International Spotlight: Yael Cody in Argentina

January 10, 2013

Yael Cody in ArgentinaYael Cody studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for four months in fall 2012. She studied Argentine culture and traveled throughout South America while participating in the Knox in Buenos Aires off-campus program. A junior from Highland Park, Illinois, she is majoring in integrated international studies and minoring in Spanish and Chinese. She will continue her off-campus study during the winter and spring terms of 2013, traveling to China through a program with American University. 

What inspired you to pursue study abroad in general, and why did you decide to pursue this particular program or country for your study abroad experience?
In elementary school, I participated in a dual-language program: half English, half Spanish. From a very early age, I knew that the best way for me to learn a language was through immersion. I already knew Spanish, but a huge cultural component was missing. I went to Argentina to experience the cultural part of my Spanish education.

It was much easier to appreciate the culture with the language obstacle aside. I also saw Argentina as a jumping-off point for my China trip. I would first go to a country where I understood the language but not the culture, then go to China -- where I knew neither language nor culture. (Photo above: Yael Cody with her Argentine host mother, Susana García. Below right: The mountains in Calafate, where Knox students took a weekend trip together.)

Describe your day-to-day experiences.
In Argentina, my daily experience consisted of a nice walk to school, followed by a three-hour lecture in Spanish for class. After school, I would have a coffee with my host mom and we would talk about our days. The weekends consisted of trips organized by Knox to Iguazu Falls, whale-watching, and rappelling. On the weekends we did not travel, we would explore the sites of Buenos Aires by day. Every Sunday was a Mercado, so a parilla lunch (meat sandwich) and miles of outdoor shopping made for a perfect Sunday.Calafate Mountains in Argentina

How did you learn about this opportunity? Did anyone from Knox play a role in helping you decide you were interested in studying abroad?
I chose Knox College partly based on its study abroad opportunities. Studying abroad is costly. The ability to transfer scholarships and credits made it possible to participate in these programs without having to graduate in debt or later than necessary.

How do you think this study abroad experience will benefit you in terms of your education, future career plans, personal development, etc.?
I now have a host family in Argentina that I adore. I am sure I will be back to visit them. This experience has given me the confidence in my language abilities to work internationally with Spanish-speaking countries as well.

Why did you decide to do study abroad in both Argentina and China—and why back-to-back?
I am choosing to study Spanish and Chinese because they would allow me to communicate with the most amount of people possible. It doesn’t make sense to learn a language without learning about the culture, and so I am studying abroad.

Do you have thoughts as to how the two experiences will differ, especially in what you will learn?
I went into my Argentina experience with all of the confidence in the world. I didn’t even bring a dictionary (bad idea). In contrast, China is scary. I don’t know the culture or much of the language. I see this trip as, “If I can succeed in China, I can do anything.”

What have you learned so far from your study abroad experience?
From study abroad, I learned that there are things equally, if not more, valuable than the classroom. I learned just as much traveling and living with a host family as I did when in class. (Photo below: Yael Cody, far left, and fellow students in Buenos Aires celebrating their graduation from the program. Knox students Arianna Elnes and Bekah Lauer, both juniors, are also pictured, in the white dress and spotted dress, respectively.)

Yael Cody, Arianna Elnes and Bekah Lauer at graduation in Argentina