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Friend, loves, adventures, learning and happy ending?  

By inepalacios

Monday  April 28, afternoon. My deadline to submit my last post is over. Again many plans during the week were the excuse. A baseball game as a goodbye event, a friend´s birthday, a ball with the Class Council, another birthday, a good bye party, a Latin Festival, applications for internships, a paper, and a conference with an Argentine senator in Georgetown University… these made me to leave the blog post to the last moment. Maybe it was unconscious because my last post means concluding something that I don’t want to finish. The reality is that there is two weeks left before the finals and that's it.

The last week, while I was organizing my papers, I founded a paper that said: “Goals at GW”: 1. Take advantage of DC; 2.Take advantage of the courses and professors; 3. Take advantage of the campus, 4. Enjoy the going outs; 5.Being part of one of the 300 organizations; 6. Know the entire city;  7.Continue running; 8. Speak English better; 9. Travel; 10. Meet new Americans and Worldwide friends. 

Would I be able to do every of these goals in four months?  Although I didn't have those goals on paper with me, it seems that these expectations didn't disappear from my mind because those were almost what I was doing.

  1. Take advantage of DC. With hundred of international political organizations around the corner of my house, it was impossible not to go to one of their events. Seminar in the Inter-American Development Bank, receptions with ambassadors, discussion about taxation reforms, discussions in other universities. It was complicated to understand everything in English, but really enrichment. The few events I went convinced me how much political influent DC has.
  2. Taking advantage of GW classes. Although I can’t say that I dedicated the same amount of hours of study as I had dedicated in Buenos Aires, although I missed the more deep discussions in my home university a lot, putting effort to understand the professors was a big challenge, sometimes it was frustrating but also worthwhile. I will bring with me an interesting approach of the American political system.
  3. Taking advantage of GW Campus. The fact that my 5 classes were in 5 different buildings distributed around more than 15 blocks, closer to the IMF, World Bank, and the White House, or for instance the fact that the gym and the library are each one biggest than my home university, or the detail that we have some kind of  free taxi even to go to a club, these kind of things remembered me that I have been in a first word university, in one located in the middle of a great city. I would not permit myself to not take advantage of that. Now, after three months I still finding new places to study, to hang out, to take a coffee, to enjoy it. I tried to spend my time outside of my room, changing place to study, changing every day my way to go to the classes, taking GW taxis, making friend with the drivers or just walking to the monuments after class.
  4. Enjoy going out. Spending nice time was easy with my exchange friends,  that always were willing to go to the parties on campus or to the clubs in the different neighborhoods. But I have to recognize that I missed my Argentine parties, the music, the long and later parties. Otherwise, although sometimes was impossible wake up as nothing had been happened, going out so earlier permitted me not to waste my next mornings.
  5. Being part of one of the 300 student organizations of GW. There was a position to represent the exchange student in the International Committee of GW Class Council. I applied, I had an interview, and I was accepted! From that moment, I shared meeting, events, food, a formal party, and funny moments to remember.  Until the last event I meet new interesting people.
  6. Know the entire city and …
  7.  Continue Running. Thanks that I found a nice running team with energies to run around DC I could do both (6 and 7). We saw beautiful sunsets, visited hidden memorials, took different bridges, enjoyed the first and also the last cherry blossom, and knew new neighborhoods. I am still discovering new places.
  8. Speak English better. I remember January 6 when I arrived to GW to the first time; just I could say some words and my nervousness didn’t help me.  That nice first orientation week was mixed with frustration to not be able to communicate as the same way than Argentina. The fact of having that put my effort to understand the professors; to keep reading for each class, to write for the blog and paperclass, to be communicated with the people permitted me improved my English. It is like an achievement that I want to share it, learning to speak almost fluently in a language in less than a year is possible! With effort and willingness to make mistakes all the time, with patience is possible always.
  9. Travel. I went to Boston, Massachusetts, obviously DC, New York and Florida. Amazing places! A bunch of memories from each one. Now, with Timo, Pepi, Matt, Ipek and I are planning to do a road trip to the west coast. Beginning in Texas, going to the Gran Canyon, Las Vegas, Los Angles, California, among others places. I can’t believe it that I will be able to do that!
  10. Know American and worldwide friends. The willingness of the international students to be friendly helped a lot. It was obviously that my first closer friends would be Hispanic. I founded example of persons, new ears, and new opinions in them. Thank Giss, Java, Agus, Inma, Pepi, Steph and Timo for that. But being able to speak better and with the guys’s patience to understand me, I could do friend from the rest of the world Souhia, Amna, Ipek, Oceane, Candice, Nadine, Soha, Ashraf, and Matt, the list will not end if a have to name all of the great exchange students that I met, the last ones that I named were who with I shared most of my time. I can’t forget my American friend Whitney and Meagan thank girls to be open to share time. Thanks to my roommate Emily although we didn’t spend a lot of time together, I have to say thanks for her pacience, mainly for my mess, and my unorganized hours. I can’t forget the friends that I meet before to came to the US, thank Steven, Ashley, Jake, thank to my best visits: Jeru and Kathi, and thank to my best host Emma. Some can call them networking, other accountants, but they were my friends with I shared this incredible  four months.


But, without doubt my exchange was more than 10 achieved goals, were contrasting every daily detail as cultural differences, like enjoying hearing many languages on the street, to get used to new flavors, new times, new weathers, and new ways to socialize.

After my second-to-last post, where I numbered things that I had done, some friends asked about the think #21: Fall in love, fall out love, fall in love again. I have to recognize that it was a nice part of my exchange. I meet incredible people, intelligent, interesting, fun, funny. A date, a meal, a coffee, a running, a walk, a party are moments that I will remember.

Sometimes I felt bad, overconfidence to believe that I could be able to do so many goals at the same time. But the fact the coming here was hard made that the criteria of “take advantage of every opportunity” that never have disappeared. And that’s how my main concern appeared at least half of my exchange. How can be possible that studying political science, being in the main political city, I have not been working here? My first obstacle: my Visa doesn't allow me to work before the last four months.  Now, after the fours months, the concern have been consumed a lot of my hours, locking internship, writing resumes, writing cover letter, asking for recommendation letters, looking funding, asking for extension of my visa, trying to change my plane tickets, among other things. I would love to say what I will do in the next weeks, but nothing is sure yet. Although there was no confirmed response I knew that I was pre-selected in the Organization of American States (OAS) among 500 students, in the main political forum of the Region that promotes and supports Democracy, Human Rights, Multi-dimensional Security and Integral Development in the Americas. Besides if I will be able to work there I want to fell that I made everything to work in DC.

If I remember my expectations less four years ago, in my high school, when I was simulating to be a political leader in the OAS, I never thought that I would won an scholarship to study in one of the best universities of my country, Di Tella, I never imagine that Di Tella would give the possibility to study in the US, that also in few time I would be able to speak in another language, to write, to research and communicate in English. And more important I never imagine that few years after I would be near to work in that organization where I had simulated to work. I never imagine all the growth that I experienced in these three years.

Although I miss my family, my friend, mi province Tucuman, mi little town Santa Maria, they are “my fuel” to realized that what means be in a place of the first word, taking advantage of its development, absorbing its culture, knowing new perspectives to be applied in my country.  Although I miss Di Tella, my friend of Buenos Aires, mi friends of the university, they also was “my fuel” to put in practice what they taught me, to take advantage of the life without the social structures that they helped to break, to put sacrifice when was necessary, and not to stop to look for excellence in each of my challenges as they demonstrated me.

I realized that I am more Argentine that I imagined, just only seeing a lot American using alpargatas (espadrilles), or drinking our wines made feel proud form our exported culture. An anecdote, I promise that is almost the last one, I was in New York subway, crowd of people, almost sick after walk in the around the city with unsupportable cold, suddenly I heard an Argentinean song, a song of carnival, for a moment I got goose bumps. I realized how far away I was, how out of context the song was, but how into mine was. I remembered the dances of carnival in the school, the festival in the summers, and the Sundays playing a guitar with the family, things that I can’t change for nothing.

Whit the same intensity, but with lack of proud, I was running from a class to a seminar en the Inter American Developed Bank, I took a taxi, and the taxi driver said me: I bought the bonds offered by your former president Menem, and I lost them with your former president Kirchner, I lost the majority of my capital in them. It was awkward to hear someone disadvantaged by the corruption of one of my governments and by the celebrated restoration of our debt. This was one of these random experiences when thousand of questions came to my mind, when the gains to learn more came up, an energy to be prepared to contribute to some change in the political system of my country, or in my province, or simply in my Santa Maria , the moment when I fell responsible to put optimist in my political system, and be conscientious that my society is still having thousand of urgency problems.

In these last months I learned a lot.

I learned that we are more similar than different, maybe because we leave in the same privilege bubble to study in a university.

I learned that sometimes I need a limit of time, like this fours months, or/and a limit of resources to value every opportunity as a moment impossible to don’t take advantage.

"I learned that I don’t have to limit myself to dream, and I have work for that, being sure that I tried everything to get it, before than to give up saying that I can’t do it."

I found evidence to something that a friend said me… that the life always surprise us, it takes the course that it thinks and we can do nothing but address it, take it, embrace it and learn from it.

I learnt that my parents are the best with me, to support beside that the sacrifice that could mean.

I really wish to stay more time in DC. But I don't know if there will be a far happy ending working in DC, at least now everything was incredible, and it was also incredible to write it. So thank so much to those who choose me to write, to those who corrected me and to everyone who read me.

Washington Monument


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