Claire Shrader is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Pre-Occupational Therapy major at Mississippi College, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.
In her first post, Claire shares why Buenos Aires has a special place in her heart and her anticipation to study abroad there.
This past week has been so full. From the many goodbyes, packing my suitcase, figuring out the logistics of traveling from my home in Jackson, MS, to Buenos Aires, to trying to soak in all of my last moments at home for four months, there haven't been many moments to sit and ponder what I'm embarking on, much less to take in the wonder and excitement.
From a despedida with some friends just before I left!
But here I sit, with just a couple hours left until my plane takes off for Buenos Aires, and excitement is kicking in. The Spanish I hear spoken around me is tinged with the Argentine accent I so love. It's really becoming real.
I had the immense privilege of getting to go to Buenos Aires twice in high school. Both times I traveled with a large group from my church, and the first time the group included my mom and brothers. So while this 10-hour flight to the country I love so much isn't new to me, taking it solita (alone) is. So many moments from my first trip are coming back to me as I sit here.
As we emerged from the airplane after an exhausting 12 hours of travel, we were met by a short, portly airport official who would become for me the face of Argentina. He planted a firm kiss on each of our cheeks and embraced us tightly. "Bienvenidos a la Argentina!" He all but shouted at us as he led my family and I through the airport renovations and down a ramp. He cheerfully chattered the whole time in Spanish, while we listened closely and tried to pull apart the words he strung together so effortlessly. The day passed by in a blur, but those moments with him would stand out in my mind for years, and endeared Argentina to me just as your grandpa is endeared to you.
While there, I stayed with an Argentine family and found a passionate, caring, incredible community in Buenos Aires. I couldn't wait to be back—and I did go back, the next summer. When I left from that trip five years ago, I didn't even say goodbye, because I knew I'd find myself there again. I began dreaming up a way I could spend even longer in Buenos Aires.
When I first visited my school, Mississippi College, I told the director of Modern Languages that I was interested in being a Spanish major, and knew I wanted to study abroad in Argentina. There wasn't already a program set into place to go to Buenos Aires, but when she assured me there wouldn't be a problem making it happen, I believed her. The very next year she was in Buenos Aires at La Universidad Austral making it happen.
It still feels surreal that this is actually happening, that I'm actually sitting here. I'm looking forward to being reunited with the wonderful community I already have. I'm excited to get to create a new community, too. When I was there in high school, my Spanish was so limited. I started studying with a feverish passion after that first trip, and though my language skills had improved some when I went back, my Spanish was still very much dependent on Google Translate. Now that I've had two and a half years as a Spanish major, I know it's going to be so much easier to communicate (though not without hilarious mistakes; stay tuned for stories to come). I'm so excited for that. I'm excited for my internship and for getting to experience LIFE in Argentina and get a taste of what it's like for students there. There's too many things to be excited for to put into words.
Thanks for following along as I start my adventure!! I'm thankful for you!
Claire's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.