A Month in Buenos Aires

Will Cole-French '19, Contributor

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I had only taken two years of Spanish and it wasn’t my strongest class. Yet, on June 10th I was in Logan airport embarking on a month in Buenos Aires, Argentina where I would be constantly using my Spanish. Nervous, excited, worried, doesn’t really cover how I felt. I knew how to ha

ndle cross-cultural experiences, knew how to be polite and respectful, but this was different. I wasn’t with my parents. I was going to live with a host family in a country where I was horrible at speaking its language and I was going with students that I did not know outside of the few pre-trip meetings we had.

The flights down were long and tiring and I barely slept. Upon arrival, I was captivated by the bus ride from the airport to the school. I was exhausted yet thrilled by the new country before me. We pulled up in front of the school and at first glance to me, it wasn’t anything breathtaking, just a long yellow building. In the school, there was a quick first-day welcoming and I was too tired to even try to understand what was being said. Soon enough, however, I was on my way to the cozy home I would live in for the next month. The first afternoon was a whirlwind, with lunch, meeting my host sisters and parents, trying and failing to take a nap, not eating dinner until 11 pm and not going to bed until midnight. The next day I got up at six thirty for the first time in what would end up being a month of little sleep, amazing food, sugary desserts, friendships made, soccer games attended, PS4 games played, and awesome times.

Right off the bat of the first day, we toured La Boca, which was the home of the professional team of Boca Juniors. I was thrilled to be in a professional stadium and have the culture of the team explained to me.   I used to play soccer and would spend countless hours watching professional games, so standing on a professional soccer field was amazing. Following that, I had my first of many encounters with Asado, which is basically barbeque with a lot of different types of non-processed meats, which were so good. Upon returning home me and my host brother Francisco began what would become a daily tradition, playing each other in FIFA every day. Fran almost always got the upper hand; he was a much more experienced gamer than I was. But that wasn’t the point of playing together, the point was to bond, to spend time together and laugh at each other’s mistakes. (By each other’s mistakes I mean my lingual and gaming mistakes.) Among other things, we would also go to the Club, which was pretty much like the YMCA, where I would run on a treadmill while Fran would lift weights.

Along with developing a close bond with Fran, I developed a close bond with the rest of my host family. Every weekday when she would get home I would play with the little one who was eight, Belen. We would play some form of endless tag where I was always it. Along with playing tag we would jam out to the Ed Sheeran songs she would play and I would learn Spanish. My two other host sisters Clari(16) and Manni(14) were usually hard at work studying. But often they would play their guitars while Belu and I sat listening and singing along to songs such as “Despacito” and “Mercy.” Often we would all huddle in the kitchen eating different flavors of ice cream together critiquing them and making jokes.

Outside of the apartment I lived in, I was spending all my time with my fellow BC High brothers. We toured the city together, we had classes together, we played games together, we ate delicious food together, went to Starbucks together, etc. From sitting in the cafe eating media lunas, to standing on the top of mountains side by side, we really bonded. Being able to bond with my host family was an amazing gift, but being able to bond with my fellow brothers was far beyond anything I could have asked for. A couple moments that stand out to me are playing hide and go seek inside the school because it was just genuine fun. We all paired off and went hiding with one person being it and hid inside the school walls. We proceeded to do so for about two hours, maybe a waste of a free period but it was genuine fun, which is always worth it. Another highlight is all the in-depth conversations we had about motorbikes, and what life was like with our host brothers. It was really nice for us to sit around with Pepsis and talk.

In the third week of our trip we got up really early on a Wednesday morning and got on a 7 am flight to the northern province of Salta. All a little groggy, we got off the flight and waited for our bags at the baggage claim. We got in a cramped bus then drove to a hotel where we checked into our rooms and then had about four minutes to turn around and head out the door. By 11 am I was completely exhausted and as we went through the day I stayed that way. We toured a museum that documented the Incas and some of their rituals. We ate a lunch of delicious empanadas which I loved, then headed to the school where we would be doing our service. I thoroughly enjoyed the service experience, playing soccer with the kids and taking part in their PE class, as well as spontaneous dance sessions to none other than “Despacito,” of course.   Then touring Salta was an amazing experience and the highlight for me was standing on top of a mountain and looking around and just seeing everything, so beautiful and tranquil. But the best part of Salta for me was chilling with my roommates, talking about the day, about our lives, and just living in the moment. It was a true blessing that I am so grateful to have had.

Although my Spanish wasn’t the best, that didn’t stop me from having a fun time at all. Sure, there was often a language barrier, but I was there to lessen the barrier. So yes I did make a lot of mistakes, and yes they were very laughable, but yes I learned a lot. I learned a lot of Spanish, I learned about a new culture, became part of a new family, and gained more brothers.   There were definitely times when the culture got to me like staying up till all hours of the night and then having to be up at six. The kisses on the cheek were something I was unaccustomed to, and the “boys handshake”. However, Argentina is a cultural immersion trip, and I’m glad to say I was able to immerse myself in that culture.

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