Originally, I applied for the Patagonia Mosaic for the experience to travel. I heard the word Patagonia and thought of mountains, snow, and beautiful wintry scenes. Well, to my surprise, that region of South America is more than just mountains and spans from the eastern coast of Argentina to the western shores of Chile. As this was my first experience studying abroad, the different culture, foods, and especially the language overwhelmed me. For the entire two weeks, there was constantly something surprising me, whether it be the immense numbers of different ethnic groups that comprise the population of the area we studied, or just the amazing landscapes and beaches, which of course I hadn’t expected. Living a block off the beach, my wintry preconceptions were proven extremely inaccurate. I certainly appreciated my host family’s help in learning the language and in adjusting to everything, as well as our friendship. These elements, though, are not directly the purpose of a research trip, are unquestionably welcomed by-products.

After a “debriefing” period, we went out to practice the techniques we had learned in recording oral histories with immigrants. Their narratives, perhaps the most lasting memory of the trip, ranged from stories of suffering, loss, freedom, separation, and unification. While practicing recording their stories, we really got the chance to know members of the community, who although live on a different half of the planet, share some similarities with us. We even got to hang out with some friends we made in Comodoro Rivadavia dancing the entire night at its famous discos. Being the only male student, I felt somewhat outnumbered at first but after meeting the wonderful group of about 15 students, of whom I only knew several beforehand, I appreciate the friends that I met during the two weeks. If I were to change one aspect of the trip, I would only make it longer than two weeks. Hopefully next time I go down there (keeping my fingers crossed), i’ll go for a longer stay.

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