* The Last Two Days - The whole group spent the last two days going out and making it the best two days. Within those 48 hours, I only had 2-3 hours of sleep! On the last day, we had a goodbye dinner. The trip has been a good vacation for me because it opened new doors and experiences for me. I wish I could stay longer but in the future, I would like to travel more in Latin America.
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      Mariela, my host mom - I'm going to totally miss her. I remember the first day we met. She does not speak English. She can recognize a few words and that's it. As for me, my Spanish was very basic when I first arrived. At that time, I only knew enough to understand signs, ask simple questions and follow basic directions and order coffee. When I was first immersed in Spanish, I felt a bit overwhelmed. In two weeks I was much adjusted.

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      Argentines - I'll miss the new friends I made. I met the rest of Mariela's family and others. I have penpals and I'll continue to keep in touch.

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      The Night Life - It is culturally normal to go out till six in the morning during weekends. Even during the weekdays, everything is open late. The cultural attitudes are different. Anytime before midnight, is considered too early to go out. They have nice boliches, clubs, concerts and places to socialize with friends. There are theatres, places to shop and museums.

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      Buenos Aires - If you like big cities, you'll love Buenos Aires. We went to a dinner and a tango show.

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      Iguazu Falls - The highlight of our trip. It was beautiful.

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      Language Blunders - At first, I felt a bit timid to speak in a language I wasn't very fluent in. During the first week or so, I had trouble following their Castellano accent and dialect. People couldn't understand me either. I got blank stares when I tried to speak. I can also list example and situations. After two weeks, I was getting better and could converse and shop. I also met people who are learning English and want to practice their English with me. John G, another student in the program told me that the reason why he wanted to learn Spanish was because he didn't want to be the American that only speaks one language. I've heard this from others too. I think more and more people want to be bilingual.

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      Spanish Professors and Classes - It's easier and I am able to focus on Spanish alone. Including myself, there were only 5 people in my class so I got lots of individual attention.

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      Shopping at Cordoba street, Rosario and La boca, Buenos Aires - Part of being a responsible tourist is helping the country's economy by buying a few things for yourself, family and friends. I bought purses for Mom and Surya. For myself, I got a pair of really cute leather boots. I also got mate and yerba tea and souvenirs. I bought clothes. It seems Italian brands are popular there. I tried to find a shirt with Spanish words but could only find English or Italian. I bought a couple of shirts with Italian but now everyone will think that I went to Italy. Well...the only things I was looking for was boots. Since, I found a beautiful pair for a decent price, I'm satisfied.
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      Madams - That's a name of the biggest club in Rosario. It was huge and lot of people. I've never seen anything like it. There were thousands of people in one place. We hung out there till 6 am.

This trip has been great. It opened my eyes to a new part of the world. I think people should travel out more if they get an opportunity. It broadens your horizons. Also, it's amazing how God works in mysterious ways and through the most ordinary. God used this time to heal me and set a few things straight. I'm refreshed, satisfied and ready to embrace what else life has to offer to me.

Now, I have three weeks left till my classes start. It's my final year of undergraduate and it's exciting to know that I finally earned my BA. The coming term, I only have 4 classes and the rest is internship. The next term it is full-time internship. This coming year I'm still going to continue participating in student government as a senator and I'm on editorial staff of my college literary journal.

I'm renewed and ready for where life leads.

Indu Shanmugam