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What to Expect When You Study Abroad: Part 4
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 chaperone 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.
Enjoying Iguazu Falls!
The Study Abroad Experience: 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.
Iguazu Falls at Night
Journal Entry 7: April 29, 2009 “First Day Visiting Iguazu, Argentina” (Los Cataratas)
Day 2 of being in Iguazu. Today was our first day visiting the falls. The itinerary was to meet at 10:30 in the morning in order to catch the bus and make our way to the falls. We arrived around 11:15 and I was already amazed. The shear variety of vegetation found throughout the entrance of the park vastly out number that of any other park I have visited. We walk into the gates after a $60 peso non-resident fee, and there is a huge welcome center to the right and an amphitheater to the left. We keep walking to find a bunch of shops, as well as side vendors with handmade crafts. There is a restaurant and a “fast food” joint. Thought I do not believe any food is fast in all of Argentina. We at some pizza, drank some water, but what is next? Oh year, we bought tickets for the ….
This excursion cost $150 pesos, which is about $40 USD. But oh my goodness. I have never experienced anything quite like this. First, we started with an hour hike down the green path in order to get to the tour headquarters. We then boarded a 4x4 jeep that took us through a trail deep into the Jungle. We then hiked down 200m of stairs that lead us to the rapids. We proceeded to white water raft until we came upon still water, but just past the still water was a breathtaking view, where I almost cried. Off into the distance were dozens of waterfalls dumping massive amounts of water into the river, only to cause a disorienting mist. We then took a speed boat under a waterfall, the devil’s throat. The waterfall was small, but I was satisfied. Then we went under a much bigger one! Needless to say we were drenched when we got off the boat we had to climb the entire mountain we descended earlier. There were so many stairs! My feet hurt; I couldn’t breathe; my knee was giving out from underneath me. We finally got to “Dos Hermanas” which was two “dainty” looking waterfalls. Then we hiked back up some more, down the green trail, and ended up at the shops. This, we all know, is Ashley’s weakness. We finally arrived back at the hostel around 5:00 p.m. only to cool off in the pool, take a shower, and take the bus back out to the waterfalls. If you get your first ticket stamped from the first day at the falls, the second day is half price.
Normally, the falls are not open past 6:00 p.m., but during the time of the full moon there is a special with dinner and a moonlight tour. Of course, we had to take part in this event.
Waiting for the Iguazu Train for El Diablos
Journal Entry 8: April 30, 2009 “Iguazu, Argentina” (Half Price after the first day, or show your student visa to get a resident price)
Day three on the trip, second day, half price, in the park. Today was a trip to del Diablo waterfall. In order to get to this waterfall, you must walk to the first train station, then wait in line for the train to come. Well, it is Easter weekend. This means instead of the normal 2,000 visitors to the park, there were about 14,000 visitors. This makes for lines like for rides at Disney World. We got on the train only to be taken a short distance and then made to get off at the second station. Once at the second bus stop, we had to wait in a line for forty minutes. There were two trains headed up the trail for del Diablo before us. Once we got up there, we had to walk even further, about a NFL length field. But wow, the falls were spectacular, well minus the overload of people on one catwalk. We spent an hour pushing and shoving our way through the crowd in order to get pictures of us and the waterfalls.
Journal Entry 9: May 1, 2009 “Iguazu, Argentina: The Ride Back” (You’re a Criminal traveling from country to country in South America)
Day four of the trip: Ahh… the dreaded bus ride day. I cannot imagine who would actually enjoy an 18 hour bus ride. So we get to the bus, and start driving when we are stopped at a checkpoint. The Argentinian police then proceed to board our bus. They checked all of our passports, then put drug dogs on the bus to sniff our stuff. This happened again at another checkpoint. It kind of made me feel uncomfortable. I couldn’t imagine something like that between states in the United States.
But here we sit only a few hours into the drive. The toilet is so small a butt cannot fit on them. Food and drink so scarce you dehydrate. Room so scarce I do not know how I can even sleep on here. But the waterfalls were well worth the drive…