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  • Kayla Cooley

Pre-departure Pressure

For weeks, I've prepared for the trip of my dreams, and I can hardly stand the anticipation. In July of 2019, I ship off to Córdoba, Argentina for 5 months of Spanish immersion and adventure. I've done countless hours of research, but I know that no amount of preparation will make me feel ready for this exciting opportunity.


I've been studying Spanish for a very short amount of time. I did two years of basic Spanish in high school, and have done two semesters of study in college. In my classes, I still forget many words and have a hard time carrying conversations that I haven't pre-rehearsed responses for in my previous Spanish classes. Each time I think I am progressing in the language, an avalanche of new vocabulary, grammar, and slang crash onto me. They say that immersion is the quickest way to learn a language, but it is probably also the most stressful and challenging. I try to shake these thoughts away when they come to me, but there is also so much I don't know about Argentina.


I already know how much I will automatically stand out because of my purple hair, my American clothing style, and my accent. I am a little nervous about standing out or being too naive to live in such a big city. I'm from a small Coastal town of 5,257 people and have never lived in a city bigger than Forest Grove, which has 24,141. The University I will be attending has 111,329 students and the city of Córdoba has 1.391 million people!


I've been speaking with a student teacher from Argentina for months, trying to prepare as much as possible for my future endeavors. Here are some differences between the US and Argentina that she told me about:


1. Security is very different. It's important to keep your items close to you in public and never leave your things lying around.

2. Don't expect people to be on time to things (more laid back than the US)

3. SARCASM. This is the primary type of humor used in Argentina. Don't take things personally.

4. Personal space is different. People like to stand much closer in Argentina.

For example: When she first arrived in America, she was waiting in a line at the grocery store and one of her friends said "What are you doing? You're standing so close to that person!"

5. Food schedules are way different. Hopefully, you don't like to go to sleep early because dinner is between 8-11pm.


Typical Meal Schedule – United States

7:00 Breakfast: 2 eggs, sausage or bacon, toast, a bowl of cereal with milk or granola with yogurt, fruit, orange juice, coffee or tea

12:00 Lunch: a sandwich, salad, or leftovers with fruit

4:00 Snack: a piece of fruit or granola bar

7:00 Dinner: a portion of meat, salad, 2 vegetable side dishes, and a light dessert


Typical Meal Schedule – Argentina

7:00 Breakfast: toast or medialunas, coffee or tea

11:00 Mid-morning Breakfast: coffee or tea with a small cookie

2:00 Lunch: a portion of meat, salad, and 2 vegetable side dishes, and dessert

5:00 Merienda: medialunas, coffee or tea

10:00 Dinner: a smaller portion of meat, salad, and dessert


Other than basic cultural things, I'm worried I'll feel alone. I've never been away from home for more than 3 weeks at a time (other than college) and I'll be facing a time difference of four hours.


I have a lot of goals for my time abroad.

1. Become more comfortable with speaking and writing in Spanish

2. Make friends

3. Visit the Andes mountains and Patagonia

4. Submerge into the culture

5. Personal Growth


I'm excited to look back on this first blog and reflect on my initial feelings about studying abroad.


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#art #mustsee #tourism





#cordoba #argentina #studyabroad #unc #SpanishStudiesAbroad #spanish

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