This past week we traveled 18 hours by bus to visit Iguazu Falls. Besides teaching me a lesson in patience on the bus, I cannot put into words the beauty of the waterfalls. The grandeur of such a massive natural wonder puts into perspective how big the world really is. And yet, I don’t feel small at all! I have become way more aware of the power I have to change the world and more aware of who I want am. These past two weeks we have been studying Argentinean history especially with respect to human rights and the abuses that occurred during the Dirty War from 1976—1983. I am now keenly aware of the role I play in preventing a crime against humanity by asking questions, seeking the truth, and never relying solely on others for my information. Truly that is what this trip has been about for me; though there is much to be learned through books and listening to others, being here and seeing the place and knowing the people teaches me in an entirely different way that is personal and thoroughly true because I have seen it for myself. I am also glad to share this trip with others who can share their perspectives with me! As a pre-health student, I can’t help but think about human rights and the standards of health in a developing country. Though this is a thought still evolving, I believe that though certain advances in medicine may be a luxury, health is a human right. That includes physical, psychological, and social health and furthermore indicates that a health student could be studying anything from the practices of a shaman in an indigenous settlement hundreds of years old to the economic and political stability that promote social ties and culture.
On a personal note, I have become much more independent because of navigating the subte and buses on my own and just by virtue of being across the world! Sometimes I’ll look out the window and think, wow! I´m really here in the middle of another continent. All of the fantastical dreams that seem unrealistic or ideological must be in reach if these places that I could only imagine stretch before my eyes for as far as I can see.
It´s a make or break decision because if I don´t use the map to find a bus or take a chance on playing field hockey with Argentineans practicing in the park or trying ziplining in the forest, no one else will do it for me! I am completely in charge of my life and now is the time to be aware of where I am, what I want to do, and who I want to be. Exploring the city and taking advantage of being in Buenos Aires is part of defining myself.
- McDermott Scholars
- 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.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
So here's a rundown on what's happened here in Argentina so far:
After arrival and orientation, when I first got to look around the city, I was confronted by the sheer familiarity of it. McDonalds billboards, gas stations, name brand shopping and other reminders of home were everywhere. Buenos Aires is just the same as any major American city, like Dallas, except that it is mostly in Spanish.
We jumped right into classes, and lots of them. I spend most of the day at school Monday through Thursday, which can make it difficult to visit the city's attractions as it is winter here and gets dark a bit after 18:00. This country has had a lot of history in a very short amount of time, as Dra. Demello has made clear.
My host family is great. The mother is a biologist, and the son a stereotypical 13 year old boy. They are very welcoming and the food is delicious, although the lack of spice is killing me. The upstairs neighbor is a chemistry professor who spent many years in the United States and Australia, and his English skills help make overcoming the language barrier easier.
The language is something worth mentioning. Español Rioplatense is what it is called, and it consists of a terrible accent, re-purposing a few letters, and using a different word (and conjugation) for "you" than the rest of the Spanish speaking world.
Overall, it's a lot of fun, and there's so much to learn that the month I am here is nowhere near long enough. According to some other exchange students I have met, 6 months doesn't quite cut it either.
Photos are: host family, the way to do burger king right, and an artistic photo of an Argentine flag waving in the breeze.