Adjusting to Argentina

1 hour waiting at the bank to cash a check. The economy collapsed in Argentina shortly before I arrived and there has been a lot of panic as well as protests and general distrust of the banks in Argentina.

2 times getting lost trying to find the Subte. Streets in Argentina are either well labeled or forgo any form of labeling.

3 hours learning to tango.

4 cups of coffee a day. Start the morning with coffee, a little pick me up before lunch, a cup in the afternoon to take a break and catch up with friends, and a cup after dinner. Argentinians are highly caffeinated, maybe that’s why porteños are considered highstrung?

5 days to get the SIM card working in my phone. Official trip motto “Is there free wifi?”.

¡Hola de Buenas Aires!

The Paris of South America

Full disclosure: I thought I wasn’t going to make it into Argentina. The plane ride was no big deal, even found a couple of the people in my program at the airport, but customs… Customs almost got me. I had all of my paperwork, passport, and words excursion educativa. And then the customs man asked me for the address of where I would be staying. Address? They didn’t give us any address?? Between his broken English and my broken Spanish I tried to explain that I didn’t have a host family yet and I didn’t have an address. He informed that I couldn’t leave the airport without an address while I desperately showed all of the program emails to him. I’m still not sure if he actually found an address in all that mess or just wanted to get rid of me.

Casa Rosada, office of the president

Culture Adjustment

Once I finally set foot on Argentinean soil, it’s been a whirlwind of activity and adjustment. Argentina has a late-night culture, usually having dinner anytime from 10-12 at night. In addition, they are currently in a recession right now which makes exchanging money difficult as many banks will only exchange a set amount each day, as a bonus things are a little cheaper than normal although this changes on a daily basis.

My host mom here has been very welcoming and patient — even when it takes me thirty minutes to understand that she’s trying to ask if I like omelets. I don’t see a lot of my host mom as I have classes all day, but we have great conversations over dinner.

Speaking of conversations… Everything is in Spanish here, including our classes. 4 semesters of Spanish at Wofford is a completely different experience than taking classes like economics and development in Spanish. The psychologist that my group met with Argentinians love psychologists, it’s a thing here has promised us that we will be able to say whatever we want in Spanish by the end of the first month. I’m counting down the days until I can tell the waiter what I want on the first try.

The museum of Eva Perón

Takeoff in T-5

My last adventure before heading to Argentina. I love the outdoors and am excited to visit Iguazú Falls while abroad

For the readers who are not my mom and her Facebook friends, I’m Rashel Korte, a Junior at Wofford College. A (mostly) Accounting major who also dabbles in Spanish, Finance and International Affairs.

My first week at Wofford, I went to the Study Abroad office. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go, or even what I wanted to study — I just knew I wanted to study abroad. I left the office with 10 different pamphlets from Copenhagen to Peru; I’m pretty sure I called my mom immediately after to talk excitedly about how I couldn’t wait to study abroad. For a mom who had just dropped her only daughter off on the other side of the country, I’m sure this was not a comforting conversation.

Why SIT Argentina?

A map of where I will be living and traveling

I had never taken a language class until the mandatory, freshman, Spanish 101. I fell in love with the language; unfortunately, it was a one-sided infatuation as I was (am) terrible at Spanish. I realized pretty quickly that the only way I was going to gain any kind of practical fluency was by going somewhere where I would have no option other than to speak Spanish.

I chose SIT mainly because I really like the internship/research component. SIT allows their students to spend the last four weeks conducting independent research or interning with an organization. I’m a hands-on person, and I like being able to put my classwork to work on actual issues in the world. I don’t want to just be a collector of knowledge – I want to put it to work.

Ready to go?

Mentally and emotionally I am ready to go. Although I haven’t traveled out of the country very much, I have attended school 1,000+ miles away for two years. I know what it’s like to live in a place where I don’t know anybody and I’m out of reach of family. The hardest part for me will be being away from Wofford for the semester, I’ll miss the community that I’ve found there.

A wonderful family friend has insisted on speaking only Spanish to me this summer. Every time I see her I get a jolt of fear as I mentally brace myself for the conversation that’s about to follow. Throughout the conversation I make mistakes and accidentally speak in the preterit instead of the imperfect. I forget words. I get frustrated. By the end of the conversation, I’m reminded of how much I have to learn but I’m exhilarated because I’m one step closer to learning and grasping another language. I think this is how my study abroad experience is going to be. A little bit of fear of failure, many mistakes and confusion along the way, but in the end, an exhilarating experience that will have pushed me to try, to fail, and to keep trying.

Packed?

Te veo pronto, Argentina!