The End

As this semester draws to a close, it’s hard to imagine that five months have already passed. As cliché as it sounds, it really does feel like yesterday that I arrived in Mendoza for the first time. I have had an incredible time in Argentina, but as I think about leaving, I have realized that as eye-opening as this semester has been, not everything was smooth-sailing and some of my expectations were not met.

I genuinely like everyone on my program (there were only 13 of us, so it’s not that crazy). We are all low-maintenance individuals with a sense of adventure, and I have enjoyed getting to know them. That being said, there is no one I can see myself making a big effort to stay in touch with. I knew that there were only two people, including myself, from DU in this program, so I thought that I would definitely meet new people that would later become my close friends. The other students are my friends, but there is no one I would consider myself particularly close to.

Academics were not very serious. Of the two universities we could take classes at, I ended up at the easier one, for that was the place where I could take courses that would apply toward my major. There was so much downtime. Coming from the quarter system, it was already an adjustment getting used to 16 weeks of classes, but I did not factor how little coursework there was. In one class, my only grade was participation and the final; in the other, there was a little more work, which included three take-home assignments, two midterms, and a final, yet there was still a lot of free time. It made me realize how much I like the quarter system, for I love to be kept busy.

I spent many weekends in Mendoza. This was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise. There was probably a total of six weekends I was not home and that was okay with me. I got to know the city really well, I spent time with my host family and their family and friends, and I felt like I was able to immerse in the culture. Travel in South America, especially from a less metropolitan area like Mendoza, is expensive, which is the main reason why I did not travel as much as my European counterparts. There are other places in South America that I would love to visit, but there will be time in the future. I am grateful for what I was able to see, and I look forward to my next trip.

As with any new experience, there were times that I did not always enjoy myself; however, the good times definitely outweighed the bad. These past few months have taught me so much, and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to study here.

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The Study Part of Study Abroad

On my first day of class, the professor walked in 30 minutes late. If I hadn’t been told this was perfectly normal, I probably would have left after the first 15 minutes. Adjusting to the Argentine university system was a bit of a rollercoaster: my schedule wasn’t finalized until three weeks in, the classroom locations were unclear, there are often two professors teaching one class, four-hour classes exist, night classes are common, and no one knows when assignments are due. All of these grievances were very frustrating at the start of the semester, but as I continually reminded myself, this was part of the cultural adjustment. Two of my classes are now completed, and they were the two  offered by the University, so for students who want to study abroad in Mendoza, here are some points to keep in mind.

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  1. Argentina is a laid back society, so don’t worry too much about showing up on time. As previously stated, professors often arrive close to half an hour late, so only leave class if the local students are.
  2. Double check the class location with your program advisor. On the first day of class, I planned on attending Sustainable Development. When I arrived, the class list said Sustainable Tourism, so I attended that class, thinking it was misnamed. The next day, I found out that the class I originally wanted to take was in an entirely different building.
  3. There is no syllabus, so you will not know what’s going on. I admit that when professors handed out syllabi at DU, I barely glanced at them. They are actually very helpful when planning out study time, something I took for granted.
  4. Make friends with the locals. Going off of point three, you will likely not know if there are assignments and when they are due. The locals usually know what is going on, at least more than foreign students; they are a vital resource when it comes to adjusting to the Argentine education system.
  5. Take classes you wouldn’t normally do. That is my only regret in regards to my study abroad experience. I was so hung up on getting specific courses approved for credit that I didn’t try anything new. If you study abroad in Mendoza, try and take Tango; I wish I did.

It’s hard to adjust to a new way of learning, but it’s an exciting opportunity to gain new insight into a culture. I enjoyed my time at the Universidad de Congreso; it was an enlightening experience.

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Zoe Kaldor

 ARGENTINA – IFSA: MENDOZA UNIVERSITIES PROGRAM, 2018 FALL

Zoe Kaldor is an International Studies and Strategic Communication double major. She is studying abroad with IFSA-Butler in Mendoza, Argentina. Originally from New York, DU’s study abroad program was one of the reasons Zoe chose to attend DU. She specifically chose to study abroad in Argentina because she wants to improve her Spanish skills and experience a new culture, for she believes it is so important in an increasingly global society to be able to communicate in languages besides English as well as experience different ways of life. Zoe is an avid traveler and loves to explore new places; she is excited she gets to do both.

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