LINDSAY LEE/THE HOYA
LINDSAY LEE/THE HOYA

I am unashamed to say that I have fallen victim to an issue of repetition. The more I have been telling people about my experience abroad, the more I have found myself beginning to truly believe it, while sometimes forgetting the deeper reality.

As a response to the frequently asked question, “Why did you choose to study abroad in Buenos Aires?” I typically pull out my prepared and eloquent answer: I was drawn to Argentina’s recent history and wanted to experience first-hand the effect it had on the day-to-day culture. In reality, it was much simpler than that: I wanted to be somewhere Spanish-speaking, had already been to Spain and had heard great things about the Buenos Aires program. My decision was made.

I cannot pretend to have had any sort of bold or complicated reasoning behind my decision to study here, nor can I return from this semester claiming to have experienced any major paradigm shifts or life-changing moments. Instead, I have rediscovered my patience for campus life, and I have come away with better-formed ideas about certain world issues. I interpret my experiences here as just one part of another side to a multifaceted story.

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LINDSAY LEE/THE HOYA

Since my arrival in July, I have learned a great deal about Argentine culture, which has its own peculiarities despite being a surprising amalgamation of its Latin American location, European historical influence and extensive consumption of American popular culture. It has been interesting to see all these factors at play in such a densely populated city.

I have loved my homestay and classes for the opportunity to speak with the chatty natives about politics, their ineffable economic history, gender roles and a myriad of other topics. My dinner conversations with my host mother, Maruja, a vivacious and wonderful 74-year-old woman, have become some of the best parts of my day.

When I received my acceptance letter from the Office of International Programs, I began fantasizing about the millions of chances and experiences that were now open to me. I have grabbed at those opportunities as much as I have been able to while still maintaining the semblance of being a student. I backpacked through the Argentine and Chilean sides of Patagonia for nine days, took corny photos at the Salt Flats in Jujuy, did a bike tour through the famous wineries of Mendoza and dove into a lake of freezing glacier water, among other adventures.

LINDSAY LEE/THE HOYA
LINDSAY LEE/THE HOYA

However, I would have to say that one of the most important things I gained from my time abroad was some mental breathing room from the Georgetown environment. Even the most devoted lover of Georgetown needs a little dose of “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I had gotten so bogged down in the hustle and bustle of campus life that I never took the time to appreciate it, and my time abroad has given me some much-needed perspective and the desire to be busy again.

That being said, I doubt that my semester here will greatly change the way I live my life on the Hilltop on a day-to-day basis. I have become accustomed to eating dinner at 9:30 p.m. and returning home on weekend nights at 5 a.m. or later. But, when I come back to campus I will still wolf down a 10-minute dinner at 6 p.m. before running off to class.

I am now used to the politically charged environment of the University of Buenos Aires, with walls that are so plastered with posters urging students to come to a rally that you can’t see the original wall and students walking into the middle of classes to hand out flyers and to passionately discuss issues. But I will definitely still get annoyed with the door-knockers during GUSA season.

Although I enjoy sharing a maté with friends, I cannot wait to get back to my coffee cup-to-go habits.

I can’t pretend that a part of me hadn’t hoped to return from my international semester with a deeper understanding of myself and a new worldview of sorts. However, my semester in Argentina has given me a taste of life without those things which I had taken for granted, which are enjoyable in their own way, and I intend to approach the coming semester with an open mind and an appreciation for Georgetown’s differences.

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LINDSAY LEE/THE HOYA

My remarkable time in Buenos Aires and experiences in the places I travelled to during my time here will stick with me, and I will be forever recounting stories from these five months ad nauseam. When we all flood the Hilltop on Jan. 7 and begin sharing stories from our semesters exploring the world, I will strive to never consider my own experience “less than” those of others. I do not think semesters abroad are in any way comparable or that everyone should take his or her own experiences at face value.

As much as I loved my semester abroad in Buenos Aires and will be devastated to leave South America, I am excited for all that Georgetown has to offer me in my final three semesters. I have been lucky enough to have travelled a significant amount during my short lifetime and to have studied abroad last summer as well, and I intend to continue travelling and living abroad to learn as many sides of the story as I possibly can. My semester in Buenos Aires has helped me immensely toward that goal, but this an exploration that is definitely still in the undertaking.

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