When I saw her in the airport, I could not help but let the tears stream down my face. Puzzled people around us paused to look at the two of us, since we were smiling as well as crying. My twin sister, Catherine, a Human Resources Management major, landed in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Thursday, January 8, after a two hour plane ride from Minneapolis to Atlanta and then a ten hour flight from Atlanta to Argentina.
It was the first time in six months that I could give her a hug- something that seemed like I waited forever for. It is difficult to be away from her, since we are very close and have done everything together from sharing the same room and participating in the same sports to attending St. Kate’s together. Although I Skype her once every two weeks and text her often, it’s not the same as being with her and getting to experience all of these new adventures with her.
I knew going into my study abroad that I was going to stay in Buenos Aires for a year without travelling back to Minnesota until my program ended in July 2015, and that was very scary at first. Catherine did not even plan on coming to visit until a few months into my study abroad, so when my mom told me she booked tickets, I was beyond excited, especially since we were able to spend our 21st birthday together in a foreign country.
When she arrived, she immediately noticed that Argentina and the United States are stark contrasts. Going from a population of 300,000 to a population of 3,000,000 was overwhelming, especially with the drastic change in seasons from frigid temperatures to unbearable heat. The city is a lot dirtier than the photos she searched for online, as there is litter, pigeons and animal droppings everywhere.
The most difficult part of the culture shock for Catherine was realizing that not many people here speak English. My host parents do not speak English either, so I am the translator for all of them, which has been quite a task. Although I can show off how much I have improved in speaking Spanish, it can be tiring and takes a mental toll. “I have never felt so much out of my comfort zone as I have here in Argentina but it gets easier every day and some of the Spanish that I took in high school has come back to me in bits and pieces,” said Catherine.
Another shock for her was how much we walk here and rely on public transportation to get around the city. I am now used to both of these daily activities because I have been doing them for the past six months, so I forgot how tiring they can be especially in 90 degree weather with 90 percent humidity.
It is fun seeing how she reacts to these things because I went through all of the same things she is going through now, but six months ago. When I told her that I want to come back to Argentina after I graduate from St. Kate’s, she flat out told me that although she likes some aspects of the culture and geography, that she may have to take a pass on visiting me again. “I enjoyed the night life and the food here, but I do not think I could live here for a full year like you are now,” said Catherine.
Although this country and city are not perfect, I now call Argentina home, and love it here. I feel lucky to have six more months in this amazing city, but I also know how fast the last six months went. Before I know it I will be on the plane headed back to Minnesota.
For now, I am enjoying this time with my sister, and trying to push out of my head the day I will have to say goodbye to her one more time. It has been so exciting showing her where I live, who I live with, who my friends are and what I do every day. If one of your relatives has the opportunity to go visit you while you are abroad, do it because it truly is an amazing experience to be able to show everything to someone you care about.