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  • Writer's pictureAl G

High and Low

tldr: a final reflection of my time studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina

TLDR: too long didn't read. I will include this at the top of my blog entry every week! I understand. We are all busy. I appreciate you all taking the time to even read just a couple entries of my blog!

 

Wow! Hello blog! Over a month has passed and it has been over two weeks since I have left Argentina....insane. I wanted to take some time to let my experience in Argentina truly sink in before diving into writing my final reflection post.


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In addition, so much has happened since I have left Argentina. Right after I left Buenos Aires, I flew right to Los Angeles to visit some friends and then after that whirl-wind trip, I went straight to work in South San Francisco, working for the local city government on the Promotores Team to help the Latino community gain resources (the same internship as this summer if you have been following along with my YouTube channel/personal life!) When I have not been picking up hours at my internship, I have been editing my latest video which is now up on my YouTube channel, where I answer some frequently asked questions about my time abroad. You can check out the video here:

But before we reflect on a more holistic level about my time abroad, let's take a step back and rewind....all the way back to mid-November! What was I up to since then in Argentina? Well....during the month of November, I was working with ACCA, the Cultural Association for Chinese-Argentinians. For one of my last weekends, I was able to have the immense privilege to travel to the waterfalls of Iguazú (the third biggest waterfalls in the WORLD....yes, bigger than Niagara Falls!) Below are some of the pictures from the absolutely amazing trip.

I traveled to Iguazú with a group of 4 other girls from my program. We spent a total of 2 whole days there and spent one full day visiting the Argentinian side of the waterfalls and then spent the second day exploring the Brazilian side. Contrary to popular opinion, I thought that the Argentinian views were a *bit* better than the Brazilian side. However, I might be a bit biased since we visited the Argentinian side on the day of the World Cup and if you know anything about Argentina, it's that they are soccer FANATICS! There was practically no one there which made the experience seeing the waterfall and the rainbow (seen in the first picture in the gallery) even MORE special! I had such a powerful and spiritual moment in nature while in Iguazú. Again, being in nature and the stunning greenery. really reminded me how much nature does ground me and how important it is for me to incorporate time in nature as an essential requirement in my schedule! We also were able to take a boat ride UNDER the waterfalls, which was an absolutely incredible experience as well. As we were drenched with the waters from the sacred waterfall, it honestly felt like a spiritual cleansing practice. I felt so refreshed spiritually and energetically after this trip to Iguazú.

Asides from traveling to Iguazú, I also continued to cultivate a community within ACCA (the Association whom I was working for). During the third week of my internship experience, I began to interview various members of the Chinese-Argentinian community. Furthermore, I deepened my understanding of how nuanced identity and culture are as I developed a 30 page comprehensive report in Spanish of my internship, tying in the seven interviews I completed with Chinese-Argentinians in Buenos Aires. At the end of my program at the beginning of December, I presented in front of my peers and my teachers about my experience with ACCA (in Spanish, for 15 minutes!). Although I was nervous, my presentation went extremely well and my passion for the topic shone through!


I felt so fortunate that ACCA opened me up to a community that I never really would have had access to during my time in Argentina. Featured in the pictures above in the gallery, I was able to meet wonderful people, such as my friend Ceci, who I met in my Chinese class at ACCA and Ani, who I met through one of the interviews I conducted! I was so sad that right when I was leaving I was able to finally connect with an incredible community and people who I call home.....


During the last days in Buenos Aires, I was able to witness the World Cup right in Argentina.....an experience I will never forget....(however I was so bummed I was 8 days off of being in Argentina for the celebrations and parties after they won!!). For the last weekend, our program took a trip to Pilar, a province outside of CABA, for our closing activities. We did a talent show to give away our secret santa and I ended up dancing to a famous Rodrigo song!

Now....let's run it back to my first blog post....wayyyy back in August when I was setting my intentions and goals for the trip. Did I fulfill them to the extent I wanted to? Let's see....


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Intentions
  • Stay grounded! One of my intentions that I set before leaving was to stay grounded. I believe that despite traveling so much and feeling like I couldn't set down my "roots" in one place, I did find ways to stay grounded. I got into art, specifically water color -- a hobby that I had never really fully explored (definitely inspired by my host mom who was an artist, other artistic friends, as well as the amazing street art that lined every block in Buenos Aires!) I also found the importance of creating a routine of going to the gym when I could in the city and attending the weekly yoga classes, as well as finding a park/green space to go to as much as I could!! Being the city does require so much GRIT. It requires patience with yourself and those around you. Everything is moving so fast that it forces you to either get swept up in the flurry and lose yourself OR it makes you slow wayyyy down and re-evaluate your own life. Where do I fit into this giant puzzle? What kind of mark do I want to leave on this city? It's so easy to get lost in the shuffle of things or get too busy just existing and not really LIVING.

  • Give myself grace! As I briefly talk about in my most recent vlog, giving myself grace was one of the most important mantras I held dear to me, throughout my time while study abroad. Some of the realizations that I had to give myself grace with, were as followed...it's simply NOT possible to explore everything in the city in 3 months so I should pick and choose intentionally, it's simply NOT possible to go to the gym every day when I'm feeling overwhelmed and tired so I should not be mad at myself for "wasting" money when my body needs to rest, it's simply NOT possible to speak Spanish 100% of the time with my peers because everyone is coming to the table with very different skill levels so I should focus on creating intentional days where I just surround myself with the locals and my host family to get that "full-immersive" experience.

Goals
  • I wanted to explore my identity as an Asian American, trans-national adoptee! Throughout my time in Argentina, I was able to have so many epiphanies about my identity. It honestly felt like I was returning home. Home to what? Home to my roots, wherever they are. Coming off such an incredible summer in San Francisco, I harnessed that energy into further discovery of my own roots through forging out individual connections and working at my internship. How do I want to further connect with my heritage? I was able to start learning Chinese, take traditional Chinese medicine courses, and learn tai chi. I surrounded myself with other people who share that same feeling of being between two worlds, never fully in one, nor the other. I also realized how important it was to discover cuisine from my home country, as coming from Vermont and Davidson, I've never really experienced AUTHENTIC Chinese cuisine, so that has become a priority from now on! Also, while being abroad and having a lack of a Chinese/Asian community for the majority of my time there, it became apparent how important it is for my mental health to surround myself with people who look like me!

  • I wanted to explore more of my Buddhist identity! Unfortunately, I was only able to attend one Buddhist service/go to one Buddhist temple during my time in Buenos Aires/in Argentina in general. However, I was able to deepen my connection with my ancestors! I am still exploring this relationship with the people who came before me and how that will manifest in my life, but I do know for a fact that I have strengthened my ability to connect with them and thank them for everything that they have blessed with me in life!

  • I wanted to become a local! Despite that being a goal of mine initially, I'm not sure if I was able to properly fulfill it because I was never in Buenos Aires for that long of a period of time. With the constant excursions I was embarking upon, the longest time I was in the city for, was at the very end during the internship period (6 weeks). That being said, I was able to forge meaningful connections with those whom I met through my internship, as well as people I saw regularly through my routine (for example at the gym, at the local vegan shop, laundry place, etc.)

  • I wanted to be speaking Spanish 100% of the time. Unfortunately, this goal did not come true. After the first couple of days, I quickly realized that this was not going to come to fruition. I didn't realize how varied each person's Spanish ability was going to be and that it was truly an unrealistic expectation for everyone to be able to communicate at the same level in a different language.

All in all, I would say that I was so lucky to have fulfilled almost all of my goals while abroad in Buenos Aires! I continued to become a more independent, free spirit. Navigating a whole city in a different language is not an easy feat, but I did it! I learned the importance of being alone and how sacred time by myself is and how it is definitely required for me to maintain good mental health. Despite being labeled as an "extrovert," everyone needs time alone!! Being in a group of 16 girls constantly made me realize that taking myself out on dates at least once a week was pivotal in recovering from extensive group time (especially on the week long excursions to the North and the South of Argentina). I also further reinforced how much of a necessity it is to forge individual relationships with those you love. Due to the fact that we were a pretty small program group, it was easy to slip into the habit of hanging out in groups all the time. As someone who has always put a lot of value in individual friendships, this intense group dynamic reminded me that I have to cherish the sacred 1:1 time I had with each person in my program group/in general. I strove for each interaction to be intentional.


The community I formed in Argentina was truly spectacular and I couldn't imagine, looking back, a better support system. Facing constant micro-aggressions and racist objectifying remarks from countless men on the street became so exhausting, so I was so thankful that there were people I could go to directly for support in Argentina and at home-base in America. Although my support system in Argentina / within my program was not East Asian for the most part, I learned to appreciate the soul spirits behind the human body who truly were there for me through my dark times in Argentina. I made friends with people from such different backgrounds, which then made me bring more empathy and perspective to every situation. Life is more than just one or the other, black or white...it's not a game of extremes and listening to other's nuanced lived experiences brought me to a more clear realization of my values what I expect to see in a relationship such as the willingness to be open-minded and ready to learn.


As I move into my next chapter, I am excited about what kind of energy I will harness and bring into this next chapter...I am a more confident individual with a stronger sense of self. Although there are so many unknowns that I still have yet to unlock, I am excited for what the future holds! I have a deeper sense of my passions and studying human rights and social movements served as a reminder of the dedication I have to help marginalized, lower-income communities.


Words can't really describe or sum up my experience in Argentina to a "T" but I hope that my blog paired with my newest YouTube video gives a glimpse into how I've grown (if you've followed along since August, thank you! You're a real one!) Argentina held some of the highest's of highs as I realized what home really is for me and who holds a space of home for me, but also Argentina made me feel the lowest of lows as I navigated the struggles of micro-aggressions, racist remarks, and constant objectification. Impermanence is so real and I can't believe that I said goodbye (or see you later) to some of my dear dear friends for possibly a very long time. I strongly believe that no matter if we meet again and see each other in physical presence, their soul spirit will also be carried with me. Everyone who has impacted my journey in Argentina has made a mark permanently on me, in a positive way....for the better! I feel so grateful for everyone I have crossed passes with. It was fate and I wouldn't change my experience for the world a the challenges I faced turned me into a more resilient adaptable human being who is ready to embrace each now moment with even more love and gratitude.


As I move forward into this new chapter, I'm unsure if I will keep a blog, but I will continue to keep a shortened "blog" on my manifestation journal Instagram (previously my travel account). You can follow that here. I will also continue to update my YouTube channel sporadically. Regardless, thank you so much for being in my life and part of my journey no matter what! You are all the best! Thank you for showing up exactly as you are!


XO,

ALICE <3


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