Passports

Dispatches from Abroad

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010 10:35 a.m.

Updates from Melissa, studying in Buenos Aires

Photo courtesy of Melissa Turley

This post was written by Melissa Turley, who is studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

My biggest worry before leaving for study abroad was that I would be missing out on all the social distractions, internship opportunities and daily goings-on at GW. After spending the last six weeks in Argentina, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I wished I were back on campus at GW—all of which were probably within my first two weeks here. Being away has slowly changed my priorities and quickly dissipated any feelings of longing for that far away bubble called Foggy Bottom.

After being here for six weeks I feel less and less like an overwhelmed tourist and more porteño, a Buenos Aires resident. I don’t frantically follow maps, I can name every cross street on my way home from school and I have even given (hopefully) correct directions once or twice.

By shedding this timid tourist’s shell, I feel like my ability to absorb the Argentine culture has only intensified. I am still convinced the only food groups they choose to embrace are carbohydrates and meats of the very salty sort—salt being an essential ingredient in every food I have eaten here. The traditional plates that my host family serves are milanesa – a breaded and fried meat – potatoes and onions, empanadas and a tarta – something similar to a vegetable quiche but probably with even more calories. I have already informed my mom of my desperate need to join a gym the second I land in the states.

Every time I talk to Buenos Aires natives, they bring up the differences between America and Argentina. According to their observations, we are a culture of too much – too much time wasted on selfish things and not enough time spent with friends and family.

In response to their critiques, I tell locals that I prefer their south-of-the-equator, easy-going lifestyle. Life is simply better in Argentina. Surprisingly everyone here quickly disagrees with me and says something along the lines of “not better, just different.”

Now that I’m halfway through this semester, my goal is to take advantage of every opportunity, cherish every moment (especially the ones spent doing nothing), and return to GW filled with a different perspective – not better and not worse – just different.