Argentina: Confronting Homesickness and the Difficult Task of Saying Goodbye

Isabel McCan is a student at University of Denver and an ISA Featured Blogger. Isabel is currently studying abroad in Buenos Aires on an ISA Fall 1 program.

Bocas Buenos Aires

Seeing that ISA has varying intervals of student programs in Buenos Aires at any one time, it was inevitable that I would make friends with many of the kids who were in the program preceding mine (they got here a month earlier). So, equally inevitable, when their program ended earlier this month, I was forced to prematurely say goodbye to some really great folks.

I’ve come to learn that saying goodbye never ever gets easier. And I’ve had to say my fair share of goodbyes, over and over. Going to school out of state requires not only bidding farewell to my family and friends in Texas each time I head off to Colorado for the school year, but also the reverse of having to say goodbye to friends at school every time we depart to our respective homes. But at least those goodbyes come with the guarantee that we will see each other again in a few weeks or months.

But saying goodbye to my friends abroad didn’t come with that same certainty. It’s not just having a friend leave, but it’s having them leave the new and wonderful place that you discovered together day by day. And although we leave each other with plans to visit in the States or at the very least, with the hope for a chance to travel through their state and rely on them for a good couch to surf on, it will never quite equate to our time spent here, now.

On a good note though, this week a lot of the kids who went about traveling South America came back to Buenos Aires for a few days to hang out before their return flights back to the States, so it’s been a treat to get a few last occasions to kick it before they’re really gone.

Buenos Aires Centro

But still, seeing so many friends start to head back home while still having a month left to go also made me confront the homesickness that I so far had gotten away without feeling. Everyone whose program ended in early November is getting an entire two months to travel and/or hang out at home. I don’t get home until 3 days before Christmas and get an entire oh, week and a half, to spend at home before once again uprooting and heading back to Denver for school. It was almost enough to cancel my Patagonia plans just to get a few extra weeks back home (especially since I didn’t get to spend the summer at home either). Writing this blog on Thanksgiving Day was one of the only ways to try and squelch my depression about not being home for the holiday, for the first time in my life mind you.

Anyways, I’ve figured out that the best manner to deal with the homesickness is to enjoy and make the most of every moment I have left in Argentina. Rather than wallow in being bummed out that half my friends are already home and I will have virtually no time to really enjoy being there, I’ve decided to instead try and take advantage of every day (and night) left here, since who knows when I’ll get the opportunity to return! I’ve been going out at night a lot for the last few weeks, and then forcing myself every morning to get up and do something in the city, whatever it may be. I think my body is finally getting used to running on 4 hour intervals of sleep, which might have inadvertently become a useful adaptation for when I get back to school.

And honestly, I do still have quite a bit to look forward to while I’m here. Namely, a trip to Patagonia! So, expect a blog about that, of course. But even beyond the big trip, I have a solid 2 more weeks to take advantage of every hour I have left in Buenos Aires. And I feel like there is still so much left to do! Although I can’t control how long I have back home or having many of my friends leave me, the one thing I can control is my attitude about the rest of my time here.

Homesickness may seem overwhelming in the moment, but the trick is to step back and realize that homesickness is a luxury! Just being lucky enough to get the opportunity to spend a semester in a different country is something that so many people don’t have. In ten years I’m not going to look back and think, “Man, I wish I would’ve had that extra week back home,” or “Man, good thing I got all that good rest and watched all those Netflix episodes my last weeks in Argentina.” Nope, not happening.

So before my time is up in this amazing city, you can bet that any sort of normal sleeping pattern is going on hiatus while I spend my time enjoying the last bits of Buenos Aires I have left. Exhausting? Yes. Worth it? YES. I’m sure my bed will miss me.


One thought

  1. My friends experienced some severe homesickness while we studied abroad in South Africa. However, once they returned to the USA, they in-turn became homesick for their host country! It does get easier and the best solution (I think), is like you said – to enjoy every minute you still have there!

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