Courtney Luster is a student at the University of Denver and an ISA Featured Blogger. Courtney studied abroad with ISA in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
One of the most difficult tasks I have faced since returning to Colorado from studying abroad in Buenos Aires has been to answer the inevitable question –“How was your semester?” and attempt sum up the four months of my life I spent in Buenos Aires. We all came back with an incredible number of stories to tell, nights to reminisce upon, and sights to attempt to give justice to through pictures. Not only are these three adjectives descriptions of the city, they are feelings I was struck by countless times during my stay in Argentina. They were feelings that were present not only in my own state of mind but that resonated throughout the whole city of Buenos Aires—electrifying, terrifying, and stunning.
With almost 3 million people living in the metropolitan area of Argentina’s capital, it is easy to imagine the thriving, pulsing, constant buzz of life that hums 24/7. Coming from the modest city of Denver with about 1/6 of its population, I was enchanted by the city’s electric vitality that took on a life of its own. This city is more full of energy than anywhere else I have ever experienced.
When I say terrifying, it is not with an intention to scare off anyone who has hopes of studying abroad in Buenos Aires—quite the contrary, in fact. To someone like me who came from the suburbs of a small city, things like pickpocketing seemed like a distant myth. We have naïve over-trusting tendencies toward strangers around us. Living in a big city like Buenos Aires completely changed this state of mind for the better. I simultaneously gained more of a hunger for adventure and confidence in exploring the unknown by myself, along with more trepidation and less blind trust toward situations around me. Living in the city forced us to be constantly aware of people and conditions around us. Growing up being relatively sheltered from the dangers of the world is pleasant but not helpful in traveling and experiencing other cultures.
There were a million sights in Buenos Aires that left me awestruck. During the time I was there, I was making a constant running list of all the cultural aspects, scenes, and experiences that I adored. I lost count somewhere around week four. Seeing the city lit up at night, walking its streets in the rain, talking to locals, and experiencing as many events as I could, I was constantly surprised by the small and seemingly insignificant ways a place can steal your heart. Learning the city’s rocky history, through dictatorships and political and economic instability, made me appreciate the pride and spirit that Porteños exude even more. Buenos Aires is a colorful city in not only its architecture, but also its ways of life, culture and spirit.
My experiences abroad were made not only by the city itself, but also by the unique people I met along the way. There were some of us who were together from day one, some whirlwind friendships cut short by the need to travel on or return home, and a few people I felt privileged to have known even if only for a few days. Through all of our differences, we were drawn together by our shared experiences in Buenos Aires and its incredible free spirit that infected us all. This unique, colorful, pulsing city changed us all and I have nothing but gratitude for the months I was privileged to spend in Argentina.
Want to read more about the electrifying city of Buenos Aires? Check out “4 Ways Buenos Aires Might Surprise You”