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Studying Abroad for a Full Year vs. One Semester

May 25, 2018

My second semester studying abroad in Argentina so far has been very different from last semester. To give an idea of just how different they are, I’ve created a table:

As you can see, there are some stark differences between these two experiences. Despite the burnt grilled cheese sandwiches and everything else I’ve been fake-adulting my way through, I’m loving it. My level of Spanish is better than ever, and on a really good day (which is when I’ve had at least two cups of coffee) I can understand 80-90% of what my professors say during lecture. I constantly go back and forth between patting myself on the back for improving and saying to myself “You dummy, you’ve been here for 9 months, you signed up for these courses, obviously you should understand them.”

Some days my comprehension is closer to 60-70%. Those days happen more than I’d like them to but I guess they’re inevitable. At the very least, they make me even more proud of myself whenever I do better. Although I took almost all of my courses in Spanish last semester, I’m just now realizing how intense it is to take a course in a different language. The professors spit out words that I was not raised to understand, but somewhere along in my studies, I’ve caught on and can now make sense of whole sentences and concepts. If I weren’t frustrated, I think I might even be impressed with myself. But when I’m not sitting in class, happy with my level of comprehension, I’m usually feeling way in over my head. Sometimes I even wonder how I’ll pass my classes, but I still wouldn’t have it any other way.

One big difference this semester is that I know I don’t have all the time in the world down here. For the people who are here for one semester, they’re still in the beginning of well, the beginning. For me, this second semester is the beginning of the end of my time abroad. When I first got here, I didn’t have to manage anything in the U.S. because I was staying for so long that I had nothing back at home to attend to. My life was 100% down here in Buenos Aires. I had no flights home to book, no courses to register for at my home institution and generally no maintenance of my life in the US. Now I’m in a place where I need to start managing my life back home again. I’m already feeling nostalgic for my departure, even though it’s still about 3 months away.

I know it’s probably a bit dramatic to already be thinking of that when I’ve only just started the new semester, but it’s hard not to think about. As a fake adult, I have to deal with the reality that I’m returning home. I have to keep in mind my flight tickets, job applications, and housing for next year. I’m abroad for two semesters and one long summer break, and both the first semester and my summer break just flew by. I know these next three months will fly by too, and I don’t want to see them go. Even though I’ve got my responsibilities back home creeping up, I’m still here. And I’m trying to aprovechar (take advantage of) every last second.

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