"There are tons of archaeological sites around Argentina and the rest of South America...There are as many opportunities as you want to take.”
Patty is a cultural anthropology major who lived and studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a semester. She traveled to Argentina with no previous experience in Spanish language, and left with a functional level of language, as well as greater cultural understanding.
Patty’s coursework counted toward liberal education requirements and for upper level courses outside of her major. Patty saw having Argentine professors as an advantage when learning about the culture and history of the country. "We were dealing with some kind of hard aspects of Argentine history, and they all had personal experiences to share," she said. "That was really cool for me as an anthropology major." She thought the courses were flexible and that they motivated her to be an independent learner. "There are a lot of opportunities that you can develop on your own. This program is really flexible, there are tons of archaeological sites around Argentina and the rest of South America, and there are awesome museums and cultural events. There are as many opportunities as you want to take."
In terms of her major and her career goals, Patty thought her experience had a lot to offer. In the future, she’d like to become a professor of anthropology, and felt she gained experience cultural immersion as a method of understanding cultures. Patty recently was hired as an intern working with local refugees and immigrants. She thought that her study abroad experience gave her perspective on the situations of others. “I feel like I know a little bit what it’s like to arrive in a country and not speak the language, not know the culture, and be a stranger in a strange land,” she said.
Outside of her classes, being able to travel throughout South America and meet a variety of people was an important piece of her experience. “To go to the different countries, and see the huge subtleties, and differences and similarities, was really good,” she said. “Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city, and it’s got kind of the same feel that any large city has. To go into the small towns and meet people was really nice…I don’t think the experience would have been the same if I hadn’t traveled.” Even with her limited knowledge of Spanish, Patty found opportunities to practice and develop relationships with Spanish-speakers. After returning, she had more confidence, and the ability to put herself into social situations in which she may not have been comfortable before. Overall, Patty said, “study abroad was probably the most important decision I made for myself.”
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