I was much more disoriented returning from Buenos Aires than returning from my
semester in Madrid. I believe that this is mainly because of the difference in the level of
immersion I experienced in each semester. It was difficult to become comfortable initially in Argentina, but the daily routine of public transportation, managing communication with the locals and host family, and classes in Spanish eventually became comfortable and normal. By the end of the semester I had gained a sense of confidence in communication and I even started understanding the random conversations that I overheard on the streets. I knew how to find my way anywhere and which bus routes and subway lines took me to which areas of the bustling city. Finishing classes and returning to the United States seemed to happen as soon as I became comfortable in Buenos Aires.
Walking around the streets of Manhattan was almost too overwhelming for my first week
back in the United States. The pace of the crowd was faster than I’d ever remembered.
Everywhere I looked were advertisements written in English and people speaking loudly in
English all around me. I was surprised every time I overheard a conversation and realized it was being spoken in my first language. Everything from the food, music, and entertainment were exactly as they were when I left in February, but it felt as though I had forgotten about all of it in my efforts to become accustomed to Argentina.
While I am excited to return to New Orleans and start my senior year, I’m anxious about
my re-assimilation into the social scene and daily life of Tulane. It seems as if I left New Orleans as an inexperienced sophomore and I am returning as a soon-to-graduate senior, but I do not feel that I have experienced enough of New Orleans and I’m worried that by the time I have become accustomed to the city again, it will be time to graduate.
a. Based on your experiences, what assets might international study yield as opposed
to someone who only studied domestically? Think about potential advantages on
resumes, during interviews and in the workforce.
Traveling is an incredible way to better understand oneself and the world. Studying or
working internationally, however, is an immersion much more significant than simply traveling and seeing different people and places. To study abroad, especially in non-international classes and living with a host family, means to change all prior expectations and predispositions of daily routine in the domestic setting to adapt to the international setting.
One who is capable of such an adaptation, in my opinion, is capable of making any other adaptation, whether it be from college to a professional work environment, adapting between different positions of an organization, and also keeping an open mind and having the confidence to leave one’s comfort zone. I truly believe that the resume lacks the ability to accentuate the importance of the study abroad process, where it has become much more common among college students to study abroad and may not stand out. In the interview process, however, lies the opportunity for an international student to truly
demonstrate what they have learned from their experience studying internationally.
I felt a tremendous sense of pride for overcoming the adversity that I initially faced when I
arrived in Buenos Aires. Being in an unfamiliar city and the struggle to communicate in a second language were both overwhelming. In addition to that discomfort, I challenged myself by taking a class in a prestigious (and hugely anti-United States) university as the only international student, and was uncomfortable every day in class, but the sense of achievement I felt upon passing the class was unlike any other academic achievement I’ve received. I believe that above all benefits of seeing the world, studying internationally is a character building experience that will affect my confidence, open mindedness, and communication in any position in the workforce.
Describe your experience coming back to the US and starting your senior year at Tulane. Did you experience discomfort or disorientation when returning to the US?
When asked about adjusting returning back to the States, I’ve been back in the States for a month, and there’s definitely an element of comfort being back in a familiar place, being able to grab breakfast at Whole Foods or stream Netflix. A “discomfort” returning to the States is realizing how compartmentalized life is.
The year abroad and that piece of me is never really known by the people here, because they didn’t experience it with me. Life’s weird like that. You can tell your friends and families about the experiences you’ve had, and they can observe changes in you. Obvious but your life is only really experienced by you. People experience pieces with you. The people I studied abroad with went through similar experiences, feelings and memories. The people I come home to or meet, share separate experiences.
Isn’t that weird? You’re the same you, but people know different yous. Funny because my Chinese name is pronounced you (funny is used very loosely).
Also when you’re traveling, studying, and living abroad, everyone knows that you are. They know there’s a side of you, a different home, a separate life. Coming back “home”, people don’t think about the other piece of you half way across the world. But it’s a strange feeling meeting people and interacting with people, who know nothing about how weird, crazy, and changing your past year was. That time you hopped on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle in Vietnam, or went on a morning jog through the countryside of England. That time you fell for someone, or that time you met one of your best friends on the streets of Hong Kong. But again, I guess that’s life…
Apologies for my rambling post, but my thoughts ramble.