Thank you Argentina

Tomorrow I will be returning to the United States after five months of studying abroad in Argentina. After spending the last few weeks experiencing a whirlwind of emotions, I have come to realize most importantly how grateful I am for my time here. With that I said I would like to say thank you to what has become my home.

Thank you Argentina:

  • For the sunny days spent by rivers, in parks, and exploring the city
  • For new friends that have impacted my life in the best of ways
  • For challenging me to be independent and to grow
  • For sharing the history, struggles, and triumphs of this amazing country with me
  • For giving me a loving host mom
  • For helping me to face countless fears only to come out stronger
  • For giving me a greater appreciation for the world
  • For months of boxing class
  • For alfajores, dulce de leche, milanesa, mate, empanadas, wine, fernet, and bread, so much bread
  • For the chance to go skydiving in such a beautiful setting
  • For allowing me to fully appreciate the amazing relationship that I’m in
  • For grounding me and giving me a stronger connection to my faith and to Mother Earth
  • For helping open my mind to other cultures and lifestyles
  • For strengthening my Spanish
  • For the hour long waits for the bus and the balancing acts of bus rides
  • For vacations and exploring
  • For meeting strangers and listening to their unique stories
  • For strengthening my relationships with family and friends in the states
  • For making me realize what bugs are actually scary and what bugs are just friends
  • For every laugh, tear, and smile

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For everything that I’ve learned, experienced, and struggled through; I wouldn’t change a thing. Cordoba and Argentina will forever be a part of me; they will always be in my heart.

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So I went skydiving!

Yesterday, my best friend and I jumped out of a plane. In a truly spontaneous manor, we went skydiving!11391290_10204494217058169_2716091803339935862_n

Chelsey had been researching skydiving while here in Argentina for almost three months and finally we decided let’s go! Not wanting to spend the money, I was going to just tag along. But like always, sneaky Jesus had other plans for me! Realizing that I had the exact amount of U.S. dollars needed to go, along with various other odd signs, and after the encouragement from my boyfriend, mom, and uncle… I decided why not! After all, money is just money, but skydiving with your best friend in Argentina is well, priceless!

After taking a bus and walking a bit we found the airport, we were hours early so decided to tour Che’s house. Given that Che has traveled the world and is an adventurous activist, it only inspired us more to get into that plane. Upon our return to the airport, we essentially walked in, harnessed up, and headed into the sky! Considering that my dad had a plane when I was younger, the flying part was quite enjoyable and normal for me. However, when the instructor opened the door and stuck my feet out, it hit me; I was jumping out of the plane.

We free fell for over 25 seconds from about 2500mts. The entire free fall air was literally smothering me, at first I couldn’t catch my breath and once I did catch my breath all I could think is wow my cheeks are jiggling so much! I’m pretty sure I screamed the entire 25 seconds, the experience of free falling is indescribable. After the free fall, my instructor pulled the parachute and we spent what seemed like an hour but was closer to ten minutes floating through the sky. I could see the city of Cordoba, various other small towns, multiple lakes, and the beautiful Sierra mountains were lining the entire view. Out of all the places to jump, Alta Gracia was one of the most incredible.

My favorite part of it all was when the instructor let me control the parachute. Just by pulling on one side of the parachute you could send yourself on an endless spin! Eventually, we had to land, which pulling your legs up to be horizontal to the ground while wearing a skin tight harness is not exactly the easiest, but I managed and we landed with ease. Afterwards we watched our video with the guys and shared some laughs at how awkward Chelsey and I can be. Overall, the staff and instructors were some of the nicest people I have met. From driving us to and from town, to sharing their jello with us, I could have spent all day just hanging out at the airport with them!

I have to admit, when we drove up to the hanger and saw volunteer firefighters on the landing, I started to get a little nervous. I didn’t know skydiving was THAT dangerous! However, after our jump I noticed a plane with a large nose and asked what type of plane it was. The instructor told me it was for fighting fires and that there were dry conditions in the near by forests… Little did Chelsey and I know that the firefighters were actually putting out a fire… They weren’t there to save the Americans! We told the staff about our misunderstanding and they had a good laugh with us about it!

It is truly crazy to think that yesterday I was falling through the air, I keep watching the video of me and reliving it. Honestly, can’t help but smile when I think about yesterday, one of the funnest things I have done! And to think I got to share it with my best friend!

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Buenos Aires

I recently spent a week’s vacation in Buenos Aires. The trip started and ended with a 17 hour train ride and was filled with exploring, laughs, and good times. During our time in Buenos Aires, Anna and I hit up all the major tourist spots. We toured the Recoleta cemetery, the Teatro Colon, a boat museum in Puerto Madero, the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires, tried the infamous Cafe Tortoni, and took a rainy bus tour of Tigre. It was a week packed full of exploring a beautiful city.

We happened to be in Buenos Aires for the 25th of May, which in Argentina is essentially an independence day celebration. Because of this, the first three or four days we were there the entire Plaza de Mayo and area next to the Casa Rosada and Obelisco were blocked off and filled with street fairs, concerts, and other festivities. It reminded me of the state fair, but Argentine style. There were food trucks, vendors selling artisan crafts, food, and wine (which they were happy to let us try and may have resulted in accidental afternoon tipsiness). There were concerts going on all weekend and on the night of the 25th the president spoke and there were fireworks, it was quite the experience! It was also quite the crowd, never in my life have I been in such a swarm of people. Thousands of people bused into the city for the event, many carrying political and activist signs. Overall it was a once in a life time experience and it was quite jammy (lucky in British) that we happened to be there for the festivities!

While in Buenos Aires, we also attended a tango lesson and show. It took place in an old redone warehouse and at first it was quite awkward seeing that I am not a natural born dancer! However, by the end of the night I was tangoing like a local, I even threw in a few kicks here and there! Towards the end of the night a live band came on, the environment was something I’ve never experienced.

There were also countless funny moments during our vacation. Such as going to the San Telmo street fair that is infamous and praised in all guide books, only to be completely unimpressed. Little did we know that after turning a corner the fair went on for what seemed like miles and indeed lived up to expectations! Overall we had a week of learning to go with the flow, take public transportation (which I love!), and enjoy ourselves. And last but not least we made some wonderful friends that without them, our week wouldn’t have been as memorable as it was!

Vacations such as this one remind me how lucky and grateful I am to be in such an incredible country!

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Fall in Argentina

A lot has happened since my last update! Most importantly though, it’s cold here! Given that I now think that 50 degrees is freezing… It is officially fall in Argentina! In the past few weeks I’ve traveled to Catamarca and Jesus Maria, received packages from home, and have continued to explore Cordoba.

Catamarca was a twelve hour bus ride northwest; near the coast of Chile. Over the weekend, we went hiking, sand boarding, toured churches, ate a lot, and soaked in some hot springs. The most interesting experience was sand boarding. It is exactly what it sounds like: taking a snowboard or sled down a sand dune. By the end of the weekend I was filled with Argentine food and sand and ready for a good nights rest; the clear sign of a great trip!

Today we traveled to Jesus Maria which is a small town outside of Cordoba. Here we toured a ranch, a family run salami factory, and a farm/vineyard. We also had a multiple course lunch… And by multiple course I mean an appetizer, multiple courses of pasta, and dessert. Being out in the smaller, more picturesque parts of Argentina really helps me to appreciate the beautiful country that I am blessed enough to be living in.

For class this past Wednesday (yes, I do actually have classes) we visited the Museo de la Memoria. This museum illustrates the effects of the Dirty War in Argentina, mostly documenting the torture and the disappeared people. I have been aware of the dark times in Latin American history for some time now. With that said, I am still continuously in shock at how horrific some details are. What is even more horrific to me is the lack of knowledge about such events. Our nation casts a shadow over such events due to our involvement in them. With my experience abroad I hope to bring more awareness to such events and I encourage others to question me about Latin American history and culture when I return.

On a brighter note, I am truly enjoying my time abroad and am excited for my final two months! Time seems to be passing at an increasingly faster rate, yet I cannot wait to come home and share my experiences and create new memories with all my family and friends in the states!

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The Importance of People

I’ve been living in Argentina for over two months now and have had my fair share of struggles. The reality is that studying abroad isn’t just the fun photos that are posted on Facebook. From anxiety, to being home sick, to financial struggles; studying abroad is a difficult journey. However, at the end of the day I’ve learned that focusing on the people both here and in the states makes all of these struggles disappear.

The places I see, the things I buy, and the stuff that I do will all fade away with time; but the friends that I’m making here will last forever. I honestly feel blessed to have the opportunity to learn and share this experience with such an amazing group of people. The twenty some other students here with me are some of the most inspiring, courageous, intelligent people that I have ever met. I’ve had countless conversations and experiences with my fellow Yankees that have made me realize that this is why I’m here. These people are what make studying abroad worth all of the struggles.

I’ve also been lucky enough to grow closer with my friends and family back in the states. Being abroad has forced me to strengthen my communication with them in ways that I wouldn’t have if I stayed home. It has also helped me to truly appreciate and love those back home.

I am truly grateful for this study abroad experience, it has helped me grow in so many ways and I still have three months to go. My appreciate for life and the people in it has grown immensely. Truth is, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably have some significance in my life and I would like to simply say, thank you. Thank you for valuing me and allowing me to be part of your life. Finally, I hope that people take away from my experiences abroad the importance of people in life.

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God bless my amazing Yankee family that I’ve made here, couldn’t love this perfectly weird mix of people more!

42 days later…

I’ve been in Cordoba for over a month now and a lot has changed! My Spanish is improving immensely, I’m building great friendships, and slowly but surely adjusting to the culture. Since my last blog  post a lot has happened. My intensive Spanish class ended and normal classes started this past Monday, I took a day trip to Carlos Paz, I unfortunately had my purse stolen, and I’ve explored the city a lot more.

Cordoba and those I meet here continue to surprise me with their generosity and compassion. The lifestyle here is quite different and I am beginning to compare and contrast Argentina with the states. So far I feel that there are things that both countries could benefit from. What I appreciate most about life here is that people take time for others. Everything is slowed down and experiences are shared, which always you to truly appreciate those in your life.

With that said, I have also had some very real moments of missing home. Being away has helped me to appreciate things that most of us take for granted: air conditioning, a car, access to cheezits and peanut butter. Most importantly though, being away from my family and friends has been difficult, but has also helped my love for them to grow. At the end of the day, I continue to tell myself that this is where I am supposed to be.

(Photo Credit: Ryan Goos)

(Photo Credit: Ryan Goos)

Cheers to being weird and exploring this beautiful country!

50 Shades of Wine

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Over Valentine’s Day weekend, myself and eight others took an overnight bus to Mendoza. We spent four days exploring the city that lies near Chile. We had wine, we enjoyed the sun, slept in hostels, met wonderful people, and had more wine. We also spent an entire day at the Cacheuta hot springs. Located in the foothills of the Andes mountains, Cacheuta is a beautiful and relaxing places. Some of the group ventured out to hike, while others rested and explored the city. On our last day, the group went on a bike wine tour that I’m sure none of them will forget anytime soon. Unfortunately I was cooped up in the hostel sick.

Mendoza is a beautiful city with countless plazas and vendors of handicrafts. The nightlife is easy to navigate and people are more than welcoming. I will say, there were a few times that the stares of locals would become annoying. But then again, if I saw nine sun burnt Yankees walking down the street, I’d probably stare as well! With that said, it was a weekend filled with new friends, fun, navigating Argentina, and wine. Lots of wine.

(Photo Credit: Aaron Sackett)

(Photo Credit: Aaron Sackett)

I can’t believe I’m already 1/10 done with this incredible journey.

Cheers!

Is this real life?

Yesterday was my host mom’s birthday. She didn’t plan a party, but she made a cake and told us that people would come. And they did. Around 6pm, neighbors, family, and friends starting filing through the door. Tere’s son made countless homemade pizzas that were incredibly delicious. (Mary, green olives are a very popular topping!) Everyone was so wonderful and welcoming to us and tried their best to speak with us. At one point there was three cakes, it was down pouring, and someone took out a guitar (and made a capo out of rubber bands and a pencil!). Around 11pm everyone started singing and eating and laughing, it was wonderful… Until I remembered my first day of class was in the morning. After another hour, I couldn’t keep myself up and fell asleep to the beautiful music (and the monsoon happening outside, rain is the snow of Cordoba).

In such a small place, so many people and memories were made. I asked myself countless times, is this real life? Is this really happening? It was after all a Monday… But, that’s the beauty of Latin America and Cordoba in particular; there’s always time for family, friends, and food.

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Que lindo.

The Journey Begins

My day began with a 3:00am alarm, a 5:30am flight to Miami; now I am enjoying a six hour layover in Miami. After spending the past week saying my goodbyes, I finally feel ready to live abroad (as ready as you can be). With that said, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me reach this point. From the staff at Saint Mary’s University, to my family, friends, and mother; I would not be here without your love and support.

I am excited to say that I have a wonderful host mom and will be living with another girl my age from the states. My home is within walking distance of my school and many other amenities. Once I get settled in I hope to find a local church to attend and also find a cause to invest some volunteer hours in. Until then, I have a full week of orientation, testing, tours, and people to meet ahead of me!

This experience will bring many changes to both my life and the life of those around me. There are obvious changes such as learning a new culture and language, but there are also more subtle changes such as learning to adapt and be confident in my abilities. These subtle changes are what I am most excited to experience and what I believe make us the beautiful beings that we are.

As scary as it is to enter a completely unknown situation head first, I am glad that I have pushed myself to do so. If you have yet to experience life in such a way, I encourage you to start. Book a flight, volunteer for a new cause, eat at a new restaurant; do something out of the ordinary and add a little crazy to your life. After all, what would life be without a little crazy?

¡Buena onda y Dios te bendiga!

¡Córdoba, ya voy!

In 63 days I will begin my journey to Argentina.


The more I experience in life, the more I become consumed with wanderlust. I am more than excited to live abroad and experience a culture so different from mine. For those of you who don’t know much about Córdoba, it is the second largest city in Argentina. Argentina is known for asados (barbecues), fútbol, mate (traditional tea drink), and the tango. They are rich in culture, the arts, and have a strong European heritage that separates them from other Latin American countries.

This will be my first major travel experience on my own and I am eager to grow and become more independent while abroad. Most importantly, I hope to, in the words of Daniel J. Boorstin, be a traveler and not a tourist.

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While abroad I also hope to become fluent in Spanish. Although I have spent years studying Spanish, I have never been fully immersed in the language and I am bracing myself for the language barrier and culture shock that I know will be part of my journey. Even though I find myself at times anxiously anticipating the journey to come, I can’t help but look forward to all of the highs and lows it will bring.

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¡Gracias y Dios te bendiga!