concluding weeks of intensive language courses in the bustling city of Buenos Aires, all of us “Kansas people,” as our dear ISA staff liked to call us, were ready for a leisurely escape to the rural northernmost provinces of Salta and Jujuy. The highlight of our trip to the north was our 3 day/2 night stay with el Rey de Campesina, an indigenous farming extended-family living in the foothills of the Andes mountains. After spending 4 days traveling around on buses, we were all thrilled to be staying in one spot for a few days and I, for one, was particularly excited about the complete lack of Internet connection.

Upon our arrival, we hiked up through the brush with our luggage to be divided up into the different homes of the family members. After settling in and enjoying an evening snack with our hosts, we all reunited at one house to enjoy a huge welcome dinner; the 13 members of our group and the 8 or so family members sharing one long table outside in the dark and freezing cold.

The next morning, after breakfast in our respective homes, we enjoyed a tour of the family vineyard and bodega (artisanal winery). Then we learned how to make empanadas for lunch.

This meal was one of my favorite memories from our trip to the north – all of us sitting around the same table eating, laughing, and drinking homemade wine, soaking up the warm sunlight, surrounded by beautiful mountains. After lunch, the patriarch Enrique and his nephews led us on an intense half-day trekking, which proved to be more rock climbing than walking, and pushed all of us to our physical limits.

Dinner that night was quicker and more subdued as we were all exhausted from the day’s adventures and eager to fall into our beds. The next morning we had talleres (workshops) in basket weaving or tapestry loom weaving from indigenous artisan women.

After a bittersweet farewell lunch, we packed up our things, said goodbye to our gracious hosts, and headed back down to load the bus and begin the journey back to Salta, then Buenos Aires, then back home to the United States.

This experience was my favorite part of my study abroad program in Argentina. I wish I had taken more pictures with which to remember the people I met and the places I saw. At the time, however, I was surrounded by so much natural beauty it was impossible to decide what to take pictures of. Besides, I was too busy experiencing everything and living in the moment to think about pausing to take photos that could never capture what I hold in memory.


Amber Litteken is a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Instrumental Music Education and minoring in Spanish Language and Literature. Amber will spend six weeks of the summer abroad with the UMKC Faculty-Led Spanish Language Summer in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a Gilman Scholar. Amber is from Breese, Illinois and plays bassoon.

Disclaimer: 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 One Time I Try To Make a Plan

During a long four-day weekend off of classes in Buenos Aires, I decided to take advantage of the cheap flights to Santiago, Chile. This would be my first trip anywhere (let alone a new country) by myself as well as my first stay in a hostel. I booked my excursion with no plans besides my plane ticket and hostel reservation.

On Friday and Saturday, I had enjoyed simply wandering somewhat aimlessly about the city on my own during the day and then returning to the hostel at night for dinner and the (literally) daily fiesta. On Sunday morning, however, I wanted to do something more specific/planned, but less expensive than the tours most of my new hostel friends suggested. At breakfast, my new German friend Debbie told me about her plans to climb Cerro Pochoco, a “mini-mountain” accessible by Santiago public transit. This sounded perfectly accessible and affordable, so I did a little research while my phone recharged and then set off determined to climb a mountain.

After two hours navigating the Metro (subway) and colectivos (buses) to the outer limits of the city, I arrived at the end of my Google directions. Looking around, I did not see the parking lot and trailhead I had read about online. After wandering about for a bit and receiving confused, contradictory directions from two different locals (I did not have data to search the Internet for answers), I noticed a street sign labeled Calle Cerro Pochoco. I double-checked my phone and realized that Google Maps had directed me to a street named after Cerro Pochoco instead of the actual Cerro Pochoco. I was on the wrong side of the city.

A little dismayed, I began walking back towards the Metro station when lo and behold I ran into Debbie and her two friends. They had made the same mistake I had. Her friend Servi, who could use data on her phone, set a course for a new cerro to climb and invited me to come along. I agreed and we set off on the Metro together.

Through the train windows, the bright canopies of a féria caught my attention, so I left my new friends and hopped off the train at the next station. This féria was very different than those I had visited in Buenos Aires. The férias in Buenos Aires were full of artists and vendors selling crafts and homemade goods, whereas this was more like an open-air Walmart, with everything from fruits and vegetables to toilet paper, clothing and books to small electrical appliances. The best difference of all was that it was not intended for tourists. I was the only white person (and probably the only foreigner) there. Instead of tourists looking for souvenirs, I met Chileans doing their grocery shopping.

After walking about absorbing the authentic Chilean culture, I enjoyed a hearty lunch of whatever the amicable waitress recommended because I didn’t recognize anything on the menu. It was an excellent opportunity to talk to some more locals, eat affordably for the first time that weekend, and enjoy the sun and the heat after three weeks of cold in Buenos Aires.

I had noticed I small cerro in the distance and started walking off my lunch in that direction. I noticed some families and dogs climbing around and found the entrance to a rough trail. Once I reached the top, I realized just how far from downtown and how close to the Andes mountains I had wandered. Even from such a small cerro, the views were breathtaking. After catching my breath, soaking up the moment, and taking some obligatory selfies, I started heading back “home” to my hostel, completely satisfied with “lost” day.

The one time I tried to make a plan, it failed. But that mistake created my favorite day in Chile (and one of my favorites all summer) and provided an opportunity to experience a side of authentic Chilean culture far from the city center.


Amber Litteken is a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Instrumental Music Education and minoring in Spanish Language and Literature. Amber will spend six weeks of the summer abroad with the UMKC Faculty-Led Spanish Language Summer in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a Gilman Scholar. Amber is from Breese, Illinois and plays bassoon.

Disclaimer: 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.

Coming Home: the start of something new

I’m sitting in the Atlanta airport, waiting for my connecting flight home. As I’m waiting, my mind is wandering, and I’m thinking about all the amazing things I have done while studying abroad. To name a few: I saw the beautiful waterfalls in Iguazu, lived with indigenous people in the Andes mountains, and spent many nights out in the spectacular city of Buenos Aires. As all these wonderful memories replay in my mind, I am realizing just how long I have been gone. Six weeks did not seem long at all a few hours ago, but suddenly I feel like I have been gone for an eternity. I may have put a pause on my life, but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone else did. Life kept moving while I was away, and I feel estranged to my previous way of life.

Reintegration into my own life seems like such an odd – and maybe even scary – concept. There is certainly some anxiety about the pile of work that faces me when I get home, but it’s more than that. I feel almost like a stranger, like I’m headed toward something completely new. It’s such a unique feeling, a mix of excitement, longing, and a little bit of dread. Despite its uniqueness, I can’t help but feel like I have felt this before. Where do I know this feeling from? Almost as soon as I ask myself the question, I know the answer. It feels like I am about to study abroad… only it’s different. This time it’s not the place that’s new, it’s me. I’m coming back a new person. I have a whole new world of experiences under my belt, and those experiences are coming back with me.

I may have left Argentina behind when I hopped on a plane just ten short hours ago, but I certainly didn’t just dump my experiences and all that I have learned out the window. I don’t want to! Yes, this feeling of estrangement may be causing me some dread; it’s going to take some work to integrate my experience and knowledge back into my previous life, but this is also the opportunity I have worked so hard for. I have been longing to reconnect with the world in new and fantastic ways, and now I finally have my chance. Leaving Argentina wasn’t the end of an adventure; it was only the beginning, and I couldn’t be more excited.


Sam Nelson is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Psychology and Economics with a minor in Spanish. Sam will study abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina during Summer of 2018 with hopes of improving his Spanish language skills. He is a member of Pride Alliance and several other student organizations. After Sam completes his degree at UMKC, he plans to attend graduate school and earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

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.

School Life in Argentina

 

Classes at the University of Belgrano have ended. My class at the University of Belgrano was fantastic. I was enrolled in Spanish Intermediate Level 1 at the University. I really enjoyed it because I was able to go over the basic grammar and focus on grammar that I was not confident about. My classmates and I didn’t feel like the class was too easy either. We all had different strengths and weaknesses in the grammar while we learned, and gained more knowledge of the topic. I met a lot of other exchange students from various states of the United States at the University of Belgrano. We had classmates who were staying for only the summer semester, like me, and classmates who were staying for the fall semester as well.

My professor was very helpful and encouraging. She explained everything in Spanish very well. When there were times that my class or I didn’t understand something, she would explain it in another way in Spanish by using a different word or situation to understand the topic or lesson. We would constantly hear Spanish for the entire class period. I think this was very helpful for me, and for all of my classmates as well, in improving our comprehension of Spanish. Our class had many fun discussions in Spanish. It helped everyone with beginning to be comfortable speaking Spanish. Our confidence in the language increased and we really enjoyed our time at school.

My class was from Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 2pm. But don’t worry! We also had breaks in between. The major difference between school in the US and school in Buenos Aires was that I actually walked to school. Thankfully, I lived the closest to the school and took only 5 minutes to get to school, unlike my other classmates who had to walk or take the subways to go to school.

After class, my friends and I would go to a cafe or go to a restaurant to grab some lunch. I think school life in Argentina is very similar to the United States. I have improved in my listening skills in Spanish due to my class solely being in Spanish instead of English. I would have to explain my opinions in Spanish. I was able to get out of my comfort zone and was not able to use my English as a way to keep myself comfortable. My journey doesn’t stop here with my class coming to an end. The journey to improve more of my skills is still ahead of me.


Julie Jeong is currently a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Entrepreneurship, and Spanish. Julie will spend the summer with theUMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She plans to attend UMKC’s Dental School after her undergraduate study. She plans to use Spanish in her career as a future dentist who strives to help patients and eliminate miscommunications.

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.

Creating Your Own Study Abroad Experience

Maybe you’ve seen that beautiful study abroad brochure chalk full of stunning images and you’re ready to leave tomorrow; maybe you’re on the fence, not sure if study abroad is right for you; or maybe you are just reading this post because you are curious and know nothing about it. Wherever you are on this spectrum, this post is for you.

We all have our own ideas about what study abroad is. After all, a two hundred-word pamphlet certainly leaves a lot to your imagination. So in light of this, I would like to share some of my personal study abroad experiences in an effort to give you a little more information and advice about studying abroad in general.

Let me start by saying, the “study” in “study abroad” definitely shouldn’t be ignored. I was in school a lot more than I thought I would be. Monday through Friday, I went to school at the University of Belgrano from 9:30am to 2:30pm, and three days a week I had class with a UMKC faculty member for about two hours each day. That’s a lot of time! However, it was justified and time well spent. I received nine credit hours of upper level Spanish in just six short weeks, so it makes sense I was in class for so long. I also learned a ton of Spanish, which is what I set out to do in the first place.

Takeaway: Weigh the amount of credit hours you are receiving with what your goals are for studying abroad. If you’re looking for a fun time getting to know another culture, maybe a three or six credit hour program is for you. If you’re looking for a big increase in your language learning abilities, maybe a more intense, nine or twelve credit hour program is for you.

Another important aspect of a study abroad experience is the location. I’m studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina – one of Latin America’s largest and most densely populated cities. One of the fun parts of being in a big city is that there is so much to do. People who have lived here their entire life have yet to do half the things the city has to offer. One of the down sides of living in a large city is that cultural differences from one large city to another are pretty small. On the surface, it would be pretty hard to tell New York City and Buenos Aires apart.

Takeaway: There is a lot more to a location than the beautiful views it has to offer. Think about the city’s size, geographic location, and position in the global society before making a choice about where you’ll go.

What about duration? My program took place in the summer and lasted a total of six weeks. Four weeks I spent immersed in Spanish classes and the other two were spent traveling and doing my own thing. As my trip comes to an end, I am so happy I had those two extra weeks outside of class; it’s where I really got out and experienced Argentina! Personally, I felt like six weeks was a perfect amount of time away, and the traveling in the summer allowed me to take less of a serious pause on my life.

Takeaway: Think about how long you are willing to be away from home; going on this trip I realized just how important my family, friends and life in general were to me. Additionally, I would highly recommend a program that gives you some free time.

All in all, studying abroad is definitely a worthwhile experience no matter what program you choose, where you go, or how long you are away. I guarantee you will have the experience of a lifetime!


Sam Nelson is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Psychology and Economics with a minor in Spanish. Sam will study abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina during Summer of 2018 with hopes of improving his Spanish language skills. He is a member of Pride Alliance and several other student organizations. After Sam completes his degree at UMKC, he plans to attend graduate school and earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

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.

A New Place and New Ideas

I have been living abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a good two weeks now, and – wow – so much is different here. At first it took a lot of getting used to. Here, I take public transportation everywhere, and it is not uncommon to have to walk over a mile to get to my destination. I don’t really eat breakfast – the United States is seen as eating a gloriously huge breakfast in many parts of the world, if you wanted to know. I don’t eat dinner until 10pm, but every dinner is the size of a Thanksgiving meal. And, perhaps most shockingly, if I want to go out on the weekends, that means I am getting to the club at 2am and not leaving until 5.

One thing different here that I particularly enjoy is the insane amount of political involvement everyone has. I bet the average porteño (that’s what the people of Buenos Aires call themselves) knows more about United States politics than you do! Within the first weeks of me being here, there was a nationwide strike demanding the government do something about the nation’s poor economic conditions; the whole city shut down, shops closed, public transportation was unavailable, and the streets were eerily empty. That’s something you just don’t see in the United States – although I will say the average American’s political involvement seems to be increasing exponentially over the past few years. Mine certainly has!

A protest I happened upon while touring the city center

Along with politics, everyone here seems to be extremely passionate about everything, and they are more than willing to share their opinions. In the spirit of heated discourse, I decided to ask my host parents a loaded question at the dinner table one night: your city has such a beautiful culture, what do you think about these McDonald’s and Starbuck’s popping up around your neighborhood? Do you feel like aspects of American culture are invading yours? I braced myself, ready for an explosively passionate answer… and I got nothing.

“What do you mean, invading a culture?” I was surprised. This is a very heated topic in the US right now, and it seemed for once my host dad was indifferent. He went on to explain how Buenos Aires is full of all types of people; people have been immigrating here from all over the world for years. These stores, to him, were merely another additional place to get coffee or a quick bite to eat.

Most importantly in his response was the idea of “additional”. None of the things finding their way to Buenos Aires were viewed as taking away from what was already here. Although he is only one person and can’t represent every person from Buenos Aires, he did make me think: where did we, in the US, get the idea that things coming into the states are invasive? Why are they seen as a subtraction from what we already have and not as something additional?

 


Sam Nelson is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Psychology and Economics with a minor in Spanish. Sam will study abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina during Summer of 2018 with hopes of improving his Spanish language skills. He is a member of Pride Alliance and several other student organizations. After Sam completes his degree at UMKC, he plans to attend graduate school and earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

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.