My Junior Year Abroad

Sonam in South America

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I really can’t believe I actually came back! I had been talking about it for months, wondering if it was actually possible, and how I would get credit for spending a month in Buenos Aires… when you really want something you make it happen. I am so glad to have spent January here interning at an NGO, spending more time with my friends and making more memories. Above are some pictures I took from the office and of my birthday here.  Tomorrow I’m going back to the States, but who knows maybe I’ll come back again. 

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The end to my junior year abroad

When I began this journey last August, I had no idea what to expect. I wrote my first blog post from this very same airport in Santiago, Chile. I set off on my journey a year ago, with tears in my eyes because I was lleaving my family in New York and now as I return home again I have tears yet again because I’m leaving another set of families I have created. What I have realized is that goodbyes are never easy. As I travel more and build more relationships each goodbye gets harder. 

There are a few things I want to address in this last blog post of my junior year. Firstly, this blog was created for the sole purpose of sharing my experiences with friends and also something for me to look back on when I get nostalgic. Secondly, I’d like to share with you all what I learned and how I am going to take that with me going forward. Lastly, I will share personal stories from my time in Buenos Aires and reflect on the year overall. 

As I said, this blog was composed to random activities, events, trips, articles, and memes relating to my time in Brazil and Argentina (with a trip to Uruguay and layovers in Chile). I hope you all enjoyed reading up on my adventures. 

If someone were to ask me what I learned from my year abroad, I wouldn’t know where to start. There are so many things that I could probably write a while book on it. I think as a non-typical gringa or yanqui (American) studying abroad, my experience was probably very different from that of any other person. I understand that each person’s perspective is unique but when you are a person of color or a minority, your experience is definitely different (ya’ll know what I mean). For example, in Brazil, everyone thought I was Japanese-Brazilian so I was called japa. In Argentina, anyone Asian is called chinita. 

In Buenos Aires I worked revitalizing an organic garden at Puerto Pibes, a non-profit that worked with youth and researched legislation on recycling and urban waste. I’ve always said that I want to work in the non-profit sector post graduation, but I’ve come to reconsider that. Working at Puerto Pibes, I saw the bureaucracy involved in getting anything done within an small organization, especially in Latin America. 

After Brazil, I returned to New York for two months, during which due to differences with my family, I ended a year and half long relationship. I left the US in march, ready to get away from my family and be on my own again. I realized in Buenos Aires that I am very much a solitary person, in that I didn’t become best friends with the other Middlebury students on the program, even though I really wanted to. I came to Buenos Aires, heartbroken, thinking that I should be alone for a long, long while. However, through a friend I got to know an amazing guy. I couldn’t have found a more ideal match- an Argentine diplomat, polygot, third culture kid. We’re both realistic and practical so we decided that the relationship would only last the duration of my stay in Argentina. Saying goodbye today at the airport was extremely difficult and I’m sure the weeks that come won’t be any easier. But I am really glad to have met him and wish him all the best. 

In Buenos Aires (just like in Florianópolis) I lived in an apartment. My roommate, Ayelén, was a law student at UBA. She and all her other lawyer friends were super fun to go out with during these last two months. Aye is an extremely brillant, driven and confident person. She tells it like she sees it, and never hesitates in what she says. Also she loved rap songs, so our roommate relationship worked out pretty well. I also want to mention a friend without who this semester wouldn’t have been the same. Funny story is, upon our first meeting she thought I was a meanie and rude. But my Serbian friend, Mili and I went to Bariloche together during Easter and from then on we went to her favorite place El Bárvaro (where they played only cumbia music). ordered a lot of sushi and drank a lot of white wine and fernet with coke. Mili is one of the most funniest, blunt people I have ever met. And I am so glad to have been able to spend this semester with her. 

I cannot believe I have actually spent 10 months in South America, and I’m pretty this isn’t the last time I’ll be here. I want to come back to visit Bolivia, Peru, and everywhere else! 

I want to thank every person that has been part of this amazing year. Although my junior year has come to an end, there’s no stopping this travel bug. I will going to Switzerland in two week to visit my aunt and cousin. I’m going with my brother, and this our first time traveling together alone. Wish us well! xoxo 

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People who you think are your friends, and people who actually are

The first week of July kinda started off really rough. I went out with people from the program, but somehow got ditched while in the bathroom. OUCH. I decided it was late enough and if they were willing to leave without me, then they didn’t care about me. I got home, and received a call from my friend Mili, who is actually one of the most genuinely nice and fantastically ridiculous people I have ever met. The next day, I learned that some people in the group were talking about me and my relationship with my boyfriend here. What hurt me the most was that I had been nothing but nice to everyone, and they had left me alone at a bar, and talked about me and my relationship, which they know nothing about. For those who know me well, I cry very easily and am very sensitive. In the end, I realized that those people were never really my friends, and were more of acquaintances. As I was talking to Jose, Mili and my roommate Ayelen, I realized that these are the people I care about, whose opinions matter to me, and that I should aprovechar the time that I have got left in Buenos Aires with them. 

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Teatro, tango y más teatro ciego

I’ve had so much fun this past month! 

At the start of June, I went to see “Una relación pornográfica” at Paseo La Plaza, in Abastos (which is the theater district in Buenos Aires) with Jose. Although the title suggests a graphic show, the play was actually really subtle, and the actors were amazing. With only two actors during the whole show, with rapid fire Spanish and a great theater going companion, I really enjoyed myself.


The second theatre experience I had was with my friends Catherine and Mili. We went to a teatro ciego (blind theater) show called Babilonia fx  at the Konex . The concept behind teatro ciego, “único teatro del mundo donde todos los espectáculos son realizados en total oscuridad. Obras en total oscuridad. Espectáculos sensoriales.” Honestly, we had a few drinks before the show, and I was pretty tired from my internship, so I dozed off a bit during the show. However, it was a unique experience, and my other senses were heightened during the show. There were lots of sounds, and at one point, there was some really fantastic smelling coffee. 


I figured it would be really sad if I left Buenos Aires without seeing a tango show, so I went to Chantecler Tango with Jose at the Teatro Presidente Alvear. The show was phenomenal, and the dancers were so graceful and light on their feet. Jose and I joked that we were the youngest people in the crowd; everyone around us were pretty old. 


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Some days I’m proud to be an American abroad…

So, I’ve only been an American citizen for a year and half now, but have lived in the US for the past 10 years. During this year abroad in Brazil and Argentina, whenever I tell people that I live in the US and became a citizen, everyone has an opinion. Let’s be real people love to talk shit about the US, and it’s easy to do so when our government makes a fool of itself from time to time and it’s world news. 

Today, I woke up to find out that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA- which states that a marriage is only between a man and woman) has been overturned, AND Texas’ State Senator Wendy Davis’ 13-hour long filibuster shut down a measure to ban all abortions after 20 weeks and place restrictions on how clinics get licensed. 

GO USA!!! 

However, while we have two victories today, we have another loss. The Supreme Court repealed the heart of the Voting Rights Act. 

Read more:

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