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University student keeps open mind while adjusting to Argentina

BUENOS AIRES-The first two weeks in a foreign country can seem like a long, long time. You have to take in so much information in such a brief period, making the days seem like they drag on forever. But then you turn around and an entire month has gone by. And at this point in the semester, the weeks are, unfortunately, flying by.

First arriving at Ezeiza International was an eerily "Real World"-esque experience where everyone in the program was meeting everyone else all at once.

This was a bit more difficult for me, seeing as I am in the half of the group that is not a student at American University. However, programs such as these force you to get to know new people very quickly, as we spend a lot of time together.

Luckily for everyone involved, the program group gets along very well. That is, there haven't been any fights...yet. But if you put a bunch of college students in a country with no enforced drinking age, everyone's gonna get along just fine. Even though there are certain groups of people that tend to associate among themselves, there are no deep divisions within the program as a whole.

The first month here was a lesson in adaptation. Now, I realize that I've previously said there are no great cultural ravines to cross between the United States and Argentina, but that certainly does not mean you are automatically accustomed to any environment within Western culture.

You have to adapt anytime you place yourself in a new area, whether you move between cities within a country, or from one country to another. The fact remains that you have to force yourself to accept new ideas, tastes and ways of life.

To be perfectly honest, right now one of the things I miss most is milk. Being an American, I've grown up accostumed to drinking milk a few times a day when I feel the need.

But in Buenos Aires, the only time they ever drink milk is with their coffee.

In another porte¤o nod to European culture, they smoke like chimneys down here. Now, I know, University students are avid smokers too, but they don't do it inside the classroom.

So in addition to the lack of drinkable milk (I can't stomach the powder/water mix that they use), you have to get used to the enchanting odor of cigarette smoke in your clothes.

But then again, Argentines, in general, have a lot more fun on a daily basis than Americans - so believe me, the adaptations are all well worth the small effort.

Our recent trip to the Iguaz£ Falls on the Brazilian border was the best demonstration of the need to aclimatize myself to my Latin American surroundings.

Let me paint you a better picture - the Falls are roughly 800 miles from Buenos Aires. They were also the setting for the Robert De Niro film, "The Mission." Being so far away, one would assume that we would fly, right? Nope.

In true South American style, we took a "luxury" bus on a fun-filled 22 hour voyage. All told, it was not that bad. And the Falls were incredibly beautiful. It's not every day that you can see a sight as awesome as Iguaz£, so you have to take what you can get.

As far as my classes are concerned, having an open mind remains a useful trait. I'm sure the professors at the University of Belgrano are very qualified individuals, but maybe I'm just a spoiled American used to professors that have to "entertain" to keep students' attention. Honestly, the classes here fall far short of really inspiring anyone to learn.

But it's not that school is first and foremost on my mind this semester. Even my host mother admitted that students don't really come to Buenos Aires simply to take courses and learn in the classroom.

Down here, anywhere can be a classroom, because you're learning all the time. Sure, it sounds like a clich


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