Elizabeth Withers is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A double major in English literature and history & philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.
In her last post, Elizabeth reflects on her favorite places in Buenos Aires and what she learned during her semester abroad.
My time abroad has finally come to an end, and after a 20-odd hour plane ride and a few days at home unpacking, getting my job back, and reconnecting with family and friends, I’ve had some time to adjust to life in Pittsburgh. Leaving and coming back always makes me see my hometown, and the US in general, through a slightly different lens. This time, I noticed how plain and sparse the skyscrapers downtown seemed compared with the architecture of Buenos Aires. Riding through the city on my way home from the airport, I passed by some of the various restaurants, bars, and boats I’d worked long hours in over the past few years, and began to reflect on yet another way the study abroad experience has influenced me: my career goals.
Photo: Buenos Aires from the airplane window. I’ll miss you!
I’ll be a senior in college this year, majoring in English Literature and Philosophy, and although I believe I’ve developed a good sense of what my skills and interests are, I have to admit I’ve never had a specific career in mind. I’ve worked in schools and nonprofits, and have always hoped that after graduation I’ll be able to find a job working for some kind of social justice issue-- education or the environment or something like that. In Pittsburgh I’ve been lucky enough to work with caring, compassionate people making a difference in their communities through small non-profits, and I’ve learned a little of both the possibilities and limitations of that kind of work. So before I left for Buenos Aires, I had a vague, narrow sense of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.
Photo: I think my favorite place in Buenos Aires will always be La Boca.
In Buenos Aires, I was lucky enough to meet passionate, dedicated people from all over the world-- people who spoke multiple languages and had traveled extensively and had plans to work for the UN or in Human Rights Law or International Relations. I realized two things. Firstly, that there’s a wide range of careers that I’m interested in, and secondly, that while my experience working with small, local and community organizations has prepared me at least a little for the kind of work I’d like to do, if I work hard and continue learning I may have a chance at a career that could make a positive impact on a larger scale. I also learned that I really like traveling and learning the history, politics, and culture of other places in the world, and that I hope to have a career that would allow me to continue traveling internationally.
Photo: I probably shouldn’t end a blog about Buenos Aires without mentioning soccer at least once--so here’s a photo of the world-famous La Boca stadium.
So all in all, I’ve left Buenos Aires excited about the future. I’d recommend studying abroad to anyone, but especially to people, like me, who haven’t traveled much and aren’t sure what career options are out there beyond the town they were raised in. I now plan to add a History Minor and continue learning Spanish in the fall, and am thinking about graduate schools or applying for the Peace Corps. While before I had only a vague sense of what I wanted to do after graduation, I now have a much clearer picture of what I’d like to do.
And so, I’d like to thank the CAPA Program, Universidad Austral, my host family, and the entire city of Buenos Aires for an incredible, humbling, eye-opening experience. I know that the lessons I’ve learned and the ways that I’ve grown in these past 4 months have influenced me greatly, and will continue to influence me for the rest of my life.
Elizabeth's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned!