Welcome to Córdoba, Argentina, also known as the City of Bells because of the vast amount of churches that reside every few blocks. Around you are rolling hills known as sierras, and kioskos, or mini marts on every corner. You hear honking coming from the colectivos, or city buses trying to stay on their schedules which they can’t ever seem to keep. You smell freshly baked criollos coming from the bakeries as a stray dog follows you on your way to school. Most importantly, you are always greeted with a friendly kiss on the cheek and a smile.
I arrived in Córdoba in February which is during their summer. I was welcomed with 100-degree weather and humidity that helps you stick to your sheets. Over the course of my first week I was introduced to my social tutor, Juli along with some other tutors assigned to my fellow UM classmates. Our tutors were not to help us academically, rather to help us figure out the bus system, get to the city center, find a good restaurant and of course, be our friends. We would find ourselves at the tutor’s houses hanging out after school and having asados, or barbeques on open grills. Our tutors were the ones who really helped us get in touch with the Argentine culture which helped us acclimate faster as well as more comfortably.
Our classes were given completely in Spanish. We learned about the culture, the literature and were even taught by two highly recognized and published authors. Our classes gave us the opportunity to understand why Argentina is the way it is today as we learned about the dictatorship and the hardship the people had to go through not even 50 years ago. We learned about los desaparecidos, or “the disappeared” as during that time, many people who opposed the dictatorship mysteriously disappeared. Unfortunately, many people of that generation are still missing including children who were taken away from their families at birth. While in Argentina I learned how this tragedy is still affecting everyone from those who benefitted from the dictatorship, to those who don’t even keep their money in the bank anymore because of the insecurity.
One of my most treasured experiences was when some friends and I traveled northeast, right on the border of Argentina and Brazil to Iguazú Falls. The town itself was small and was comprised mostly of hotels and small tourist shops because the real attraction was just a short bus ride away, the waterfalls. In the Iguazú Falls Natural Park, jungle surrounds you as well as native species of both plants and animals. In the whole park there are over 200 waterfalls and metal or wooden paths to lead you all around. We were lucky enough to even take a boat tour and go underneath the falls! Gallons of water were dumped on us; it was an experience like nonother. People come from all over the Americas to see the spectacular waterfalls and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to see them for myself. This was just one of the aspects that enhanced my entire study abroad experience, but I feel that I am forever changed and extremely lucky to have had this chance to live in Argentina.