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  • Writer's pictureAl G

The Most Learning Happens Outside of the Classroom

tldr: self care, listening to my body, finding ways to give myself grace

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!

 

This is my motto. Not just for this week, but for this semester and beyond!

***

This past week, I received this text from a close friend of mine. It was the exact text that I needed in that moment, but also the perfect intention to set for my time abroad. One day feels as if it is a week, and before I know it one week feels like a month. Time is a strange concept-elusive in some ways, slipping through your fingers before you know it. Time is intangible, unable to be fully understood yet at the same time, in my opinion it is indeed the most valuable of our possessions. As individuals, we have the agency to control where we place our energy and the people we allow to share our precious energy with. Our time on this earth in this now moment is sacred. Therefore, it matters now more than ever to be intentional with both our time and energy--two concepts that are inextricably connected.


That leads me back to the original quote to start off the blog for today....

Every day is self care day!!

Being in Argentina for these past almost 3 weeks, I believe it's of utmost importance to embrace this quote in this very now moment. As I have discovered, going abroad comes with many sublayers and new challenges to tackle. I'll tell you one thing... it's definitely not just the highlight reel you see on people's Instagram's: traveling care-free, country-hopping, going to bars, and having the "best time of your entire life." Don't get me wrong, I have shared the most hearty laughs with some of the most wonderful people here in Argentina--moments I wouldn't trade for the world, but being abroad also brings up so many more emotions than just that.


On its own, it's difficult to take care of yourself. To be honest, I think of it as a whole entire job. Not only do you have to care for your physical *basic* needs such as feeding yourself nutritious hearty food, getting enough sleep, hydrating, and moving your body (which is hard enough as it is!), but in addition, you have to listen to your spirits, mind, and soul. You have to make time for yourself to do things that energize you, that bring you pure joy, that bring out your inner child, that make you feel seen and heard. But then, when you add on the extra layer of being in an entire new city, in an entire new country, in a different language, with 20+ new people you've never met? ....then, it gets a bit complex. And often, you forget that indeed, every day is a a self care day!!!


Self care day is not just for Sunday's "reset and renew".....or just for those days when you are feeling crummy, down bad, or physically/mentally not at your best.

But self care day is for every day! You deserve to show up for yourself!


So, after reading that quote on Monday morning, I decided to take that with stride and fully embrace self-care in its various manifested forms, whether that be sacred conversations with my sisters (young women in my program), peaceful walks solo in the botanical garden and ecoparque, painting with water colors in the cafe, taking myself out on a date to a wonderful vegetarian lunch spot, or strolling along the pier at Puerto Madero by the water.

However, acts of self-care also come in different shapes, sizes, and forms. I've also given myself grace this week in small ways such as: deciding to stay in on Saturday and sleep, calling it a day on a homework assignment after already spending 6 hours on it, not letting myself feel guilty about not putting up this blog post on "time" (Sunday) because I was taking time for myself.


Each day I am discovering something new about myself, setting new boundaries to liberate myself and to turn into the most authentic form of myself! This week I have especially grappled with finding a balance between navigating time spent with the group and sacred time alone. Transitioning from my truly life-changing experience in San Francisco this summer where I learned how to navigate a whole city and forge individual connections on my own to another new city, but this time with a pre-formed group of friends, has been hard for me to adjust. After a transformative period of my life this summer, I realized although I am an "extrovert" and labeled as such by everyone that I encounter, that doesn't diminish my vital need for time alone to recharge and spend time by myself. Furthermore, this summer I was able to achieve a balance between spending time by myself and exploring the city at my own pace and then also exchanging energy only with those who would recharge me and fully drop into a space where we both could be ourselves authentically!


Adjusting to time spent in big groups in Buenos Aires has been, to be honest, difficult for me thus far during my time abroad. I've never been a big fan of friend groups or time spent with more than 10 or so people, but now, being constantly in groups as big as 16, has been a bit overwhelming. As I've grown older, I've cherished fostering individual relationships grounded in deep trust, vulnerability, and love with everyone in my life and I've found that being in big groups makes it harder to achieve that level of friendship with those in my life.


Furthermore, as I stated before in my first blog post, my goal here in Buenos Aires was to speak Spanish 100% of the time while abroad. I've craved for so long to have this "complete immersive experience" in my life time, but so far have gotten frustrated at myself when I slip up and speak English to my friends. Since being here, I've had to navigate this delicate balance of both respecting other people's individual goals with Spanish (because everyone's is different and varies based on Spanish level) as well as respecting myself and my own individual goals!


Lastly, my classes with my University and SIT have also given me a lot of work these past two weeks. Managing my mental and physical health on top of keeping up with my work has been a battle in and of itself!


***


Through all of this, I've learned more than ever how to give myself grace to myself and others. This sometimes looks like:

  • Separating myself from the group and spending time alone to explore the city

  • Speaking my boundaries to others and having 1:1's where we only speak Spanish

  • Allowing myself to speak English to my friends sometimes if we are talking about a difficult subject, so we don't have to navigate the language barrier

  • Not feeling guilty about taking a break from academics, although it's what I am here for, I know that taking care of my health is of #1 importance!

  • Not putting myself down for keeping in contact with those I cherish back at home. It's okay to stay in touch with people that you love! It's all about balance. You can define what "staying in the moment" means for you

  • Taking deep breaths - this experience is a whole learning process and it's okay if I'm not perfect!

All in all, I've realized that the most learning really does happen outside of the classroom, especially when you treat every day like a self care day and do something for yourself! I've really tried to fully immerse myself, have deep conversations in Spanish with those around me and throw myself into the deep end, while also embracing myself in all forms! Through all of this, I've felt so much more vivacious and jubilant when listening to my body.



A big thank you to everyone who has been following me along! Again, it means so much to me that people from near and far are reading my blog and spending time and energy to support me on my journey here in Buenos Aires!


And haha a big thank you to Carlos and Hero for following me along! If you see this message, thank you for being a fan of my blog!!




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genagarner
Sep 16, 2022

Hi, Alice! It sounds like a whirlwind of activity! I’ve never been a “group” person, so I would probably be miserable. My impression is that you are working very hard to balance your life right now, and have smartly realized that taking care of yourself is a must. I’m sending you hugs (Stan, too) and hope you find comfort and peace in your present situation. I like the camel‘s expression! 😄

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