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What to Expect When You Study Abroad: Part 2

Updated on November 1, 2015

The Study Abroad Experience

The study abroad experience can be the best or worst experience that you will ever experience in your life. There will be nothing like this experience. Most of you will be around 19-21 years old with a fresh passport. You may or may not have traveled internationally before, but more than likely, that international travel consisted of a chaperon of some sort. The study abroad experience is completely different. There will be tears, smiles, and a bunch of homesickness. But you will make friends for a lifetime, travel partners, language skills, and a new found respect for the world.

This blog will consist of a few entries in each blog post, all in chronological order.

These journal entries occurred for the Spring 2009 semester with IES: Buenos Aires. I studied through Wofford College. Tip to studying abroad: Make sure your credits are all transferable! Luckily, Wofford College accepted all of the credits through my program that I had chosen, IES.

The Title Page to a Study Abroad Journal

Study Abroad: Keeping A Journal March 1, 2009 to June 27, 2009

My journal follows my travels from March 1, 2009 to June 27, 2009. This may seem years ago, but emotions never change when you leave the country as a wide-eyed 20 year old in a country where you don’t speak the language.

Places I visited in this Journal:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Iguazu Fall (Puerto Iguazu), Argentina
  • Mendoza, Argentina
  • Tigre, Argentina
  • Colonia, Uruguay
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Valparaiso, Chile
  • Vina del Mar, Chile
  • Bariloche, Argentina

These journal entries occurred for the Spring 2009 semester with IES: Buenos Aires. I studied through Wofford College. Tip to studying abroad: Make sure your credits are all transferable! Luckily, Wofford College accepted all of the credits through my program that I had chosen, IES.

When Walmart is a bust, DRINK!

The Walmart Story Page

Journal Entry 3: March 26, 2009 “The Walmart Story” (Walmart in Buenos Aires)

OK. So the answer to the age old question is YES! There is a Walmart in good ‘ole Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ok, besides that question, Walmart is an interesting place to brave when you do not speak the language. Getting a cab there was not too difficult, once I wrote down where I wanted to go, because my horrific Southern accent masked anything which could be deciphered as a good Spanish word. Got dropped off 30 minutes later and 40 pesos later.

I walk into Walmart. Of course, it is a Super Walmart. In order to get into the store there are first metal detectors, then there are the metal counters like you have to go through to get into an amusement park. There is not much of a selection of clothing there. The clothing sizes make me feel huge. I have to wear a size 42 for a shirt. But this is one of the only places in the city that you can find plus size clothing. It is crazy. Walmart has a full food court including a grill (parilla) full of steak, a McDonald’s, and a Chinese like restaurant. Walmart can be compared to Ikea in America. They have the Pharmacia separate from the Walmart. Every piece of clothing has ink blotter protection tags on them. I assume that the economy was so bad here, people have to be safe guarded from theft of everything.

I went to a Polo Match March 28, 2009 as well. It was a really cool experience. Most people get dressed up to the nines and have big floppy hats. They sip champagne, and gossip until the match is over. This is very reminiscing of British culture and polo matches. It was a ‘jolly’ ‘ole time.

Wine is a Must if you are to Survive Home Stays Studying Abroad

First Home Stay near Recoletta Cemetery

Avenue del Libertador 1100
Avenue del Libertador 1100

Theater, Immigration, and a New Life in Buenos Aires

Journal Entry 4: March 30, 2009 “Things that do go wrong” (Things that can go wrong when you study abroad)

Wow, whoever said the study abroad experience was amazing has never had Murphy’s Law working against them! So far this has gone wrong:

  1. Major rainstorm in Charlotte, North Carolina caused me to have to change my flight time. I am glad I did, an unexpected rain storm turned into a snow storm in March, which is completely improbable of the Carolinas in March.
  2. I got ripped off by the cab driver when I firs arrived in Buenos Aires. When you get a cab, make sure they start the meter, or negotiate a base price from the airport to your final destination. This will keep you from paying hundreds of pesos that was completely unnecessary.
  3. I did not have a cell phone that worked abroad yet, and I did not even know how to use a pay phone. It was almost impossible to let my family know I had landed safely in South America.
  4. I did not make friends until the second week of school. I pride myself to be an extrovert, but you will be surprised how quickly you can become an introvert when you don’t know a language and you encounter a ton of people from different colleges from different parts of the nation and of the world. It will throw you for a loop for a while.
  5. My home stay, at least my first one, was absolutely insane. In fact, it was so bad I had to switch my home stay within a month. This meant, uprooting my life, packing up all of my stuff and finding a new place to take me in (perhaps you will find out more about that eventually in this journal). Long story short, make sure you are very precise on your home stay requests. When you stay with a single mother, with two teenagers 17 and 16, who have been known to have behavioral issues, the mother will always side with the children. If you need one on one experiences stay with families or individuals. I found a great older woman who needed the extra income, company, and was eager to teach me Spanish and how to cook. Home stays can be the worst or best experience possible. Try everything to make them the best. If you do not like your home stay, contact your program and insist on making this home stay the best experience.
  6. Oh, and watch out for anything in your airplane seat that could possibly rip your pants. I had a piece of a headphone poking out from the headphone jack and it ripped my pants at the beginning of my flight to Buenos Aires. Always pack an extra outfit or two with you on your carry on. It is essential to surviving. Always JUST IN CASE!

….. There are so many other small anecdotes that I cannot name them all. But I did switch home stays. My new address is now Carlos Pelligrini 603 5 I. I live with a woman by the name of Marta. She is a widow of three years. She has four kids, one girl and three boys. Two boys are in the band “Los Pinguos” and one boy is in Phoenix as a photographer. The girl is a geologist who lives in California.

I feel a lot more comfortable in this household. When I look out to the left of my balcony, I see the Obelisk. A few years ago on the aids day, it was covered by a huge condom. Trust me it’s on Google. Argentinians can be very humorous.

Home Stays in Buenos Aires, Argentina

A
Avenue del Libertador 1100:
Av. del Libertador 1100, B1744AAZ Moreno, Buenos Aires, Argentina

get directions

This was my first Home Stay, but I was determined for a better Home Stay!

B
Carlos Pelligrini 603:
Av. Carlos Pellegrini 603, Quilmes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

get directions

This was my second Home Stay. The best experience I had with all the people I encountered!

IES Buenos Aires: Is it Okay?

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