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Contrasting experiences and constructing new horizons

By inepalacios

April 6, Sunday Afternoon. Healy Lawn at Georgetown University, the ground. I can feel the sun on my skin. Finally the weather has permitted me to not use a coat. Like every Sunday after a fun weekend, my assignments are a lot, but I could not permit myself to stay in the library or in my room. So here I am, getting to know a new university, hearing a couple of Georgetown students singing one of my favorite Norah Jones’ song. It is a perfect time to turn back and reflect on what has happened in the last days.

An hour ago my friend from California, Khaterina, left D.C. Pic1

As my friend Jeru, she was studying abroad in my home university. But unlike Jeru, Kathy was in Buenos Aires for a whole year.  We shared a few classes and many friends.  Her visit made me miss all of my college friends: our discussions, meetings, joking, interests and stories.  Definitely this weekend was a piece of those. It was also an opportunity to speak native English for more than two ENTIRE days.  It was a moment to compare our experiences: my cultural shock in the US and her cultural shock in Argentina. It was also a time to learn about her daily life, an opportunity to add little improvements to my own  daily routine.  Cooking and eating healthy, listening to  beautiful music, using key websites to take advantages of new spots ... these are all  things that I enjoyed learning from her. Her style of life is one I think many people would envy.  Chatting with Kathy was an  opportunity to learn more about the expectations of an American student: how competitive the job market is here and how “efficient” the American student seem to be: 4 years of college, study abroad experiences, many internships, a lot of leadership experiences, community services activities, at least more than two languages and only 21 years of life, or even less.  If I have to think in the typical Argentine 21 aged, they would have a couple of years studying at the university, several more years to graduated, maybe one (often no) job, maybe some sports. It automatically makes me think in how much my country needs, how we need to improve and change at least our system of education, to be more efficient, we have a free college system and even in that way we are worst?.  I don’t want to say that here everything is perfect, but at least the American cultural models of life available for the majority of the students are better, I think that they are permitting people to be more competitive, more dreamers, more ambitious, at least for the majority of them.

I know the Argentine social problem is more complex than the way that I have presented it, but at least my experience is giving me the opportunity to take the good aspects of US and use them to improve my own reality, at least to put in practice in my life. At the same time this experience implies to value the aspects that I am missing of Argentina, and the challenge to get a combination of the best of both countries.

This weekend was also good to explore more of Foggy Bottom, to eat delicious and healthy food, to going out to a hipster club, to walk around the neighborhood of U street and its market of organic food. I had also the chance to see the fireworks above the Potomac River but most importantly to share all of that with Katherine. Thank you Kathy for your visit! I enjoyed share this week with you!

If I have to choose the best activity that we did, I would say an Argentina exposition of Art. It was paradoxically that Kathy was who found this exposition to go. But at the same time it is understandable, knowing that Kathy is someone who really know how take advantage of every place, to be more explicit probably Kathy knows Buenos Aires better than me. So, I was in that exhibition called “Territories and Subjectivities Contemporary Art from Argentina”, I was enjoying each of the pictures, trying to understand each of the author’s ideas, I realized I was deeply  immersed in the art. I remember a few years ago when I said that the arts exhibitions were " not my thing". Katherine argued that I could understand them because I knew the context of the pictures, and I could appreciate them.  I don't know what changed my mind, but I know that now I have a new activity to enjoy. I can say a new value from my exchange experience.


Another fun activity of the week was a quick and unexpected meeting in the door of metro with one of the guys who has been going to the Homeless shelter where I volunteer. I said hi, and after catching up he happily told me that he found a house to live! This information made me so happy. Although I wont see him again in the shelter, it was beautiful that he shared this great news with me.

Another great visitor left her marks in my exchange story, another week happened quickly; a hundred new ideas and are on my mind. Time is short and there are thousands of events, activities, and adventures that are still to be lived.


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