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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Marissa sees similarities between Dallas and Buenos Aires

Several days into this program, I realized that the image I had had of Argentina was very different from the reality. With no prior knowledge of the country or even of the continent, I had unconsciously visualized pedestrian cobblestone roads lined with short, squat buildings, strings of globe lights flung artfully around café patios, candle-lit tables, and brightly colored skirts twirling crazily on the dance floor of a milonga. The skirts in particular were the image that popped into my head whenever I thought of this trip, and since doing as the Romans do is always wise, I packed a previously unworn knee-length white skirt with bright daubs of orange and purple.
When we left the airport, I realized that Buenos Aires is very similar to Dallas, at least in appearance. After a week, I became more familiar with the similarities and differences between the two cities. Buenos Aires is more similar to Dallas than I expected, but a lot of characteristics of the city make it rougher, for lack of a better word. Bags of garbage lines the streets, tiles on the sidewalks are cracked, loose, or missing completely, political graffiti and posters cover every exploitable surface there is. The feeling that struck me most strongly about Buenos Aires was that the entire city is crumbling. Other phrases that come to mind are that the city is “rough around the edges” or “coming apart at the seams.”

At our pre-travel orientation, we were warned of culture shock and how it can darken a study abroad experience. I realized that in Buenos Aires, I was experiencing the opposite of culture shock: the city was simply far more similar to Dallas than I was expecting. There lots of people and lots of tall buildings. It is always very crowded. I have to commute forty-five minutes to school each day, and in order to get just about anywhere from my apartment, I have to plan a complicated route of trains and busses, something which the car-less on campus in Dallas are familiar with. I know now that I should have expected Buenos Aires to be a large, crowded, dirty city, but in a way, having my expectations dashed to bits was kind of fun—It made every day more of an adventure.

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