Events / Thoughts

Shifting Gears

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Today is September 23rd. I arrived in Buenos Aires exactly two months ago and cannot believe how the time has flown, and these next three months will pass even more quickly. I have done some incredibly exciting things over these past couple of months but I can’t help but feel as though I am still not getting as much out of my time as I could be. I spend too much time in my house and not enough time out exploring new parts of the city. I frequent my favorite restaurants and cafés by default as opposed to walking into somewhere new on a whim.

And, as much as I adore Buenos Aires, I receive the most thrill when I am traveling.

I spent a weekend in Mendoza in the west of Argentina, doing a self-guided bike tour of the wineries, hiking the Andes in Potrerillos, and having the best asado of my life. I just spent a fantastic weekend in Jujuy in the far northwest of Argentina: taking touristy pictures at the salt flats, doing the walk of El Cerro de los Siete Colores, visiting the small towns, and buying tons of items made of alpaca. I have spent three separate days in the countryside outside of the city: enjoying the fresh air, the amazing meat, and the excellent company.

I have been wondering to myself whether I have taken the most enjoyment out of these trips because they are novel and a change in pace or because I am questioning the title I gave myself long ago of “city girl”.

While I love being in the center of the action and having endless opportunities around me, I have begun to question the kind of environment in which I thrive. While I once thought a city like New York best suited me, I am beginning to believe that a place like Burlington, Vermont is more my speed. I speak passionately about city life, about how close my favorite bakery is from my house and how cheap the food is, about how many interesting people you see on public transportation and how the exhibits at the best museums are always changing, but I speak most passionately when describing the mountains, small sandwich shops, local breweries, and cobblestone streets where cars rarely pass and the pedestrians and bikers rule the road.

Having never lived in a place like that, I suppose I couldn’t really say. Perhaps if I did, I would be longing for the hustle and bustle of city life but I have begun to find big urbanized cities rather impersonal.

That all being said, Buenos Aires truly is a great place to be. I try to keep myself from thinking about how I am nearly halfway through my time here because once I leave I am going to miss it dearly. The culture is incredibly rich and my classes at UBA Ciencias Sociales are unlike anything I ever could have experienced in the states. The politically charged environment changes the way I think about certain issues and puts a new spin on the way I approach lectures. My Spanish speaking, listening, and reading have improved beyond recognition and I fear that when I come back, it will be hard to shake off the parts of Argentine accent I have put on (though my written Spanish is still crappy). I have been exercising more often and ran the Buenos Aires Half Marathon on September 7th, which was unbelievably fun. While training, doing just 7 miles was a chore, but during the half I didn’t think once about the fact that I was running: the weather was fantastic, the course through the city was beautiful, and I was surrounded by 15,000 other runners who were enjoying the experience just as much as I was. I couldn’t believe it when I looked up to see that I had reached the 20th kilometer at my desired time and sprinted through the last km happily.

Over the next few months, I plan to take advantage of the city and all it has to offer, but I will also be away from BsAs for a significant portion of the rest of my time abroad: I have booked flights to Patagonia for October 16th-October 25th where we plan to hike the big glaciers in El Calafate, do the day-long hikes in El Chalten, venture over to Puerto Natales in Chile to hike in Torres del Paine, and potentially explore Tierra del Fuego. I have also booked my permits to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu for four days and three nights in December. In between these two trips, I will be taking the ferry over for a long beach weekend in Uruguay where I plan to do a lot of absolutely nothing. My family will be visiting at the end of November, right after my finals end and we will be going to Iguazú Falls together and I cannot wait to show them around Buenos Aires. I am also currently toying with the idea of going sand surfing in Valparaiso or venturing into Rio for a long weekend, but my bank account protests.

I hope to write more frequently in the future so, until next time!

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