Bueños dias, mi famila y amigos. I´m writing from my hotel room in Rosario, Argentina. It has been along trip but I made it. I´m exhausted and a bit jet lagged. I´ll have to keep my posts short because of time but I´ll try my best to update whenever I get a chance.

The trip: I arrived at the Portland airport at 5 am. From there I flew to Washington, DC, where I had a 5 hour layover. Then at 10:00 pm I took the flight to Bueños Aires, Argentina. That flight was about 11 hours long. Fortunately, at the Portland airport I ran into John another student in the program. We stayed together and I was relieved that I didn´t have to fly alone.

When we reached the Bueños Aires, the man at the immigration counter didn´t speak much English. He looked at my passport and forms. I thought he would ask me at least a couple of questions. He said ¨Bueno.¨I asked him if he needed anything else. He said, ¨No, no¨ and pointed where I should go. My first practice at speaking Spanish was at the money exchange counter. She started speaking Spanish fast and in the Argentine accent. It sounds a lot different from the Mexican Spanish that I´m used to. I used as much Spanish I could remember and was able to exchange money. In the airport, John and I tried to use as much Spanish as our ability allowed us. In the airport, we met 4 other students in the program and all of us took a bus to Rosario, which was about 4 hours away from Bueños Aires.

For one night, we stayed at a hotel. It felt nice to take a shower and relax a bit. Then, we had a reception where we met other students, staff and professors. We had wine and snacks. After that, a big group of us went out to socialize and check out the city. We met other American students that have been staying longer as well as a couple of local college students.

My host mother: The next day, all of us had an orientation and took a tour of the National University of Rosario, where I´m taking my classes. Then all of us met our host family or local people we´re staying with. I´m living with a nice, older lady called Mariela who is living by herself in an apartment. She´s so nice, friendly and warm. She does not speak English at all. She can only recognize a few words. The program puts American or foreign students with those who don´t speak English as well so that we´ll be fully immersed in Spanish. My Spanish is improving within hours. Sometimes, when I don´t understand something, she has to repeat, explain in further detail, speak slower and use gestures.

I showed pictures of my family, friends, and places in Oregon and pictures of sarees and Indian events. The ladies were fascinated with sarees, some Indian customs including religion. They were surprised that I wasn´t a Hindu or a follower of another Eastern religion.

The first night, her neighbor visited and all three of us walked over to meet Mariela´s mother and brother living not too far away. Only the brother spoke a bit of English and sometimes translated for me. I was able to follow along conversations but it´s difficult for me to speak.

I´m hoping to visit many places and become more comfortable with the language and most importantly have lots of fun.

Indu Shanmugam