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What to Expect When You Study Abroad: Part 5

Updated on November 8, 2015

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.

Place Covered in the Journal

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.

Journal Entry 10: April 30, 2009 “Mendoza, Argentina: The Ride Back” (The Wine and Olive Oil of a lifetime)

Mendoza was a fun trip. It all started with another long bus ride. The bus left Retiro thirty (30) minutes late (7:00 p.m. instead of 6:30 p.m.). Of course I would expect this, considering the time in South America is completely different. In South America, you focus on relationships, and you are not constantly looking at a cell phone or watch to be at another place. This helps build relationships, but rarely keeps people on time. Once I’m on the bus, it is first class all the way. First class means the seats turn completely into beds or camas. It’s not that bad of a way to travel 18 hours. Once arrived in Mendoza, there is a matter of getting to the hostel. The hostel stayed at this time was Savigliano International located at Pedro B. Palacios 944, which was for a twin private with a shared bath. It came to around $12 USD for each traveler.

Gorgeous Andes Mountains

Journal Entry 11: May 1, 2009 “Drove all Night, to get to Mendoza” (18 hours on a Bus will drive you to be Stir Crazy)

I traveled all night on a big bus, just to wake up to more traveling. When traveling in a Spanish speaking country, one would expect to experience travel slang in Spanish. But no, I get to learn the greenest orient, IQ dropping slogan I have ever heard in my 20 years. So apparently, BT Dubs is the ‘cool’ way in which to say “heads up.” I am dumbfounded by how useless this slogan is.

Its dark out, we’ve been rocking and swaying for 11 hours straight now. The ride is about like a mustang with a bad suspension job on a dirty road with fresh divots. But the end result is well worth the uncomfortable situations riding on a bus will put you in. Coming up in a short 7 hours in Mendoza. This is the wine country of South America. I guess I only feel as if these bus trips are uncomfortable because I am used to the luxuries of the United States.

In the United States, bus travel is considered one of the lowest forms of traveling. I would just hop in my car and start travelling to wherever I want. However, had I not come on this trip, I don’t believe I would have ever cut the ‘cord’ from home. Before this trip, I would have never had the courage to pick up and leave the country for a few days because I had a holiday from school. I feel more comfortable in my skin now. I am less afraid to try new things.

I learned:

  • My family means the world to me.

  • I want to live in the USA.

  • I do not want to live in a big city.

  • Spanish is not my favorite language.

  • I love Wofford and South Carolina, even more.

Wine, Wine, WIne

Journal 12: May 2, 2009 “Mendoza: Hostel” (What the Hostel is like in such a beautiful wine country full of Malbec)

We arrive in Mendoza at exactly 10:30 a.m. We depart from the bus terminal via a pedestrian tunnel. We then quickly find out, if you turn left, the hostel is right there. Literally one minute from the terminal. We arrive to the safest and cleanest hostel I have stayed in as of yet.

In order to get into the hostel, you must be buzzed in. Then you have a key to get into your room and another key for your locker in your room.. This place is so worth $12 USD a night. We made the mistake of arriving on a national holiday, Worker’s Day ( I had no idea this was a holiday, but apparently it is similar to Labor Day in America). But we did find a wine tour that was open today. So here we sit, in our clean, private room waiting for our transportation to our first bodega (or winery) tour. I really hope there is wine tasting. I need a little vino after that long bus trip!

Journal 13: May 3, 2009 Vino (Wine) 101- An Introduction to Wine tasting and Malbec in Mendoza, Argentina

Wine Tasting (YUM)

Things to Notice:

  • Color

  • Smell

  • Taste


  1. Open bottle and let wine breathe for 45 minutes

  2. Swirl wine in glass to better oxygenize the wine

  3. Notice the color of the wine by holding up to the light or to white paper

  4. Smell the wine for different aromas (i.e. fruits, chocolate, vanilla)

  5. Taste the wine. Swirl around all taste buds. Enjoy!

Tip: Color is the way to tell if a wine is worth drinking. If it does not have a rich red, then do not drink the wine.

Tip: When swilrling the wine in a glass, drops will form above the wine level. The wine will:

  • Strong if drops form fast and drop slow

  • Soft: If the drops fall fast


Journal 13 (Continued):


Who knew olives could be strikingly interesting? Definitely not this writer. We arrive at PaSrai, with the expectation that this is the most random stop. But really, olive oil is pretty ‘cool’? They use large granite stones to mash the olive and pit into a paste. The paste is then put on metal wheels and put under a hydraulic compressor that squeezes all of the juice and water out of the paste. The dry paste is then sold to second rate companies that make poorer quality olive oil. Then the water and oil are separated and the oil is filtered. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it, because of the olive’s high vitamin E content, it makes spectacular hand lotion. Though I may still pick the olives off of my mozzarella pizza, I have a new respect for them.

FUN FACT!: It takes five kilos of olives to make one liter of olive oil!

Mendoza, Argentina

Wine Tour of Mendoza (Home of Malbec)


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