When Your Days are Numbered

Hello again, and so soon!

This week was not too signficant in terms of the things I did, but the things I experienced were some of the richest yet. They are the intangible things; the good “simple pleasure” in life.

Well I had just been very busy and stressed with errand and school-related work, such as applying to jobs, scholarships, and programs back at home, keeping up with homework, going to mandatory events, and so on. What was wonderful is that not only did several students in my Residencia notice, but they also consolidated me and offered me encouragement. That missing element of support when you’re so far away from home can do wonders for you in terms of your mental/emotional state, and that definitely was the case for me.

It’s funny because I remember how uncomfortable I first felt with the other students in the house–how I didn’t fit it, how I thought they were this way or that way, and how I could never see myself ever ligitimately spending time with them, much less getting close to them.

Oh, how things have changed and how unexpectedly they ended up. But you know what? Let that be a huge lesson. Give yourself time! Give yourself time to adjust, because more often that not, at least some part of why you’re probably adverse to the things around you is because you just want the things–or people–you’ve always been accustomed to, without even realizing it.

I feel also that in terms of people, even if there are certain tensions or cliques that originally exist within the students in your program, house, or school, there’s a very good chance that they’ll mellow out. I believe that as the end of the study abroad program approaches, people begin to understand and be more accepting of one another, as they are no longer focused on themselves and their own strict image.

On top of that, our “house mom (or I should say grandma?)” has also become a lot more endearing to me in this past week. It’s interesting because from my own experiences and what I’ve heard from other students of their housing situations as well, their host family and/or parent acts well toward them, but their experience is nowhere near the dream-like, warm set-up that is advertised by study abroad networks. There’s just this missing piece of closeness or authenticity, and granted, this can be due to the fact that the host families/parents have been hosting students for years and have grown tired of building that connection all over again each time, etc.

In any case, as I had started saying, I really felt like our house mom, Elda, warmed up to me in this past week. Before, I had always tried to make an effort to reach out to her, but this time around, I actually felt and saw the opposite at hand. It was absolutely lovely, though, to see her motherly instincts shine through, and especially at those moments.

On top of that, I had my first real volunteering experience this week. Of course I had gone before, but that was all for planning or to just to introduce ourselves to the kids. This time, it was the start of actual activities, and the kids were amazing. Again, I experienced the feeling of a group quickly capturing my heart, just as the Guaranis had done before. We read the Three Little Pigs in English, and drew scenes from the story afterward. I so look forward to further building on our relationship in oncoming visits.

It’s starting to dawn on me that my time studying abroad is almost over, and I can’t even believe it. In several ways, that’s exactly what I had wanted for a while because, although I had been enjoying my time, I was nowhere near as homesick-immune as everyone else seemed to be. Now, though, I don’t know if I can say the same. I realize that I’ll never see any of these kids again. I’ll never see Elda again. I’ll never see any of the AMAZING and charactered teacher and staff again. I’ll never again drop my laundry off at the laundromat around the corner, take the train, hail the same buses, or take the subways. I’ll never look around me again and have the dominant language be a foreign language.
And when I go home, all the things I’ve seen and done will only exist in my mind, in my memories. I just know this will get harder as time goes on, so I don’t even want to think about it now.

Wednesday night we had another Food & Wine class group dinner at the teacher’s apartment, where we sampled various regional foods from around Argentina. For the rest of the week, I simply continued to do my own work and also knocked out a whole end of the semester group project with other group members.

I’m hoping to continue being productive and proactive in terms of the work I need to do so that when the end of the program comes along, like the third little pig, I’ll be prepared, and also able to enjoy my time from then on after!

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