Jennifer Zebouni
2004-05 Outbound to Argentina

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
School: Episcopal High School
Sponsor: Mandarin Rotary Club
Host: San Fernando R. C., District 4820, Buenos Aires, Argentina

September 9 Journal

Hola!

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That is about what it was like my first week here….Hola I could usually almost always pick up. However, as far as everything else was concerned I really didn’t understand much at all. My first three weeks pretty much were a mixture of emotions of all extremities. Extreme sadness when leaving Jacksonville, to extreme happiness now that I am beginning to fit in and assimilate to a new culture.

Argentina is amazing! It is gorgeous, the people are the nicest people I have ever meet in all my life. School is great. I go to a school where we have to wear uniforms, which are not too attractive but it's all right. I finally know my way to and from school now. This week I was able to understand the majority of my classes and I actually took notes in history. The feeling when you begin to learn the language is by far the most exciting feeling I have ever experienced.

My family here is great. Mom, dad, older brother, cat. No dogs but I actually really enjoy the company of the cat, despite the fact that I am highly allergic. Soccer is really popular here which is really great, it's always on TV and people are always playing it. And by people I mean boys, only boys. In school the boys and girls are separated for gym and the girls dance and play volleyball and the boys play rugby and soccer. After a lot of insisting and begging, in Spanish of course, I finally got the authorization to have gym class with the boys which is so cool because I will finally be able to play soccer! Next week I am starting guitar and tennis lessons and I am really excited.

When we talked about culture shock I really thought it wouldn’t apply to me. But I was wrong, it even effects you physically. I was the child that never ever slept, I really truly thought I had insomnia haha but now every day when I get home form school I sleep for 3 hours. It's great - my brain is constantly working and trying to learn the language. I've already been to the mall twice, dancing, a rugby game, and many tea parties. The friends that I have made here so far I feel like I have known some of them for years, they are great. I really love it here! The best thing is, there are a lot of girls shorter than me in my class jaja, the people here are much shorter than in the USA!!

BESOS

October 15 Journal

Well it's been exactly two months since I arrived in my new home, and I am definitely having the time of my life. But I am having the time of my life not because I have made new friends, and people find me special just for being American, or because here we go out until 7 in the morning, but because I have learned to enjoy myself in the hardest of situations. Things used to be fun for me only because they were easy, the harder things very few people like. This has been the hardest thing I have ever done but I am loving it so much.

This week I took my first two tests, and well...Yes well...My geography test went very well. I know I passed. But my "analsis calculas" kind of "worked me hard core". I had never taken a test that I didn't know anything about before, so that was a trip.

I am starting tennis lessons and horseback riding, so I am trying new things, and of course I play pickup soccer whenever possible. I also went to the center of Buenos Aires which was so amazing, I have never seen architecture like that before. I felt like I was in Europe, it was amazing, everything here is amazing!! And it's spring!! And to make things even better I can basically understand everything and I can make myself understood. I am even telling jokes...well I think they are jokes ..no one ever laughs, but no one laughs at my English jokes either so I am not worried. Things are going great and keep getting better!

December 7 Journal

Yesterday I got home from a 20 day tour of the south of Argentina. We went to places such as Puerto Madryn, Bariloche, San Martin de los Andes, Calafate, and Ushaia which happens to be the southern most city in the entire world. I saw penguins, alpacas, whales, sheep, foxes, wild horses, everything. I saw mountains, snow, ice, everything. It was quite different from Florida actually. It was breathtaking.

On Thanksgiving day we were in a city called Calafate and we walked on a glacier. It was seriously so amazing. It was such an experience that it is truly hard to find words to describe the places. In the past I had always considered myself one who appreciates nature but I realized on this trip that really I had no idea. I began to notice how different the wind felt, how different the lights looked in each city, how different the air smelt and the people acted, it was truly incredible. I truly took advantage of every opportunity.

In Florida I have two dogs which I miss dearly and here I have a cat, so I am somewhat missing the affection of my pets back home. So when we were traveling I went to a pet store and asked if I could rent a bunny. The man sort of looked at me silly but smiled and said sure. I had to leave 5 pesos which is less than 3 dollars and then when I returned the rabbit he returned my money. The rabbit itself only cost 8 pesos. It was so much fun! Then the next day I rented the same one again but this time I didn’t have to leave any money because the man knew I was trust worthy. It was so funny he said he had never met anyone like me before, I don’t think many people rent rabbits.

It was truly an amazing trip and I met some kids from Austria and Hungary and different places, although most of them were from the United States. It was so refreshing to finally come home. It was nice. I realized after this trip that I truly have made Argentina my home, because when I got home the way I felt and the way my family felt made me realize how at home I am. I felt just like I do when I used to go on a trip and then come home to your mom's food and your dad's jokes and fighting with your brother over whose turn it is to wash the dishes and most importantly your bed. It was so nice. Now the vacation is truly over. Beginning the 17th of December I begin with my exams of the year. Which may not sound too difficult but you have to remember I arrived in late August, school began in March, and it's in a foreign language. But I'm excited to do well and finish the year strong so I can begin studying for the SATs that I have to take here in January. Officially it is summer here, and tomorrow we are going to put up the Christmas tree. Happy Holidays everyone!!

January 22 Journal

Well for those of you who are doing your exchange in the northern hemisphere, and you Matt who's in Siberia, I am sure envying you ironically enough. Right now I am on my summer vacations, and here it is very very hot. Especially since air conditioning is rarely used. It isn’t even that people don’t spend the money on it, it's that other than in businesses no one sees it necessary or practical. I'm adjusting even though its in the 90's every day.

I just got back from spending a little over 2 weeks in Pinamar. That is a beach which is about 4 hours from where I live and everyone goes there during the summer. It was so much fun because all your friends are there too, so it's amazing. All the Argentine famous people go and spend the time there too. I met Carlos Tevez who played for Boca and now is playing for the Corinthians, a club in Brazil, and also the keeper of River Plate. Which is ironic because that is like meeting a Florida Gator and Seminole, quite the rivalry.

Now I've been back home for a good week, and of that good week, believe it or not, all of that time has been put into collegeboard.com, where I have practicing for the SAT which I took today. Let's just say it's obvious that I am talking better Spanish since I have apparently forgotten all English vocabulary. Now comes the fun part - studying for school exams that I have to take in a couple weeks to bring back credits. So my summer is packed with school, which I don’t too much mind. We are having a big super bowl party here so all my friends can watch my city on TV, too bad the only good team in the NFL didn’t make it (Indianapolis Colts, for those who aren't familiar with the NFL).

Anyways I am having a wonderful time. It's amazing - you would think that after 5 months and the fact that it's no longer new, the fact that I have to study, the fact that I am not the special new girl, that it would lose a little of its appeal. But literally each day gets better and better. I feel like the time has passed so fast, too fast, but at the same time that I have been here my whole life, it's oxymoronic actually.

Bueno me tengo que ir ya a estudiar así que te dejo con esa información y espero que te disfrutes.

Feliz Año Nueveo!

April 4 Journal

Well I have been very very busy lately. My summer came to an end almost a month ago. It was a wonderful summer! I was able to go to Pinamar, which is a beach in Argentina that almost everyone goes to during summer. It was beautiful and I went with my best friend and her family, which is practically my family. Don't worry - even though they were not Rotary it was rotary approved :-) In Pinamar I ended up meeting the most famous soccer player, Carlos Tevez, that recently went to play in Brazil. I saw him out dancing and went and talked with him and his friends, it was amazing! I was looking for him all that day on the beach to play soccer and then that night when I wasn't even expecting to see him I ended up meeting him. It was GREAT!!

Also my family was able to come down and visit me the last weeks in February, which was really amazing. It had been almost seven months since I had seen them and it was so nice to see them again. Not only my parents but my grandmother and brother as well were able to come. It was such a wonderful feeling to be able to show my family where I lived, my friends, my school, my new home. It was really incredible and I really enjoyed it. We also were able to travel a bit. And by a bit I mean literally from the very top of Argentina, Iguazu, Misiones, to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego. Iguazu was beautiful. I think that most would agree that they are the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. Then I went to Calafate which has over 7 really large glaciers. It was great!

Then my family left and I began school. Which this year is much easier since I understand everything. But there are still some challenges. I am really enjoying it. On the school subject, I have been really busy studying for the ACT which I have to take this Saturday which hopefully I will do well on, if not I guess I'll just have to stay here :-)

Perhaps the most exciting day of my exchange occurred last Thursday, 31 of March. My mom decorated a restaurant for an exhibition because she is an architect and it was in a big exhibition. Anyways the exhibition was done by the magazine GENTE, which is like the American PEOPLE magazine. Anyways there is a program here on TV that I absolutely love!!! It really helped me to learn my Spanish, because it's meant for younger children even though all my friends watch it. Anyways I am obsessed and it's called Floricienta. It's kind of roughly based on Cinderella. Anyways at this exhibition I saw a girl that acted in the program as the English tutor of the children in the show, and I went and talked to her. She was really nice and recently moved to Spain with her boyfriend so she doesn't act anymore. Anyways she told me to follow her, she wanted to show me something ... She took me to the Nokia section and there he was ... The lead star of Floricienta ..THE PRINCE! We talked and he gave me his autograph and we even took a picture. He also invited me to the set on my birthday to watch the show. It was seriously my dream come true!! I also met a lot of other really famous TV stars, which are all really friendly! But he was the most famous and special to me of all of them. Anyways I will leave you all with this news. Even though I'm not sure it means as much to you all as it does to me :-) In final, I have so much luck in Argentina ... I meet all the famous people!!!!!!! In America I don't know anyone famous, well accept AL of course!!!!

Chau

June 7 Journal

Well these past months when I haven't been studying for the ACT or the SAT or the SAT IIs, I have been studying for Spanish literature, sociology, economy, etc. So my past few months have been incredibly busy with school. Too busy!

The most recent thing I did that was really really neat, I mean everything I do is really neat in my opinion jaja but maybe not for everyone, was I went to see FUERZABRUTA. This was an act made by the VANGUARDIA, in ingles I think it is called Vanguard. It was really really cool. Throughout the entire [obra] we were moving because those acting moved as well. Above us was a huge pool of water where people were acting. It was really hard to describe but a really amazing experience.

A lot of the exchange students that were here in Argentina left this past weekend, which for me was really weird because it was my wake up call that I too would be going home soon. Well for some people 37 more days may seem like a long time, like my mom and dad back in the USA. But for me and my friends here it is nothing. In fact me and my host brother went the other day to the Argentina immigrations place to ask a question about my visa and as a joke my host brother asked if we could make me a citizen, but they said not unless we were married, so we decided that I'll just have to take out a visa next time I want to come jajaja.

It seems weird now to write a journal about how I took the bus alone or the train alone, or about how we eat dinner at 11 at night, because to me all those little things that I had never done before seem normal to me, and not just that they seem normal but I have a hard time imagining how it was before I got here. I have truly fallen in love with not only Argentina, my friends, my family, and my life here, but I have also really learned to love the Jen that I have become in Argentina.

But as sad as it for me to think about leaving and going back it makes me also happy. I will now have the opportunity to share with all my family and friends about Argentina. And I was also be able to share America with my Argentine friends when they come and visit. So when I come home I know that I am really bringing back Argentina with me.