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Thomas: Out of my comfort zone

September 1, 2011

I’ve learned that the only way to grow as a person is to step out of one’s comfort zone. There’s nothing that reflects this notion better than my stay so far in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My host mother and host brother speak very little English. The downside of this is that we only converse if it is essential. The upside is that I will be forced to learn and practice Spanish, which was indeed a main goal of my study abroad experience.

Today the program participants took part in a very brief orientation over coffee and pastries. Since I do not have class Monday afternoons, I decided to walk home and explore the sites around my homestay apartment. After closely studying a map, I was able to find my way back to the apartment from the school. It is about a fifteen block walk, which, including waiting for traffic, took me about 20 minutes. The temperature in Buenos Aires is increasing after a cold winter, and to a cold blooded Minnesotan like myself, it is a nearly perfect 60 degree day, especially nice for walking.

My host mother, Mariana, guided me to school in the morning. After I accidentally slept in about twenty minutes, we got a late start. First we tried to catch a bus about a block away, but after one passed that was full of Portenos (B.A. residents), we decided to hail a cab. The cab ride cost about 17 pesos, or about four US dollars. I was a few minutes late arriving at the school, but so was over half of my other classmates.

Around midday, I arrived at my homestay to drop my bag off and I decided to find a place to have lunch. On my way around the block I ran into my host brother, Miguel. Surprised and lacking conversational Spanish, I couldn’t understand what he was saying and I forgot the word for lunch, Almuerzo. I will not forget it now. In my very first experience dining out, I chose a very nice restaurant called “Como en Casa”, loosely translated to “At Home”. I didn’t feel like home, but the food was very good. I enjoyed a salad that was topped with salmon, brie, roasted cranberries,  and avocados.

Having been very nervous ordering food and conversing with the server, I did very well until I finished my salad and made a terrible mistake, accidentally ordering dessert. Thinking I agreed to taking the bill, the server brought out the dessert menu. I know what you’re asking, how could you do that to yourself? Yes, the chocolate mousse-like cake was brutally tasty, and I got through it. Of course I received coffee with it. They drink it small and strong in Argentina. Muy delicioso.

As I spend each hour in Buenos Aires, I can feel the self-growth by stepping out of that ever so enticing comfort zone.

And finally, as promised, more photos of mi casa, the apartment I am living in. I have my very own bathroom! The second to last image is of the meal Mariana cooked for me Sunday night.

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