Time Abroad: Fall 2007
Major: Spanish and Studio Art
I chose my study abroad program in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a multitude of reasons. As a Spanish and Studio Art double major I was looking for a place where I would be able to pursue both of my interests mutually. Having already utilized my lengthy winter break for travel in Cuba, Costa Rica and Spain, my options on relatively stable, Spanish-speaking countries were limited. I had heard a lot about the cultural re-birth in Argentina after the debilitating economic crash of 2001 and the prospect of an internship in the art field seemed like an invaluable experience. Little did I know it would be the single most memorable experience of my trip.
About a month into my stay, still shaky on my verb conjugations and perfecting my local accent, I began working for a small magazine geared towards promoting hip cultural on goings towards the young, bilingual, urban population of the Buenos Aires. The first day was disheartening and overwhelming, as the only thing I could wrap my head around was how bad my Spanish was. In the beginning I felt out of place amongst the locals cracking jokes, completing simple tasks effortlessly, and gossiping about their enviable social lives.
We held a promotional event for the release of the new issue shortly after I began at the magazine. I was sent with an argentine co-worker to the art gallery, which would be our venue, in order to talk about plans for the party with the gallery owner. I stood next to her most of the time, interjecting once in a while just to let them know I understood what was going on and approved, but my confidence was not yet at the level where I could assert my opinion gracefully. That night, however, I was introduced to a multitude of fascinating people not only from the city, but expatriates, Latin Americans, Australians, and Europeans whose variety of interests and ambitions blew my mind. Through these new friends, I was opened up to the wealth of opportunity and intrigued by the vast ways in which it can be applied that I had either passed by at home or had not been driven enough to explore. Traveling broadened my perspective and opened the boundaries of my reality.
Every day, from then on, I considered as a chance to gather and amass information. Through the working environment my Spanish closed in on fluency and I was able to talk politics, poetry, philosophy, and music with my new, dynamic group of friends. I developed a passion for argentine literature, and even gained a new appreciation for "rock nacional" or Argentine rock. The culture shock upon return to the US has taken a while to navigate, yet I am beginning to view my days at DU in the same light that I encountered in Argentina: as open books yearning to be devoured by the perpetually developing human spirit.