Alumni Spotlight: Kaitlyn Greta

Kaitlyn is a sophomore attending Harvard College, and majoring in the Comparative Study of Religion. Outside of classes, she is very involved in intramurals and social planning.

Photos

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it had everything I wanted in a study abroad program. First, the length was perfect: 6 weeks. For me, that was enough time to explore the city and live abroad for the first time, but still short enough where I would not miss home too much.

The program also had pre-planned activities, which is something I wanted in order to add structure to my life abroad. Most importantly, this program focused primarily on learning the language and culture. I wanted to study abroad in order to improve my Spanish speaking skills, and also observe how other people live and experience their worlds. This program heavily focused on my two main objectives for studying abroad.

What did your program provider4assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

They gave us an extensive on-site orientation when we first got there, which was extremely helpful. In addition, they planned multiple activities throughout the 6 weeks. We had a tango lesson in our center and then we went to a lovely tango dinner show — which I appreciated way more after seeing how difficult it actually is to tango thanks to the lesson. We went to a rugby came in the province in Buenos Aires. We toured different cultural sectors of Argentina as a part of our class.

We had a tour guide the first week to introduce us to all the sites Buenos Aires had to offer. In the beginning, we took a day trip to San Lujan, which was beautiful and extremely peaceful.

One of the most fun activities was our outing to Fuerza Bruta, which was a modern, interactive show that was all the rave at the time. Outside of these planned activities, I organized little adventures after class, such as going to Café Tortoni (the oldest café), visiting Barrio Chino, and shopping at cute stores in Palermo. The largest activity we planned a group outside of our program was our trip to Iguazú Falls. We all went to the airport together and stayed at the same hostel. It was the most amazing sight I have seen in my life!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Explore on your own! I think some people in my program found themselves bored at times since our days were not booked from start to finish. They felt this way because they did not seek out opportunities on their own. That is extremely important when studying abroad. You get out of the experience what you put in.

Take those long walks to a site in Buenos Aires, wait in those lines to get into the café, and experience the city around you. Plan your own outings and use all the free time you have. Do not feel confined because you have class during the day—there is so much time after class, and before dinner to do something fun.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

You have class in the morning from 9-12, and then you have a 2-hour lunch break from 12-2 where you walk around a find a place to eat, or bring food from home. You have another class from 2-4. You are free from 4 until your host family has dinner, which is usually anytime between 8 and 10. This is the time that you plan on your own, such as going to a different district in Buenos Aires or finding a park to relax in. After dinner, you usually do homework for the next day or if it is Friday or a weekend you might go out with your friends.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was living with strangers that I would not meet until I got there. I overcame it by doing it. When I got to the homestay, I made sure to keep an open mind. It was awkward at first because we did not know each other, but my host mom was so sweet and made sure that I was always comfortable.

After my 6 weeks, I realized that the families that sign up to host students from abroad understand that you will be nervous and overwhelmed. They are there to support you and help you. Their number one priority is to make sure you feel comfortable in their home, and you learn amazing things about them along the way.

What do you wish you had known before studying abroad?

I wish I had known that one of the greatest parts of studying abroad is meeting the people that actually live and have grown up in the city. The locals are full of knowledge, and depending on who you meet they are really eager to help you have the best study abroad experience. They are proud of their city and they want you to feel that same pride before you leave. This ties into another piece of advice but I recommend that you get outside of your comfort zone at times and meet some people that live in the city. It will usually impact your experience for the better.