Comfort is Overrated

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 8. Bubble, Buenos Aires by Kiana1 Comment

I’ve always identified with spaces. At home in California and in New York, I have my spots that provide me with comfort and routine, down to the desks I sit at in class. After a long day of commitments and errands, there’s nothing I love more than coming home and flopping onto my bed, because for the first time since I woke up, everything around me is still. I don’t consider my possessions part of who I am, and therefore think I would be okay without them. It’s just the knowledge that I am in a familiar place, that gives me comfort.

As I write this post, I am sitting at a table in the bookstore cafe I sit at most weekdays. In New York, I spent ample time in Bobst library, so when I came here and found no 12 floor research library to my disposal, I felt a little like a freshly baked sheet cake that had to be extremely carefully transferred to a cooling tray. That’s the closest comparison I can make. Sorry. Now I come here to do my work. Because I know of this quality of myself, I’ve become increasingly drawn to breaking my bubbles of spaces. Fascination in the unknown, right? To be honest, it’s been a pretty gradual process, but by the end, I don’t want to feel this need to stake claims every time I touch down in a new place. The goal is to be able to go as far and as unexplored as possible, all without the entitlement of identification to geographic places, of which are infinitely greater than I am.

In relation to Argentina, the simple volume of places and experiences that exist within my grasp is so large that there just isn’t time to condition certain places into my life. Rather, I am working on diversifying my afternoons and weekends outside of the bubble I created when I got here. It’s also a mental process. Last weekend, my friend and neighbor Allie asked if I wanted to walk around La Boca, a neighborhood about a half hour from ours famous for the birth of tango and its’ colorful houses. As soon as I saw Allie’s message, my hesitation set in because I knew it would be fulfilling to explore a part of the city, but it would also be fulfilling to sit at a neighborhood cafe drinking coffee and reading my book. This dilemma was and is largely about breaking down a mental barrier for me. Having the confidence in what my impulsive sense of exploration has to offer me is a trust I’ve been practicing. More often than not, even if an adventure goes in a direction different than I expected, I think back on it fondly, which only motivates me to push farther.

I think many of my study abroad peers have a similar mentality. There is a consensus among us that we came to Buenos Aires because we didn’t want to wade in, we wanted to dive deep. Not to say that other programs aren’t as immersive, they are, but in different ways. We don’t have the option of finding refuge in dorm rooms or taking a train to a different country for a weekend. If we start feeling uncomfortable in this city or with the family we are living with, the only choice is to lean into that discomfort and make the best of it. Sometimes I can’t believe that I was even able to bring a bubble down here. I keep waiting for this cross-hemisphere distance to sink in and for me to erupt into flames of panic, but lately I don’t think that’s going to happen, which is pretty cool.


  1. Hi Kiana,

    I definitely agree that arriving at locations outside your bubble is as much a mental process as it is physical. We quickly settle down into locations, even if we might be in different continents, and often times can feel restricted by the items, nearby locations or groups of people who provide us with the greatest amount of familiarity. That is fantastic that there are a group of people in Buenos Aires who came with the objective of “diving deep” into what Argentina has to offer. At the same time, having a bit of a bubble around you in foreign places might not always be worst thing: constant feelings of being uncomfortable would probably eventually lead to panic.

    By the way, great photo of the glacier!

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