Friday, October 14, 2011

#3 Move to a Country You Have NEVER Visited on a Continent You Have NEVER Visited

Let me preface this one by saying that I have been abroad. I studied abroad in Cáceres, Spain for 3 months spring semester in 2010. You can read about my experience here

October 5th I got on a plane leaving Kansas City, my home for almost my whole life, with a one-way ticket to Montevideo, Uruguay. Leaving home has never been a problem for me, but knowing I was leaving for up to 5 years was much harder than I expected. Never been one to miss people too much, but I'm glad I gave my parents that extra hug. I arrived in the airport in Sao Paulo (That airport is tiny considering how big the city is). Smaller than KCI and my best guess is similar in size to Des Moines.

I was without any form of contacting somebody because of how useless my U.S. cellphone was(not GSM) and the lack of free/cheap Wi-fi. I couldn't understand spoken Portuguese nor speak it. All I can do is read a little of it because of its similarity to Spanish. I had to guess my way to the right terminal for my flight from Montevideo by eavesdropping on bits of conversations who was going where and hoping I had understood the Portuguese I was told by the airline worker. I couldn't sit still and I asked about five different people the same question just to quintiple-check I wouldn't end up in Sao Paulo rather than Montevideo. I overheard a rather old fellow say Montevideo. I didn't let him leave my sight because I knew if I followed him I would make the right plane.

Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport

On the plane I met a Spaniard named Guille who spoke perfect English(Thank God!) and we exchanged contact information. That's 1 person I know in Montevideo. When I arrived in Montevideo everything was so easy it was crazy. I went through customs without playing the game of 20 questions that I'm used to in the United States, actually even without talking. Security didn't even look at my bags as they went through the scanner. When I got past that, all I knew was that the mom of a Uruguayan I met at Iowa State was supposed to pick me up from the airport*. Never met them, only e-mailed his mom once.

Carrasco (Montevideo) International Airport

Seeing a sign with my name was probably the biggest relief ever. I could have gone to a hostel and paid $15-20 a night while looking for a job, but this family was kind enough to let me into their home.

*The Story of How I Met this Uruguayan: I had decided to go for a walk around Ames with no particular route in mind. I was going to go down Ross Road when I decided, on a whim, to cut through Emma McCarthy Lee park. I was walking by the water fountain. When I saw some guys wearing Argentina soccer jersey's. I can't really explain it, but I knew I should go talk to them and the normally shy me walked up to them and started asking them why they were here and what they were studying. I told them I was planning on going to Argentina or Uruguay in October. They said they had just finished playing soccer with some Uruguayans and introduced me. One of them around my age gave me his e-mail and we met up a few times in Ames before I left. I don't know if that was luck, fate, intuition, or divine intervention, but I do know I'm very glad to have met him.

What was your first experience leaving home? How long did you leave for? What was going through your head?

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