by Vanessa Murphy
“I didn’t ever expect myself to leave Indiana, let alone the United States,” said Laura Dewlin, who recently returned from La Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
While many Lancers were en route to return to Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind., for the fall semester of school in 2014, the Indiana born-and-raised Dewlin began her third year of college thousands of miles away from her 500-person hometown.
The elementary education major set foot in the new country on Aug. 26 not knowing what to expect from her 16-week journey; the only contact she had with her host family before entering their household was messaging them on Facebook a few weeks prior.
Initially, the foreign culture posed some problems. Even though she has taken Spanish since sixth grade, Dewlen admits that many times she was unaware of what to say. But that feeling dissipated after some weeks being there, as Dewlin became more comfortable through familiar cultural experiences like attending church and taking college courses. She was even able to teach Sunday school.
Because dinner was not until 9 or 10 o’clock, “merienda,” or a snack time, took place between 5 and 6 o’clock. A favorite drink during this time is “mate” which is a tea shared by everyone from the same cup; this is also known as a germaphobe’s worst nightmare.
Although parts of Argentina are known to be dangerous, Dewlin confessed she never once felt unsafe. She lived with a Christian family whom Professor Navarro—who has lived in Argentina himself—knows personally. City transportation was also safe, despite the mild crash her bus experienced on her second day.
Ultimately, the most important aspect of her experience was being open-minded.
“I wasn’t there to be catered to; I was there to be part of that culture,” Dewlin states.