Passports

Dispatches from Abroad

Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010 11:59 a.m.

Meet Melissa, studying in Buenos Aires

It’s the fall semester, which means a  wave of students have or are about to set off around the world for exciting semesters abroad. Here at The Hatchet we like to keep in touch with our reporters who go abroad. Throughout the semester, they will be sending updates to our Passports blog as well as some pieces in print.

Melissa Turley | Junior | Journalism
Buenos Aires, Argentina| Program: IES

Photo courtesy of Melissa Turley

My high school Spanish class was an experience I’ve tried very hard to repress from my memory. But since my arrival in Buenos Aires I have never wished I had paid attention more. My spectator seat in the back of the class did not let the crucial information about preterite and imperfect tenses or the difference between para and por set in. It was somewhere between finding out in the middle of the night on my first day here that there are two streets called “Peron” (and I was on the wrong one) and having to get directions from three different people – all in Spanish – that I realized just what being immersed in a new culture truly entails.

Everyday I’m surrounded by aspects of life that are so different from my own. There are the major differences like the time of dinner being moved from my American family’s traditional hour of 6 p.m. to my new Argentine family’s time of 10 p.m. D.C.’s 5 p.m. happy hour is also unheard of here. Going out before midnight means the clubs will be empty and bars aren’t even crowded until after 4 a.m. After a week here, I have also just begun to adjust to my new 5 a.m. bedtime and to waking up to my alarm clock at 1 p.m. Naps are something I have come to value more than any other commodity.

Just a week in Argentina has shattered the comfortable bubble surrounding my life at GW and at home in New York. I have now opened my eyes and ears to an entirely new adventure. While planning weekend trips to the countryside and a break in Uruguay, I constantly want to pinch myself to make sure it is real. Traveling to La Estancia -a traditional ranch- and riding a horse through the Argentine countryside at sunset then having a five-course meal around a gigantic fireside with my entire study abroad class are moments when it hits me just how lucky I am to be here.

I left the U.S. knowing one other person on my trip with no idea of what to expect. Now I have proven to myself that I can to survive in another country without a safety net of family and friends to catch me if I fall. I don’t even have a BlackBerry to find my way when I am lost, which happens about four times a day. I may only be a week into this incredible adventure, but I think the knowledge I have gained not only about myself but also about an entirely different culture is already enough to fill a semester back in the states. I look forward to tomorrow having absolutely no idea what it will hold but knowing that every day spent here offers me a greater lesson than any classroom I have ever been in.

  • señora Lepkowski

    Oye Melissa, ¿qué es esta parte de -olvidar tu experiencia secundaria-? me pongo triste. pero a la vez contenta que tú estás allí aprendiendo muchísimo. ¡Diviértete!
    señora L.