Queen of de Nile – I mean, del Rio de la Plata

kathynguyen

I got all my bags, no problems there. Only one of my liquids exploded: my mom packed some honey packets and one got squished, so there is honey all over my tote. Got stared at by all the Argentine folk, understandably since the girl in the mirror has been the only Asian I’ve seen all day, too. I’ve had a total of 7.5 hours of sleep in the past two nights.  I already have a stomach ache. I’m tripped up  hearing the temperature in  Celsius  and knowing that it’s only 11:45 a.m. in Washington, but actually it’s 3:45 p.m. here.  I hear honking everywhere because Argentines are such scary drivers.

So far, I love Argentina.

Current location: Hotel de las Américas en Buenos Aires.

It’s just so weird to think that only  26 hours ago, I was saying bye to my family, who wouldn’t leave and continued to wave and take pictures of me until after I had passed the metal detector. Twenty-five hours ago I was boarding a plane to Dallas, and 21 hours ago I was arriving to the Dallas airport only to start freaking out that I was leaving the country 18 hours ago.

It happened right when I turned around to ask the man sitting behind me whether he had figured out how the wi-fi worked in the Dallas airport. As he struggled to answer my question in English I realized that this man is an Argentinian, and then I saw that everyone else around me is Argentinian, too … I was so in denial that I failed to realize there might be, well, quite a few Argentinians boarding a plane to Argentina. I relieved the man by speaking back to him in Spanish, and we had a mini conversation about how you have to pay for everything in America.

That’s  when I realized I was leaving the country.  Then I started to freak out. I felt it all: excited, worried, satisfied, scared, pro for speaking in Spanish with the guy. As I was talking to my friend while standing in line to board, I realized it would be the last time I was able to talk to anyone in America on the phone for five months.

I got on the plane, excited to have a partner to speak Spanish to the entire way there — and then the last person boarded the plane, and still, no one was sitting next to me. It would have been nice to have a companion when  the lady in front of me told me to stop kicking her seat. Unfortunately, the plane was so loud I couldn’t hear anything she said, so it took a couple of repeats, including from her husband until the lady behind me translated what she had said. Then my confidence was shot until I asked her later while we were tediously waiting in line for Customs an hour after we got off the plane, ” ¿Cuál es la fecha hoy?” Then we started a conversation that consisted of me telling her, “No soy japonesa, soy vietnamita,” and eventually, with her telling me, “hablas español muy bien.” Then you could guess where my confidence went.

Good thing my airport experience ended on that note, because thanks to that I can say that my flight went well. I actually slept, since I had the whole two seats to myself, and I found my group, which I would say is an accomplishment in the sea of chauffers and directors looking for the people they were picking up; and all the other students in my program are really cool. They remind me of Whitman folk, happy and very nice, and it made me feel at home.

That’s the problem. Even though everyone around me speaks Spanish and all the signs and billboards and stores are in Spanish, I feel like I’m at home, maybe vacationing to a Latin American-inspired city rather than, you know, across the equator. I have yet to realize that I will be  living  here for five months, that I won’t be able to just take the bus home, and I feel like I’m only going to be here for a couple weeks, and I will come back in time to return to Whitman. Well Kathy, you’re a student in Argentina now, and you will be going to school here for the semester. You will be speaking in Spanish, and almost only Spanish. I’ll acknowledge it eventually right? All I know is, the hotel I’m staying at is  beautiful, and I already experienced the famous Argentine steak at their restaurant. The Argentine winter yields a beautiful sunny and cloudless sky with a whopping 19 degree Celsius (67 degrees Fahrenheit … I have to get used to this), way better than my Seattle summer. And the city, although not as developed as Seattle, is amazing. The actual orientation hasn’t even started yet. And despite the lengthiness of this post, I can assure you I will have so much more to say, once I get past actually realizing I’m here, that is.

 

To see more about my adventures, visit my other study abroad blog that has a “Foto del día,” Photo of the Day!
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