Why did you decide to study abroad?
I made the decision to study abroad because I reached the level in my Spanish speaking abilities that I needed to immerse myself to become fluent. Also, as an International Relations student, I wanted a personal observation of the cultural, social, economic, and political differences that exist in a foreign country.
If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?
Studying abroad was one of the best decisions that I have made in my entire life. It totally changed the way that I look at the world, my relationship with God, and gave me a new direction in my life that I could never find otherwise. That being said, I would certainly recommend that everyone should live abroad, so that they may have the same sobering, maturing experience that I had during my time in Argentina.
What did you accomplish while you were abroad?
While living in Argentina, I successfully took two accelerated summer courses in Spanish. Despite the challenges of a foreign education system and classes in my second language, I excelled and earned the highest marks possible for the class. Also, by immersing myself in a Spanish-speaking culture, I was able to improve my speaking, writing, and reading skills, finally breaking the barrier between conversational Spanish and fluency.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?
The biggest difficulty that I had while living abroad was becoming accustomed to the accent of the people of Córdoba. In addition to the differences in dialect that Argentine Spanish already had, the regional accent blurs the words of a sentence into one. During my first week in Córdoba, I had a difficult time understanding people. Thankfully, I was quickly able to understand it and now I speak with that accent, myself!
What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad?
My most memorable moment was probably the weekend that I spent in Buenos Aires. The weekend was filled with so much fun! My friends and I toured the Casa Rosada and the city's famous museums, ate a gourmet dinner of the finest Argentine beef and wine, and an artisan's market. It was so interesting to get outside of my city and experience an entirely different region of the country. Despite the fact that I was still in Argentina, I felt as if I was in an entirely different continent. The architecture and culture is that of a European country and the Spanish that was spoken there was poetic and spoken quite fluidly. Also, Buenos Aires is a coastal city, so we were able to see the ocean and visit "La Boca," a seaside pier home to some of the most colorful and beautiful buildings in the city.
If you were involved in any clubs or sports at Saint A's, did you feel like you missed out by studying abroad?
I had a sort of unique experience in this respect, because I chose to study abroad during the summer. This meant that I wouldn't miss out on anything happening at Saint A's. Despite this, I did feel like I was missing out on things that were happening at home. For instance, my family likes to go boating, and I was unable to go out on the lake at all this summer. To make things worse, I was living in South America, where it was their cold, winter. As a whole, I learned to accept that life would continue to go on regardless if I was home or not, and I didn't feel so badly for not being able to spend time with my friends and family from the United States.
How did you decide to go where you did?
I made the decision to study abroad in Córdoba, Argentina for many reasons. I knew that I wanted to study in South America because I knew that I wanted to study the region in the future and perhaps graduate school, so the continent was the obvious choice. I decided on Argentina because of the specific dialect of Spanish that is spoken there. Argentine Spanish is known as one of the most difficult dialects of Spanish because of its specific accent and its additional verb tense, the vos, which is used in place of the tu form. I figured that if I was to become fluent in one of the most challenging dialects of Spanish, that I would be able to speak any dialect. I finally came to choose the city of Córdoba due to its smaller size. The other major city in Argentina, Buenos Aires, has a population of nearly three million people, which I thought would be overwhelming for my first time outside of the United States. In comparison, Córdoba only has a population of 1.34 million people, or just about half of the population of Argentina's capital city. I also picked the summer program in Córdoba because of the diverse class offerings that I would be able to use to finish my Spanish minor requirements.
Did you interact with host country nationals? If so, how often?
When I was in Argentina, I lived with a host family consisting of a host-mother, a host-father, and a two-year-old host-sister. That being said, most of my time was spent with Argentina nationals, for at home, at school, and out and about in the city I solely interacted with Argentinians. Due to this, I rarely was able to speak English. I believe the only times that I spoke English were when I called my loved ones in the United States! Regardless, my homestay family was fantastic! They took my roommate and me on many trips through out the greater Cordoba region and even to World Cup watch party. They also were very accommodating and were wonderful representatives of Argentine hospitality. They truly welcomed me into their household, making me feel like one of their own children. Leaving to return to the United States was one of the hardest things that I have ever done because of the relationship that I fostered between my homestay family and myself. It as if I left a part of myself behind when I returned, for a new part of my family remains five thousand miles away from me. Despite this, I know that I will be back to visit them in the future!