The sun was hot, bright, high in the sky, the twelve o’ clock beams filtering in through the heavy wooden shutters of my window. I smiled, waking up softly as one gently caressed my face, like the mother I’d left behind five thousand miles away. Stretching slightly, holding back a yawn, I meandered over to my closet and quietly slid it open, as to not wake my host sister. We’d been out the night before. Out until seven in the morning. Seven? It seems a bit late by American standards. But here, in Mercedes, Corrientes, Argentina, it was the perfect time to go back home.
I’m never going to be able to forget Argentina.
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I think my favorite memory of my study abroad experience in the fall of 2012 was the campo. Right outside of my city. Mercedes was little. I come from a small town right here in sunny, hilly Maryland, so I’m rather used to it. It, like where I live now, is surrounded by open farmland, rolling hills, grazing cows. The sun shone so brightly over this little patch of land. The sky was so open and blue and so free. The long, green grass tickled your knees, scratching a little, I guess to remind you that even paradise can’t be perfect. You could see for miles and miles and you could scream as loud as you wanted to, as loud as you needed to, and the only creatures that would hear you would be Mamá’s three hundred cows and seventy-five ostriches. I thought I was a city girl before I went to Mercedes, and I was wrong, I was so very wrong.
I guess my other favorite memory was my first day of school. I walked into my public school, and everyone was wearing uniforms except for me, because I was getting fitted for my regulation blue shorts and buying my white polo and blue tights later that afternoon. I wore denim jeans with a gray teeshirt underneath a green sweatshirt. You just sort of remember the little things, I guess. But it was that day, that very first day, where I met everyone. My new friends. The first day was a blur, really. I didn’t understand much. They speak a weird Spanish down there, faster and with a strange accent, so different from what little I’d learned before I’d left. But what I remember most was the entire class, about twenty kids, grouping up around my desk, armed with pencils and my pocket Spanish-English edition of Merriam-Webster’s. We opened it to the far back page, and with a little help from the few Argentines with a basic knowledge of English, I learned every way to curse out you, your mother, and your entire ancestry in the span of an hour and a half. Needless to say, I made friends pretty quickly.
All that put aside, I had an awesome trip. My home isn’t po-dunk Manchester, Maryland anymore. My home is wild. My home is wonderful. My home has capybaras and drunken young adults running around at night. My home is Mercedes. And Mercedes is, in all honesty, the friendliest, funniest, and most beautiful and picturesque place in the world.
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