It’s kind of an odd relief to look at the clock and realize it’s 9:00pm, and I made it through another day. It can be stressful to travel to a new place and be overwhelmed by all the things to look at, explore, and a weird sort of dread that something important may be missed! But, by sticking to a bit of a routine, I’ve been able to calm myself while still making sense of the city. Buenos Aires has definitely overwhelmed me. My first thoughts as soon as I got here were: Get me out! I’ll be on the next flight back to Seattle! Ahh! Help! It’s no joke, I was actually all kinds of hysterical that first dreadfully long day. I can’t remember ever reacting to a city in this way.
Since then, I’ve tried to organize my life one day at a time. Each day I’ve set one particular goal to accomplish. So far these goals are about getting to know the city. My routine:
· Decide on a few destinations
· Look at the map and plan a general route
· Go on my route
· Relax, enjoy, look around, eat a little something, drink a little something and head back after a few hours
· When I get home I’m normally an exhausted and sweaty mess
· Shower and stretch
· Re-trace my steps on my map (since the route I actually take normally differs from my previously planned one)
· By this point, it’s normally 8 or 9. I haven’t been hungry lately, but if I am, I’ll grab a quick bite to eat. I might also spend a little time with my fellow guests in the house. Also, I’ve made it a point to check my email frequently and listen to music on my computer, which makes me feel really good and relaxed.
. Brush teeth, wash face, last stretches, time for sleep.
Still, my mind is mixed over what I really think about the city and what my final plans will be. Those first day anxieties haven’t completely dissipated. Sometimes, despite my pleasant little routine, I get disoriented, exhausted, and hopeless that I’ll ever feel at home in this city. Really, this isn’t a total vacation, it’s also a self-imposed challenge. I want to make sure that I remember that, especially when things are hard. Yes, I am homesick and I really miss my lifestyle, friends, and family in the US. It’s hard to have to re-invent all that stuff!
I knew that I was making this challenge (teach English abroad) more difficult by picking South America. I could have gone to Taiwan with a guaranteed place to stay and a job and only have to worry about teaching and learning a new culture. Argentina meant everything was going to be from scratch (expect the language, more or less). Now, this isn’t to say that miserable or not, I’m going to torture myself for the remainder of my trip if things don't go well, but it does mean that I’m not going to give up easily. So far I’ve been able to achieve an incredible amount of things, and I’ve only been here for a few days.