Day 2: Study Abroad is a War Zone… within the Consciousness / by Sarah Kakusho

Last night, I did gongyo and chanted with the lights out, in bed. I haven’t told my host mom that I’m a Buddhist. I think an eternity’s worth of worries, doubts, and hardships washed over me as I sat in my room, talking to people on Skype. I would’ve chanted all night if I could. But, instead I lulled myself to sleep with my mind deeply ringing, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.

So, I woke up this morning to Micro’s “Yukiyanagi” and I thought, if I were truly myself, then I really shouldn’t have to make so much of an effort, because I know I can work hard and better my Spanish. This is the mentality I woke to despite how I felt last night

The first thing I’m told is, “Tengo mala noticia. We have no hot water. It’s never happened before, lo siento.” I was like what the fuck. Okay, let me backtrack. I left Sunday at 2pm. The last I had showered was that Sunday morning. It would’ve been 2 days… 2 DAYS if I didn’t shower today.

“Dot. Dot. Dot.” I know.

But I insisted, and so I did. A nice cold shower. It felt good, even though it was about 50 degrees outside. -__-;; So that’s how I started my day.

After my host mom escorted me to Circulo Italiano, which was a few blocks down, I was wondering what to do myself. I think in high school, outside of the friends I hung out with, I didn’t really talk to anyone. I’m bad with that kind of thing. I’m sure if I were to meet myself, I would think I’m insanely, socially awkward. But, I guess after the first part of orientation, it wasn’t so bad. I met with 2 of the …5[?] 7[?] people who are taking the film track. I also met with the people who live near me. It was a nice mix. And turns out, I’m not the only one who was the only one that came from their respective university. W00t.

Moment of the day: “Soka’s in Southern California.” “Oh, Duh, SoCa!” “Not Exactly.”

I went to a café with a friend, trying to speak Spanish, and had a ham sandwich. I learned and realized many things in the hour that I sat there, like:
- I can barely finish an Argentine meal, even if it’s a two sandwiches (with no crust)
- Even water comes in a glass bottle
- The check needs to be asked for in order to get one and tip is 10%
- My Spanish sucks
- Argentines are very kind and friendly

Afterwards, I walked to a nearby post office… It didn’t feel like a post office. It’s been a while since I’ve been in one in the States, but this post office was one of the most eerily quiet places I’d seen…even despite the city noise going on outside. It was like I was stuffed into a soundproof room. People were whispering, but I could literally not hear them. I swear I thought I had gone deaf. There were so many people waiting, so we ended up leaving. Back to orientation!

I learned about public transportation. I think I might buy a subway card. I realized it’s really convenient to live in the city, because, regardless of where you are, you are always close to everything. Hahaha. Orientation ended at 18:30. And that was it.

I had a better day, meeting people, getting to know the logistics of the program, and just general Welcome to Buenos Aires orientation. At first, I lost confidence, broke down internally, maybe even died because everyone could speak better than I could. Seriously, a quarter of the program (124 of us in total) studies Spanish as a major. These people actually study Spanish for their future, whereas I’m just here because luck brought me here, and into the film track.

But, as I met more people, there are just as many people here that are like me, and I was thankful, thankful because there are people here that I can grow with, on the same level. I’m glad I’m able to really hone my listening skills though. I was able to practice, through watching tv last night [I have a tv in my room]. Gotta start somewhere, right?

To all the people that’s ever given me a note/card/letter, I brought them with me and I read them every day. So, this is what it feels like to be drafted into the war and be so far away from all that you care for, fighting for something that you believe will benefit you and the world in the end. Study abroad is a war zone, a battlefield for human revolution. Still can’t believe the fact that I’m gonna be here for 5 months though. It’s unreal…it’s ridiculous… I miss everyone already. How will I survive it?

By the way, isn’t it great to know that I could be one of the 50% of girls in the program who could get robbed?