SWARTHMORE, Pa. – Approximately 40 percent of students at Swarthmore College, including several student-athletes, take advantage of spending a semester or an entire year studying abroad. Swarthmore College women's soccer players Amy DiPierro
'15 and Elyse Tierney
'15 had the unique opportunity of being abroad in Argentina and Germany, respectively, while World Cup fever was engulfing each country.
Over the next two days, we will take a look at the overall study abroad experience and the impact the World Cup has had on each country that advanced to the championship match of the World Cup from the point of view of each student-athlete.
Below are the questions we asked Amy DiPierro
'15 as well as her answers about her personal experiences in Argentina.
Q: What is your major and why did you choose to study abroad? Why did you choose to go to Argentina, and how long were you there?
I am an honors history major. I chose Argentina, and the Swarthmore in Buenos Aires program specifically, because I wanted to design an academic program that would allow me to do research for my thesis while abroad. I also wanted to study in a major city in Latin America. I arrived in Argentina in mid-February and left the country (very unfortunately) on July 5.
Q: What parts of Argentina have you been to? Have you been in one city or all around the country?
I spent the semester in the city of Buenos Aires. It's a huge place, but the vibe from neighborhood to neighborhood is so different that I sometimes felt as if there were many cities within the city. Other than exploring Buenos Aires, I visited Chaco, a very rural region in the north of Argentina. We taught workshops in local schools there as part of Students Without Borders Academy's by-semester service trip and also shot a short documentary.
Q: How was the study abroad experience for you? What were the most exciting parts of it?
I really loved living in Buenos Aires, and I am already missing it a lot. Because it was my first time living in a major city, everything was exciting to me. Drinkingyerba mate
in the park, discovering a bandoneón
player singing tango outside the national library, trying bife de chorizo
at a late night cookout in a friend's backyard – I'm not sure how I can choose the snapshots to explain how or why I was so charmed.
Q: What were some of the biggest adjustments for you as part of living in a different part of the world?
Using 24-hour time and Celsius. I am serious. At the beginning of my stay, I might have showed up late and wearing a jacket that was too heavy for a few events.
Q: You had the opportunity to study abroad in a country while it has been going through World Cup fever and a successful run at the tournament. What was that like? How tuned in has the country been to the tournament in general and when Argentina has played?
On match days, everyone puts on their sky blue and white camiseta
and you can feel the collective blood pressure starting to rise. The streets have emptied out by game time; everyone is huddled around their televisions and computer screens or crowded into pizza places that have rearranged their chairs for the occasion so that everyone has a seat with a view of the nearest screen.
My host mom, on the other hand, was so nervous about matches that she actually refused to watch them. She would turn off the radio and busy herself with something else at home during the game, all the time listening for the sounds of people cheering in neighboring apartments. I would come home after the game and say, "Felicitaciones! Ganamos otra vez!" ("Congratulations! We won again!") and give her a play by play.
Q: One of the most memorable moments during the group stage for Argentina was Lionel Messi's goal in stoppage time from 25 yards out against Iran to give the country a thrilling 1-0 victory. How much does Messi mean to the country?
There is a little collective ambivalence about Messi. People recognize his talent and have enshrined him in a popular pantheon of the greatest Argentine footballers, but I did not witness Messi-mania. Partially, I think he does not inspire that kind of passion because he is a clean-cut guy. He is consistent. His footskills are dazzling, but he is also known for good sportsmanship. He is never going to get a hand ball to score a goal like Diego Maradona.
Amy was referring to Maradona's controversial "Hand of God" goal in the quarterfinal match against England during the 1986 World Cup. Argentina later went on to win the tournament that year by a 3-2 score over West Germany.
Q: Another memorable match for Argentina was its 1-0 win in double overtime over Switzerland during the knockout round. What was that experience like for you?
The Swarthmore students and I who were abroad in Buenos Aires all watched the game together on a little desktop computer. At the end of regulation time, the match was still tied at 0-0. The first overtime period ended scoreless. Then there were four minutes to go in the second overtime; if they didn't score, the match would go to penalties and it would be anyone's game. We were literally biting our nails down to their cuticles when we heard a sound like the clouds had opened over Buenos Aires in a sudden rain shower. But it wasn't raining outside. We slowly realized it wasn't the sound of water, but the sound of thousands of people around us cheering and crying. About 20 seconds later, our browser caught up and we saw Ángel Di María's game-winning goal in the 118th minute. Following tradition, we marched out to the city's famous Obelisk, where a huge crowd of people were singing and waving banners.
Q: Once the United States was eliminated by Belgium, did you start fully rooting for Argentina? Or were you pulling for an underdog like Costa Rica?
I was rooting for Argentina from the start. In general, I wanted a Latin American country to win the tournament. But once I saw the kind of fervor that the national team inspired around me, I put all my energies into (Argentina).
'15, who will stay abroad for the remainder of the month, has shared her experiences from Germany here