Preparations for Córdoba

“Tienes auriculares?”

After repeating this question about a billion more times, each time followed by laughter, my brain finally kicked into gear, and I understood what Germán was asking me.

“Si! Tengo auriculares!” I set my computer down, hurried across the room, grabbed my headphones and returned to my computer amid giggles from the four other people in the video call. The others- one Argentinian, one Italian, one Brazilian, and one Mexican- were all fluent in Spanish, and I (as I had so clearly proven) was not.

Today was my virtual orientation for my project in Córdoba. Basically, after a couple of days communicating and coordinating via Whatsapp, we all sat down for thirty minutes and talked about our expectations and goals for these coming weeks. Germán, an AIESECer from the local committee in Córdoba, walked us through the itinerary for our six weeks in the city. I learned that about 50 university students, ages 18 to 25, will be meeting in Córdoba throughout the month of June to participate in different volunteering opportunities or internships. Some will live with host families, others, like me, will live in hostels. I also learned that Friday nights will be spent meeting all of the other exchange participants and enjoying a cerveza in the city. We unanimously agreed that we were anxious and excited to arrive in Argentina, all of us coming from different corners of the world.

The biggest thing I learned today, however, was that I will be challenged while in Argentina. Made evident by momentary incidents of misunderstanding, it became very clear to me that I will have to work very hard as a young, white, non-native Spanish-speaking American woman to feel completely comfortable in the environment I am about to immerse myself in. But I am so up for the challenge.

I know I will probably say “pegar” instead of “pagar” and accidentally imply that I am going to hit someone instead of pay them. I know I will probably ask “how much do I cost” instead of “how much does this cost.” I know I will probably unknowingly say some sort of sexual innuendo, considering “huevos” is both the word for eggs and, you know. I know I will say “sí” at times when I have no idea what the hell someone is actually saying to me. I know I will embarrass myself, but I also know that I will leave Córdoba a stronger, more confident, more empowered, more courageous woman. Because of this, because I know these six weeks will change my life, I am more than willing to endure a little bit of embarrassment and a little bit of standing-out-like-a-sore-thumbedness. If anything, I’m excited to be taken out of my comfort zone.

So yes, I do have “auriculares,” even though I didn’t know what the heck those were until I listened to Gérman say it 15 times and Googled the translation. I’m a work in progress.