Tommy Sullivan is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A broadcasting and Spanish major Western Kentucky University, he is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.
In this week's post, Tommy talks about what it feels like when the rain doesn't seem to stop and the culture shock sets in.
Studying abroad on a rainy day is not easy. To be honest, it’s not even fun.
When it rains, the bus is cramped with wet people. Because of the rain, the bus driver is late and therefore a little more reckless. Plus, the traffic is a little worse. Because of this, you feel a little more nauseous than usual after your ride. Plus, you’re probably running late yourself, as it’s common to feel lazy and melancholy on rainy study-abroad days.
Photo: After a full day of rain, no one is on the street, and my view becomes much more boring.
Since you’re running late, you probably forgot your rain jacket, and that means you’re going to be soaked for a few hours. The instant coffee you drank this rainy morning for the hundredth time likely tasted a little worse. The rain makes everything worse. Everyone around you looks a little bit more miserable than usual, speaking Spanish feels more like stumbling through mistake after mistake, and the songs on your favorite playlist don’t cheer you up. Your mood continues its spiral towards rock bottom.
Now, you have to find a bank, since the bankers union is going on strike the next day, and you only have 100 pesos in your pocket. Of course, you have to wash your clothes, which smell a little bit worse thanks to the rain, but the 100 pesos have to cover lunch. The same pair of wet socks must last you for two more days. Don’t forget the battery on your mobile phone now only works when it’s plugged in, making the phone significantly less mobile.
Everything is going wrong. The rain keeps you inside, so you turn to Instagram to cheer you up. Bad idea. It’s sunny at your home university. Your friends are posting pictures of the blooming plants, tanning in their hammocks, and preparing for finals in the grass. This reminds you they have three weeks until summer break, and you’re stuck on this continent for another two months. And you still need to study for midterms. You’re also reminded of all the (almost fun) rainy days at home, when you watched movies and drank hot chocolate with your friends.
Photo: The apartment feels darker and more narrow on rainy days, and the homework feels more tedious.
You try to remember everything you read about culture shock before you departed, so you decide to call your parents. Bad idea. It’s sunny at home. Your parents are sitting on the deck enjoying the best weather they’ve had all year, and they tell you all about how great last night’s lacrosse game was.
At this point, studying is all but impossible, because your will is all but broken.
Then, one good thing finally happens. You put on your sweatpants and sweatshirt, throw yourself under the covers in your bed (forgetting, just for a second, all of the back pain it’s caused you), and take the best nap in recent memory. After waking up, however, there’s still a mountain of homework and studying. The rain makes it hard to focus, hard to find the energy.
Worst of all, thinking about all of that keeps you up all night, so you don’t sleep. The next day, it rains again. This means you will repeat everything again— the wetness, the bus, the bad coffee, the homesickness, the lack of motivation—for the second day in a row. The only difference is you’re suddenly much more tired, which makes everything much worse.
Photo: Rainy days make me appreciate the beauty of Buenos Aires, especially the view from the parks.
While Buenos Aires is one of the sunniest places I’ve ever been, this fall has been rainier than expected. If every day in Buenos Aires were a rainy day, I’m not sure I would have stayed this long.
I think rainy days make the sunny days that much better, though. When my friends and I sat in a park and ate heavenly Chinese food during one of the nicest, sunniest days this fall, I thought back on all of my rainy days. I thought about the good grades I had earned on the exams I studied for during the rainy days. I thought about the all the wonderful experiences I’ve had so far. I thought about the sun. I realized then that I was never happier to be in Buenos Aires, studying abroad, rain and shine.
Tommy's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.