In her final post for us, Sarah shares 3 takeaways from her Argentinian summer. She recaps her progression from her first week until now and how she was able to explore Buenos Aires—even with a packed schedule. Sarah also leaves us with some advice for those once-in-a-lifetime experiences: just go ahead and DO IT.
Wow. What a whirlwind these last six weeks have been! They went by incredibly fast, and were packed with experiences and adventures. I learned so much about Argentina and its culture and economy, and got to know the city of Buenos Aires better than if I were only a tourist. Here are a few takeaways from my time in the wonderful city of Buenos Aires.
1. It Might Be Hard, and That is Okay.
As I mentioned in my very first blog post, culture shock is real, and it happens in some shape or form to everyone. Although I’d experienced culture shock before when my family moved to Zambia when I was 12, it still took me a little while to adjust to living alone in a new culture, and to settle into my new lifestyle in Buenos Aires. My internship also turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated because of a lot of lack of organization and structure, and so it didn’t end up being exactly what I had thought it would be. Many of these internship difficulties had to do with adjusting to the work culture in Argentina, dealing with the culture shock of being in an environment in which we didn’t always get a lot done or know what was going on, and that was hard. But it made me more capable of handling situations that were unpredictable or last minute, and gave me valuable experience of working in another cultural setting. That doesn’t mean it was always fun or enjoyable, but I am thankful that I learned how to deal with those cultural differences (and just plain frustrations) and maturely discuss them with my supervisor. These skills are essential for someone (like me!) who wants to work with international people or in other countries, and so I’m thankful that I was able to be stretched in this way.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Explore On Your Own
Because I had such a packed schedule while I was studying abroad (I was taking 2 classes plus my internship), I didn’t have as much free time as other people did. I also didn’t have any roommates which meant I didn’t always have people to spontaneously do things with (although it was actually nice to have some quiet time and space to myself!). This meant that I did a lot of walking around and exploring by myself. I was living in the middle of a unique city that I may never get the chance to live in again, and had to take advantage of that, even if that meant exploring alone. I went to several places by myself (including Iguazú Falls, which I wrote about in another blog post) that were well worth it:
El Ateneo Gran Splendid (x3)
I know I already blogged about this, but I kept coming back, it was my favorite place! The last day I bought a book in Spanish by Louis Borges, a very famous Argentinian author, to remember my time here. Here is a picture from the café on stage.
Giant metal flower
This flower was in a park in Buenos Aires pretty close to where I stayed, and it took me until my last week to visit it. Very neat.
Museo de Bella Artes (Museum of Fine Arts)
Also very close to my homestay, I spontaneously decided to visit this museum one day, and am so glad I did!
Painting of the falls by Augusto Ballerini.
One of the oldest cafes in Buenos Aires, founded in 1858. I came here two days before I left.
Plaza de Mayo
I’d been here before, but I came the Thursday before I left to witness the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo protest for the 30,000 disappeared. They have gathered every Thursday since the military dictatorship in the 1970s-1980s.
Technically I came with some other people to see a ballet and contemporary performance in the famous Teatro Colón (Colón Theater), but my seats were separate because I got them so late, so it felt like I was adventuring alone. It was such a beautiful theater!
3. Take Advantage of Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunities
For example—I already did a trip to Iguazú Falls earlier in my time in Argentina. But, some people were taking the ferry to Montevideo, Uruguay for a day, and I really wanted to go but didn’t want to spend the money. I’d been trying not to spend too much on things like food, but convinced myself that because this was the only time I would probably ever have the chance to visit Uruguay, I should bite the bullet and just go ahead and buy a ferry ticket to Montevideo. And I’m so glad I did! While I am usually the last person to spend money, I realized that this was something decently affordable and I’d be able to check off another country from my list! I didn’t want to miss that opportunity, and, while it is great and important to be wise with your money (studying abroad is expensive!), I found that I needed to remember why I was there and spend money on the experiences I’d remember forever, rather than on things that wouldn’t last as long.
The coast of Montevideo.
Fountain of locks.
Church in Uruguay.
Montevideo street view.
Famous South American theater in Montevideo, Teatro Solis.
Well, that’s all for now guys! Thanks for joining me on this adventure of a lifetime!
Sarah Williamson is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2019, sharing her story on CAPA World. An International Relations major at Samford University, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this summer.
See more from Sarah's journey.