South American Spring

When I was in high school, I got a Sunmaid Raisins box with the advice (apparently raisins are the new fortune cookies), “Stay curious and you will travel to the ends of the Earth.” I posted this quote on the top corner of my computer screen where I could see it every day. Then Spring 2011 I had the opportunity to make that dream a reality. During a semester studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Lima, Peru I traveled to Ushuaia, in Patagonia, the southernmost city in the world; I really had made it to the end of the Earth.

I can honestly say that, more than anything, my study abroad experience has shaped who I am today and still shapes my plans for the future. In the 5 months I spent in South America, I learned more about myself, the world, and, of course, Spanish, than would have ever been possible in a classroom. More than that, my experience was unique in that I got to split my time between two countries, and while Peru and Argentina are on the same continent, they are worlds apart. My time in Argentina was spent visiting museums, studying Argentine literature in parks, biking through wine vineyards, or sipping café con leche in street cafes; Buenos Aires truly is the Paris of South America. On the other hand, in Peru I spent my time climbing mountains, rafting, or fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle. Through my split semester, I was able to experience the best of what South America has to offer.

In addition to this semester, I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in a teacher exchange last summer in Heredia, Costa Rica through my major, Spanish Education. This exchange offered me an in-depth look at the way different Costa Rican schools function, valuable information to share with my future students.

I can’t even express the ways that my study abroad experiences have helped me grow, as a student, as a language learner and future teacher, but mostly as a person.

J

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