¡Hola a todos! My name is Jordan Anderson, and I am a junior psychology and Spanish double major. I am spending this semester in Montevideo, Uruguay. It has already been quite an adventure, and I know it will continue to be until I return to Greensboro in December. Studying abroad has always been a dream of mine, so before I got here, I was mostly excited but also a little nervous. However, as soon as I stepped out of the plane and into Carrasco International Airport, I was mostly nervous and a little excited. That first day was both fun and challenging. My roommate Laci (a fellow International Honors student) and I were allowed to drop off our things at our apartment, but then we had to wait for a couple hours in a nearby indoor market while our landlord finished getting our apartment ready (keep in mind that this was after a 24-hour trip). So, we got to know a little bit of the city before we even got to take a nap. I continued to feel as if I were wandering a strange city in need of a nap for the first couple of weeks I spent here. It is never easy to be removed from your normal life and placed into one in which you don’t speak the language very well, and you don’t really know anyone. But, after only 2 or 3 weeks, I had started to adapt. My Spanish was already so much better (it’s amazing what practicing every day for hours can do), and I had already found some great friends in the other international students in my program. I think we all stick together because we’re all in the same crazy situation. I truly became aware of the quality of friends I had made when my birthday rolled around in August. I was a little bit sad because I wasn’t getting to celebrate with my friends from home. However, my friends here surprised me with a huge party, cake, and most importantly, crepes (made by my French friends.)
|The usual Wednesday night out with a fellow International Honors student, Laci|
|Celebrating my 21st birthday with friends from around the world|
While the first few weeks here were life-changing, my journey definitely didn’t end there. The longer I’m here, the better my Spanish gets, the more comfortable I feel, etc. I’ve been here for almost 2 months, and I recently became aware of how much I’ve fallen in love with Montevideo. Last weekend, some friends and I took a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I was truly very surprised when I realized how excited I was to get back to Montevideo. I missed my life here while I was gone, and that made me realize that I’m beginning to feel at home here.
|Montevideo sign located in Playa Pocitos|
|Enjoying the sunshine at La Plaza de la Bandera|
Obviously, I’m learning lots of Spanish here. I learn new words and become more comfortable using the language every day. But Spanish is not all that Uruguay has taught me so far. There’s a word they use a lot here and it’s “tranquí.” Tranquí is a variation of the word “tranquilo” which means calm in Spanish. On the surface level, I have learned to adapt to the more relaxed schedules. By this, I mean that I no longer freak out if I’m supposed to be somewhere, and the bus doesn’t show up on time (or at all.) I’ve also had to find new ways to relax and be calm because I don’t have as many classes as I usually do in the US, and I’m the kind of person who can be stressed doing nothing because I feel like I need to be doing something. But I think the meaning of tranquí goes further than bus schedules and classes. Being here has also taught me that I don’t have to be afraid to mess up when I speak Spanish. The people here are so nice and just happy that I’m trying to learn. The best part is, I think I will be able to apply this to other situations when I go home. I think I’m learning that it’s ok to be wrong and to fail sometimes-it’s all part of the adventure.
|Sunset from my weekend trip to Piriapolis|
|Los Dedos in la playa Punta Del Este|
In addition to getting out of my comfort zone, I’ve been discovering new passions. My passion for adventure has been rediscovered and reinforced, but I also have discovered a new passion for languages and language-learning. As soon as I started to feel comfortable with Spanish, I thought, “What language should I learn next?” Languages to me are endlessly useful, and they can’t be taken away from you once you learn them, even though you may become rusty without practice. Upon returning to the US, I would like to find a way to incorporate linguistics/more languages into my studies and, hopefully, my career.
|La Ciudadela (original gateway to Montevideo when it had a wall, back in the old days)|
|El Palacio Salvo (oldest skyscraper in South America, located in the old city section of Montevideo)|
|My dragon, Rodrigo posing in front of some of the "arte callajero" which is plentiful in Montevideo|
I’ll conclude by saying that I have almost three months left here, but I already don’t know how I’m going to leave. This place, the experiences I’ve had, and the people I’ve met are unforgettable. It’s like I have just enough time here to start a new life, and as it begins, I will have to leave it. But I know that after this, I’ll be on to other adventures, so todo tranquí.