Hadley Merrill ’17, a double major in environmental science and Hispanic studies, spent the Fall 2015 semester studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina, through the Trinity in Buenos Aires Study Away program. The junior from Connecticut is on the swimming and diving team. Merrill is Trinity’s Global Ambassador for Buenos Aires, and she shares some of her unforgettable experiences in the interview below:
What attracted you to South America and to the Trinity in Buenos Aires program in particular?
I wanted to study abroad in a country where I could interact with native speakers and improve my language skills, being a Hispanic studies major. Also, I had never been to South America so I thought study abroad would be a great opportunity to explore a part of the world that I knew little about.
What classes did you take while abroad, and how did they fit in with your course of study in Hartford?
In addition to the program core course, “Buenos Aires: The Urban. Experience, Human Rights and Cultural Production,” taught by Trinity in Buenos Aires Faculty-in-Residence Maria Silvina Persino, I enrolled directly in two classes at the Universidad del Salvador (USAL): art history and environmental science. I particularly enjoyed the environmental law class because it allowed me to combine my interests in both Spanish language and environmental studies. While it was challenging to take classes in another language with Argentine students, the professors were extremely understanding and helpful. Taking classes at a local university was a great way to form friendships with Argentines my age.
What tips do you have for overcoming the language barrier?
Adapting to a new place and culture is always a process. When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, I had difficulty articulating what I was trying to say, but with time I became more and more confident in my ability to communicate. My advice would be to not stress out! You will slowly break down the language barrier as you become more and more comfortable in your new surroundings.
What was your favorite trip outside of Buenos Aires?
Traveling around Argentina was a priority for me. During my time abroad I visited six different places in Argentina and Chile, and one of my favorites was my trip to the northern region of Argentina. My friends and I rented a car and did a five-day road trip through Salta, Argentina. The landscape is truly incredible up north and the life up north starkly contrasts with the city life.
Did you participate in an internship while studying away?
I had an internship with FARN (Fundación Ambiental Recursos Naturales), which is an environmental NGO. During my 13-week internship I worked on several projects regarding environmental issues in South America. Primarily, I gathered information on the World Bank’s involvement in large infrastructure projects in South America and how the World Bank’s safeguards either positively or negatively impacted the environment.
How did your semester in Buenos Aires change your perspective?
I matured exponentially over my five months in Buenos Aires. Without my parents close by I was forced to make my own decisions regarding school, travel, and work. I think I became more confident and independent.
What do you miss the most about your host country?
Every day there was something new to do, and I already have a list of things I plan on doing when I return.
What is the next travel destination on your ‘bucket list’?
I want to visit Nepal because the environmental scientist in me wants to visit the Himalayas to observe the impacts of climate change on the iconic mountain range.
Tell us about your Study Away experience in no more than five words.
A challenging, yet unforgettable experience.
This blog was originally published on Trinity College’s website. For more information from the Office of Study Away at Trinity College, please click here.