Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Year in the Making: Then and Now

I'm getting ready to leave again, this time for Buenos Aires, Argentina. Thursday night will be my last time in the United States for a long time, and I'm not sure when I'll be back home. I have no return flight, and if the right job comes along and things are going well, I'm not going to rush home. I've picked up most of the things I need, bought new clothes, and even have a new lap top to boot. All I have to do now is pack.

So I'm thinking about how I felt a year ago, preparing to leave the U.S. for a year of teaching in Ecuador, compared to how I feel now, going for probably at least a year to live in Argentina. Obviously, things are much different now. I've already got a year of experience in South America under my belt, thought I know things will be so very different in this new country I'm going to. For one thing, people refer to it as "European", rather than "developing".

I've been to Chile and Uruguay, but never to Argentina, despite the fact that my mother is from Buenos Aires and I've always wanted to go. I guess I've been saving the best for last. Having traveled all throughout Ecuador and parts of Peru, I can already attest to the differences from the countries in central and northern South America as opposed to those in the south. Basically, life will be nearly totally different from what I was experiencing in Ecuador.

Before leaving for Ecuador I was nervous, unsure of what lay ahead and what would happen to me. A million different images of what Ecuador would be like ran through my head, none of which were correct. So much uncertainty hung in the air, so much depended on being able to deal with whatever happened with a smile. On the exterior, I told people I wasn't nervous and was pumped to go, but inside I knew that wasn't entirely true. Alone in a room at night before waking up early to leave, your true emotions show themselves.

A year later, almost to the exact date, I'm not feeling that way anymore. I just barely got home really, and I'm still in a state of semi-reverse culture shock. I'm still amazed by some things, and these American prices continue to perplex me. But I'm looking forward to going back to South America, especially since it's to a country that I've dreamed of going to for so long. I don't feel nervous, even with the uncertainty of going down without a job waiting for me. I've survived in a country that can make life difficult at times, and I'm confident that I can deal with almost anything now. In fact, it's a little bit strange now when things get accomplished with too much ease.

I'm also going to enter a new sort of life. I have dual citizenship in Argentina, and all I need to do (hopefully) when I get there is sign a paper and apply for my DNI citizenship card, and then wait for the passport many months later. Barring any terrible delays, I'll be just like any other Argentinian, sort of. But for all intents and purposes, I won't just be another foreigner in another country again...sort of. I'll be able to vote, get a bank account, and even pay taxes (so excited!). This will also enable me to receive free health care.

These past weeks at home have passed by quickly, as I expected, and luckily I never felt bored. But I can also see myself spending some more time at home, which wasn't something I was fully prepared for. But it's a good thing, because it means that I'll have something to come home to, whenever that may be. For now, I'm keeping my eyes to the horizon and looking at the map, wondering what will come up next.


Justin said...

Hey Jon,

Sorry we couldn't meet up while we were both in the states! Best of luck in Argentina! I'm looking forward to reading about your new adventures in B.A. Who knows, maybe I'll see you down there in six months or so? I've been thinking it might be getting close to time for a change myself.



Jon said...

Thanks Justin. I appreciate the good words. I hope the Vegas bash and following wedding went well. And that things go well when you go back to Taiwan also. Definitely try to come to Argentina, by then I'll be seasoned and we'll have a blast. Til then man.