Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pre-departure/Final Blog Post EVER

I figured I would title this final blog with the exact same name (with one change) as my very first blog post. I am pleased to say that I am a MASTER…I graduated in Buenos Aires today upon completion of my Master’s education. What a ride it has been! I have plenty of time to write this post while I wait for my delayed flight to leave from Argentina. The last few days of my international education have been hectic. Writing papers and studying for exams…and now it’s over. Last Thursday, I had to give my simposio…a presentation of a research project I did about the Camino de Santiago. It went really well and I wasn’t very nervous to present it to the entire program. I didn’t have a lot of time to breathe after completing the simposio due to the papers and exam that I had to turn in/take yesterday. I DID IT!!

After the simposio on Thursday, we had a celebratory dinner in town. We enjoyed ourselves. However, yesterday’s goodbye banquet was PHENOMENAL. All of my fellow Madrid girls and I toasted to our journey together in this program with champagne. Later, we gave our professor’s gifts and cards as thank yous for their exceptional education. In turn, the director gave all the graduates a book personalized to each of our personalities. It was such a thoughtful gift. There are rare occasions when you meet extremely genuine people, but our director Liria is a sincerely genuine person and I am so glad to have had her as a professor. It was truly memorable.

Before the banquet, I went with my roommate Nicole and Jordan to “La Boca” a neighborhood in Buenos Aires that has artisan markets and all of the buildings are painted with bold colors. It was by far one of my favorite experiences in Buenos Aires. I got myself a little souvenir there J

Today. I graduated. Liria took our class out to lunch and it was delicious. Shortly after, we moved to the auditorium and had an informal graduation ceremony. Liria told us that she wanted to graduate us before the director in Middlebury, VT. I am very sad to leave behind such wonderful people. However, I am excited to head up to Middlebury for my graduation and see people I haven’t seen in a long time. I’ll be donning a cap and gown for the very last time. Incredible.

Now…a final reflection of my international journey… Not just with Middlebury, but my time in Logroño as well. I consider myself the luckiest girl alive to have had the opportunity to immerse myself in foreign cultures. It is an experience that changes you for the better. It is incredibly sad to think my time as a resident in a foreign country is over, but visits will be necessary. (When I make some money). I saw amazing and jaw-dropping places…places I never dreamed I would get to see. I stomped on grapes to make wine, I watched fado singers belt out their emotional songs, I drank Glüewein in a frigid Germany, I danced tango in Buenos Aires and I saw countless Flamenco shows. I am incredibly lucky and my time abroad has enriched my life immeasurably. Now, I am finished, back to Boston I go and I am thrilled to go. I have had the time of my life…here’s to more amazing life experiences. Cheers!


Tango Class

La Boca

La Boca

Concentration camps and Córdoba

I am doing that thing again where I write two blog posts at the same time because I became too busy to keep on top of things. I am going to rewind back to 3 weeks ago when we visited our first concentration camp…. I will say that before coming to Argentina I knew pretty much nothing about it. I definitely should have done more research…because I had no idea that they had concentration camps here. In the entire country, there were about 500 camps. It’s unbelievable. During this trip we toured two and saw the third from the outside…having been to Auschwitz with my family, I thought I would be prepared for the bone-chilling feeling one gets from entering such a horrific place. However, I am convinced nothing can prepare anyone for that.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s Argentina was under a military dictatorship and all those that disagreed were kidnapped and sent to a camp. Two of the camps didn’t remind me of Auschwitz at all…because they were in the CENTER of the cities (Buenos Aires and Córdoba). Literally, the prisoners could hear children walking to school and cars passing by. It is truly terrible… even worse was the one in Córdoba because it is ACROSS from the Cathedral. That was heartbreaking to witness. The Cathedral is a stone’s throw away.

The third camp reminded me slightly of Auschwitz because it was isolated…but not in the middle of nowhere. It is 30 minutes outside of the city of Córdoba. I think the part that killed me the most was the fact that from a distance, the camp looks beautiful. I felt terribly guilty feeling that way knowing what happened there. It reminded me of Tuscany, Cyprus trees lining the driveway, red buildings with a view of the mountains in the back. It was hard to be there. I don’t really feel like posting the depth of the emotions we all experienced being there, but it was a necessary part of my experience here. I learned a lot about the dictatorship in my Political Violence class and I can now say I am not longer in the dark about Argentina’s history.

Our trip to Córdoba was incredible! It was a long trip; a 10-hour bus ride there and another 10-hour bus ride back. The bus was incredible though, it had “semi-bed seats” and I slept like a baby. We did a walking tour around the old part of the city and it reminded me a lot of Europe. The following day, before our trip to the third concentration camp, we went to visit Che Guevara’s childhood home! That was really cool. The trip all around was phenomenal and was definitely one of my favorite experiences in Argentina. I would definitely go again J

El Olimpo: 1st Concentration Camp

El Paseo de Buen Pastor- Córdoba

With Che Guevara

La Perla - Second Concentration Camp

The group at the soccer stadium in Córdoba

In front of the Cathedral