Today’s blog post comes to us from UW La Crosse student Jenna Sandstrom! She studied abroad with us in beautiful Buenos Aires last year. Since that time she’s been sharing her love of the Argentinian drink Mate! She’s telling us all about what it is, and how she’s introducing it to other students through API’s Global Leadership Academy.
“Spring semester of 2018, I embraced a new culture, new language, and new home in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
With few expectations for the four months to come I was widely surprised with every second I spent in a city, that quite literally, never sleeps. To adequately summarize my South American adventures would be impossible. So, instead I will tell you about my affinity with mate. In my opinion, it’s the pinnacle representation of Argentine history and culture. Declared Argentina’s national drink, this tea is heavily caffeinated, making it a perfect accompaniment to late night studying. I grew especially fond of the dried yerba mate leaves during my stint in Argentina. It felt cruel to keep such delight all to myself upon returning to the States.
I began by demonstrating the traditions of proper mate drinking practices with friends and family.
However, given a unique platform as an API Global Leader at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse I was able to share it with students through UWL’s first ever Mate Club. The concept of Mate Club was one I encountered in Argentina. English and Spanish speakers gather around a mutually beloved cup of mate and further develop their speaking skills. The idea was simple: bring together individuals with differences to enjoy a commonly appreciated tea.
With the support and resources of those on campus and at API I did just that. Many study abroad alumni with a few prospective travelers joined me for mate on a chilly evening at UWL. Frankly, some indulged and were unimpressed with mate’s powerful bite. Nonetheless, Mate Club allowed students to share their past experiences and give advice to others who were curious and had not yet made the leap of faith.
So, as the semester comes to a close, taking time to reflect has offered me an opportunity to become truly grateful for the position as an API Global Leader at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
I have been able to share my study abroad experience in more ways and more profoundly than I thought possible. My growth continued as I learned more about myself and what studying abroad in Buenos Aires means to me—finally, accepting that the challenges were points of progress and the moments of joy are to be forever cherished.