To say that study abroad is an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. Before I arrived in Mendoza, several people had told me when you study abroad you have some of your highest highs and lowest lows. After spending a semester here, I could not agree more! As my time draws to an end, it seems that my emotions are even more apparent as I reflect on my the past few months, finish my finals, enjoy my last memories here, and think about my return to the states.
I have been feeling very APPRECIATIVE lately. It’s crazy how many people I have had to lean on. I would not have been able to do this without many of them. I am fortunate to have always known I have had the support of so many back home, but what I have come to realize in the past few weeks is how much support I have had here also. There are so many people here helping me it amazes me I didn’t know any of them existed a year ago! I couldn’t have survived without the other US students (which I don’t think I could have survived without their company!). I also was extremely blessed with my wonderful argentine family. It cannot be easy letting a complete stranger live in your house for ½ a year, but they treated the situation with ease and made me feel like a member of their family. Even during the moments that when our language barrier and my lack of understanding was apparent, everything always worked out fine. My host mom left on a vacation last weekend and won’t be returning home until after I leave. It felt surreal to be saying goodbye and at times I don’t think it has really sunk in that I won’t see her before I leave. Before she left, I gave the family a thank-you gift and they gave me a gorgeous ring from her jewelry store. That was the first time the thought of leaving had really sunk in and I have to admit I was holding back a few tears.
My time here has been absolutely wonderful, but it hasn’t always been a breeze especially these past few weeks. There have been a several moments of extreme FRUSTRATION!!!! A few weeks ago, I was the sickest I have been since I have gotten here. (As in, the only thing I wanted to do and could do for one day was stay in bed 😦 ) Luckily it came and went within a few days, but there was nothing fun about it. Being sick is always miserable and there’s nothing you want more than your own house and own bed. Although this place has definitely come to be my home, I was longing for and wishing I was at home in between trying extremely hard to beat my sickness without having to go to the doctor! (Although health services are free and apparently not too bad, I had no desire to test them out if I didn’t desperately need to.) Thankfully with a few days of rest and care from my host family I recovered and am now 100% better! It was however very frustrating for me to be sick, unable to do anything, and unsure of how much of the rest of my time here I would feel like this. But as I said, it came and went quickly and I am glad to say didn’t slow me down for too long!
Another frustrating thing has been getting used to the format and style of exams and disorganization of the schools here. A lot of your final grade is based on your final test/exam/presentation of the class. It has been NERVEWRACKING to think that so much depends on one thing. Trying to finish up hasn’t been easy dealing with the disorganization of the school system either. I cannot begin to tell you how many times we have continued to ask for clarification for information and only to be told different, contrasting answers every time. The most difficult situation ended up being when the day we found out we were supposed to take our Tango final was apparently a day that class was canceled (why I couldn’t tell you…. but that’s not too uncommon here.) Of course we also couldn’t get in contact with the prof but after spending a lot more time then I would have preferred trying to sort it out we luckily got it taken care of.
With that being said, I am RELIEVED! The only thing I have left to do for my exams is take the second part of my tango final tomorrow (which consists of the actual dancing portion….). Then I am officially done with all things school related! Crazy to think its wrapping up, but I survived! I could never have survived without the help from professors and other students (seriously, the argentines were so willing to help if need be, it was wonderful and so kind!)
I also have ANXIOUS feelings increasingly on my mind as I near closer to home. Although I have been loving my experiences here, I have to admit I do miss home especially family and friends. There are some parts of home I cannot wait to have back in my life! Yet, it still feels surreal that I will be back in the states in a few short days. I’m not sure what it will be like to be back after having been away for such a long time. Living here is definitely very different and I don’t know if it will be easy to jump back to life at home or it will take some adjusting to… but none-the-less knowing that I will be on to other adventures shortly (even if they may not seem as exciting or big as here) leaves me feeling anxious and ready to see where I’m headed next.
I am also feeling a bit HEAVY-HEARTED along with everything else! We had opportunities to volunteer while studying here. Worried about adding a huge time commitment to my schedule, I opted to learn how to knit a blanket for a baby in need. I finished just in time to donate it today! (The last few rows were finished last night…yeah I cut it a little close…) We ended up taking the blankets to an orphanage. Although we didn’t get to physically give the blankets to the babies we were able to chat a little while with some of the people who run the orphanage and met a few of the younger kids who were there. I was so glad to have donated a blanket to help but my heart also broke meeting the kids. One girl, Belen, wanted a blanket so badly yet unfortunately they were too small for her as they were made for babies. In that moment if I could have I would have done anything to make it bigger for her to keep. Fortunately, our coordinator promised her when she brought the rest of the blankets, she would bring one big enough for her. She was very into hugs, interested in what we were doing, and loved to ask questions. I really wish we could have stayed longer and spend more time with her. Although the blanket wasn’t much, I am glad to have helped even if only in a tiny way and I may have developed a new side hobby of knitting!
As we near the end, of course I am starting to get SENTIMENTAL. Goodbyes are always hard and it’s weird to be saying goodbye to people and places that I have known to call home for the past few months while not knowing if I will ever have the opportunity to return or not. (But I surely do hope so!!) We have our final program goodbye dinner tomorrow night that I am sure will be filled with fond memories. It also however is kinda scary as it makes going home even more real. It will definitely not be easy leaving this country I have known to love. As I have spent a lot of time over the past few days reflecting, I am so pleased to say I am leaving with many, many fond memories.