In the summer of 2013, Leanna Scachetti traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her time there was organized by IFSA-Butler, a study abroad provider that has sent over 50,000 students abroad since its founding in 1988, and currently operates programs in over 19 countries.
In ‘Argentine Adventure Tastes like Red Wine’, Leanna shares how her time in Argentina helped her grow beyond her comfort zone, allowing her to be more open to spontaneous adventures and have a richer experience abroad.
“There’s one spot left,” my friend typed quickly in his Facebook message. “Are you in?”
I stared at the computer screen that sat atop my crossed legs. I couldn’t spend too much time thinking. They needed to solidify their plans soon.
Their offer was for a last minute, only slightly pieced together plan for a 3-day weekend trip to Mendoza, Argentina; it would be a spontaneous 16-hour bus ride to wine country. Of course I was in. In theory, that is.
In truth, I hesitated.
“In what was probably the most significant decision I’ve ever made on a whim to date – I quickly typed back my response: “Yes. I’m in.””
My friends were planning to leave the next morning. Should I go? What would happen? Was I prepared? Were any of my friends prepared? Generally, I start my day by looking at my planner. Minute-by-minute details are crammed into the folds of my calendars. I plan lunch dates a week in advance. I see beauty in order and assignment.
Yet, I carefully considered the options this time, heavily influenced by self-inflicted FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). My brain was telling me: “You won’t do this. It’s too last minute. There’s too great a margin for error or disaster.”
But – in what was probably the most significant decision I’ve ever made on a whim to date – I quickly typed back my response: “Yes. I’m in.”
I kissed my host mom goodbye. Several hours and subway stops later, I was at the Retiro Train station in Buenos Aires, Argentina. With my one backpack hoisted on my shoulders, I hustled over to the bus ports. I spotted JT, Stephen, Sara, Aly, Jesse, and several other familiar faces. My anxious gut relaxed a little. Before I knew it, we’d boarded and settled onto the charter bus.
When our driver announced our arrival in Mendoza 16 hours later, we got off and walked into the center of town to our hostel. We had to zigzag side streets and stop to ask locals for directions on the way, all while toting our luggage.
“I knew this would happen,” I mused, worried the rest of the weekend might run course like this, as we strangers traversed uncharted territory.
When we finally arrived, however, my insecurities about the unknown were relieved. Our reservation worked out: we had a place to lay our heads and everyone was in a good mood. No one seemed to be worried, so I wasn’t either. Plus, Mendoza grew more charming by the minute.
Travel weary, we checked into our small hostel where we piled into two shared rooms, bare but for bunk beds and storage cabinets. Dropping our belongings, we headed out to explore.
We signed up for a biking-wine tour to 3 different bodegas in the city of Maipú. We drove off to the first, Giol or Bodega La Colina de Oro, a large, old and traditional winery no longer used for producing wine but still open for tours and tastings. We then hopped on our bikes and our tour guide Diego led us to two other local bodegas. Quiet country roads took us between expansive fields where rows of dormant vines browned in the cool air. It was unlike anything I’d seen before, and I couldn’t help but imagine how nice it would be in the Argentine summer.
We sampled reds and whites of several varieties including the robust Malbec, a well-known wine from the region. Feeling like proper connoisseurs we aerated and sipped. I learned more about my new friends. It felt like we’d all known each other for ages. I loved seeing each of us fully engaged in the present; wining, dining, biking with nowhere in particular to be and no expectations of each other or of what might come next.
“I took what I had perceived to be a risk and it changed me.”
On the way back into town that evening, we pedaled single file on a road with a large vineyard. The sun was setting to our right. My friends were silent as we hustled along in the cooling air, trying to beat the approaching dusk back to the hostel. Our cheeks were dashed with color.
Maybe it was the combination of the wine, mixed with the endorphins from biking, but I felt such a feeling of bliss. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life before. It had been a truly perfect day. And yet, just twenty-four hours before, I didn’t even know that I would be here, in this place, experiencing this joy.
But here I was; better off than before I’d left. I took what I had perceived to be a risk and it changed me. I felt more in control of my life than ever before, and I better understood that I had the ability to create and shape my own adventures, without assistance from my parents or professors. I could be in control of any risks I took, and of the subsequent consequences and rewards I reaped. I felt confident and immensely grateful.
In that moment, for the first time in my life, I truly had a taste of adventure. And it tasted like red Argentine wine.
The Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University (IFSA-Butler) is a nonprofit organization with over 90 study abroad programs in Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. We aim to immerse, to challenge and to inspire our students to develop global perspectives and a thirst for new adventures. Where will your next adventure be? More information about IFSA-Butler can be found at www.ifsa-butler.org.
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