Studying abroad in one place for an extended period of time can begin to seem like regular life. You have a routine each day or week, and yes there may be some inconsistencies from week to week or day to day, but in general your life rolls on like your favorite film that you play over and over. Then there’s those moments and experiences that remind me that, I ain’t in Kansas anymore. I’m in Buenos Aires. A global city. One of the largest in the world. Furthermore, I’m in Argentina; south of the Equator, and a country that is as vast and diverse (geographically, demographically, etc.), if not more, as the United States and other large countries around the world.
Yesterday I returned from Iguazu Falls. I had heard of the natural beauty of these waterfalls. The size, the vastness, the amount of water, but it was not until we were mere feet from the cascading water that I realized the magnitude and beauty of this natural creation. My friend Katie and I stood there in awe. Much like the way I stood in Yosemite Valley looking up at El Capitan a few years ago. We showed up just after it had rained for a few nights in a row. Subsequently, the water, once clear, was now a dark terra cotta color. The color of the water, and the clouds in the sky, didn’t hinder us from enjoying what stood before our eyes. I have been fortunate enough to visit Niagra Falls, which was cool, but Iguazu Falls simply dwarfs Niagra Falls. To me, Iguazu is at least twice as high and twice as wide as it’s brethren in Western New York. The photos I snapped while walking the various walkways and overlooks barely serve the Falls justice. Iguazu Falls is a place that must be experienced in person.
We stayed in a hostel in Puerto Iguazu, just outside of Iguazu National Park. A comfortable place, with plenty of room, and all the amenities that we needed. Friday night, standing just behind two women at the front desk, waiting to request a taxit, we quickly learned that the two young women were looking to head into town as well. Christine and Ingrid, to Norwegians on a gap year, soon became our dinner buddies that night. Sitting in a local parrilla, we swapped travel stories and cultures. Christine and Ingrid have been traveling the world for the past five months. They’ve visited countries in Southeast Asia, including India, Thailand, The Philippines, and Singapore, among others. They’ve stepped foot in Australia, and made visits to Mexico and California. We caught them during their visit to Argentina and Brazil, just before they head back to Norway in the next couple of weeks. Those young women, one 20 and the other just about, have been on an experience I hope to someday have myself. Over steak and Coca-Colas, Christine, Ingrid, Katie, and I learned of each others’ cultures, where we’ve traveled, and our linguistic abilities, among other things. We found that Norway, and most of Europe in a sense, seems to have an educational model that is a bit more efficient than that of the United States, and the linguistic abilities of those two young women is something I hope to achieve before I die–fluent in three languages (English, Spanish, and Norwegian), and able to speak a bit of others (Dutch and Swedish).
Travel opens up opportunities and connections. Whether those connections last forever, or terminate in mere minutes, travel can be a catalyst to learn about this vast world that we live in, and the others that populate it alongside me. Katie is a friend, fellow IFSA-Butler student and Springsteen fan, with whom I have class, but have never talked with very much. I enjoyed our time together this past weekend, and getting to learn about her life and where she comes from. Christine and Ingrid are two people that I may never speak to again, but their story of traveling the world is inspiring. I hope to someday visit just one of the countries they’ve been to. And Iguazu Falls, well, like many other experiences of mine, reminds me of the beauty of nature, and the necessity to protect the environment from the footprint of the human race. I’m damn fortunate to be who I am and live the life I live, and I can only say thank you to those who have helped me to get where I am at this very moment, especially my parents and family.
With that, stop reading this. Get off the computer. And head outside. Experience the world, and enjoy the day!