I’ve been in Argentina for over 1 month out of my 10-month-long foreign exchange program through Rotary International. It has been an exhausting, yet incredible experience so far. I have done my best this month to take advantage of all of the opportunities to get familiar with my new family, school, and city.
I’m living in Córdoba, CBA, Argentina, a city with about 1.6 million people, which is significantly larger than my hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A typical day for me consists of going to school from 8-3, with a few recess-like breaks throughout the day that I spend playing soccer with my classmates. Monday-Thursday after school, I make a snack at home and then bike to my 4:30 soccer practice. I get back to the house around 6:30, eat something to hold me over until dinner, and then enjoy the little moments with my host family. We don’t eat dinner until 9:30 or 10:00, and I am normally ready to head to bed after that.
I’ve been able to see a lot of other exchange students since being here. During my second weekend here, I went to Cuesta Blanca, Córdoba, for an orientation camp with all of the other 60 exchange students in Córdoba, and surrounding provinces. At the beginning of our exchange, Rotary gives all of the students a blazer. Students then make/buy pins that represent the country, province, or state that they are from. Throughout the year, the students all exchange these pins and put them on their blazers’ until they are full.
Similar to after all the college freshmen enter campus for the first time, a mystery illness seemed to have spread during this orientation. All the other exchange students I talked to had a cough and a sore throat for at least a week after the camp. Feeling under the weather, coupled with the struggles of spending every day speaking a new language, has made me feel exhausted all the time for the past 3 weeks
I came to Argentina with 5 years of high school Spanish experience, which was a great starting block, but every day is still a struggle to fully get my thoughts across. My high school did a good job of teaching us the basic rules of Spanish, but I have struggled with my severe vocabulary deficit. That being said, each day, my vocabulary expands, and I can understand just a little more than the day before. This has encouraged me to keep progressing toward my goal of fluency by the end of my gap year.
I’m looking forward to continuing my language journey and embarking on new adventures while I’m in Argentina. I just signed up for a trip through my program to go to Patagonia in November, so I’m excited to share updates from that trip in an upcoming blog!