Rachel Butler
Rachel Butler
Argentina 2014
Hola! My adventure takes me to Buenos Aires, Argentina for 4 months. I will be living with a host family for the duration of my stay. For the first 3 weeks, I will be taking classes to obtain TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certifications. After that, I will be teaching English to children living under the poverty line in Buenos Aires through a non-profit organization called Fundamind. Read More About Rachel →

And Just Like That, You’re Home.

It’s still hard to believe my time in Argentina has come to an end. I’ve been back in the United States for four days. While the friends I made in Argentina are still very close to my heart, it’s bizarre how far I am from Argentina and what I’ve known for the past four months. My last week in Argentina, my fiancé came to visit me and we traveled back to the United States together. He was able to come with me to Fundamind and to Colegio San Tarcisio to meet my students and see what I’ve been doing in Argentina. Experiences abroad are nearly impossible to explain, and that’s frustrating because those experiences are so formative. I wish everyone could understand what I experienced, but I’m eternally grateful that my father, mother, and my fiancé were able to visit while I was in Argentina and see everything first hand.

The hardest part about leaving was saying goodbye to my host family, friends, and students. Argentina is a complicated and challenging place to live. I was relieved to come back to the comforts of the United States, but leaving behind some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had was very painful. My last night in Argentina, my host family gave me a “last dinner” and surprised me by celebrating my 22nd birthday early. They bought pizza, a cake, candles, and champagne to toast to my year ahead. When I arrived in Argentina, I never imagined that my host family would really become my family, but they did.

Goodbye Dinner

Saying goodbye to my 7th grade class at Colegio San Tarcisio was bittersweet. Though they are a wild bunch, I grew to love each of them very much. I have great hope that I may see my host family again – in fact, my “host dad” Jose already has a trip planned to the United States for 2015. Yet it was strange to realize that I may never see any of my 7th graders again. They’ve got their entire lives ahead, and I wish I could know where they will each end up. There are a few girls that I know I will stay in contact with, but like I said, it is strange to try to process the reality of the situation.


While I’ve officially left Buenos Aires and am back in the States, I still have much more to process. Buenos Aires and the people there challenged me but changed me for the better, and I am eternally grateful for this experience. In the next week I will be summarizing my volunteer work, but for now, it seemed most important to focus on the way the people I met in Buenos Aires will always stay in my heart.


During my time in Argentina, I’ve challenged myself to be fully immersed in this culture.  At the start of this experience, I could have chosen to live in an apartment with other American students, but I chose to live with a host family.  Since being here, I’ve crossed paths with quite a few Americans, but I’ve really strived to find friends who are from Argentina.  I am thrilled to say that, after 3 months, I’ve got quite a solid friend-group established.  I found this friend group through the church I’ve been regularly attending since coming here.  In September, this church started a “grupo de jovenes”.  This “grupo de jovenes” (young people’s group) meets every Sunday before service to discuss a Bible study on the book of Luke.  This group has grown to become much more than just a Bible study — now we are all close friends.

Last weekend, we had an asado.  An asado is an Argentine barbecue.  These barbecues always involve a parilla (grill), lots of meat, lots of bread, and Chimichurri (spicy/tangy sauce from Argentina). You can expect the asado to begin around 9:00pm and to end around 2:00am.  Choripan (sausage on bread with Chimichurri sauce) is tan rico (so tasty).  This is usually served first, and lomo (beef tenderloin) and many other cuts of meat are sure to follow.  In the city of Buenos Aires, these asados typically take place on someone’s terraza (terrace/roof top).  Because it’s officially spring, the weather is now perfect for asasdos.  As soon as the hot Argentine sun goes down, the coals for the grill get lit, and everyone heads up to the terrace for the asado.

The asado with my friends last weekend was by far my favorite night I’ve had in Argentina.  There were about 14 us present, and we ate and danced our way through the night.  Three of the people in this friend group are from Colombia, two are from Germany, one is from Chile, and all the rest are from Argentina.  It is amazing to be part of this group of young people from all over the world.  The traditional asado we shared together last Friday is a night I will not soon forget.

Candid shot from last week's barbecue.

Candid shot from last week’s barbecue.

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as much meat in one sitting, and I also don’t think I’ve ever found such genuine friendships in such short time.  I love the way an asado brings people together to share a meal.  In sharing a meal with people, you learn a lot about them and a lot about yourself.

Family Meets Host Family

This past week, my dad came to visit me in Buenos Aires.  I took the week off from volunteering so that we could travel around Argentina (and to Uruguay).  I can’t tell you how good it was to see a familiar face, let alone to see my dad! He arrived early on October 11, and I took a taxi out to the airport to pick him up.  He’s never been out of the country besides to Mexico, so this was a big adventure for both of us.  It’s impossible to sum up the trip in a blog post, and I am thankful for the lifetime memories that we created together.  For now, I will talk about two of the highlights of our week together:

1.  My dad met my host family.

We had dinner together at the house on Thursday.  Both of my host “parents” are able to understand and speak English fairly well.  We’ve never spoken English together, but, seeing as my dad doesn’t speak Spanish, we spoke a lot of English on Thursday.  I am thrilled that my dad was able to be part of one of the family dinners, but because everything was in English, it wasn’t as authentic as it could have been.  This has made me think a lot about how my Spanish has progressed.  Being able to communicate in another language is one thing, but being able to have personality and be yourself is a whole other game.  I’ve gotten to know Jose and Estela through speaking Spanish with them.  In Spanish, they’ve got really spunky personalities, and they bicker back and forth (in a loving way) like any couple does.  But on Thursday night, everything was fairly tame, and because they had to speak English, a lot of their personality was lost.  My first month or two here, this happened to me as well.  When you’re fumbling just to communicate at a basic level,  your personality and sense of humor are often the last things that shine through.  I’m proud to say that I now feel like I can be myself, whether I’m speaking Spanish or English.  I’ve started to make jokes at the dinner table and feel much more comfortable in my Spanish-speaking skin.

2. We went to Iguazu Falls (in Misiones, Argentina)

At the entrance to the national park!

At the entrance to the national park!

Tuesday through Thursday, my dad and I flew to Misiones, Argentina to see the world famous Iguazu Falls.  These waterfalls are on the border of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.  They are absolutely incredible.  On Tuesday, we went on an adventure through the jungle, which included zip-lining, rappelling down the side of a waterfall, and hiking.  Our guide taught me a lot about the culture of Misiones, and the unique tribes and languages that are present in this province because of its close proximity to Paraguay.  On Wednesday, we went to the waterfalls.  THE waterfalls.  We hiked all around them — every view that you have just gets more incredible.  There’s a boat trip called “La Gran Aventura” that takes you UNDER and around the waterfalls, and we took full advantage of this opportunity.

That little orange boat in the corner of this photo was the boat that takes you on "La Gran Aventura"!

That little orange boat in the corner of this photo was the boat that takes you on “La Gran Aventura”!


It was very nice to be out of the busy city and to be surrounded by such stunning natural beauty.  It is a week I will never forget.  It’s hard to describe what my life is really like here in Buenos Aires, so I cherish the fact that my dad got to come and actually see what it’s like to live here.


Colegio San Tarcisio

I am now teaching/tutoring in three different places throughout the city of Buenos Aires! I’ve already written about Colegio San Javier and Fundamind, but I want to tell you about Colegio San Tarcisio.  Though all of these opportunities and schools are incredible, I have to say that Colegio San Tarcisio is my favorite.

This school has all ages of students — jardin (kindergarten), primario (primary, the American equivalent to grades 1-7), and secundario (secondary, the American equivalent to grades 8 – senior year of high school).  There are two turnos (halfs) in every school day.  In the first half of the day, the students in secundario have English class.  In the second turno, the students in primario have English class.  I’ve been permanently placed in a 7th grade class in the afternoons.  “Séptimo año”...7th year of primary school.  There about 20 students in the class, and they are notorious for being very hard to control.  My first Friday afternoon with them was crazy.  The schools here are very different than the ones in the States.  Raising your hand is not a requirement, nor is staying in your seat.  Most people here are very passionate, pretty loud, and tend to be a bit disorganized.  Apply those characteristics to seventh graders, put 20 together in a classroom, and you have quite an afternoon of English class.

It’s amazing because I’ve already developed a relationship with many of the students and their teacher.  The teacher, Pearl, is thrilled to have me there helping with her class.   I’ve been in the class for about three weeks now, and Pearl is giving me more opportunities to teach parts of the class and help grade exams.  In fact, on Thursday, Pearl had to leave school early so she left me alone with the class to do some listening and grammar exercises.

I absolutely love teaching.  I love school.  I love students, and I love the process of learning.

For the first half of the day (primero turno) I help with the high school students.  They are all taking the Cambridge English exams this December.  The students at Colegio San Tarcisio have to pass these exams in order to graduate from high school! Cambridge has three levels of exams: the PET, the FCE, and the CAE.  The PET is the Preliminary English Test, the FCE the First Certificate in English exam, and the CAE is the Cambridge Advanced English exam.  There are four parts to all of these exams: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.  The head of the English department at San Tarcisio has had me going from class to class to take out individual students to practice for the speaking part of the exam.  I’ve got a book full of practice exams, and I’ve been doing a lot of research about the format of these tests, how they are graded, and how I can help the students.

My volunteer experience with this school has been even better than I could have imagined.  I’m starting to build relationships with the students and teachers, and it’s affirming the initial desire I had to teach.  The learning process is incredible.  When I’m working with a student 1:1, there’s no greater feeling than when a student begins to understand new or difficult material.  There’s such a sense of accomplishment in learning, and I can see it in a student’s eyes when they are pleased with what they’re learning.  I also love that I’m helping them with English.  Learning another language can be daunting, but it also broadens your horizons in unimaginable ways.  Because I learned Spanish, I’ve met so many people that have changed my life, visited so many places that have left me in awe, and had so many transformative experiences that I never could have had otherwise.  I like to think about the people these students may be able to meet and the places they may be able to go with their knowledge of English.

My dad is coming to visit me next week, and I cannot wait to see him and show him Buenos Aires.  I will keep you updated on all my adventures and the adventures that I have with my dad when we’re together.  I hope he gets to meet some of my students!


Colegio San Javier

Today I went to Colegio San Javier to help at their after-school program. This school is about two blocks away from where my host family lives, and I walk by it almost every day. Last week I decided to walk in just to see if they were in any need of English help. The secretary of the school excitedly told me: “Yes! We’re starting a program next week, and it’d be great if a native English speaker came to help the kids with their English homework! It’s from 5:00-6:00 every Monday and Thursday”.

So, today (and last Monday) I walked over from my house after I was done volunteering at Fundamind to see where I could help at San Javier. It’s a small, private, Catholic school, so it’s a completely different environment. But nonetheless, there are students who need help with English!

Today, I helped a 3rd grader named Lola. She had some English homework that she didn’t understand, so we cracked open the book to see what her assignment was. She had to form questions (“What is your favorite type of music?”) and then answer them. Lola had attempted the first two examples, but her answers were pretty far off. I asked if she had an eraser, thinking we could just erase the first two and start new. Suddenly, her eyes filled with tears as she exclaimed “No sé ingles! Quiero quedar con mi mama….quiero llamar mi mama!” (I don’t know English! I want to stay with my mom, I want to call my mom!)

This was the worksheet Lola and I worked on together today!

This was the worksheet Lola and I worked on together today!

I did my best to calm down Lola, telling her, “We will work together! Did you know I’m from the United States? I can speak English, I can help you…I came here to help people learn English!” She stopped, swallowed, and said, “de hecho?” (Really?)

We chatted for a bit about the U.S., and she pulled out some candy she had bought a kiokso. I told her how our candy is different, and how I love to try all the new candy here.

We got started in on her English homework, and before no time she was forming questions and writing the answers on her own. Every time she formed a sentence correctly, I said “very good”, and her eyes lit up. She was learning.

About half way through her homework, she reached over to her candy stash and said “Queires probar uno?” (Do you want to try one?).

I was honored that Lola had offered some of her candy to me, and excited to try the caramelo. It was a little bit like taffy.

Lola and I completed her worksheet, and at 6pm her mom showed up to take her home. I encouraged Lola to show her mother her completed homework, because she’d done a very good job. I also told her to come back next Monday, because I would be there to help her if she needed. We’ll have to wait and see, but I really hope my new friends comes back on Monday (and I hope she brings some more candy).


Fundamind is located in the center of Buenos Aires.  The center of the city is actually one of the more dangerous parts, and most families who live in the center of the city live in poor conditions.

Fundamind is located in the center of Buenos Aires. The center of the city is actually one of the more dangerous parts, and most families who live in the center of the city live in poor conditions.

Fundamind is a preschool that is partially funded by the government of the city of Buenos Aires. The rest of Fundamind functions off of donations. This school was started 20 years ago, and had one classroom of 20 three-year olds. The original intent of this school was to reach out to children in the community that came from impoverished families, whose parents could not otherwise afford to send them to childcare or preschool while they worked. These children were (and are) more exposed to HIV/AIDS, and many of them are carriers of the illness. Today, Fundamind hosts over 150 students each day, providing them with quality childcare and education. It is a safe place for children whose homes aren’t even necessarily safe.   Most of them come from complicated family situations – divorced or abusive parents, poverty, and dangerous neighborhoods (here they are called the villas).

This doll was made by one of the teachers at Fundamind.  The caption (translated) says "I'm small, but I have big rights".  This doll stands at the entrance of the school.

This doll was made by one of the teachers at Fundamind. The caption (translated) says “I’m small, but I have big rights”. This doll stands at the entrance of the school.

When I first showed up to Fundmind two weeks ago, I wrote the blog post after entitled “The Volunteer World”. I closed that post saying that I was excited to find my place at Fundamind (also implying that I hadn’t found it quite yet).

I am happy to report that I most definitely have a place and purpose at Fundamind. When I was working with the school director, Marisa, she told me they did have a need for an English teacher. During our conversation, it came up that I went to a school in Nashville that is known for its music program. I told Marisa that I originally went to Belmont to study classical piano, and her face lit up when I shared this information. She exclaimed, “We’ve been looking for a music teacher for months! We had a piano donated to us years ago, but no one has ever played it”.

This is the old piano that was donated to Fundmind years ago.  Today, the director told me it dates back to just after WWII, and it's from a German brand.  They all ask me if it sounds okay, and apologize for it's age.  It's really a great piano though, and quite in tune (all things considered).

This is the old piano that was donated to Fundmind years ago. Today, the director told me it dates back to just after WWII, and it’s from a German brand. They all ask me if it sounds okay, and apologize for it’s age. It’s really a great piano though, and quite in tune (all things considered).

I’m well into my second week of providing music classes for each room. We sing songs in Spanish and then in English, and the children are always amazed when I start singing in English. “Winsy Winsy Aranya” (The Itsy Bitsy Spider) is by far the most popular song we sing. Some days, I take the classes down to the main room where the piano is. I’ve played some Scott Joplin for the kids (they love to dance to it) and some classical songs and scales. The first time I told a class we were going downstairs to the piano, one student asked me: “What’s a piano?”

These kids don’t have the same exposure to music or arts that most other children their age do. It is my hope that by teaching these children songs in English, their interest in learning the language will be sparked. I also hope to provide them with the fond memories of music class that surely every child has (and should have).

I did find a school that actually needs help in their English department, and the children are middle school aged. I’m going tomorrow for the first time to meet with some of the teachers to see where I can help. It will be great to put my TEFL certification into practice, but I’m also blown away at the opportunity that I’ve encountered at Fundamind to teach kids music and bring some fun into each day. Many of the children already remember my name, and as soon as I walk into the class, they all yell, “Raquel!!! Cantas Winsy Winsy en ingles!!” (Rachel! Sing Itsy Bitsy in English!!). I successfully taught the 4-year olds class “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” today, and they were thrilled to have learned some new English words.

This adventure is unfolding differently, yet better than I ever could have expected. I will keep you updated on how my day tomorrow goes at my new school!


I spent this past weekend in Mendoza, Argentina. It is 13 hours by bus from Buenos Aires (and yes, I took an overnight bus). I was very excited to get out of the city for a bit, as Mendoza is located at the base of the Andes Mountains. The buildings are shorter, the air is cleaner, and the vibe of Mendoza is much more tranquilo than Buenos Aires.

On Saturday, I went on a high mountain tour of the Andes. It was a beautiful 70 degrees on Friday, and Saturday was predicted to be in the mid-60s and rainy. As my bus went higher and higher into the mountains, the temperature dropped. Rain turned to snow in an instant. It was a surprise snowstorm – not even our guide was prepared! Though I was completely freezing and couldn’t really see the famous views from the top of the mountains, the snow was incredibly enchanting.

We took a ski lift up to the very top the Andes Mountains.  It's as close as you can get to the border of Chile without crossing over.  I was wildly underprepared for the snow.  As I stood at the top of the mountain, I just kept wondering, "Is this real?  Am I really on top of the Andes Mountains in the middle of a snow storm?"  Yes, yes I was.

We took a ski lift up to the very top the Andes Mountains. It’s as close as you can get to the border of Chile without crossing over. I was wildly underprepared for the snow. As I stood at the top of the mountain, I just kept wondering, “Is this real? Am I really on top of the Andes Mountains in the middle of a snow storm?” Yes, yes I was.


This past summer, one of my good friends from Belmont went on the School of Business study abroad trip to Mendoza. He made some good friends there, and passed on my contact information to them. We met up on Saturday night, and all day Sunday these two wonderful women, Verena and Belu, showed me around their beloved Mendoza. I am completely blown away by the fact that I can say I have friends all over the world. On Sunday, the ladies took me out for a traditional Argentine lunch – we ordered a dish called “mata hambre” … translated, “kill hunger”. All I could say as I ate this entrée was “Que rico!” (How tasty, how good!). The bottom layer of the dish consists of tender pork that has been marinated and soaked in milk to make it tender. On top of the pork is salsa (tomato sauce), then a layer of cheese and oregano, topped off with French fries.   It definitely killed my hunger, and when my family comes to visit me here, we’re most definitely going to order mata hambre.

This was just after finishing our mata hambre for Sunday lunch.  Verena is in the middle, and Belu on the right.

This was just after finishing our mata hambre for Sunday lunch. Verena is in the middle, and Belu on the right.

Oddly enough, the best part of my weekend trip was returning home. I was not excited at all to get on the bus at 8pm on Sunday night, but I was able to sleep most of the ride! I woke up around 8am for the bus breakfast (consisting of a muffin and some tea), and watched as we approached Buenos Aires. As I began to see streets and buildings I recognized, my heart felt full. The tall buildings, the congested streets, the hurried people once again filled the streets. But I wasn’t wishing that I was still in Mendoza, I felt so happy to be home.

And then I realized it. I had just effortlessly thought (for the first time since being there) that this is home.

Upon retrieving my luggage, I found my bus home (number 106), and once again enjoyed that I recognized many streets and buildings as we approached my neighborhood. I was also incredibly proud that I knew what bus to take and which bus stop was mine. I saw Avenida Araoz, rang the bell to alert the driver I was going to get off, and stepped on to Avenida Scalabrini Ortiz. I walked to Gorriti, turned left, and then turned right onto my street….Armenia. As I walked with all my luggage and quite a hair-do after the 13 hour bus ride, I couldn’t help but smile.

This street is home.

This street is home.


I pulled out the keys to my house, walked up our flight of stairs, and was greeted by my host-mom, who was eager to hear about my trip. I took my luggage to my room, plugged in my phone, and flopped on my bed. I was home.

When I came here on August 2nd, I didn’t think I was going home. All I knew was that I was in a giant city, with a family I didn’t know, living in a neighborhood I knew nothing about. The public transportation system was incredibly overwhelming – I was intimidated to take a bus or the Subway anywhere. Now, taking a bus or the Subway is part of my daily routine. No matter where I am, I know which bus to take to get home.

I love this place. I love this crazy city. I love my new home. I love the people that are starting to make this place home – my family, my friends, and the children I’m teaching.


My intent with this blog was to consistently write every other week. I do well with routine, and I thought that’d be enough. But in attempting to stick to my schedule, I feel I’ve shortchanged the opportunity of having this blog and filling you all in. For this reason, I’m going to write tomorrow and Thursday as well, to fill you all in on my volunteer teaching and many other things I’ve experienced since being here.

Thank you for all your support. Nashville still has a place in my heart as home, but I am thankful that Buenos Aires is home for now.

The Volunteer World

Though it goes without saying, everything in Argentina is different. The government, the food, the language, the state of the economy, the seasons, the working world, and the volunteer world…they’re all different. As I’ve been preparing for my volunteer placement to start, I’ve been learning a lot more about non-profits in Argentina and how they function. It’s very difficult to start (and maintain) a non-profit here. Unlike in the states, companies don’t get any tax breaks from the government for doing volunteer or community work. Thus, “non-profits” like we imagine in the States really struggle to exist here. The organizations that do exist as non-profits are typically understaffed and lacking funds…and when it comes to volunteers, they are fairly unorganized. You have such a different experience when you show up in the States to volunteer somewhere. Typically, you sign up, provide some basic information, and designate what time/day you’re coming and for how long. Upon arriving, you are greeted warmly, the organization is expecting you, and they have a designated task for you. From just my two days of experience with my organization here (and after talking with a few other Argentines), it’s safe to say that non-profits here struggle to find volunteers, and when they do get a volunteer, there’s not much of a system or organized schedule for that person.

I went to my volunteer placement, Fundamind, for the first time yesterday. A native speaker from Argentina accompanied me to ensure there were no misunderstandings. I could understand everything the President of Fundamind was telling me, but I struggled to understand how I was received. I wasn’t greeted with bells and whistles, a nametag, and information about a Facebook page I could “like” and post all my photos to. I was, however, greeted by the screams, waves, and faces of the 150 children who are benefitting from Fundamind. This greeting really brought me back to why I’m doing this. It isn’t so that I can feel needed or good about myself, but it’s to better the lives of some of the less fortunate children in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As I settle into my weekly routine of volunteering and find my place at this organization, I will be sure to write more.

Learning to Teach

So far, my volunteer work hasn’t begun. As planned, I am spending my first month here obtaining my TEFL certification so that I am more qualified to teach English. At this point, I’m officially half way through the certification course. I have class from 10:00-5:30 everyday, and our typical schedule is as follows: Grammar from 10:00-12:00, break, Phonology or Lexis from 12:30-2:00, Lunch from 2:00-3:00, and lesson planning and teaching practice from 3:00-5:30. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, Road2Argentina offers free English classes to the community from 4:00-5:30, and I am proud to say that I have already taught a four occasions!

Teachers who are TEFL certified learn how to teach English to students in a full immersion classroom. A full immersion class means that the teacher (in this case, me) only speaks English to the students, and does not permit them to revert back to their native language. Teaching a beginner or low-level class is especially difficult because learners struggle to understand basic English, let alone instructions in English. A constant battle for English teachers is keeping a balance between STT (Student Talk Time) and TTT (Teacher Talk Time). The teacher’s main job is to elicit the target language and grammar rules that are part of the lesson plan for that day. A skilled teacher would not say “To change a verb to the past tense, you usually add ‘ed’”, but would elicit various examples from students to demonstrate this pattern (and in a beginner class, explain what “past tense” is without using this jargon). Last week, I taught three 30-minute sessions to a low-level class, and then ended the week teaching a full hour to this same class. I was fairly nervous and dependent on my lesson plan the first two times I taught, but the past two times were far more natural, enjoyable, and rewarding. Teaching English as a Foreign Language is definitely an adventure and a skill that requires training and practice.

Today was one of my favorite classes so far because we took the afternoon to focus on the culture and politics of Argentina. Because the majority of people I will be teaching are Argentines (and besides the fact that I’m living here), it is crucial that I understand this culture and the country’s past, present, and future. As most of the world knows, Argentina’s economy just went into default again, and the national government (depending on who you talk to) ranges from being fairly corrupt to extremely corrupt. The next presidential elections are taking place in 2015, and because of Argentina’s current fragile state, this election is critical for the future of this country. In a 2-hour lecture of the political system, we barely scratched the surface of everything that’s going on here. A strike has been organized for the end of this month, and from what I’ve heard, the Union leader who organizes these strikes utilizes his power to shut down the entire country for a day.

The Casa Rosada ("Pink House") is Argentina's version of the White House.  This is where the president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, does most of her work.

The Casa Rosada (“Pink House”) is Argentina’s version of the White House. This is where the current President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, does most of her work. I took the Subway to see the Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada this past Saturday.

Argentina is a developing country with incredible potential that has not yet been reached due to political corruption. I am intrigued by everything that is going on here politically and economically, and will certainly continue to post as I learn, understand, and experience more.

I’ve only been here two full weeks, and I can barely begin to express everything I have learned about teaching, learning, patience, and myself. It’s hard to imagine where I will be at the end of this journey, but it fills me with great joy to know that I am growing and learning everyday.

La Pesa (The Weight)

I had two large suitcases packed with all my clothes and belongings I needed for the next four months. I bought a suitcase scale at Wal-Mart because I didn’t want my bags to be overweight, and when I got to the airport, they were just under 50lbs. Perfecto. When I arrived in Argentina on Saturday morning (after an overnight flight from New York), my bags were extremely heavy, as were my eyes from lack of sleep and quite a few shed tears. But I was finally here, and that was all that mattered.

There’s a lot of weight in finally doing something you’ve always wanted to do. I am here, at last, in Buenos Aires. I’ve only been here two full days now, but I think I may struggle this entire trip to comprehend what’s actually happening. The dream that I’ve had to travel and live abroad, as well as teach English, is unfolding before my eyes. When I do wrap my head around my new reality, I feel this pressure to make the most of it, to soak everything up, and to dive in without reservation. But, in my past two days, I’ve found that the best strategy for dealing with this weight is not to constantly think and process, but to look, watch, and appreciate all the new faces that surround me.

Saturday night, my host family had some friends over for dinner and wine. As I sat in their living room and tried to keep up with all the Spanish banter, my head was spinning but my heart was full. Here I am, half way across the world, in an Argentine family’s living room, watching laughter between good friends. And that laughter cleared my head.


The weight of my suitcases did matter, and the weight of this new reality is important. But overall, the ability to laugh, connect with others, and keep my heart and eyes open through these next four months will turn any “weight” into a gift.