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Seventeen years old, no knowledge of the Spanish language and having never left the country on my own, I thought it would be a great idea to move to Argentina for a year.
After a years of preparation, the day had finally come for me to farewell my family and friends and head off on this crazy adventure. As soon as I took my seat on the plane it all started to sink in, and I was hit with the reality of what I was about to do.
The first month was a blur. Within these four weeks I had moved in with my host family, of two parents and two younger sisters, met every friend they had, eaten atleast the equivalent of a large cow, started school where I didn’t understand one word, and had acted out every Spanish conversation I was thrown into. In addition to all of this, I was trying to understand the culture, the average day in the life of an argentinian as well as teach myself Spanish. This may sound like your worst nightmare, but it’s far from it.
It didn’t take long for me to settle into my life as an Argentinian. My classmates were as eager as I was to show me the city, take me out partying every weekend and to make me feel welcome. I was also very fortunate to have such a loving host family, as soon as I moved in I felt like I was their long-lost-english-speaking-daughter.
The saying goes that the last 6months of an exchange are the best. This is now a proven fact. In my final months in Argentina, everything was a breeze. I wasn’t seen as the exchange student anymore, but a member of my family, friend group and even the community. I had almost forgotten that my first language was english and that I was from New Zealand. I suppose after 11months, daily routines do become normal. I got used to starting school at 7.30am, and wearing heels to clubs until 6am, and kissing strangers on the cheek at first introductions and sleeping for 3 hours every afternoon.
Some people say that my exchange was a holiday. But for me it was far from it. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have ever done, it may be a cliché but it’s true.