Backpacker to Student Transition

As I voyage across the sea from Montevideo to Buenos Aires, I take some final moments to think about what lies ahead. The other side of the water has lots of adventures in store, but I also leave behind the trip of a lifetime. I have explored the southern tip of South America, trekked through Patagonia, caught some waves in Uruguay, and did so as a solo traveller.

I just left Cabo Polonio, a remote village that has no hot water nor electricity; it is the polar opposite of a large city. The isolation and lack of noise requires one to visit in doses. My time there, however, gave me a chance to disconnect from life’s stressors and mentally prepare myself for the program. I thought a lot about how incredible my time in South America has been thus far. I met people from around the world and learned so much about other cultures. With that being said, people are people. There’s good people and bad people everywhere. Stereotypes that I though would hold water certainly have not and I am much wiser about judging a book by its cover.

One of the coolest things that I was able to do in my time backpacking was create friendships without any English. For example, I met some kind and outgoing people in Punta Del Diablo, a surfer beach town in Northern Uruguay. We hung out at the beach and lived in the same dorm for a week. A couple weeks later, we met up in Montevideo at their apartment to get food and drinks. I thought it was incredible that I was able to connect with Spanish speakers to the point where our friendship was strong enough to hang out again. It showed me that my Spanish speaking skills improved drastically over the weeks; I did not think I would be able to facilitate conversations and hang out comfortably without English. However, the constant exposure to the language really forced to to adapt to my surroundings and learn quickly. It is incredible how much my Spanish abilities strengthened in a couple months; learning by experience has been way more effective than any Spanish class I have taken.

I’m really looking forward to acquiring a routine in Buenos Aires; the crazy and unpredictable schedule of backpacking has certainly taken a toll on me. For 6 weeks, I’ve lacked a place that I can call “home”. I’ve missed home and I’m hoping that the new homestay can fill this gap in the coming months. It will be amazing to have a bed and private room; I’ve been living in shared dorms at hostels almost every night so far. Shared living quarters made my experience, though; that’s how I met people and made friends. I don’t regret anything about my trip, but rather am ready for a change of pace.

Overall, I feel confident and excited to make this transition, to close one spectacular chapter of my life and begin a new one. Can’t wait!