Preparing to studying abroad can be exciting, but also somewhat scary. While your high school abroad program manager will prepare you as much as possible for your exchange, there are certain questions that only a fellow exchange student can answer.
Read Ashlyn Dorn’s interview below about how her mentor’s advice helped her prepare for her study abroad experience Argentina!
How did having a mentor help you prepare to study abroad in Argentina?
Having a mentor hammered home the importance of openly communicating in Argentina. It was really helpful to hear it from someone who had ‘been on the ground.’
What was the best advice your mentor offered?
Bring money with you everywhere! Most places only accept cold, hard cash. Also to be flexible, which was really great advice. There would be times that my host family would go to dinner, but would not get home until 3am because there was a family party that just popped up. Things just happen spur of the moment and you just have to roll with it!
After studying in Argentina, what advice would you give to future students?
Expect less personal space with school friends, host family, strangers, everyone! Hugs and kisses on the cheek are all natural points of contact in Argentina.
Also, you can’t buy things just for yourself. If you are getting ice cream, get enough for everyone. Don’t worry, it will all come back around and you’ll be treated more often than you treat others.
On a more logistical note, print out your reciprocity paper. Be open to all the experience is giving you and try everything at least once-even if you think you won’t like it. Try it anyway.
Brush up on basic Spanish before you leave!
How did the study abroad experience affect your academic and personal goals?
I’m studying Spanish in college, which I wasn’t planning on doing before my time in Argentina. Studying Spanish is more interesting and personal because of my experience abroad. It’s reinforced that I want to major in International Relations and it’s helped put my future in perspective.
Any advice to someone that has a mentor to make sure they make the most out of the opportunity to learn from an alumni?
Narrow down your questions as much as possible and make it specific. General questions like, “how was it?” won’t elicit very useful information.
More pointed questions such as, ‘What was the most challenging thing about living with a different family and how did you work through it?” will provide you with much more useful advice!