After arriving home from Buenos Aires, Ben reflects on his first 24 hours in Argentina. Check out his blog post for some helpful tips on getting settled in during the early days of your time abroad!
Studying abroad is on many students’ bucket lists, whether it be for a summer term, full semester, or longer. Once a student gets through the pre-departure process, which can be long and difficult (but very worth it), it may seem like a heavy load has been lifted from their shoulders. The next stressor on a student’s mind may be the arrival process and the first 24 hours and days in their destination. While I can only speak to my time in Buenos Aires, I think that many of these concepts can apply to most study abroad experiences. Regardless of location, this process is pretty much the same.
Before I say what I think about the flight and arrival to your destination, I want to touch on the idea of packing. Don’t be the person who overpacks, especially if you plan on shopping while you’re abroad. Check the CAPA packing guidelines - they are useful and accurate. Also, be sure to check the weather for the time that you are abroad. I did a summer term Buenos Aires. Summer in the States is not summer in Buenos Aires. This seems obvious, but make sure you know what the weather will be like. Next, please do not stress about the flight or your time in the airport. Airports are confusing all over the world, but most have signs in English and if you ask an employee, they will help you get where you need to be. Once you land, getting to your accommodation is relatively easy. I would recommend taking Uber (or other ride sharing apps) or local taxi services. No one wants to ride the public transport systems with all their belongings, especially after a flight. CAPA will help you contact your host family (if that’s the accommodation you have chosen) and they will graciously let you into their home and help you settle in. I chose to arrive a few days early and stay at a hotel near my host family’s home because I thought that it would help me to learn the neighborhood and settle into Buenos Aires before I began classes and my internship. Regardless of your thoughts on arriving early, you will find your location (it is easier than you think, even if you don’t know the language). My final piece of advice is to scope out the area of Google Maps just to familiarize yourself with the surroundings and public transport.
Check our your area on maps first. You can see that I had close proximity to the metro and a couple of parks. This information can help you learn the area faster!
Settling into the City:
Being thrust into a new city is daunting, but the experiences are unforgettable and conducive to personal growth. One of the main reasons that I arrived early was simply to walk around my neighborhood, learn how the city works, and use my Spanish before the actual start of my program. For the first few days, it may be difficult for you to feel at home; think back to when you first moved to school. You will find, however, that the resources are there for you. Your host family will be there for you; they will give you tips on navigating the city. The CAPA staff will also be there to help you. Finally, your classmates will be there for you too! You will spend time with them in classes, and chances are, you will make a group of friends to explore the city together. While it may take a few days, do not panic if you feel lost after a day or two. Others may be feeling the same way, but you will settle in within just a couple of days.
Take a moment to go to a local coffee shop and order something you haven’t seen in the States. This will help you relax and calm down when things seem hectic, and you can try something new!
The First 24 Hours:
In the first 24 hours, I recommend staying relaxed. Take your time when you get to your accommodation, unpack your stuff and make yourself at home (think back to decorating and organizing your dorm room), and relax -- remember, you just travelled a long distance, it’s ok to be tired. Your host family will not expect you to be ready to socialize right away, they will leave you alone to gather your thoughts and organize your room. In the hours and days after the first 24 hours, you will see yourself slowly acclimating to your new surroundings, and before you know it, you will feel at home there.
Unpack your stuff and settle in before you try to take on too much! While time may be limited, don’t rush. I recommend doing this right away, and trust me, your host family will understand. Once this is out of the way, and you’ve rested after your travel, you can begin to explore the city and culture!
1- Plan ahead: check the weather, scope out the area in Google Maps, and reach out to your host family.
2- If you can, try to arrive just a couple of days early. This can help you adjust to the language and avoid being overwhelmed as you move in with your host family.
3- Expect to be uncomfortable, but don’t let it persist. You are in a new place, it will be strange at first.
4- Do not overpack. It’s easier said than done, but can save you a lot of hassle.
5- Don’t sweat the little things. You are there to learn and grow, not to stress about every little detail. It all works out in the end.
Ben Gunduz is an alumnus of the summer 2019 CAPA Buenos Aires program, where he shared his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. He is currently an International Business major at Northeastern University.