Alumni Spotlight: Ruth Kuhl

Ruth Kuhl is from Austin, Texas and completed API’s Argentine and Latin American Studies program at the University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina from February 3rd to June 22nd of 2012. She is 22 years old and currently is finishing her International Studies degree at Texas A&M University in College Station.

API Argentina students parachuting

Why did you decide to study abroad with API in Argentina?

Ruth: API was recommended to me by a friend and when I researched my options I felt that they gave me the most opportunity for the best price. Also, it is based in Austin, Texas which is my hometown so I figured that would be convenient for
orientation and turning in materials.

What made this experience unique and special?

Ruth: I think everyone has a unique and special experience when they go, but I really appreciated the personal touches that Carmen, our on-site program director, was able to give to the excursions. She made sure that with each trip, we were able to experience more because of the connections she had made in the area. This made our trips more interesting and helped us feel more connected with the culture of Argentina and its people. She also made us feel like we had someone there that was looking out for our best interest and safety, which is nice when you are far away from your friends and family back home.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Ruth: My study abroad experience furthered my passion for learning about and exploring the world. I met so many incredible people and had an unforgettable experience that has forever changed my perspective. I am also, as a result of the long term immersion, pretty much fluent in Spanish. This gives me an advantage personally and professionally because of the benefits it brings.

Although I still do not have a concrete direction that I expect my life to go in, I am ok with not having all of the answers. As a result of being forced to learn about how I cope with the unexpected, I feel prepared to take on whatever life throws at me. A confidence has been instilled in me that I have the ability to complete my goals and perform well regardless of the odds. I could not stress enough the importance of studying abroad for development in a person’s life. It brings an insight that cannot be gained just by reading someone else’s story. It might take a leap of faith to jump into a world you know you might not fully understand, but to me, it was absolutely worth it in the end.

Highlights: One of the highlights of my trip was definitely getting to travel between my month of intensive Spanish courses and my regular semester. I went with two girls from API and we traveled for ten days and went to Mendoza, Argentina and Chile. The first stop was Mendoza and we went on a beautiful bike tour of the wineries and did tandem paragliding over the Andes Mountains. This trip was also the first time I experienced staying in hostels. My favorite one was called Kalagen Hostel and was at our next stop: Viña del Mar, Chile. We had some really good Asado there and it was just a short walk from the beach!

We also met up with some other people from API so it was fun to be able to all go out downtown at night together. Some of the staff from the hostel came out with us and showed us around as well. Our last stop was in Santiago, Chile where we stayed at the Casa Roja but we only were able to spend one day and night there. It was nice though because we were there on a weekend so we got to go to a feria where they were selling artisan crafts and paintings. This was also right by the Plaza de Armas, which is at the center of the city’s initial layout and consequently also near a lot of historic buildings. One of the coolest things about this trip was the fact that we planned it all ourselves and successfully had an amazing vacation.

An academic highlight of my trip would probably be my success in my Latin American Business in the Southern Cone class. We had to do a group project that included the creation of, research, and a presentation of a business idea to our professor and class. This involved researching different aspects of the business venture according to trade regulations and public interest. The professor enjoyed our idea as well as the presentation we made and presented. Not only did we get a good grade in the class, but the professor is now a professional contact of mine on Linkedin. I have no doubts that if needed, he would be a valuable contact in the academic, as well as the professional field.

Morning: I had classes late, so typically in the mornings I slept in a little bit. Then I would wake up and work on homework and eat breakfast which was usually cereal, toast, fruit, or some kind of combination of those three. My host family was very accommodating and willing to buy me whatever I liked to eat, but I am not much of a breakfast person so I stuck with the basics. Then I would have to hail and ride a bus for about 30 minutes to class. Most days I ate lunch with my classmates in the cafeteria at the University of Belgrano or at a nearby bakery, coffee shop, or restaurant. There were a lot of places within walking distance that had delicious sandwiches and empanadas.

Afternoon: My classes at the University were in the afternoon so after lunch that was what my day consisted of. Usually after class I went and hung out with friends. There was a sushi place near one of the bus routes that had a happy hour with good deals on food, so I went there on some days. Other days I would go to a park or explore other parts of the city. If I was swamped with schoolwork then I would just go home or to a coffee shop instead to be more productive. For part of my semester, I participated in a choral group affiliated with my University, so some afternoons I would hang around with friends at school until rehearsal.

Evening: Almost every evening I had dinner with my host family at home sometime around ten. I had two host parents and two host sisters that all lead fairly busy lives, so some nights the whole family was home and others, I ate with just a few of them or on my own. On Fridays I tended to go out to dinner with friends, and on evenings when I had choir rehearsal, my family would leave me a plate to eat when I got home. Beyond that, my evening usually consisted of just hanging out at the house or going out to explore the Buenos Aires nightlife with my friends. There was also a popular novela that was on every weekday night called Dulce Amor that my host sisters got me hooked on, so I watched that pretty consistently when I could.