62 more days left in Berlin and it isn’t anywhere near enough. As I sit here desperately trying to cling to the grains of time that are passing me by, I can’t help but feel a deep sadness for what is to come. After 7 months of living in Berlin, I’ve succeeded in accomplishing my goal—to create my own little life for myself.
Unfortunately, I’ve been so successful at creating my own little life in Berlin that it’s now not so little, and it breaks my heart a bit as I realize that it is quickly coming to an end. The result of my efforts in Berlin has crafted treasured friendships, a beautiful relationship, and fluency at C1 level German. Gone are the days where I feel lost in this city, both literally but also in a more figurative sense. At first, I would lose myself just as quickly in a conversation in German as I would when riding the Bahn without my phone for navigation. Now, I can effortlessly navigate the Bahn systems and almost any interaction in German. But more importantly, I have a sense of home in the community I’ve built.
My speculation is that it is often this lack of community that results in students feeling homesick. I can confidently say that I felt homesick after 6 weeks in Berlin, but fast forward to the present and now I feel a different type of homesickness. I feel homesick for the present. I have this pit in my stomach and this stone weighing on my heart because I know that this beautiful, little life that I have created in Berlin will end. I have utterly fallen in love with this city.
Yet, this experience, while simultaneously beautiful and painful, is one that less than 2% of college students will have the opportunity to seek for themselves. According to NAFSA, only 1.6% of all college students in the U.S. studied abroad for the 2016-17 academic year (I don’t have data for how many students study abroad for a full academic year but I’m sure it’s even less). Of the 1.6% of students who do study abroad, only 10.2% are Hispanic/Latino American which makes my experience abroad particularly rare.
If you can take anything away from this blog, I hope it’s a sense of curiosity. Dare to dream what a semester or two of your college-experience would look like abroad. What kind of little life can you craft for yourself? Will you be heartbroken to leave, or eagerly awaiting the flight back home? You can’t know until you go find out for yourself.
If you are going to study abroad in Argentine wine country, it helps when your family friends work in the wine industry. Between the beautiful Bodegas (where the wine is made) and the eclectic wine bars, I spent my weekend enjoying everything Mendoza is known for.
I did not know much about wine. My knowledge is still woefully incomplete, but I did learn something. For example, the altitude, amount of sunlight and soil composition all affect how the grape grows, thus affecting the taste of the wine. I also find it interesting that one vineyard can contain multiple types of soil. Mendoza is famous for its Malbec, so unsurprisingly, this was the one we drank the most. There are sweet, spicy and bitter Malbecs and then there are Malbec blends. There are other red wines or “vino tintos” like Cabernet or there are white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. If I am being completely honest, I can’t always tell the difference between them.
I have attended four wine tastings now and this is what occurs. Typical wine tastings will have you sample around five types of wine that the Bodega produces. You usually start with the whites and then move on to the reds. The wine maker or sommelier will pour a quarter of a glass, he/she will explain the composition of the wine and then you are free to sip. Each wine has a distinguishing smell, so you typically smell the wine first then mix the wine to oxygenate it. Then you drink the wine. It’s common to only take one sip then pour the rest into a spittoon. Many will also sip the wine to taste it, then spit it out. The various wines will often go with different foods, but the most I can remember is that white wine goes well with fish where as red goes well with meat.
Maybe I will learn more about wine in my future, but for now, I have some excellent recommendations on Bodegas.
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.