Adjusting to my new environment

February 26, 2017

“El arte de la vida es una readaptación constante para nuestros alrededores.”

“ The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” Kakuzo Okakaura

     Before I departed for this journey to South America, one of the modern language fellows at Susquehanna University informed me about all of the feelings I should expect to have once I arrive, with crying and sentiments of sadness being one of them. This week has been filled with rollercoaster of emotions, from longing to being in the comfort of my home in the states to contentment upon seeing the beauty of Alta Gracia in the province of Córdoba during a weekend excursion. I went through at least three days in the second phase of culture shock, the hostile phase. Last weekend, my host mom took my roommate and I to a nearby Wal-Mart (YES! They have one here and it looks just like the one back in the states!) in order to buy some necessities. When I went to the check-out line, I was expecting to pay with my debit card because I had shopped for more things than I had expected and I didn’t think I had brought enough money with me. (It’s not a good idea to carry all of your money with you when you’re out anywhere.) I had to show the cashier my passport in order to purchase my things with a debit card and surprinsingly, they wouldn’t accept my photocopy. (They wanted to see the actual copy.) So, in order to pay the cashier with the amount of money I had, I put some things back. My host mom was also nice enough to help me pay for the expenses. But, as I stood there in the line, tears started swelling in my eyes. Why was this so difficult and frustrating? The directors from the Spanish program had told me to ALWAYS have a photocopy of my passport instead of the actual one when I’m out and about in the city! From that day forward until about one day ago, the homesickness began to sink in deeply. I made of list of the things I miss the most about being home:

1.      My family and friends back in the states

·         Family movie nights are a tradition in the Craig household. I don’t have a television in my room so I’m limited to watching movies on my laptop computer. Whenever I’m watching a movie by myself, I tend to think about how my family and I used to grab our snacks and sit around the television to enjoy a good movie. Watching films solo isn’t terrible, but it’s more enjoyable if you’re watching it with someone else.

·         I’ve always had a timid personality and it takes time for me to really develop friendly relationships with other people because I want to see what they’re all about. Since I’ve been here in Argentina, I have to do that all over again. I left so many friends back in the states, and some of them, I didn’t even get to say good-bye to. The only friendly connection that I feel like I’ve made here in Argentina is with my roommate Maggie. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have a nice roommate like her. She is from Rochester Hills, Michigan and is currently a junior at Albion College. Interestingly enough , our majors are quite similar. We’re both specializing in Spanish and International Studies/Relations. But, her other major is political science, which is very impressive! I’ve always had a single room back in college so I was a bit skeptical when I found out I would have a roommate in Argentina. But, we began to click more as we got to know each other better. Now, we go everywhere together! Hopefully, when the semester here officially starts, (March 20), I will make a couple more Argentine friends as well! We meet our Spanish speaking partners this week too so I’m looking forward to that a lot!


 2.      Eating when I want to

·         I only eat three meals a day here, a very small breakfast, (normally consisting of tea, fruit and cookies) lunch and a big dinner. So far, my favorite dish has been “asado” which is a popular meal consisting of different types of barbequed meats. The amount of time between lunch and dinner is a struggle because I normally eat lunch here at around 12:00 pm and dinner isn’t until 9:00 pm! Back at home, I’m always hungry after school so I tend to grab a quick snack before starting my homework. Here, it’s difficult to do that because I think it would be disrespectful to open up the refrigerator which isn’t technically mine.

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3.      Peanut butter and icecream

·         I absolutely love peanut butter and I used to eat it all the time back in the states with basically everything. (My cream of rice in the mornings, apples, french toast, you name it haha) They have peanut butter here but my host family says the texture isn’t the same. However, my roommate and I are still determined to buy it sometime because she loves peanut butter just as much as I do! During the summer times at home, I would always look forward to having my dairy free icecream for dessert. In Argentina, dairy free icecream is non-existent. Since I’m lactose intolerant, eating the regular icecream here would be doing my stomach harm. But, the temptation to eat regular iceream is real since there’s an icecream shop (Grido Helado) in about every corner of the city. I haven’t given in to the urge to eat the icecream here yet and there’s still about one more month of summer to go, so I’ll let you all know how I do;)



4.      Doing my own laundry

·         Of course, it’s very beneficial to have my host mother doing my laundry for me, but I really miss doing it on my own. My family does not have a dryer so it takes even longer for my clothes to completely dry. I like having my own system of putting my clothes in the washer (using my own detergent) and then putting it directly in the dryer, where the clothes are ready within at least an hour.

     Amid the rollercoaster of emotions that I experienced this past week, I have learned that one of the most important things to do in order to make the most out of an enjoyable study abroad experience such as this, is adjusting and accepting cultural differences with a positive outlook. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience and it would be wrong to deny the fact that setbacks, dissapointments and feelings of missing home will arise. Yesterday, my roommate and I, along with another friend from our program, took an hour long bus ride to Alta Gracia in the province of Córdoba. As I looked out the window of the bus, I couldn’t help but to smile and think about all of my learning experiences thus far. I feel as though I have grown so much already from this trip and it’s only been three weeks. I’m so much more independent and I’m able to navegate myself around the city pretty well.

When my friends and I were walking around Alta Gracia yesterday, I felt so tranquil and content. We made it to our destination safe and sound despite all of the confusion that we encountered at the bus terminal before our departure. (It was a huge terminal and my roommate and I spent at least half an hour looking for Abbie, the other student in the program) Ever since I was a little girl, this has been the adventure that I have always longed for. So, why should I fret and complain about the different cultural lifestyle that I live here in Argentina? This is a major road in my life’s journey, and I’m learning to enjoy every moment of it.

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