By Alesi Hayes and Karoline Dittmer
Our experience in Rosario, Argentina has been a wonderful, eye-opening one, and, as the last blog post of this trip, we would like to take the time to reflect on our experiences, expectations, and general life here. Many of us are ready to head home to the United States and see our family, friends, and of course, pets. At the same time, it is hard to rationalize that there is less than a month left in this amazing country and the time seems to fly by. So many of us have places we want to go, sights we want to see, and souvenirs we want to buy before we leave, and the time left to do these things shrinks every day. However, some people will be spending more time in South America than others. A small group has planned to travel through Chile and Brazil for around two weeks after classes get done at UCEL, while another group is planning to spend the last four days in Buenos Aires before flying back to the United States.
On the bus to Rosario, we were all excited, yet nervous, to meet our host families for the first time. We all expected certain things out of our experiences based on our reflection class and what we had heard about Argentinians and their culture. Moving into our host families houses was a bit stressful for some people in our group. We didn’t know what to expect, what they expected from us, or how to act so we didn’t offend them. As everyone became more comfortable with our families, we became less nervous and more talkative with them. The connections we have made with our families will hopefully last through the years. When we arrived, we were also nervous about city life. Most of our group has lived in small towns or small cities, and never really had experience living in a city the size of Rosario. We learned our routes to school, found our favorite restaurants, and learned how to get to other places that we went to frequently. Most of us are less nervous about the city, baring traffic because dogging the cars, busses, and mopeds can be terrifying. We believed that making friends our own age here would be easier than it turned out to be. We had heard that Argentines would be very friendly, but most people tended to have their own friends here and had their own schedules already. Once we started to make those connections, however, we began to make more and more friends and through those friends, we made more friends. We also made connections with other people from the U.S. who had come for a month to study. The group as a whole has greatly improved their Spanish abilities and overall confidence. The expectations we had differed from what we found in Argentina, but we still had a wonderful time learning Spanish and making lifelong connections.
As we get closer to our return to the United States, everyone has been making plans for the rest of the summer. Most of those plans revolve around food, friends, and family. A couple of people on this trip have already made requests about what food they want and made plans about the restaurants they want to go to. So many of us are more than ready to see our families again and shower our pets in the love we have been saving for the past four months. People are also missing life at Simpson, such as the activities, our friends and roommates, professors, and the rhythm of life at our beloved college.
As excited as we all are to go home and be with our families, the experiences and lessons we learned in Argentina will stick with all of us for the rest of our lives. We have learned to be more accepting of other cultures and ideas that may differ from our own. At the same time, we have learned to think critically about our own country and culture in ways most of us never really have before. Coming from small towns, we have learned how to maneuver in a city and survive. Some of us, after traveling to Argentina, have learned that we want to continue to travel the world throughout our lives when the opportunity arises.
We are excited to go home in general, but many of us are not ready to leave this experience. We have made friends we don’t want to leave behind, but we are optimistic that we will get to see them again. All in all, everyone has had unique experiences here and we have made the time we had in Argentina our own. We will all return, not only with an improved ability in Spanish, but also with a more open mind and a new way of thinking.