Joosje Grevers - 2015 Program Participant
A horseback riding trip in Mendoza, Argentina that some friends and I went on
Why did you decide to apply for an international program?
I decided to apply to an international program so that I could gain a perspective totally different from what I had grown up with. The world is so vast and has limitless opportunities so I knew that I needed to dip my toe into this pool of opportunity. Gettysburg College, along with different schools across the nation, offer the incredible opportunity to go beyond your personal borders and live in a place that most people only dream of going to.
Why did you choose your specific SIT Study Abroad program?
I chose this specific program because I wanted to get focused learning about topics that interested me and SIT Study Abroad was the only program that I could find that had exactly what I was looking to learn about. Not only that, but I was also able to do a research project of my choice, which was amazing because it helped me refine my own passions and inspired me to keep this project going when I came home.
SIT Study Abroad gave me the freedom to explore, but also challenged me to be open minded and question the world around me.
What was your favorite part about Buenos Aires?
My favorite part about Buenos Aires, Argentina is the people and their way of life. Every person I met seemed to have passion and energy ingrained in their DNA; whether it was politics, art, food, music, fashion, or family, Argentines were not shy about what they loved, cared about, or even hated. But, even with this energy, there was also this tangible sense of "laid-backness". Meals were so slow, conversations were long, walking was never hastened, and people did not worry about the time. I have to admit, I certainly had to get used to this and it was frustrating at the beginning, but learning to live more in the moment and have this uncanny sense of being in the "here" was something I appreciated and learned to love.
At Teatro Colon at a ballet of Swan Lake
What makes SIT Study Abroad unique?
SIT Study Abroad is unique because you get a tailored, in depth education into different themes that interest you. You also get to go to different countries and learn about those themes from experts in those countries. Lastly, the last month you do your own independent research project. SIT helps you find resources, mentors, interviews, locations, etc., which was awesome because it gave you a chance to learn even more in depth about something that caught your eye.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The staff were amazing. I could go on for days about how awesome they are, but I don't want to bore anyone. I felt so at home and comfortable with them; they weren't staff to me, they were my friends and mentors. I miss them tremendously already. Every person in our group felt the same way I did. Almost everyday I would go into their offices and just talk to them as if I had known them forever. They made my abroad experience so awesome because each of them went out of their way to make sure that we all had what we needed.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish that I would have learned to tango. I know that sounds silly but looking back I would have loved to go outside my own insecurities of being a horrible dancer and just learned the beautiful choreography. I have never seen anyone move like those women moved during the dance; it was fluid and effortless, but also precise and quick. Other than that, I don't wish I had done anything differently because all of the choices I made and things that I did made my experience totally unique.
What was a typical day like for you in Buenos Aires?
I would wake up and take the bus or subway to my class, which would go from around 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (they were lecture style). From there we had about an hour and half for lunch and to get to our Spanish class at the University of Buenos Aires, which was located in the downtown area. The subway ride there was about 25 minutes, depending on traffic and how busy it was. That class ended around 4:30 p.m. and then we would have the rest of the day off.
For lunch we got a stipend to spend, and it was not very difficult to spend within the money they gave us. This extra cash helped us a lot because we really did not have to pay all the time for food so we had extra money for other activities.
This is just one of the Iguazu Waterfalls in Argentina
What was your favorite thing to do outside of your coursework?
My favorite activity was definitely going to Tigre, which is this little river town. All the houses were only accessible by boat and were so beautiful. We went on this awesome boat ride to a house and hung out all day getting to know each other, eating a traditional Asado (BBQ), and swimming in the water. It was a great way to start off the program and get outside of the classroom during orientation.
What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?
I was part of a homestay in Belgrano, a really cute neighborhood in Buenos Aires. The apartment was stunning and my host mom was so cool. She is a young grandmother who lives alone and we only spoke Spanish to each other which helped me get a lot better. I always felt safe and cared for, and the food she made was great (definitely gained a few pounds). She made me breakfast and dinner and then I was in charge of lunch, which I usually bought outside the apartment. I was very independent and she let me do and go as I pleased. We are friends on Facebook now, and I look forward to keeping in touch with her.
Now that you're home, how have your experiences abroad impacted your life?
I challenged myself the last month of being abroad to live more in the moment and enjoy the small moments. Yes, this is so cliché and silly, but I still live by this challenge and I enjoy the smaller moments after coming home. I am so thankful for everything that I have gotten to see and do, and I am so grateful to SIT Study Abroad for helping me to discover this. I also think that after being around people who challenged me with new ideas and expertise I have this desire to keep learning and developing my own opinions and ideas.