Dear future JT,
You are about to embark on an amazing study abroad experience at NYU Buenos Aires next semester – all over again. Here are six tips you thought about at the end of the semester last year that will help you make the most of your semester now. (And if anyone else stumbles across this letter, hopefully you can make use of some of these tips.)
- Branch out from the NYU bubble.
School in Buenos Aires is like an entity of its own. Last semester, you wanted to meet more locals from Buenos Aires. But this will not happen unless you put in the effort to speak the local language and branch out from the academic center that is your comfort zone and where you always speak in English to your friends. Go to local events that push you out of your comfort zone. Speak Spanish to more people, and you’ll meet more people.
- Just because you are abroad does not mean you have to be outside and active all the time. You can still spend time alone.
At the same time, you don’t need to spend all of your time out of your bubble. Remember when you used to feel ashamed of yourself that you didn’t go out every single Saturday night? That is completely okay. Make sure that you are well rested and that you are mentally healthy so you can make the most of the experience and be fully present when you do choose to go out. There is nothing wrong with taking time to yourself.
- Don’t go into the study abroad experience thinking you know a community based on things you have heard about it.
While many people here tell you that Argentines may be hot-headed, or that robbers will pickpocket you on the street, these things do not represent all of Argentina. Do not let these things stop you from integrating yourself into the city. Remember, all of this can happen in New York as well.
- Take time to exercise empathy.
As an Asian American in Argentina, you will look different from everyone else, and people will say discriminatory things to you. Instead of being angry, you should encourage yourself to think about why these people may say discriminatory things to you. Take the time to put yourself in their shoes and you may find it easier to deal with this.
- Laugh at yourself.
Don’t take everything so seriously! Things will go wrong! And you will inevitably have bad days. But take these experiences as memories that you will never forget. You will learn from everything, even the hard moments, and you are going to grow stronger through every experience. Remember, you had the courage to come to Argentina for a year without knowing anyone and without really speaking the language or knowing the culture, so you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.
- You may never have the opportunity to do it again.
When else will you have the opportunity to live in South America? That’s right. As much as you say you want to, you will never know, so travel places. Live everyday here as if it were your last because you never know where you will be in the future.
I hope you have an amazing semester Spring 2017 and make some incredible memories!
JT from Fall 2016