Volunteer Review: Tianyao L., Medicine & Spanish in Argentina
I hopped on the plane to Argentina with mixed feelings. I felt extremely grateful someone from the program would be flying to Argentina with me so I would not get lost, because flying internationally alone for the first time would be tough.
My placement in Argentina
Arriving to Argentina, I was introduced to my host mother who was very nice and gave me a little bag filled with candy and we had a lovely conversation despite my poor Spanish skills. I lived in a house with one girl from the UK and because her flight was delayed, she did not come until the following afternoon. The first day after settling in, the medicine group went on a city bus tour that drove us around Cordoba. Driving around the city with the wind blowing through our hair was a great way to start off the trip.
Most of the days we would wake up at a specified time and together with the assigned group, head off to the hospital. Luckily, there were another two students living next door so they and us were part of our group so we did not have to wake up early to pick them up. The hospitals are so different from the ones in the United States and everyone spoke Spanish so I was a little intimidated at first. But I quickly got the hang of things and all the doctors were very patient and would speak slowly to make sure we understood. I got to watch two surgeries, a trauma and an oral surgery. Aside from that, my groups were one of the lucky ones who got to see a dog castration and my roommate even got to assist the veterinarian during some parts.
After the hospital, we would go home to eat lunch or would be packed a box lunch and then head to Spanish class. When Spanish class was over we got to go home relax and have free time in the house. On certain days, we would do some activity at night such as play soccer, learn the tango, or sing karaoke; those nights where the best.
However, because the Spanish culture is so different from the United States, it took a little adjusting. First of all, we went there during their winter and even though Cordoba is near the equator and not as cold, I was freezing because I was so accustomed to the weather of Florida. Normally, Argentinians eat dinner late at around eleven as opposed to my regular dinnertime at seven. For dinner, Argentinians like to stock up on carbs; potatoes, red meat, pasta and bread are a big part of their diet and for dessert the dulce de leche was the best.
Favorite things to do
One of my favorite things to do in Argentina was shopping at the flea market and zip lining. The scenery at the flea market was just unreal and you would never find something like that from where I live. Everything there was so beautiful and so cheap at the same time. I took the time to buy a traditional Argentinian mate cup and I could honestly say that was an amazing experience. That was the first time that I have ever zip lined and I was super scared at first but after the first time, I fell in love. The feeling was close to flying and it was amazing.
Aside from the activities, the staff was also amazing and very supportive. They felt like friends more than supervisors and I was very sad to leave them on the last day. They took us to the supermarkets and to get ice cream and were able to speak English very well despite it being their second of third language.
Overall, Argentina was a very memorable time because not only did I improve my Spanish and learn more about medicine, I also made amazing friends, got to interact with people from around the world, and experience a life in a different culture. Truthfully, if given another opportunity, I would definitely want to go to another country with Projects Abroad.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.