Despite the obstacles faced, especially and beginning with the intention to fly out for Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on the first and only snow fall in Chattanooga of the season, I have returned home beyond content with my time in South America, and only wish I could stay longer for many reasons, in addition to the fact that it is their summer!
The short-term trips are a great way to accommodate time abroad within a busy life; though it is impossible to fully immerse into the culture in such a concise time. Nevertheless, I took advantage of opportunities that I normally would not have back at home – from learning graffiti and tango, to visiting Argentine companies, riding the metro, flying across the country to spend the night in another city, and even taking a ferry to visit a neighboring country for the evening! Through unique experiences such as these and numerous more, I absorbed more in the brief periods through engaging abroad, the preparation, and reflection periods than I would have learned in an entire semester or longer in the classroom. I was able to live the way of life, through meals, activities and encounters, as opposed to solely reading and hearing about them.
I built genuine relationships with both my peers and the locals, learned cultural differences compared to the U.S. and other countries I have previously visited, experienced local practices such as enjoying mate (popular beverage comparable to tea) and asado (traditional meal preparation), and much more, all of which I embraced every aspect of, even the challenges I faced, which included the occasional language barrier and misunderstandings, but I am equally thankful for the occurrences, as I was able to grow from them.
Prior to arriving to Argentina, we were warned about “Argentina time,” in which timeliness is uncommon, dining is lengthy, dinner is late, and a night out is even later! Though dramatically different from what we are accustomed to in the U.S. – often promptness, rushed dining, early dinners and comparably earlier nights out, we adjusted fairly quickly and well, but unfortunately, just in time to leave.
In addition to familiarizing with the everyday practices and business customs, I was most pleased to practice my Spanish skills in Argentina, even learning the local dialect, having studied the language since an early age. Though we were reassured prior to our departure that many of the locals speak English, I am grateful that I faced various instances to apply the Spanish language, as I could sense self-improvement even after just two weeks! Also, seeing as I studied in Chile for a summer, I was anxious to study in a neighboring country to discover expected similarities between the two but differences as well.
I am glad to see that these short-term faculty led programs abroad are available to students, like myself, considering I would like to earn an international studies degree one day and continue to work with internationals; thus, opportunities such as the international business experience course in Argentina will prove beneficial to my future and even now. Upon returning from Argentina, I am more globally prepared to work with varying cultures domestically and abroad. Thank you for supporting me in this exceptional learning adventure.
Lynna Nguyen is a graduate student in Accounting. She participated in a College of Business faculty led trip to Argentina in December, 2017. Lynna had the following to say about her time abroad, “The short-term faculty led programs such as the international business experience in Argentina and the others offered through UTC’s College of Business are unique and worthy experience that I would recommend over and over again to anyone with interest, whether you are an avid traveler or have never left the country. The brevity of the trip allows even the busiest of people to go abroad, all the while earning course credit. As the time abroad is brief, the schedule has been carefully predetermined to maximize the time; thus, you are more likely able to experience more through these organized cultural experience courses, than if you were to go on your own. Additionally, because you go as a class, you have others that you are able to rely on and able to share the experience with, before, during and after the trip. Regardless of your age, program, or other possible inhibiting factor in life, these study abroad trips in particular are appropriate for all students and highly recommended to take advantage of while you are still in school, as opportunities such as these are significantly more difficult to come by outside of school.”
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