Photos courtesy of Anthony Delucia and Sydney Griffith
For many Pepperdine students, studying abroad is an essential aspect of the college experience. Studying at one of Pepperdine’s seven abroad locations during sophomore year almost resembles a rite of passage for students, and each international program seems to have its own distinct culture.
According to the Pepperdine International Programs website, “85% of [Pepperdine] students study for the full academic year.” This statistic may cause students to feel like studying abroad for the entirety of sophomore year is the best and only option for an international experience. However, students may choose to study abroad for only one semester. Sophomore Hope Horn chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the second semester.
“I’m a Chemistry major focusing on biochemistry, and I’m also minoring in Spanish, so schedule-wise it wasn’t really possible for me to come to B.A. for a full year,” Horn said. “I had to fight in order to even get a semester here.”
While the liberty to attend an abroad program for a semester may be a better option for students unable to commit to the full year, those studying abroad during the second semester might find it difficult to adjust to life in a new country after spending fall in Malibu. Factors like culture shock, time changes, new classes and new faces may contribute to this obstacle.
“It was hard to transition from Malibu to B.A., especially since I had such an amazing first semester there,” sophomore Sophie Rodriguez, who is studying abroad for the spring semester, said. “Coming somewhere brand new where [the students] have already been around each other for a long time was definitely a little weird.”
For Rodriguez, the pace of life in Buenos Aires is a factor that has required adjustment after being in the U.S. first semester.
“[The Argentine people’s] sleeping and eating schedules are the biggest difference to me,” Rodriguez said. “I like being in control of my own meals, so it’s weird eating dinner at like 10:30 p.m., going out at 1 a.m. and then sometimes staying out until the early morning on the weekends.”
Students studying abroad in the spring semester might adapt easier if they have friends studying for the full year to show them around and teach them about cultural norms. For sophomore Logan DiLullo, helping the new students is something that comes naturally.
“For me, as a full-year [student], I wanted to be able to help the new people,” DiLullo said. “Even though the shock and not knowing what to do is fun for a little bit, it can get overwhelming, so just being a friend to show people around and help them experience the culture in a positive way is something that I love to do.”
When it comes to adjusting to life in the city, Horn has experienced a lot of helpful guidance from the students who were in B.A. in the fall.
“[The full year students] have told me where to go, where not to go, what methods of transportation are the best,” Horn said. “They’ve invited me out to different restaurants, or to parks … They’ve been really welcoming to me and have been helpful, too, with adjusting to classes and the new teachers.”
Being a full-year student in Buenos Aires comes with the advantage of having more knowledge of life in the city.
DiLullo said he has two pieces of advice for students arriving in Argentina for the first time: “Try to go to as many new places as you can,” DiLullo said. “You’ll be able to know B.A. a lot better if you go and do things on the weekends or make a point to go to new places, even if it’s just for lunch or something. My other advice is even if your Spanish isn’t great, speak as much of it as you can because you’ll make better relationships with the Argentines that you meet.”
Pepperdine’s Buenos Aires program is unique in that students are required to live in a homestay with a local Argentine family hand-picked to match their preferences. The homestay can also aid students in the assimilation process by providing exposure to new foods, language immersion and background on cultural events and practices. Full-year student Clare Costa has learned to appreciate the homestay experience in Buenos Aires.
“It’s been really amazing to be welcomed into a home,” Costa said. “The Argentine people are very family-oriented, so having a dinner to come home to every night where I can sit, relax and have a conversation lets me focus on something else other than school, [which] is really rewarding.”
Costa’s homestay family has also helped her become accustomed to the Argentine way of life.
“My family helps me with my Spanish all the time, and they give me a lot of advice about life in B.A.,” Costa said. “They also have really helped me get into the culture; one of the first weeks I was here, my homestay brother had his first communion and the family invited me to go with them. They really welcomed me with open arms, and it was cool to see the culture in practice.”
Despite the initial difficulty of moving to a new country, Rodriguez expresses admiration for her new classmates and friends in the program.
“The group [in Buenos Aires] is amazing because the program attracts really outgoing, adventurous people, and I can’t wait to get close with them,” Rodriguez said.
While recognizing the challenge that comes with leaving what is known and comfortable behind in the U.S., Rodriguez looks forward to the rest of her time in South America.
“I go through waves of homesickness, which I think is pretty normal during any period of transition, but at the end of the day, I always feel just over-the-top happy to be in B.A,” Rodriguez said.
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