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La Vida Porteña: A Reflection from Abroad

December 09, 2016
by Dominique Cornacchia

"Hola, como andas?" "Bien, y vos?" "Todo tranqui, gracias."

About four months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what half of those words meant. Since then, I’ve greeted my new friends and family with these words almost every day. Despite having studied Spanish for six years and visiting other Spanish-speaking countries, I could have never known what it would be like to live in Buenos Aires without actually experiencing it. Argentina has such a unique and rich culture, and living here has been an amazing experience.

 The powerful waters of Iguazu Falls

I frequented outdoor markets, I visited one of the biggest natural waterfalls in the world, and I climbed the mountains of Salta and Patagonia. I learned how to dance the tango and even how to make Argentine asado and homemade empanadas. I lived with new cultural values, customs of everyday life, and I even spoke some lunfardo.
 Some canoes on the coast of the Tigre Delta

One of my favorite things to do was go to a nearby bar to attend mate club. Mate club is a place for people from Argentina and and other countries to come together to drink mate, eat tostadas with dulce de leche, and talk with each other. This club is conducted half in Spanish and half in English, so it’s a great way to improve your language skills no matter what level you begin with. It was also my favorite way to meet new people and make friends.
 Puente de la Mujer, a footbridge on the docks of Puerto Madero

Whether it is a deep conversation about politics or a casual salutation, I think the social interactions with real Porteños are what I will miss most about living in Buenos Aires. Being able to adapt and learn from other people is such a valuable skill to have and living abroad has given me more confidence in my communication skills and my independence. It has also opened my eyes to new possibilities for the future.
 Another one of my favorite things: a dozen gorgeous and delicious empanadas from la empanaderia (less than $10)

Even though I’ll be heading home soon, I know that I will always carry a part of Argentina with me. To anyone preparing to study abroad, my only piece of advice is this: make it your own. You won’t know everything about one place in the world no matter the amount of research you do or blogs you read. Even the advice from your friend who just got back from their “life-changing” experience abroad won’t be able to guide you on this international excursion. Everyone is going to have their own experience traveling abroad, so the best thing to do is arrive with no expectations whatsoever. This will allow you to live abroad without the fear that you're not visiting the right places, or taking cool enough pictures, or meeting the right people.

All you have to do is be present, be open, be yourself, and, believe me, you’ll do just fine!

Dominique C. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is currently a junior studying Broadcast Media Production at Champlain College.

Dominique Cornacchia is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is currently studying at Champlain College.
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