The Blind Leading the Blind

August 23, 2011

This post first appeared on July 3 on the University of South Carolina’s study abroad blog.

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One of my main reasons for coming to Argentina for five months was to immerse myself in the Spanish language.  I’ve been studying it for years but always in a classroom.  I knew that I needed to speak it everyday before I would truly know the language.  And, for the past two weeks, I’ve noticed that my brain goes into “survival mode” when I have no options other than to speak Spanish.  Yesterday, I had such an experience.

I mentioned in a previous post that my host mom has a student from the States renting out a room in her house for the first month that I’m here.  The student’s name is Tejinder and she’s actually from India but she’s working on her PhD at Ohio University. Today she had a terrible toothache and Carmen suggested that she go to the hospital at the University of Buenos Aires. Unfortunately for Teji, our host brother Nico was unable to go with her to help translate (he speaks pretty good English) and my roommate Stephanie, who speaks much better Spanish than I, was in bed all day with an awful cold/flu. So, she asked me if I would go to the UBA Hospital to help translate for her since she only knows basic Spanish.

La Facultad de Medicina at the University of Buenos Aires

We made our way down the Subte to la Facultad de Medicina.  After wandering through a couple buildings, asking multiple people “¿Donde está la guarda de odontologia?” we managed to find the Dental Urgent Care Center.

Luckily the receptionist spoke a little English. Between my broken Spanish, her broken English and Teji and I’s limited ability to communicate with the doctor directly, we were able to get all the information we needed. In total, we spent about 4 hours on this adventure and I literally kissed the receptionist and doctor when we left, so thankful to have gotten through it (this is much more socially acceptable here than in the U.S…). And, amazingly, it left me feeling slightly more confident in my ability to survive on this foreign continent.

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