Thanks for the memories

Posted by on July 24, 2013

For the first time in 162 days, I have plugged my laptop into an electrical outlet without needing an adapter, spoken Spanish while being surrounded by primarily English-speakers rather than the reverse, and seen the sky north of the Equator. Yes, I am back in the United States and have already been swarmed by the family I love and have only seen via Skype since February 11th. It’s so surreal, and I’m sure that I’ll still be processing this abrupt change in the weeks to come!

My return date came upon me in a flash, without my even realizing it, and during my last two days in Córdoba, I made some really hurried goodbyes to the people in Argentina who had become some of my best friends. I want to mention them here, because my experience abroad would not have been the same without them!

Tim

I joined my dance partner of four months in the Plaza de la Intendencia at 8:00 p.m. in the freezing cold to share one last salsa and one last bachata. I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks, due to finals and my independent trip to Peru and Chile, but we fell into our rhythm with relative ease. It was like reliving a memory, the way that his hands found mine and we twirled in both carefully-learned and spontaneous movements. I found my eyes closing and my muscles relaxing, in spite of the cold. Until we both decided that the cold was too much to tolerate and we wandered into a restaurant in Barrio Güemes to enjoy empanadas and wine.

It was actually a difficult goodbye for me, as I admitted to Tim that it would’ve been easier for me to “forget” to get back in touch and not go through the official farewell process. Imagine the happiness in my heart when he told me that he was glad I had decided to see him one more time!

Tim, you have been an amazing friend and companion through it all: from our dance sessions to hiking Los Gigantes to sharing a coffee during brief breaks in our busy schedules. I hope that you revel in your biking trip in Bolivia and find a new place to dance when you move back to Germany! Nos vemos, seriously.

Oscar and Ingvil

Monday morning, I met my wonderful speaking partner and his girlfriend at the Starbucks at Avenida Colón and the cañada, where we swapped stories from the past few weeks and shared our dreams for the future. Oscar is in the process of applying for a visa to live in Norway, where Ingvil is from, and thanks to him, I might just catch the travel bug again and try my hand at an internship in Brazil (conveniently in time for the World Cup, of course)! It was one of those moments when nothing profound needed to said but we all earnestly meant it when we offered our homes to each other and hoped to find each other again one day, whether in Argentina, Peru, Norway, or my home in South Carolina.

Oscar, thanks for putting up with such a dramatic yanqui this semester and treating me to some amazing nights out (and for lifting me up when heels failed me!). Ingvil, thanks for sharing some dates and delicious pancakes with me. Take care, both of you!

Ally

Although so many of my blog posts have featured my adventures with Sasha, Ally is definitely a true friend and kindred spirit that I encountered on my trip to Córdoba. She was the first to welcome me back from Peru and Chile, as we dined on delicious empanadas at restaurant La Vieja Esquina (The Old Corner), and my last hug after she made the journey with me in taxi to the airport. I will never forget all the beautiful memories we made together: sharing inside jokes and “practicing Spanish” during class, the infamous sneeze, performing at English night with a great mix of people, eating ice cream or facturas and coffee and talking about boys. I’m especially grateful for her ability to read my emotions in any moment and knowing exactly the right thing to do or say; I’ll never forget the way she pulled me aside to pray together right before I left.

Ally, thank you for everything, for being an amazing friend and sister in Christ. I’m so inspired by your optimism, dedication, and this faith journey that you’ve begun since we met. Please stay in touch and stay open to sharing your thoughts and ideas, even when others are afraid to do the same. My door is open anytime. Love you!

I have a few other friends to thank, as well:

Sasha, for all of our wonderful adventures and being a steadfast friend all semester.

Megan, Jenna, Lala, Cherokee, and Anthony, for going beyond the role of classmates and making my experience in PECLA much more enjoyable.

Jessica y mis compañeros de Traducción Periodística, por cuidarme y guiarme por todo el curso y nunca tratarme como extranjera aparte de averiguar aspectos culturas y idiomáticas conmigo en clase (Jessica and my classmates from News Translation, for taking care of me and guiding me throughout the course and never treating me like a foreigner aside from verifying cultural and lingual aspects with me in class).

Cynthia, Mariano, Gaby, José y todo mi equipo de los dos laboratorios, por enseñarme e invitarme a compartir una experiencia relinda a través de mi practicanato (Cynthia, Mariano, Gaby, José, and my team from both laboratories, for teaching me and inviting me to share a really beautiful experience throughout my internship).

Ignacio, Natalia y todos L@s Tanguer@s, por ser muy buenos compañeros en nuestros esfuerzos de aprender el tango (Ignacio, Natalia, and all of “The Tango Dancers”, for being great companions in our efforts to learn the tango).

Pablo y Sandy, por enseñarme salsa y bachata y Guillermo, por enseñarme el tango (Pablo and Sandy, for teaching me salsa and bachata, and Guillermo, for teaching me tango).

Jonatán, aunque no nos vimos mucho en las últimas semanas, por compartir conmigo charlas increíbles sobre nuestra fe (Jonatán, even though we didn’t see each other much in the last weeks, for sharing incredible conversations about our faith with me).

Silvina, por abrir tu casa a mí tres veces a fines de mi viaje (Silvina, for opening your house to me three times at the end of my trip).

Alejandra y Vicky, por organizar un programa maravilloso y apoyarme en cada aspecto de mi viaje (Alejandra and Vicky, for organizing an amazing program and supporting me in every aspect of my trip).

I’m sure there are people in Argentina that I’ve missed, and to all of you, I say THANK YOU, MUCHÍSIMAS GRACIAS, for a five months that I will never forget!!!

So, now what? you may ask. Have you adjusted to life back in Greenville, South Carolina, yet?

Well, how about I share with you a few things I’ve done since coming home:

  • eaten Chick-fil-a for lunch
  • run two loads of laundry
  • driven my own car
  • hugged my family A LOT
  • drunk mate cocido
  • picked up a new driver’s license and debit card
  • listened to the local Hispanic radio station
  • listened to Pandora (yessssss)
  • gone to the chiropractor
  • sat outside enjoying SUMMER
  • practiced Spanish conversations with myself
  • made alfajores
Might seem a little boring, right? Honestly, I’m kinda glad that the pace has been slow and the patterns, normal. Because one moment, I’ll be retracing a road that I know instinctively after years of living in Greenville, and then the next, I start thinking about how different South Carolina is from Argentina, and I have to remind myself that everything is okay. The longer I wonder about my adjustment, the more surreal it seems; in some ways, it’s easier just to live in the present and not let myself evaluate this sudden transition. But, as you might have noticed, not everything in South Carolina is the same, either. Besides the traffic light that’s appeared close to my school and the remodel of Red Lobster that completely threw me off during my first drive home, aspects of Argentina have seeped into my everyday life: my need to drink mate close to 6:00 every afternoon, accidentally speaking Spanish or thinking of the Spanish equivalent and having to translate during an English conversation — seriously, “me conviene” instead of “is convenient” –, frequently typing the wrong symbol on the keyboard because it’s in a different location on Spanish keyboards, bringing back the alfajores de maicena. I cried just as often on my flight home from missing Argentina as I did anticipating my first view of South Carolina. But somewhere in my heart, I know it’s supposed to be this way. I was supposed to change and come home with a new perspective and grasp on my own reality. And I think that, by the time school starts again and I’m a senior — which is its own crazy adjustment –, I’ll be reminded of why I came back instead of staying and be more familiar with the life I was making for myself here.
Until that moment comes, I’ll say it again: thanks for the memories, Argentina. Thanks for the good, the bad, and the simply memorable. Te voy a extrañar mucho, pero nos conoceremos de nuevo, algún día.
(I’ll miss you a lot, but we’ll meet again, someday.)

Cynthia, Mariano, and me

My research team from the organic chemistry laboratory

 

One of my tango groups, Guillermo (beside me) and Ignacio (behind me)

 

Megan, Sasha, Ally, Jenna, and me enjoying a sushi night

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