Skip to content

By anuhyabobba

Time went excruciatingly slow in the first month and a half of studying abroad, or what I want to say was my adjustment period to living in Argentina. Soon after having one of the most beautiful times in San Pedro de Atacama, the last two months flew past like none other. I always saw myself on the last few days to have this urge to do all that I did not do in these four months. But, my last week in the city was a bit more peaceful. I was content with what I had done, and I spent that week -- in my own way -- saying bye to Buenos Aires.
I found myself starting to miss the routine of it all. Waiting for the 10 or 59 colectivo, walking to Havanna and buying myself a coffee "para llevar" before class, heading to Pollo Trak for a Suprema de Pollo sandwich for lunch, and then walking home to have dinner with my host mom -- I will miss it all. I lived a block away from the haunting but beautiful Recoleta Cemetery as well as the gorgeous greenery that surrounds it. I walked there every weekend to soak in the sun or I headed over to Palermo to spend time with my friend who lives there. Regardless what I had done, these actions constituted my life here. Actions that I did not see as particularly significant in the moment are the ones I see myself already yearning for.I still have a month left on this continent, however. I will be traveling independently to Patagonia. Then, I am headed off to Peru. But, what I am most looking forward to returning to the US is seeing my family. Without a stable way of getting a hold of them or with connection cutting off when I am able to speak to them has made me miss them dearly. Having my mother's tomato and egg curry alongside her will bring me so much love (already asked her to have that prepared by the time I land), and relaxing in the apartment as it snows outside watching Netflix will be all the more comforting. Returning to DC and that first hug with a friend I have not seen in months is also what I am eagerly looking forward to as well.Buenos Aires has given me four months of happiness, internal growth, and a lot of meaningful friendships. Even if it is time to say bye, all I can say is that I hope to return one day.

Thank you so much, and I apologize for the inconvenience caused.

By anuhyabobba

When I first landed in Buenos Aires, we were asked to meet outside the arrivals gate to meet with program officials and other students. We were then assigned a partner to share a cab with, as we headed to meet our host families. I had two large suitcases and a carry on, and when we walked outside to the cab, the driver became furious at the amount of luggage I had. He started arguing that his car was too small (it was not) and wanted to be paid more, and I stared blankly. I spoke no Spanish, and all I could do was exactly that -- stare blankly ahead. Thankfully, my cab partner communicated for me and settled the issue. It was a small moment, but it was also when it finally hit me that I was in a country where my ability to communicate was nonexistent. I felt so deeply out of place, and for the rest of the cab ride, I remained silent. I entered my home stay to be greeted by my host mom who spoke minimal English. The first three weeks of living in Argentina was characterized by a lot of head nodding to sentences I could not understand and being heavily dependent on others to communicate for me.

After I started to align with the pace of my Spanish classes, I began to pick up on the language tremendously. I now not can speak Spanish well, I can understand it also for the most part. This improvement was one I did not see coming, and one I am all too thankful for. Because when I had my ability to communicate removed, I became highly self reliant to do daily actions and have become very grateful for the newfound independence. My program is set to end next week, so I have been thinking a lot about the areas I have grown in.

But, I also have to come to terms with leaving. I have made Buenos Aires my home, and to return to the United States will be a strange type of readjustment -- adjusting to a place that is already so familiar! Granted I have travels planned out after the program ends, this discussion of coming back is nonetheless a difficult but also a healthy one to have. I am so grateful to have met the people I did and for the experiences I went through to be at the place of comfort and peace I am at now, but I miss so much my family, my friends, and my life at GW. With no doubt, I will be returning to a different environment, one which I left for four months. I will be returning to people who have in these four months have changed like I have. Being here and witnessing change daily has helped in not fearing it and rather to embracing it fully.

All I can say is that I am happy to be here and I am happy to be coming home. Thank you also to Buenos Aires for being so sweet to me this semester.

By anuhyabobba

The hostel I stayed in during my stay at Puerto Iguazu had the following Paulo Coelho quote painted on the wall near the entrance -- a quote that has struck with me since:

“When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends upon them. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive.”

My time in Buenos Aires has been marked by a tremendous growth in terms of how I see myself. The first month, before Buenos Aires became a place I see as a type of home, it was a period of time where I was absolutely lost. Over the first two years of university, I have fostered a sense of comfort in how I defined myself, who my friends were, and what I wanted to be. But, the three weeks from when I arrived in Buenos Aires acted as a blank slate. Beforehand, I saw myself as shy, as a person who cannot hold a conversation and also as a person who is dependent on company. I love company, but study abroad is one of the first times where I did activities on my own accord and independently without associating any type of negativity with acting alone. Study abroad allowed me to find comfort in me. Living by myself and without a housemate made me figure out this big city largely on my own. Granted that coming in without knowing Spanish made the process all the more difficult, but four months in, I speak confidently and walking the city streets is not as daunting as it once was.

The most important notion study abroad has helped me come to terms with was how to adapt to my environment without losing a sense of self. I think it can become easy to mold yourself around surrounding circumstances, but I sometimes completely omit my own self, my own likes and dislikes from this process. Like Paulo Coelho said, traveling and living abroad has been this type of rebirth. I did not necessarily lose the person I was before, but I simply built on it greatly to become a better version of myself. I have learned how to reach peace with where I am location wise while also developing on the person I already was. It can be a hard balance to come to, but by being abroad, it was a balance I had to work toward daily.

I am two weeks from the end of my program, and I look back smiling because I am all too grateful for what I have learned in these past few months.

By anuhyabobba

This weekend, I went to Iguazu Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and what is also considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. This was our last trip before the program is set to end in three weeks, which I am slowly preparing for. Iguazu Falls is by far one of the most breathtaking places I have been to. The falls are shared by Brazil and Argentina, with Argentina holding the majority of this natural wonder within its borders.

We took a 20 hour bus ride to arrive to Puerto Iguazu, which we thought would be much more excruciating than it ended up being. After we arrived, my friend and I left for the Brazilian side of the fall, since we only had a half days worth of time. Crossing into Brazil and arriving at the National Park was relatively easy. Brazil offers an amazing view of the Devil's Throat, what is considered the most magnificent of the waterfalls. We were able to take beautiful pictures, and at the end, we walked a foot bridge that was situated quite literally in midst of the Devil's Throat itself. Argentina's access to the Devil's Throat was cut off due to flodding a while back that led to its foot bridge being damaged.

On the second day, we explored the Argentine side of the falls. We hiked the upper and lower circuits that gave tremendous views of the falls. We also decided to go on a nautical adventure, or a boat tour of the waterfalls. It was not so much a tour as it was taking us super close to the waterfall itself, and by the end of it, everyone was soaking wet.

Soon after, it began to downpour on us so we rushed back to our hostel. Even in the rain, seeing Iguazu Falls was worth it, acting as a retreat from the busy Buenos Aires life for a few days. I stayed at an amazing hostel called Mango Chill, which provided us with lunch boxes before we set off on our hikes. All in all, the trip was absolutely beautiful.

By anuhyabobba

I have come to fallen in love with Argentine cuisine during my time abroad, and here are my top five favorite foods:

Choripan: Choripan is essentially a sandwich with chorizo sausage. It is the closest food I have found that matches a GW Deli breakfast sandwich, but I will go as far as to say it is even tastier. They are very cheap, and often sold in food trucks.

Milanesa: Milanesa is a thin slice of meat coated in bread crumbs and fried. It is probably one of the most simple dishes, but restaurants here take on variations of the milanesa that are to die for. My favorite is the chicken milanesa with grilled onions, bacon, and a fried egg on top.

Dulce de leche: When I first arrived into the country, I immediately noticed that dulce de leche replaced peanut butter and nutella here. It is put on everything from your morning toast to fruit to make for a quick dessert. I came in thinking I could not handle the sweet, but I now am addicted.

Empanadas: Empanadas are a stuffed bread, often filled with chicken, beef, and more. The first few weeks of the program, we were all on a search to find the best and cheap empanada place. We have all decided that it is San Juanino in Recoleta. Their empanadas are so delicious and cost around 17 pesos (or around 2 dollars).

Ice cream: Clearly, ice cream is not necessarily traditional to Argentina, but this country is home to the most delicious ice cream I have ever tasted. Freddo is my go-to for inexpensive, delicious, by the kilo ice cream. There are many more chains like Freddo around that sell equally amazing ice cream, and I can say with confidence that I will miss Argentine ice cream so much.

By anuhyabobba

Social exclusion has been a prominent topic in my courses here in Buenos Aires. Each of my courses requires a presentation, and for two out of four, I have presented on this topic as it relates to basic slum geography, how the environment intersects with socioeconomics, and more.

Slums are horribly present in Latin America but also very excluded from the reality of many. Typically located on the periphery of major urban areas, slums are known for their “bad geology” as Mike Davis puts it in The Planet of Slums. The land on which they are situated tends to be land that is not meant for residence. For example, the Villa Inflamable in Buenos Aires is located by the highly polluted Matanza River. The homes in this slum are low lying, so often residents pay surrounding petrochemical companies to dump waste nearby that can then be used to prop their homes higher.

If you live in the central part of the city, you are most likely to not see a slum in your time. That to me was one of the scariest notions to come to terms with in my study abroad time: people living in the worst of conditions, but because they are located in a socially isolated area, their reality becomes separate and often ignored. The relationship  slums have with the government, which is meant to protect you, is one characterized by negativity. The government rarely channels help to the slums, and probably the largest interaction slum residents see with the government is when law enforcement is either evicting them from their land or for arrests. It is a cycle of systemic violence where people are not living in the worst of conditions as mentioned before but also are forced in a way to remain there. Socioeconomic mobility is near to impossible. The stigma associated with slums even renders it difficult for residents to obtain a job in the central city, with employers turning away potential applicants if they see their address as located within a slum. In Buenos Aires, slums are called “villas miserias” or misery towns. The name itself speaks volumes. They began to expand as a result of the Argentine economic crisis in the early 2000s -- the effect of which is present to this day.

Through coursework, I have come to further grasp the variety of factors that play into social exclusion, a topic that I touched upon barely in my undergraduate studies. While I was aware that slums existed, I did not delve into the structural conditions that allow for them to exist. In doing so, I am more aware than I have ever been, providing the background knowledge needed to question next how these conditions can be challenged.

By anuhyabobba

If you are planning to study abroad in Buenos Aires, here is your guide for some inexpensive places to eat at (in no particular order):

1) Pollo Trak: This is a chain restaurant, and so you can find several locations for it throughout the city. It is a heaven for chicken lovers. For 45 pesos (or near 4 dollars), you can buy a massive fried chicken sandwich with a side of fries that will keep you full for hours. You also have the option to buy a 1/4 chicken or 1/2 chicken, similar to Nando’s in DC. Essentially, for its cheap prices, the portions you will be receiving are massive and also the food itself is delicious.

2) Pekin: If you are craving Asian food, Pekin is where you need to be. From fried rice to curry chicken to more typical Argentine food like asado meat, you can pile on as much as you want and your bill will most likely not go over 50 pesos (or near 5 dollars). There is also an extensive salad bar, if you decide to opt for a more healthier option.

3) Taragüí: Do you like empanadas? Taragüí offers a wide variety of empanadas to choose from but also at a cheap price -- 11 pesos for one empanada (or near 1 dollar). Despite being inexpensive, the empanadas taste heavenly and are prepared within minutes for you to start eating.

4) Club de la Milanesa: This is a bit more pricey than the ones I have listed before, with the typical meal here costing around 90 pesos or near 9 dollars. Club de la Milanesa specializes in the typical Argentine dish of milanesa. Milanesa has Italian origins but is essentially a thin slice of meat (normally beef or chicken) covered in bread crumbs and fried in oil. The restaurant offers variations of the milanesa and has become one of my favorite places to dine. I normally order the -- wait for it -- Americana pollo, which is chicken milanesa topped with grilled onions, bacon, and a fried egg. For me, it is a taste of home at a relatively cheap price. I never finish the portion I receive, so it essentially makes for two meals.

5) Smeterling: While Smeterling is not where one goes for a meal, it is the to-go place for dessert. You walk into Smeterling to see a gorgeous display of cakes, cookies, and macaroons, and despite what you may order, it will definitely keep you coming back for more. One pastry here costs around 40 pesos (or near 4 dollars), while the cookies and macaroons are sold by units for around 10 pesos each (or near 1 dollar).

By anuhyabobba

The colectivo is a blessing but can also be a burden. Colectivos are the public buses in Argentina and my primary mode of transportation from place to place. To ride a colectivo, you have to buy a SUBE card (the equivalent of a Smartrip). Colectivos do not accept cash normally, and if you find a colectivo that does, it will only take coins. So a SUBE card is a must and that can be bought at numerous locations like major post offices. The SUBE can be used for both the bus system and also the subway (but I rarely use the subway).

Numerous lines run throughout the city, and so it can be overwhelming when you first enter Buenos Aires to truly grasp the system. But, once you gain a hold of it, you become highly dependent on it and will come to appreciate how cheap of a method it is for transportation purposes. A typical ride on the colectivo only costs around 3.25 pesos (less than a dollar). I charge my SUBE card for around 50 pesos (or less 5 US dollars), and that will last me for the week. You can charge your SUBE at what are called kioskos here. Kioskos are mini shops that sell snacks and drinks and are also places where you can recharge your SUBE or your cellphone. Just look for the sign outside the kiosko that reads “Hay SUBE” and go on ahead. While taking a taxi in Buenos Aires can also be cheap, the costs compound after multiple rides and will eventually be where you are channeling a lot of money to unknowingly -- a mistake I made in the beginning.

The website many of classmates and I use to know which colectivo to take to reach a certain destination is this: It will map out which line to take and from where and also if you need to connect to another line after a certain point. It is tremendously helpful and saves the trouble of getting lost in what is already a massive city.

Colectivos run regularly on weekdays, but becomes irregular toward the night. The same can be said for the weekends for the most part. But, the one major problem everyone faces with the colectivo is that there is no said schedule. You honestly will never know when a colectivo will arrive at your bus stop. There are times where I have waited for 25 minutes to catch one, and there are times where one arrives as soon as I get to the bus stop. It is really up to luck, and that can become frustrating when you need to be somewhere at a certain time. Also, during rush hour, people will be crammed into the colectivos. Maximum occupancy does not seem to be followed, so people just come and come until either the bus driver decides there is no more room or until there is physically no way for another person to fit. In these scenarios, do what you would do in the DC metro. Front pack your back pack or hold tightly onto your belongings. The less careful you are, the more likely you are to be pick pocketed -- this logic holds in DC and in general big cities.

Finally, one helpful bit of information: you can charge your SUBE up to negative 10 pesos or three extra colectivo rides in case you are running low and cannot find a kiosko that will recharge your card for you in time.

By anuhyabobba

I returned from what is considered spring break in Argentina on early Sunday morning. For some time, my friends and I had been torn between traveling to northern Argentina or northern Chile for the week we have off. In the end, we opted for northern Chile, though I cannot tell you more clearly what made us reach this decision. We booked our flight for September 18 from Buenos Aires to Santiago and then Santiago to a small desert town called Calama. From Calama, we would take a one and a half hour bus to the even smaller desert town of San Pedro de Atacama.

San Pedro de Atacama is situated in the Atacama Desert, or the driest place on Earth. The town overlooks numerous volcanos, but the Licancabur volcano dominates over each. Every morning, I woke up to a beautiful view of the rugged, mountain landscape. In every corner of town, this backdrop was visible and stunning. At night, because of the lack of light and general pollution, the stars were breathtakingly present. I was able to clusters of the Milky Way, and often times, we would chose to sit out in the patio of the hostel and just journal.

Our hostel was called Talar, and during our stay there, my friends and I found a new host mom or “hostel mom” of sorts. Her name was Jessica, and she owned the hostel. She was so kind to us in the days we were in town -- made sure to ask how our days went, quick to give suggestions on how to be safe and also prepared us for each of our excursions, and a lot more. Having her as our go-to person added to what was already an amazing trip.

The first day, we rented bikes to Pukara de Quitor, a pre-Columbian fortress that is around 3 kilometers outside of town. None of us had rode a bike in a long time and that too on unpaved, rocky roads. Of course, we did get lost and started to head toward the direction of Calama. After asking locals for directions, we finally made our way to the archaeological ruins and rested at the top of the fortress. That evening, we toured Valle de la Luna or Moon Valley, a landscape that resembles that of the Moon. It was by far one of the most gorgeous places I have been. Watching the sunset at Valle de la Luna is one to remember, and the shades of pink and purple the mountains took on cannot be described in words.

The next day, we sand boarded. I have never even snow boarded, so I was filled with anxiety as we drove into the Valle de la Muerte or Death Valley to reach the sand dune. The directions being given were horribly vague, so my anxiety reached new levels as we began to climb the sand dune. The instructors suggested to go down diagonally in order to move at a moderate speed. Even though I tried my best to board in a diagonal, I always ended in a straight line down, jetting past people who were on their way up. The speed was exhilarating and then frightening, so I would make myself fall to come to a stop. I did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did, and the striking, jagged landscape characteristic to the Valle de la Muerte made for epic pictures.

The rest of our trip was a mix of hikes out to surrounding places in town or tours to specific locations like Geysers del Tatio, Puritama Hot Springs, and many more. Yes, a person could probably see San Pedro de Atacama in two to three days. But, staying for the week made for a relaxing retreat from city life and also made me really grow attached to this small town. It felt nice to have a place that we vacationed at start feeling familiar and like another home almost. From buying groceries at the markets to make lunches and dinners, having the staff recognize us at the restaurant we always chose to dine at, or even having people on the streets start smiling at us because they saw us the day before -- it was all centering and peaceful.

By anuhyabobba

My primary motivation for study abroad was to understand how life differed from what I considered normal. In many ways more than one, Buenos Aires contrasts my lifestyle back in DC and here are a few ways in which it does:

1) In DC, I often find myself speed walking it to place to place, even when I am not in a rush. I have this sense of hurry that is attached to all that I do. In Buenos Aires, a part of the adjustment process was learning how to slow down. Yes, time is a limited resource, but I did not see it being enjoyed when you use it in a context of constantly having to be preoccupied or busy. Buenos Aires has been teaching how to relax and as cheesy as it sounds, how to take each moment at a time rather than needing to rush through it all.

2) A second major difference I have noticed between life in DC and life in Buenos Aires is in the classroom realm. I learn about Latin American politics in courses at GW and while they have provided me immense context to what I further expand upon here, it is an ultimately new experience to hear Latin American history through the perspective of a person from here and also more generally in the region itself. For example, one of my professors' family had to move out Argentina during the Dirty War because they were at the risk of being considered political dissidents in the eyes of the state and would have been harmed soon after. Studying abroad really does expand beyond the "single story" we often are taught by and provides many new perspectives we may miss otherwise to this story.

3) My program is structured in a way where all the students live in home stays. Without a gathering spot like the library or a dorm room, it proves to be difficult to make plans and meet up often times. While that does not mean it is impossible to be done, it does mean that in a lot of my adventuring, I have to take that initiative and head out on my own. This is a lot different from my life in DC, because I always am dependent on having company to make an experience. So when it is harder to gain that company because we are spread out through the city and spontaneous adventuring proves hard to execute, I am learning to deeply value my independence, which has been a quality I take for granted a lot.

4) Of course, a major contrast is the language barrier. Having learned French only throughout most of my life, it was difficult to get by in the beginning. But as soon as classes started, I picked up Spanish very quickly. I was so shy to try out what I had been learning in the start, but now I just go for it. If I mess up, I mess up. I have gained a lot of confidence in my ability to learn and improve here, it makes me grateful. Learning language back in the States lacks only one component, which is the opportunity to practice the language everyday after leaving the classroom. I have that opportunity here, and I am happy to say that I am making the most out of it.