Saying goodbye to Argentina was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. The amount of love and happiness I feel towards this country along with all of my new friends cannot be put into words. The final hug I shared with my exchange host in the airport brought tears to my eyes and I couldn’t bring myself to let her go. Martina hadn’t only been an exchange host to me, but also a best friend. I will forever cherish every experience I shared with her while on exchange.
I could honestly talk all day about how amazing my exchange was and how each and every friend I made was absolutely amazing in their own unique way. Argentinian culture embraces loud voices, hugs, lots of energy, big gestures, and a general feeling of being very out there and proud of it. If you know me, you know that these characteristics perfectly describe me. Everyone welcomed me with open arms and was super accepting of my horrible Spanish and loud personality. I couldn’t be more grateful
I am going to miss the food. Argentina has this kind of national caramel called dulce de leche, and I ate it in ridiculous amounts each day. Everything is centered around meat, which I couldn’t be happier about. Dinner was super late, around 10 pm each night, but that just left more time in between for snacking on traditional Argentinian snacks like yummy ham and cheese croissants, alfajores, and milanesa. I am hoping Martina brings me some of this food when she comes to California for her exchange!
One of the most memorable nights of my exchange was a birthday party. People in Argentina are all so open and willing to talk to you, and I made so many friends that night that I didn’t have classes with in school. The students here always want to get to know the exchanges and learn about their lives back at home, and this night gave me the perfect opportunity to talk about just that. Dancing with my friends was so fun. In Argentina a lot of people own a type of shoe that resembles wedges and they’re super tall. I chose to wear them just to see the hype that surrounds them. Honestly, I loved dancing in these super tall shoes, even though I know I looked like an idiot. It was a night I won’t forget.
School itself was great. Belgrano Day School is super invested in exchange students and let me choose my entire schedule based on my interests. I got a chance to speak about Athenian to a class of 4th graders, and the number of questions they asked about Athenian and America in general was amazing. It was so fun to work with them and talk about how they should go on exchange in the future.
I am currently writing this blog entry on my plane ride home and I am going to cut it short here on account of how emotional I am getting. I am already planning on visiting my friends here on either my Thanksgiving or winter break. Argentina took me out of my comfort zone and I made so many life-long friends here. I am so excited for Martina to come to California and thinking about these next five and a half months without her pains me. I am so grateful for this experience and Argentina will always hold a special place in my heart.
Saying goodbye to Argentina was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. The amount of love and happiness I feel towards this country along with all of my new friends in it cannot be put into words. The final hug I shared with my exchange host in the airport brought tears to my eyes and I couldn’t bring myself to let her go. Martina hadn’t only been an exchange host to me, but also a best friend. I will forever cherish every experience I shared with her while on exchange.
Simona Shur Arrives in Argentina
I have been in Argentina for two weeks already, attending Belgrano Day School, and time is just flying by me! My host, Martina, and her family have been incredibly kind and welcoming. I have had the opportunity to make some amazing new friends, as well as explore the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. Although I am forging a second home here for myself, there are some distinct differences between Buenos Aires and the bubble that is the Bay Area.
The school itself is pretty different from Athenian. Belgrano Day School has a very strict dress code and students are not allowed to wear anything other than the uniform they are given. Almost every single class is an hour-and-a-half long, making it like a long period at Athenian, and each school day has ten class periods. The difference is that a long period here is made up of two short periods, so in reality the ten-period long day is just five long classes. In between each class, there are 15-20 minute breaks. Students choose an orientation at the beginning of the school year, either humanities, sciences, or linguistics. If you take humanities for example, you never have to take a science class because that does not come in your orientation. The only classes every single student has to take outside of their orientation are math and Argentinian law.
For me, the culture shock was fairly mild, but it did present itself when I first arrived. First off, the driving. People do whatever they want out on the roads and no one ever stops for pedestrians on the street. I have to walk into the middle of the street in traffic in order to announce to drivers that I have to get across. It is dangerous, but I’ve managed to get used to it.
Second, the most challenging thing, is the language barrier. The first week was the hardest. I took an advanced level of Spanish before heading out on exchange and I thought this would sufficiently prepare me for Argentina. I was (sort of) wrong. They speak very fast here and pronounce a lot of letters differently than the Spanish that I was taught. Also, the teenagers use a lot of slang. At first, this barrier freaked me out and I did not step out of my comfort zone in fear that my Spanish would be inferior. Once I overcame my fear of not knowing the language, I realized that I understand more than I thought I did. I have made great friends here and have used a limited amount of the Spanish that I was taught. I am so thankful that my friends here are willing to speak English, while I try on occasion to speak in my horrible Spanish.
I have grown to love the two kisses on the cheek you are greeted with every time you see a friend or an acquaintance–or even someone you don’t know! It creates a welcoming environment. Everyone here wants to be your friend and asks about America and wants to get to know you. The food here is AMAZING and very centered on meat. Trying a new Argentinian meal every day is honestly so thrilling.
I have only been here two weeks, and yet I am already dreading the day I will have to leave my friends behind and head back home. The school I am attending has presented me with a very welcoming environment and I have made friends I am sure that I will keep in touch with long after I leave.
Argentina has made me step out of my comfort zone, and I have learned so many little things about myself since I got here. The friends I have made, the food I have tried, the places I’ve been, and the whole experience of living in Argentina has been an overwhelmingly amazing experience so far. I can’t wait to see what the next month will be like