120 Days in Buenos Aires brought with it some of the darkest moments. Questions of whether I really wanted to return home to the United States. After trips abroad in the past, my love for the States had grown immensely, for silly reasons like portion sizes or customer service expectations. I understood that the US had fallen behind in so many global statistics, but my pride remained in my hope. But after the election results, my pride shrunk.
On Tuesday November 8th, I had class from dawn until dusk. I could hardly focus knowing that in the evening Hillary Clinton would become the first female present. I passed through service learning, gender, and writing class and quickly returned home. I ate dinner with my host family, and we discussed how terrible Trump is and how I praised Hillary. I shared the polling results that nearly guaranteed the win to go to Hillary. After dinner, I put a bottle of champagne in my purse and headed to The Alamo to meet some friends and watch the result in an expat bar. The night began hopeful, but quickly the results started to show red. A friend told me to look at the New York Times predictor showing an undeniable Trump win. I became numb pretty quickly. Others were crying around me, but I just stood silently watching the results come in for the next five hours.
At three in the morning on Wednesday November 9th, I left the bar and headed back home on the colectivo. When I arrived home, I poured the bottle of champagne down the drain of my bathroom and took a shower to erase the smell of cigarettes I picked up at the bar. I got into bed and began looking through photographs of suffragettes. I sobbed for a few minutes and then fell asleep exhausted. At 4:30 a.m. in Buenos Aires, I finally unplugged from my electronics and went to sleep after seeing the Associated Press post on twitter that Donald Trump is the President Elect. At 8:00 a.m. my alarm went off, and I debated whether to stay in bed to mourn or get up to see that the sun was still shining. I walked out of my room and my host mother saw me and said “I’m sorry, Emma.” Like a zombie I made myself breakfast, and decided that I would skip class.
My Human Rights class had a morning field trip planned to visit The ex ESMA, which was a clandestine detention center in Bs.As. in the late 1970s. The military dictatorship used this space to torture citizens for information before moving them to the airport where they would be dropped to their death from airplanes into the River Plata. A little perspective in the midst of this harsh reality. Quickly, I ditched the idea of throwing a day long pity party, embarrassed by my own privilege. I ran to the bus and still got to school in time to visit el espacio de la memoria. During the opening presentation at ESMA, the words terror and dictator flashed across the wall. I felt fear for my own country as I watched the Argentine government change hands, as will the US come January. Still, it is unclear what the Trump presidency will bring. The hateful rhetoric used during the election frightens me; however, had I let the results immobilize me, I would have less perspective and understanding regarding a major breach in human rights.
Directly following the field trip, I headed to my grammar class. We projected Hillary’s live speech onto the board. I sat silently crying as our champion gave her message to the young girls that she has so inspired. There was no grammar lesson that day. We talked about the results and then went home.
On Thursday November 10th, I woke up extremely motivated to be productive. The world felt so broken, and I felt that a run was the only way to relieve the pressure that had built up in my chest. I ran to the Palermo Park to look at the roses and try to begin healing. I listened to Kanye, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé the whole way there and back. Blood on the Leaves started playing as I stood in the middle of the rose garden, and reality began to hurt again. I ran back listening to Survivor by Beyoncé, because if there is one thing that a Trump presidency cannot break it is the fight inside of each of us. I ran home to see Anita in the kitchen, and we chatted a little about the results. In the afternoon, I headed across town to the Teatro Colón where I met my conversation class for a tour. We didn’t talk about the results but let the art and architecture begin to heal. In the evening, I headed home and enjoyed dinner with my host family. I tried to do homework but was overwhelmed with the fear of articles publishing Trump’s first 100 day plan and other terrifying topics.
On Friday November 11th, after throwing a Gossip Girl marathon in my bed during the morning, my wonderful sister told me that Nasty Women get sh¡t done. So I got up out of bed, and marched my behind to beautiful Recoleta to see the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. I began with tears in my eyes in front of the bloody dark scenes of Goya. I sat in a room surrounded by him and tried to feel perspective of the gore of my own country. I moved on to a room of Velázquez, my favorite. Through his brush strokes, I am transported into the shadowy corners of castles far away. It also reminds me of the moments I have spent in front of Las Meninas at the Prado in Madrid and makes me long for more time in one of my favorite cities. I moved on to other pieces by Rembrandt, Degas, Monet, Picasso, Pollock, and a large array of Latin American artists of classical and modern styles. My movement throughout the museum had a full spectrum of dark to light, although I found myself back in the room of Goya once more before leaving. Mourning is so necessary in order to heal. I left the museum as the sun began setting behind me. The beautiful architecture of Recoleta with its purple trees, statues, and ornate building was all set ablaze by the sun. I remembered to let the beauty of the city wash over me and to let art heal. I returned home in time for dinner with Tony and Alexia. We headed to the pizzeria on the corner and chatted about our days.
On Saturday November 12th, I was unable to let the mourning process consume me for any longer. I enjoyed my favorite shawarma and a huge wedge of watermelon for lunch. I continued my productivity with laundry and then headed to a cafe down the street where I spent the entire afternoon working on final essays. The excitement up to the day of the election and the mourning after had created over a week where I was unable to be really productive. With final exams only two weeks away and over 40 pages of essays in front of me, it was no longer possible to delay. In the evening, I went to the gym and enjoyed dinner with my host family.
Sunday November 13th was a gloomy rainy day in Buenos Aires. Luckily the movie theaters had a special that day where movies were only a couple of dollars. I headed to Alto Palermo to see Bridget Jones’s Baby. With my diet coke, popcorn, and m&ms, I felt transported back home. Seeing movies alone during the afternoon in Lincoln is one of my favorite activities. The movie was hilarious. I loved it, but not us much as the first one (classic) or the scene from the second in the jail cell singing Madonna. After the movie, the sun had come out. I walked home and grabbed some shawarma on my way. In the evening, I fit in a little more homework and a run through the Palermo Park as the sun was setting.
On Monday November 14th, I woke up and had a slow morning with the cats. As normal, I drank a million cups of tea before heading to Almagro to volunteer. Once at CLAYSS, Maggie, the other volunteer, and I continued our work. It was our second to last week there, and we had a lot of tasks to finish. Once it was lunch time, the whole staff sat down together, and of course, the election results came up quickly. The workers there are all very liberal-minded and mostly a young group. They explained that when Macri was elected it was the same kind of blow as with Trump. They explained this as both being far to the left. Macri is the more conservative candidate in comparison with the Kirschners. However, they stole money from the government and the public for the last decade. Still they consider Macri to be villainous. I have a lot of trouble believing that Macri is anywhere near as destructive as Trump. Regardless, it was an interesting conversation. In the evening, I returned home and fit in a quick workout. For dinner, I enjoyed a delicious guiso or stew, which is one of my favorite meals, second to lomo saltado.
On Tuesday November 15th, I headed to FLACSO for a full day of classes. After service learning in the morning, Rosa and I headed to grab some lunch and then ice cream at a cute place on Corrientes before gender class. The rest of the afternoon continued with gender class and then my first final in writing class. In the evening, I headed home to study for more finals and to eat dinner with my host family.
Wednesday November 16th continued with more finals and more lectures. This was really crunch time, so I really didn’t have time for much more than homework and class. I squeezed in a quick trip to the gym to feel like I was keeping some sort of schedule and to get away from my computer screen for a short while.
On Thursday November 17th, I continued my routine: breakfast, study, lunch, study, dinner, study. There was a quick three-hour break to head to conversation class, but otherwise I was consumed by the essays due in the coming days.
My 120 days were mostly marked by the stress of finals and the aftermath of the election. This time period felt so little like study abroad, but instead, right back into my normal crazy school schedule. At least the stress of it all really helped me pass out of the darkness of the election and keep moving forward with my semester abroad. Now that I have come out of the haze (although I am still in denial and hoping that the electoral college decision on the 19th of December will change everything) I am once again excited to return home to Nebraska. I am so excited to get involved again with wonderful organizations like Lincoln Literacy and to dedicate my time and efforts to slow any of the destructive policies of Trump. My time in Buenos Aires is coming to a quick end. In one month, I will be back home in the United States. I so look forward to hugging my loved ones.