My life changed in Rosario, Argentina. The outlook I have on the world, the way I approach new challenges, and my passion for traveling and understanding new cultures grew and evolved 3immensely. I am incredibly grateful for the support I received before, during, and after my study abroad trip. This support has ranged from receiving generous scholarships from GEO Study Abroad and the Mills International Center, to extensive support from my friends and family, and to my host mother and Rosario program staff for making my experience unforgettable. While what I’m saying may sound cheesy or cliché, it’s truly an emotion I’ve been feeling an awful lot of – grace and gratitude. AHA Rosario –now GEO Rosario—taught me how to grow more in five weeks than I would in a year.

Writing this essay is difficult because it is exceedingly hard to pinpoint any moment during my study abroad trip as more special or impactful than another. However, the specific day that I believed captured my entire trip was July 20th,  día del amigo, which translates to the Day of the Friend. Día del Amigo sounds like one of those unimportant national holidays we have here in the USA like ice cream day or coffee day, but this is certainly not the case in Argentina. Weeks before, we all began noticing signs posted in restaurants and bars urging patrons to make their reservations for día del amigo now, or else they would be without a place to celebrate the occasion. 1After asking the handful of local friends we had made about the reservations and what even the día del amigo is, they had informed us they already made reservations for our study abroad group and all their friends to eat and go out.

Día del amigo felt like Christmas Day. Walking to school that morning, more people would smile and say hello to me. More people would offer to hold the doors for each other, and you would see strangers picking up each others’ tabs. Each of our professors were blissful, even in our early classes, and groups of friends could be seen spending time together in the parks or along the streets more so than usual. You could feel the happiness in the air. As the night approached, every restaurant, bar, and club was absolutely full, including the restaurant we spent our evening at. We shared laughs, stories, and jokes in the best version of Spanglish I’ve encountered. Though at this point the trip coming to an end, at that moment Rosario truly felt like home.

What made Día del amigo such a substantial moment during my trip was what led up to and followed after it: some of the most cherished friendships I have. Programa Internacional in Rosario partnered each of us up with a Law student at the university, and these students quickly became our very good friends. They were ecstatic to be around us, show us Rosario, and welcome us into IMG_4244their lives in a way that was well above and beyond what was expected of their participation in the program. They truly became our good friends. My conversation partner, Agustín, quickly turned into my closest friend in Argentina. Along with Julieta, another law student, those two shaped my experience. On the Día del amigo, these two made themselves very clear of how grateful they were to take the chance to meet us all; making each of us feel very, very welcomed in Rosario. I will never forget this about Argentina, and urge others to visit the country to experience its welcoming community for themselves.

– Alex Bellizzi, Spanish Language and International Justice in Rosario, Argentina