It’s our great pleasure to introduce Alex, WE Travel Correspondent blogging and sharing photos from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He’s currently interning with a media company, and we’re excited to share his journeys and experience throughout his time abroad!

Blog Post #1 – Leaving Home –

My partner Josh is very protective of his office space. And yet on this day, he let me invade his office while he worked. I recall sitting on the floor–phone in hand, mail app open–swiping my finger down on the screen to refresh my inbox. The testing lab had always sent me results within the promised 24 hours. I had been there dozens of times. At least ten times before going home in Ann Arbor, Michigan to visit my parents, eight times for random stuffy noses, throat tickles, and migraines, and more than five times for those dreaded “I-just-tested-positive” texts that arrive from a roommate, friend, or coworker. I knew the result would come back to me soon. But it was pushing 26 hours at this point. Furthermore, I had already made the socially acceptable amount of phone calls to the over-worked testing agents on the lab’s customer service line. I would ask them to “double check” that I had given them the proper email, only to slip in at the end, “oh, and by any chance are those results in yet?”

I knew that my covid test was more than likely to be negative. But the doubts remained. My internship in Buenos Aires–which had been delayed for nearly 2 years–was tethered to that test result…and as one can imagine, it was extremely nerve-wracking, no matter how many times it felt like I had quadruple masked before passing my roommate in the kitchen in the week before. I was ready to go. I was excited to go. I was dying to go.

Nevertheless, when I woke up from my third nap on Josh’s office floor only to find that my inbox hadn’t changed (don’t judge me, waiting can be exhausting), an uneasy sense of fear creeped into my mind. The fear that makes the palms sweat a little bit, that make cheeks flush with heat. I went through my mental checklist to figure out where this feeling had come from. And my mental diagnostics concluded pretty quickly that this fear, in fact, had nothing to do with covid. In that moment, I sincerely didn’t care if my results came in late or if I had tested positive. In fact, there was a small part of me that was irrationally hoping for a positive result. What I was experiencing was a fear I had felt long before this virus arrived in our world: the fear of leaving. Leaving home. Leaving my partner Josh. Leaving my family.

I cried when I peeled myself off of Josh’s office floor to say goodbye. I cried in my car when I drove from Grand Rapids to my parent’s house in Ann Arbor. I cried when my sweet parents drove me to the Detroit airport for my first flight. I cried on the plane when I listened to “Dos Oruguitas” (Two Caterpillars), a song Josh sent me that tells the story of two caterpillars that must leave each other–and their home–in order to find each other again as butterflies. Even after an exciting arrival in Buenos Aires, I cried in the room of my host mom’s house the day I arrived. I recall lying on my bed in my host mom’s house, phone in hand, staring blankly into the blue light, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

In one of my first days there, my host mom–Susana–brought me into the living room. Her 4 year old grandson wanted to show me something. He found a caterpillar at a nearby park, and had been nurturing it into a beautiful monarch butterfly. “We’re going to release it soon!” Susana tells me. “My grandkids are excited to release it!”

The next day, sitting at my desk in my room, I heard a familiar sound. It was the melody of “Dos Oruguitas.” Susana’s daughter was playing the song on her phone as Susana’s grandkids huddled around the net, saying their goodbyes to the monarch. When the butterfly flew away from the porch, now beyond their reach, the grandkids started to cry. A tear welled in my eye as well. “Ay, mariposas / Don’t you hold on too tight,” sings Yetra in the song, “Wonders surround you, / Just let the walls come down. / Don’t look behind you, / Fly till you find / Your way toward tomorrow.”

Leaving home, for me, is and always has been the most difficult part of an exciting journey. Yet this moment helped me rediscover my perspective. I realized how short and precious my time is here.

My name is Alex Agbabian, I am a graduate of Grand Valley State University in film and Spanish, and I am here in Argentina to intern with BubbleStudios, a studio space for video production, photo shoots, and private events. My goals are to travel and experience Argentina, learn as much as possible about photography, and–more importantly–make lifelong friendships and connections with people from all over the world. I am beyond excited to keep you posted in my journey that comes. ¡Nos vemos!

black and white photo of a chair and a tree

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Posted by World Endeavors on    February 8, 2022

Put yourself out there! TM

World Endeavors believes that international travel has the power to change lives, broaden horizons, and deepen intercultural understanding. The world is undergoing rapid changes, with societies becoming more interconnected and environmentally aware; at the same time a more challenging global economy inspires in many a need to reach out and make a positive difference while seeking personal growth opportunities. There has never been a better time than now to travel abroad.