Thursday, May 16, 2019

Cameron in Uruguay!

Cameron in Uruguay!

Here’s to spreading your wings, falling, soaring, and all of the moments in between.

My name is Cameron and I am studying abroad in Montevideo, Uruguay at Universidad de Montevideo (UM). I looked forward to studying abroad because I was dying to travel outside of the United States since I was a little girl. Having lived in the same small town for 14 years, I was more than ready to leave (or so I thought). When I got in line to go through security at the airport and turned to say goodbye to my family for what seemed like the fifth time, I realized that they were already gone. I felt a pit in my stomach that I would never forget and I didn’t know this then but that feeling would stick with me for days to come. I had images in my mind as to what my first few days in Uruguay would be like, but my true experiences did not match up to the picture-perfect expectations in my head.

I didn’t know that I would spend my first days in Uruguay feeling so alone.
I didn’t expect to fail having a conversation in Spanish with my host mom and with locals all around me after spending 2 years learning Spanish.
I didn’t anticipate the difficulties of completing simple tasks in a different country; going for a walk, buying groceries, and taking a bus all suddenly became incredibly daunting and mentally exhausting tasks.

Hi MTV! Welcome to my crib! (Casapueblo in Maldonado, Uruguay)

To me, studying abroad is a lot like riding a roller coaster; you initially think it is a great idea, wait in line, mentally prepare yourself, buckle up, wait for crew instructions, and can hardly contain your excitement for the ride to start. Then, as soon as you feel the roller coaster carts move on the tracks, the doubts and fears you tried so hard to push down suddenly appear at the forefront of your mind. What have I done? Why did I choose a place that doesn’t speak English? What if I don’t make friends? What if I make a complete fool out of myself trying to speak Spanish? Are my friends and family going to be okay without me? What will I be missing out on? What if it isn’t everything I thought it would be?

 On top of Intendencia de Montevideo where you can get a free 360 view of Montevideo! I am pictured with friends from all over the world. From L to R: Emmanuel (Uruguay), Juan (Argentina), Me, Janneke (Netherlands), RenĂ© (Germany), and Marie (France). The cup in my hand is called "mate", a very popular beverage in Uruguay.  

However, after that first incline when you are sitting at the top waiting to drop, you start to realize that there is really nothing you can do except adjust, breathe, and ride it out until the end. Then, you descend quickly; you loop, twist, turn, go backwards and you feel all of this adrenaline, excitement, and joy! But before you know it, the ride is over. When the ride ends, you recognize that the decision you made was a great one. You experienced something incredibly thrilling and you would have never known it had you skipped the rollercoaster, gave into your fears, or tried to make yourself seem too short to ride.

It has been almost two months since arriving in Uruguay and according to my countdown clock, I have approximately 3 months and some days before returning to the United States. Truly though, I haven’t been checking as often anymore; I dread it now. After some time, I have realized that studying abroad and choosing Uruguay was one of the greatest choices I have ever made.
I didn’t expect to make lifelong friendships with people from various countries all over the globe.
I didn’t know that I would hike gorgeous landscapes in Patagonia, visit beautiful beaches in Punta del Este, volunteer with other UM students in Minas, and continue to further explore Uruguay.
I didn’t anticipate to find myself in Uruguay or to grow to love life in Montevideo.

An international students school trip to Punta del Este, Uruguay would not be complete without taking a picture at Los Dedos (the fingers). 

This may have not been the blog that you imagined yourself reading. I realize that, in stark contrast to my colleagues, I admitted to some hard truths about a semester abroad. At the beginning (and even the middle and end of your experience), you will feel threatened, insecure, frustrated, anxious, nervous, and/or homesick; that is completely normal. Those feelings are what make you human and that is what makes your experience so unique. One of the best truths that I can share with you though is that you will not always feel this way. It will get better. You will make friends. You will enjoy your time. Your friends and family still love you back home and think about you every second; don’t worry about them too much though, they still have their own lives. You may have gotten yourself into something completely new, but that doesn’t make it bad.

My dragon, Frijole, in front of the great mountains of San Carlos de Bariloche in Patagonia, Argentina. We traveled together throughout Argentina for Semana Santa (Holy Week), or as known in Uruguay: Semana Turismo (Tourism Week). 

It may seem scary at first but try to enjoy every second and constantly find yourself in the presence of wonder. And for those moments where you cannot seem to find an ounce of joy, dare to learn. Then, prepare for the next ride and do it all over again.