A few days ago I made one month of being in Argentina, and at that same moment I realized I’ve entered stage 2.
When getting ready to study abroad one goes to many presentations hoping to become aware of life abroad, but truth is nothing can prepare you for life in another country. So, I’ll now hit you with the truth- the first hand encounter of a student of color studying abroad.
Well to get things started studying abroad is having the ability to have an open mind to new cultures, people, ideas and a new life. It all seemed exciting when granted the Gilman Scholarship ( a scholarship awarded to students who need financial help to study abroad- which was first awarded to students of minority to help them study abroad) I felt like I could conquer the world and slowly but surely start by traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina. A month in, it doesn’t quite feel the same – not even a bit.
Entering stage 2 is what we call ” the hole” or at least I’ll call it that. In the life of studying abroad there are different stages, stage 2 being rock bottom, the realization that you are entering a zone where studying abroad seems like the worse idea you’ve ever made. In stage 2 you face : anger, irritation, culture shock- in a negative way, sadness, homesick, and everything else that will pretty much want to make you pack your bags and get home as soon as possible. Now where does the idea of being a student of color change things? Well being here in Buenos Aires I have had the opportunity to meet quite a few different people, for the most part people who have been privileged enough to both attend a private high school, private college and an education that surpasses that of which I was not granted growing up in an Urban neighborhood.
To be honest, I have never been ashamed to tell people where I’m from or to speak about my past in an underprivileged area, but after a month of being here it gets difficult. Coming from the Bronx, New York my middle school days consisted of running home during halloween because gangs would throw frozen batteries at kids, or how during my high school years I had to both pass through a metal detector and get scanned to make sure I was safe in school to get an education that many now deem “not enough”. Meeting the people I have, I can’t share the same stories about running track after school under the sun, or having bragging rights about how many AP courses I took my senior year, when asked I simply respond with “I’m just proud I graduated high school and had the chance to attend college”. Many people have judged the way I speak as “ghetto” or “not making sense”, sitting down and trying to explain to others that I speak Ebonics isn’ t the easiest of tasks, but its something I one day will have the pride of sharing with others. My spanish native speaking skills are not appreciated either, being told I don’t know the “correct” spanish in order for others to understand me- isn’t quite flattering.
The food, the culture, the people – it’s all becoming so estranged and difficult. Although this all seems difficult I know that just like you and anyone else reading this, we have made it this far and never will I forget the hardships and adversities I have overcome to get here. Having the amazing opportunity to attend college thanks to the EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) and taking that opportunity to expand it and travel to Argentina with the Gilman Scholarship is enough to say that it’ll only get better from here. Listening to others stories about the opportunities they have been privileged with only reminds me of how much grateful I am for the ones I have been granted. I hope that for all who read this, you realize that, there will always be a downpour but in the end the sun will always shine.