Back in January, Alexa and I posted 10 Reasons Why We Need Argentina, a list of goals that we hoped we would accomplish during our time in Argentina. Well, now that we are all back safe and sound, we thought it would be a great idea to go back and see just how many we were able to accomplish (or which we completely failed at!) In italics is what we said in January, and underneath that will be our reflections for each one!
1. Improve Spanish skills
My main goal of this trip is to be fluent once I leave. Currently, I am sometimes too scared to begin a conversation in Spanish for fear of messing up. This is totally stupid and needs to change.
I’m definitely not fluent, but my Spanish skills (mostly listening and reading comprehension) have improved tremendously! When I made this goal, I didn’t take into account that I would be living with 15 other Americans and let’s just say that we were all a little lazy and didn’t speak too much Spanish in our residencia! However, taking all my classes in Spanish and just having to speak to locals in Spanish greatly helped my confidence, but my speaking skills aren’t as good as I expected them to be.
2. Try new foods
I am one of the pickiest eaters ever. This also needs to change. My goal is to try at least two new food items per week.
I’m proud to say that I did come out of my food shell a little bit and I think I accomplished this goal! (Elda’s fabulous cooking every night definitely didn’t hurt the cause either!)
3. Be more adventurous
As if moving across the globe isn’t enough, I want to branch out, try new and exciting activities, and meet as many people as possible!
I think Alexa had the biggest affect on me accomplishing this goal because she was the one who usually made me stop being lazy and convinced me to go out and try new things! Thanks, Alexa 🙂
4. Stay in touch with friends from the US
I am pretty bad at staying in touch with people, but I hope this blog will help out a little!
Thankfully with Facebook and Skype, I was able to keep my friends and family updated with my life and keep up-to-date with what was going on in their lives.
5. Stay in touch with new friends once I return home
6. Enjoy life!
No waiting tables for 6 months? Yes, please!
I absolutely enjoyed life in Buenos Aires! I had the time of my life and I think this experience has definitely changed me and made me see the world a little differently (I know it sounds cliché, but its true!) When I came back to work earlier this month, one of my bosses and a few of my co-workers commented on the fact that I did seem slightly different, saying I seemed more confident and comfortable with myself.
One other accomplishment that I didn’t expect to happen: journaling daily. I didn’t think I was going to keep a journal of my time in Buenos Aires (this blog was supposed to be a substitute for that), but after 2 or 3 days there I decided to write down what happened every day. A lot of the people in our program started out journaling or blogging as well, but gave up a few months in. I’m proud to say that Alexa and I successfully journaled and blogged throughout our entire trip!
1. Become fluent in Spanish
I want to practically forget how to speak English.
I accomplished both of those things at least part-way! I can definitely have a conversation in Spanish without too many problems unless my conversation partner starts getting fancy with their vocabulary. I’ve noticed since I’ve been home that when I try explaining things to people, I can always think of the words I want to use, but they’re not always in English. Let’s say my Spanglish has definitely been mastered.
2. Take the right risks
Being cautious isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes over-thinking a situation has held me back from a great opportunity. This will happen no more!
Since we lived with so many other students in one house, it was really easy to stay in because there was usually someone to talk to that would bum around with you. That being said, I think I explored all areas of the spectrum between being too cautious and being too risky. There were lazy days that I just couldn’t make myself leave the house, scary days when I would trust someone that I had just met when maybe I shouldn’t have, and then perfect days where I would try something new and have the best time possible. Although I was a little confused at times, I think that floundering around allowed me to set my own boundaries and find the things that I really like that were worth blindly trying for the first time.
3. Appreciate the small things
Rushing through life – it could be a North American trait or maybe the habit of a college student. Either way, I want to learn how to slow down and notice the more subtle beauties around me. What better place than in a country that appreciates each meal for almost two hours!
There were more than enough chances to take advantage of the slower pace of life while we were in Argentina! I’d like to think that I was a pretty calm person before I left, but I feel that I’ve chilled out even more since. Just in the past few days being home, I can feel all of the deadlines and lists of things to do creeping up on me that I hardly ever felt threatened by in BsAs. In the city, although it was almost always chaotic, I learned to take a break and just look around without thinking about my to do list. This goal was accomplished, but it’s going to be difficult carrying over what I learned once the hectic college life at Pitt starts again.
4. Find my place in the world
This should be taken both literally and figuratively. Yes, I expect to learn a lot about myself, but I also tend to have no idea where I am on a map. It’s my hope that I can make some improvements in regard to that issue.
By the end of our trip, I had mastered the use of the Guía T, the BsAs bus guidebook, and had navigated more than a few of my own excursions around the city. There’s my chance to brag. I also came back and immediately got lost while driving around near my hometown. What does that say? I’m not totally sure, but I’m still really proud about the conquering of the BsAs public transportation system. Besides literally figuring out where I was in the city, I learned a lot about myself on this trip. It’s possible that some of the typical Argentine high self-esteem rubbed off on me; it could have to do with being surrounded by very confident people for so long or with the fact that I managed to live in a foreign country without any problems for half a year. Either way, I’d say that I’ve changed for the better. I still don’t know where I belong in the world, but this trip showed me that I could definitely live and work in another country (sorry, parents).