They say that going abroad changes your life. I came here awaiting some magical transformation where I’d return home a better person. I realize now being abroad doesn’t change your life per say but it definitely impacts it and maybe you don’t transform into a completely new person but you grow incredibly. I think that you don’t always realize it while it’s happening. Argentina has taught me so much and has helped me grow. I want to share five life lessons I have learned in Argentina that I hope to remember for the rest of my life.
#1 Fear Only Fear
Before I packed my bags and ventured half way across the world by myself I was extremely terrified of heights and therefore of planes. Yet still, I packed my bags and set off on this new adventure. I decided that I was not going to let my fear restrict my life. I would board that plane even if I was clutching the seat the entire way and I knew I would do it again in the future. I believe that fear stands in the way of self-growth because you learn the most about yourself outside of your comfort zone. An old high school teacher once told me that if you live in fear you will only ever travel fifteen miles away from your home and die. I want to explore the corners of the world and I cannot do that if I let fear rule my life. For me, traveling to Argentina proved that I was not going to let fear restrict me from living.
#2 Be Disobedient
Porteños carry resistencia in their blood. They constantly question everything, take any opportunity to debate, and are very informed and opinionated about everything. I think that the most beautiful part of their form of luchar is that they actively create alternatives for things they disagree with. They have shown me that you must never wait for the ‘perfect opportunity’ to make positive change because a perfect opportunity does not exist. Time, money, and other obstacles will always stand in the way of justice. You must commit yourself to causing a little bit of havoc in the name of justice despite it all.
#3 Expect Only the Unexpected
Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. Porteños have a popular saying when things go array, ‘son cosas de la vida’. The culture here is very mellow, go with the flow, and it is truly beautiful. However, I will admit it frustrated me to no end at the beginning. I have always been a very punctual person who always has a plan so coming here and having professionals arrive fifteen minutes late or spontaneously changing the plan for the day was one of my biggest challenges. Learning this lesson took a lot of effort from me but I believe it truly increased the quality of my life. It taught me to let go of the things I cannot control and to let negativity live in the past not my present or my future.
#4 You’ve got to live it to believe it
I studied Argentina a lot in my university but it does not compare to living here and seeing first hand the power of the people. Witnessing the struggles of international communities in real life is the strongest way to build solidarity across borders. Argentina has taught me that when you go to a new place you must bring two things with you: your ears and your hands. Your ears to listen to the struggles of the people and your hands to offer in any way they see fit. This is something I could never truly comprehend to such an extent as I do now if I had not come here. I believe that being a good ally is understanding that you will always be learning how to be a better ally. Argentina has definitely helped me learn to be a better ally.
#5 Don’t wait, just go!
In my time in Argentina, I was fortunate to meet extraordinary independent women who taught me that la vida es para disfrutar. One of my cohorts shared with me her ideology on why she travels, she told me that she believes that at the end of her life God will come to her and ask “Did you have fun?” and when God asks her she wants to respond with a definitive yes thinking back to the places she went, the lives she touched, the memories she created. She taught me that traveling is expensive but so is living and at some point, we must decide if we will invest in a new car or in creating memories. When you travel you grow incredibly as a person. Traveling can uniquely impact your life unlike anything else. I have learned that I must continue to travel even if it is alone, even if it’s on a budget, even if it’s only for a week, even if I don’t speak the language because I choose to invest in creating memories.