It has been about two and a half months since I returned from Buenos Aires, Argentina. That’s crazy to think about because, although it sounds so short, that’s half of the amount of time I spent in Argentina.
This is in the Patagonia Mountains of Argentina. Never before this had I had nature truly bring tears to my eyes. It was amazing to feel so small amidst such a beautiful scene.
There’s a word in Portuguese, saudade, that means to have a “melancholy nostalgia for something that perhaps has not even happened… that this thing you feel nostalgic for will never happen again”* and that’s how I feel about looking back on my time in Buenos Aires!
Studying abroad put so much perspective into my life in so many ways. Here are a few that stand out looking back on a semester of living in the southern hemisphere:
- Time: I think I am finally to the age when I realize how quickly time flies by me. I cannot believe that I don’t live in Argentina anymore (and that I had been calling it home for five months!) but I also feel so lucky that it was a part of my life nonetheless. This was truly the experience of a lifetime and it continues to live on in photographs, through conversations with my host family and Argentine friends, and in my heart (as corny as that sounds).
- Family: I lived with a host family in Argentina and I think it took all of 10 minutes to realize that family isn’t necessarily the group of people you’re born into, they can be all sorts of people. I have my “real family” but I also have my “familia argentina” that I will always be able to go home to, under any circumstance.
- Culture: there is so much to the world I didn’t know existed! I doubt much can surprise me at this point- no longer will I flinch when somebody leans in to give me a “beso” on the cheek, nor will I be surprised if somebody wants about two feet in between us when we talk (the first being very Argentine and the second being very American). I am much more comfortable and understanding of how cultures shape people.
- The world: it’s hard to leave studying abroad and think the world is revolving around you or your home country. Although I didn’t go into study abroad thinking I had that mindset, I realized how hard it is to not think of the world in terms of your home. Now I have a much broader perspective and try to put myself into other countries’ points of views when reading the news or learning about a situation.
Studying abroad is priceless. There is nothing else like it in the world: having the opportunity to pick up life and start over for five months with the guarantee of going back home to a place mostly like how you left it. I cannot encourage you to go abroad enough and hope you’ll take the leap into the unknown!
*Definition of saudade thanks to NPR.org.