I spent my junior year, fall 2014-spring 2015, studying abroad in Mendoza, Argentina. Spending the whole year abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It gave me the opportunity to fully integrate myself into the small city and make lots of local friends, and I still had time to travel to other South American countries and throughout Argentina.
I was a full-time student at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, where I took all of my classes in Spanish, and was often one of the only international students in the class. While this was not always easy, it was very rewarding. I proved to myself, my professors, and my classmates that even though I was a yanqui (from the US), I could do group work, class discussions, and oral exams just like they could. I also participated in a variety of activities, such as aerial silks, outdoors clubs, and African dance classes.
Mendoza is much more laid back than the USA. In most of my classes, including aerial silks and dance, we drank mate, a loose-leaf tea that you drink through a straw, and share with everyone, including professors. I was shocked the first time I saw one of my classmates bring the mate up to the professor while he was lecturing, but I soon became accustomed to it, and continue to drink mate here on campus.
When I was abroad, I was the version of myself that I want to be all the time. I was confident, because I knew that was the only way people would treat me as something other than a stupid yanqui. I was never stressed out, because Mendocinians simply aren’t ever stressed. And I was doing what I loved, speaking Spanish, spending time with friends, learning new things, travelling and simply being happy.
I’ve tried to incorporate that lifestyle into my life back here in the states. When it’s hard, I remember how many great experiences I had over my time studying abroad. While it does take being in South America to hike in Patagonia and go to Machu Picchu, many of my favorite memories are special simply because I was living life from a different perspective. Sometimes it just takes looking at life in a new way to appreciate it.
Ariana Solodar-Wincele '16
Terms Abroad: Fall 2014-Spring 2015
Bonchek College House
Majors: Anthropology and Spanish
- F&M Dance Company
- Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity
- African Dance Troupe