Cultural differences, big and small, changed Jeremy: he seemed to start seeing world cultures as more beautiful and complex. He told me about how people always say that “every place has a different culture. Not everyone is the same.” He never really understood that until he studied abroad. People are super different in ways that you wouldn’t expect. He told me that “it’s not just one person who does it differently, but an entire society that does things in that way. ”Testimonies like these are a reminder that there are many. tiny components that make up the mosaic that is culture. Culture isn’t just food and holidays; it’s much richer and complex and is something that Jeremy is going to be able to take with him to better care for, understand, and adapt to others around him for his entire life.
This month, we are excited to feature Jeremy Kohlmeier! Jeremy studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina for one month during the summer. He traveled with ISA, a program provider that we partner with in the Office of Education Abroad.
In Jeremy’s average day in Argentina, he would have a small breakfast, as is typical in Argentina, then head to class around 9:30. When he was out of class at 2pm every day, Jeremy would go see something new in the city with some other study abroad students. Often, this involved hopping on a subway to go to a main shopping center, a famous bookstore, or even a historic cemetery where Jeremy observed above ground tombs.
Jeremy confirmed that studying abroad not only expands your worldview, but also teaches flexibility and problem solving. He shared a few favorite memories, such as traveling around the wetlands on a boat, and getting to see the beautiful nature in Argentina. He also shared chaotic memories, such as exploring the city on the day that he arrived in Argentina, and then being shocked when the subway was closed, and he had to figure out how to get back home!
Jeremy elected to study abroad with one of our partner program providers called ISA (International Studies Abroad). He highly recommends this company. Some of his friends had other providers, and they found it hard to get in contact with their staff when there were issues. But Jeremy frequently saw his program provider since they did so many trips and events together in Argentina. He even had their number to reach out for more urgent matters. He felt very supported by ISA.
One thing that I was really excited to ask Jeremy about was the Argentinian culture. Most students who study abroad through our office prefer to go to western Europe, making Jeremy’s program a bit more unique. He shared stories about going to a tango class (that he didn’t want to go to initially but ended up really liking).
He also talked about the local food since the food culture was a bit different: it was much more common to have one main dish, often without any sides. Another difference he noticed was Uber-an hour drive in an Uber was only$10! Another specific cultural detail is that Argentina is known for an animal called a Capybara, which is a type of giant rodent. Jeremy had searched throughout the city to find this Capybara animal (that he had apparently seen in a meme prior to studying abroad). For Jeremy, it almost seemed like a scavenger hunt through Buenos Aires to find one.
Jeremy also shared one specific cultural difference. He told me his favorite story that he always tells his friends: “If you see someone walking down the street, you smile and wave because that is normal and polite. But in Argentina, they would look away, seeming to be embarrassed, or just stare at him confused.” Jeremy told me that later he asked his program provider if smiling at strangers was normal, and their response was a very direct “no, that’s really weird here.”
I asked Jeremy if he had a final piece of advice. He immediately responded with “When you get there, go do stuff! Don’t decide to stay home. Your time is limited, so say YES!”
Office of Education Abroad