I am also acutely aware of my position as a Black woman in a predominately white country in a program that is also predominantly white. It can be uncomfortable at times. There will always be this extra layer that I have that they will never have to consider, whether it manifests itself during in class discussions or group outings around the city. For this same reason, I do not perceive that I have the option to move about as freely as they do.
This is the first time I'll be this far away from my family for this long and though I'll have a homestay family I know it won't be the same. Thoughts cross my mind daily about what life will be like as a Black woman in Argentina. I know what I think and I know what I've heard but the truth is, in a matter of hours I'll know for myself and that scares me.
I have so many questions, yet so few answers. My departure date for Shanghai, China was pushed back from March to April because the Work Permit is taking longer than expected. It's honestly got me a bit worried, even though I know that these things take a while. I can't help but spend my time wondering how life will be in China. I've lived abroad before, but European cultures are completely different and I'm not entirely sure how accepting China will be of my melanin or an interracial marriage for that matter.
I'm on step 10. Unfortunately, it'll take up to a month for my visa to get here. My departure date is set for April 18 but I don't think the visa will arrive by then. My recruiter is great and will probably push my arrival date back.
In the United States, people rarely ever question my intention to get tattoos. Everyone you knew had one. But here, it feels like I’m committing an act of defiance or something along those lines. It was only until I studied abroad that I’ve had to take a second look at my tattoos. I often find myself staring at them and asking the question I don’t know the answer to, “What do they mean?”
Bittersweet is the term that can be used to describe the situation I was in. I knew that opportunities like this didn't come around often. I knew that studying abroad would be an exciting challenge with the potential to be life-changing. I also knew that my family and friends hated to see me go, but they fully supported me throughout the entire process. However, I could not shake the feeling that everything would be different when I returned. I was always told that change is a beautiful thing. But at that point in my life, I was trying so desperately to hold onto my fleeting stability. It was evident that I was suffering from cognitive dissonance, but ultimately, I knew what the right decision was.
Today is the fourth day and I'm finally adjusting to this totally new environment and culture. During the international students’ orientation, we were taught that there were four stages every study abroad student faces: the honeymoon stage, frustration stage, adjustment stage, and the acceptance stage. I learned that it's normal to be so freaking excited to get to the motherland, get there and be ready to take the next flight back to your home country.