The most amazing thing happened today. I was walking home from having coffee at a friend’s house and then it hit me: I was walking home.
I have lived here in Buenos Aires for 10 weeks now and it has been the most exhilarating adventure of my life. I am learning so much each and every day, making new friends and trying new things. But it has not been all rainbows and roses. I have been stretched and pushed out of my comfort zone countless times. I have had several breakdowns over seemingly little things as the stress of living abroad has accumulated. As the excitement of living abroad has slowly worn away, I have wondered if it would be worth it. The same doubts have played through my mind more than once: maybe I should have just come for the summer; maybe I should have gone somewhere else; I’m probably never going to be able to speak Spanish fluently. My friends were going back to school for the fall without me and I was running out of new touristy things to do in this new city of mine.
But tonight, as I walked home on streets that I now know by heart from the home of a local friend after a night of great conversation and true friendship, I realize that I wouldn’t change this experience for the world.
I had had a long, full day and was ready to go home and relax. But when I imagined home, I no longer craved familiar house in the United States, but rather my fourth floor apartment with my host mom and her amazing lentil stew. Buenos Aires truly has become my home. I can no longer imagine a life without dulce de leche, a fascinating and extremely active political culture, and ten o’clock dinners. I have a favorite café, a host mom who I adore, and amazing friends from the United States, Argentina, and all over the world. As I walked home tonight, instead of wondering if I should have only stayed for the summer, my thoughts transferred to whether I should have stayed for a year. I only have 10 more weeks left in this beautiful new home of mine and somehow that doesn’t seem to be nearly enough.
There is something inexplicably wonderful and extraordinary about feeling at home in a new country with a completely different culture and I know that this is an experience that I could never have achieved in a short vacation or 4 week program. There are frustrations and disappointments that come with living abroad. To quote one of my frustrated rants from a few weeks ago, “everything is just so much harder when you’re abroad.” But the much more important truth is that everything is so much more rewarding. I can’t wait to see what I have in store for the rest of my time here in Buenos Aires and I am already making plans to return to this home of mine as soon as possible.
This post was contributed by Megan Rodgers, who is spending her fall semester studying abroad with AIFS in Buenos Aires, Argentina.