One 35-pound suitcase, 45-liter backpack, and a one-way ticket to Argentina later, I was on a plane to a country I have never been to before with 12 unknown students and two amazing leaders I would soon get to know. As my group and I landed in Buenos Aires, I could smell the freshly oven-baked empanadas, sweet dulce de leche spread on crackers, and juicy well-done steaks Argentina is known for. I couldn't be more grateful to have spent 4 weeks in a country that is known for their food and culture. From a friendly game of soccer with our host families to finding the restaurant with the best tasting pasta (which was quite impossible), we had the experience to immerse ourselves in more ways than one.
For the first 2 days, our group had the opportunity to explore what Buenos Aires has to offer such as the Tigre delta and practice our Spanish language skills. Over the course of two days, we received the chance to visit significant cafes, theaters, and art galleries that embodied the Argentina culture. One 4-hour local flight later, we were sitting in the Experiment's office in Jujuy, where our home stays would occur. To be completely honest, my family in New York and I have never been close enough to share a memorable encounter as I had when my host sister came to pick me up. She knew who I was, what I did, and why I was in Argentina, but I did not know anything other than her name. It was quite amazing. I could start from scratch in meeting and getting to know new people, in hopes of building long-lasting relationships.
My homestay family consisted of 4 wonderful-beautiful individuals: my mom, dad, and two sisters. At first, it was strange to share the table with people I did not know and sleep in a house I was not familiar with. Nevertheless, we started to warm up to each other, unlike the weather we were in. Their love snuggled the cold out of my body more than a simple sweater could ever have. I felt at home, 4,516 miles away from my house. I will always keep them in my heart, even if we're not together anymore. The long, chatter-filled nights I stayed up with my sister and hearty meals my mother cooked for the family will remain in my heart for the years to come.
Community service was like the icing on the cake; I could not be happier to have helped the local communities of Jujuy and Chicoana. Our community service projects such as gardening, painting, and remodeling a run-down police station and the humble school gave me the chance to learn life lessons I will sincerely hold dear to my heart. Durning the last couple of days, our group and I experienced white-water rafting in the Juramento River, horseback riding up rocky mountains, and camping in cold winter weather. Over the span of 25 days, I learned and experienced a lifetime of adventures. Indeed, it was a summer to remember.