Kelsey Strand says good-bye to Argentina

My last week at The Belgrano Day school went by very fast and I am sad that my exchange has now come to an end. The exchange seemed more like a week than a month to me. I will miss all the wonderful people I’ve met, life in the city, the amazing food, and much more. It’s hard to leave a place like this when everything is just starting to feel normal and familiar. I do miss my family and animals in California, but I am very independent and tend not to get homesick.

During my last week I volunteered with a small group of girls from the school. We first put together bags and presents and then took them to a daycare for low-income families. I loved interacting with the kids who were around 4 and 5 and tried to practice my spanish with them. They were very appreciative and I enjoyed socializing with them.

Last Saturday the Senior 5 class (Junior class) threw a party for the middle school to help raise money for a graduation party at the end of the year. Martina (my host) and I spent the day creating signs and preparing food for the party. Parties in Argentina are held in salons, which are like large ball rooms. I had a good time learning and watching Argentine dances along with taking pictures for the school Facebook site. Life in Argentina is very social and Martina is always accompanied by her wonderful friends.

My favorite classes at The Belgrano Day school are Art, English, and Thinking Skills. In Art, I was given the opportunity to paint what I wanted and to be creative, which I enjoyed a lot. In English, I had fun teaching my friends certain words and helping them with their assignments. Thinking Skills is a very unique class where students debate, participate in lateral thinking, and also prepare for the Cambridge exams. In this class we discussed interesting topics like religion and sexism. I got to add to the conversation by sharing the differences in the US.

On Sunday we left to go to Martina’s country house again, which is located in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. At the country house the family always has an Asado (barbecue) with all types of delicious meat. After the Asado all we eat for several days after is the leftover meat. At the country house we played board games a lot. My favorite was a game called mexican dominos, which is a game based on luck and strategy.

On my last night Martina organized a dinner with around 15 of her friends. It was very nice to get to talk to everyone over dinner before I left. Dinner in Argentina is twice as long as dinner in the US and people sometimes talk for hours after eating. After dinner we went to her friend’s flat and took his dog for a walk around the city. In Buenos Aires few people have animals because it is hard to exercise them in the city. The ones who do hire professional dog walkers or paseaperros, who can be spotted walking through the streets, sometimes with up to 15 dogs.

The last day of school was bittersweet. I took lots of pictures and said my goodbyes. I was sad to leave because I was becoming close to many people and everything was starting to feel routine and normal. I got home yesterday and am already starting to miss Argentina, but I am keeping in touch with the friends I made. Going on exchange to Argentina has made me think in a more global way and allowed me to fully immerse myself in another culture. I feel lucky to have had this unforgettable experience and am looking forward to hosting Martina in February.