A Fresh Perspective on Study Abroad

By: Karen W., Transcript and Visa Processing Coordinator, API Texas

Having never been to South America, I knew exactly what to do once I learned I’d be traveling to Argentina for a site visit. I bolted straight for the library. I read about Buenos Aires’ world-class museums, posh Parisian-inspired neighborhoods, and bohemian street markets (to name a few tantalizing things this city has to offer).

Then I found out I’d also be going on two excursions – one to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay, and another to Iguazú Falls (one of the largest waterfalls on Earth)! Both of these places have been API excursion sites for our students. I’m sure you can imagine what I did once I found out I’d also be visiting these places (hint: it involves a building with lots of books).

It’s hard to believe that after months of planning I’d still overlooked what would turn out to be the best part of my trip.

After my colleague Kim and I arrived in Buenos Aires we visited the API center, met some of our students’ host families, toured the Universidad de Belgrano and the Universidad Torcuato di Tella. While visiting the Universidad de Belgrano we briefly met many of our students who were there for the spring term. It wasn’t until the following weekend though that I really got to know them better. When the time came we joined Carmen, our lovely Resident Director, and the students on a weekend excursion to Iguazú Falls.

As we explored the Cataratas del Iguazú, I was floored by the students’ confidence, infectious enthusiasm, and their genuine love for Argentina. They told me stories of their (mis)adventures traveling to Ushuaia (reportedly the southern most city in the world). I heard the pride in their voices as they described overcoming awkward communication snafus, and how it ultimately resulted in making new friends.

Being with the API students brought back a flood of memories and feelings from when I studied abroad. It made me feel alive and re-ignited my passion to follow my dreams. Seeing the transformation that study abroad takes students on is amazing, and I was moved by this experience in ways I never saw coming. As a previous study abroad student, and now a study abroad professional, I found this experience inspiring, and it gave me fresh perspective on how studying abroad is changing the world.

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