See below…an ECG machine in Argentina…
After completing an entire semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina and now that I have been abroad for almost a month in Madrid, Spain, I am used to being away from my family and friends. Leaving home is not as strange as I remember it being when I first left for my freshman year at Tulane. Furthermore, I can confidently say that I have stepped out of my comfort zone quite a few times. Specifically, I would like to share an example of when I had to book a doctor’s appointment for a physical, so that I could participate in club soccer for the Universidad del Salvador, aka USAL, one of the colleges where I studied while in Buenos Aires. Both the appointment and joining the team required me to leave my comfort zone.
Although I have been studying Spanish for a long time, making a phone call in Spanish can still be stressful at times, as I usually prefer to send emails. In this case, I was faced with the problem that I could only book the appointment via cellphone. So, rather than be discouraged, I made the call and, as most things are after worrying a lot about how they can go wrong, it went completely fine. However, it was not the call but the appointment itself where I would truly find myself outside my comfort zone and face to face with a mysterious device that I had never seen before, the ECG machine.
Admittedly, on the form I filled out prior to the physical, I saw a strange term relating to a test, the ECG, that I didn’t really understand. The questionnaire asked me if I had ever received this kind of test. Since I had been to a doctor’s appointment many times before, I just assumed that I had done this test before and checked yes. I know now, thanks to the internet, that ECG stands for electrocardiography, which is the process of recording the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time using electrodes placed on a patient’s body.
After getting my height and weight measured, the nurse (who was not very communicative) asked me to lay down and remove my t-shirt, and placed a dozen suction cups, which now I know were the electrodes, on my chest and rib cage. From fear of the unknown, I began to worry. Unaware of what would happen next, I feared some sort of shock or pain; however, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was just monitoring my heart activity and not some robotic octopus monster trying to electrocute me.
Now that I had my physical, I was cleared to play in the club soccer games that were held every Saturday (until the season ended). Joining the club team required me to leave my comfort zone because I was the only US citizen and English speaker on the team. At first, I knew nobody else on the team, and I could only speak Spanish with them because the majority of them spoke little to no English. It was a challenge getting to know the coach and the players at the beginning as well; however, after a few practices and games, they accepted me as a teammate and a friend (we still keep in touch via Whatsapp). Eventually, I became the starting right back/right midfielder on the team, it was a great experience! Now that my semester in Argentina is officially over, I am eager to see how my experience in Spain will compare to it, and look forward to the rest of my time here in Madrid.