As I was getting ready to say goodbye to my host mom last week, she made sure I had all my things, stuffed some food in my hands for the plane ride, and then gave me a gift. A little handmade pin: a ladybug on a leaf. She said she gives one to all her closest friends because it is a symbol of good luck. I thanked her with a hug and then the tears started.
I pulled myself together and walked outside with Paula and Viviana to get a taxi. We had to say our final goodbye, and while Viviana was able to keep her composure, I couldn’t help but cry again, and the only words I could manage were “Chau, mami.” She sighed and responded with, “Nos vemos, hijita” (we’ll see each other, daughter). As I pulled away Paula drew our attention to Viviana – there was a ladybug hanging out on her shirt. Viviana went nuts; I mean, it was kind of a weird coincidence, considering she just gave me a ladybug pin for good luck. I like to believe it wasn’t a coincidence. There couldn’t be a more symbolic way to end our time together in Córdoba.
I have been very lucky. I have had the opportunity to study in a foreign country where I have learned things about myself, Argentine culture, and the Spanish language. I have had good and bad times, met people who have taught me more than they probably realize, and traveled to incredible places. And while I am now at home, missing my Argentine life, I am also filled with joy because I had these experiences and met these people. This past semester wasn’t a vacation for me; it was my life. Now, adjusting to my old life in Minnesota is a challenge because I immersed myself so fully abroad, yet a pleasure to rediscover this place and figure out who I am now that I have had these experiences. I miss Viviana, I miss my friends, I miss my Argentine life. But I love reconnecting with family and friends here and I have been keeping myself busy with things I couldn’t do in Argentina. My heart is in two places right now but how beautiful it is to feel so strongly, the good and the bad. My friend Lila shared this quote that I keep referring back to, because it sums up my feelings so well: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place” (Miriam Adeney).
So in short, I am doing well. I am happy with where I am, where my life is going. I am enjoying understanding better who I am, and enjoying spending time with these people I have missed so dearly. I still don’t know how to answer the question, “So how was Argentina?” but soon the novelty of my return will wear off.
Life is good. I am so incredibly lucky.