By Ben Koller
¡Hola, Union! Greetings from Córdoba, Argentina, where 21 of us are spending the winter term. Although, “winter” doesn’t accurately describe life down here in Argentina.
There are a number of differences between life here in Córdoba and a typical winter term in Schenectady, but one of the most obvious differences is the weather.
Rather than dealing with single-digit temperatures or winter storms dumping multiple feet of snow on campus, our chief concerns here are more along the lines of how to stay cool when the temperature is regularly in the mid-90s, or even crossing the 100-degree threshold, which has happened several times.
Gone are our boots and our parkas, replaced with shorts and sandals, as well as thoughts like, “How can Argentinians possibly wear heavy jeans when it’s 100 degrees outside?” Even so, I doubt many of us are missing the harsh winters.
One thing that I do miss about Union is the convenience of living close to nearly everything on campus, from dining and residence halls to classrooms.
In Argentina, on-campus housing at universities doesn’t exist, so we have all been placed with host families around the city.
With a population of more than twice that of Boston, Córdoba is a big city.
In order to get to the university’s campus, we must embark on the time-consuming adventure of utilizing the city’s public bus system, in which the buses are often jam-packed.
It’s definitely a different experience from Union, as well as a very effective way to experience the everyday life and culture of the city.
For most of the week, we’re hard at work with classes and volunteer assignments, but when theweekend rolls around, it’s time to take advantage of everything Argentina has to offer.
Some weekends we stay in Córdoba, in which case we get to explore the city and the various nightlife options the city has to offer, learning which places we do and do not like.
During many weekends, we have excursions to various locations throughout the country, such as the capital city of Buenos Aires, the famous wine-making region of Mendoza and the town of Jesús Maria, home to a national festival that celebrates traditional gaucho music and horse skills.
Argentina has so much to offer, and all of us on the trip are improving our Spanish skills, enjoying ourselves, learning about small cultural nuances and even learning how to comfortably navigate a foreign city with nearly 1.5 million people.
New skills and new experiences are the norm for us here in Argentina, and none of us would have it any other way.