By mid 2017 we barely knew where the University of New Mexico was (from the southern hemisphere it is way a long distance!) and we completely ignored each other’s existence. What is more, a lobo was just an animal. However, for plenty of diverse reasons, each of us (sixteen Argentinian undergrads) decided to give a try to the Friends of Fulbright Program application. Looking backwards it is hard to think that such a touching experience began with a simple Google Form. Notwithstanding how confident we might have been, we made it and we were told we were going to attend UNM. It might have been for our interests or it might have been for a hidden reason that we would never know: maybe destiny wanted to put us altogether… Yet, we are certain it was not by chance. At the beginning, New Mexico was a mystery for us, though Albuquerque rang a bell in our minds thanks to Breaking Bad or High School Musical. Nevertheless, as our departure approached, the social media began to lobofy us. Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram were full of thrilling content. The adventure seemed remote weeks before the departure, yet all of a sudden January 12th came and we found ourselves boarding a plane towards the experience of our lives.
At UNM we had the opportunity to attend two courses related to each one’s field of study, one Honors course and several enhancement workshops provided by GEO and many people from different offices (such as Graduate Admissions and Career Services ) to whom we are deeply thankful. As regards the first ones, they allowed us to realize the quality of the educational system of the US but also to value our own universities. The second one helped us to develop critical thinking through cross-curricular courses which broke with the conventional lectures with which we are familiar. Finally, the third ones expanded our horizons in relation to all the possibilities that we may find for our future in the States but especially, in the University of New Mexico.
As much as we enjoyed the academic part, we cannot let aside the cultural component. Sometimes, from far away, globalization seeps into our lives and we get to know what it is shown to us: the tip of the iceberg. During our stay in Albuquerque we discovered by ourselves the wealth of resources, landscapes and the kindness of people from all over the world that it has to offer. Fortunately, we could go beyond the state borders, too. As we were such an organized and independent group we were able to drive to the Grand Canyon, to Colorado and to Las Vegas. Undoubtedly, we took advantage of our time there.
Last but not least, this trip would not have been the same without the people that shared this wonderful and complete experience with us. Of course that the country has its particular beauty but people are the ones who make the memories become “alive” and memorable. All of us were strangers. Still, we were lucky to get to know people from scratch and to establish bonds that we are sure will last forever. The six weeks we spent in the States have been really intense. Not only due to classes or trips but also to the wide range of emotions that blossomed during our stay. In the end we have become a special type of family, one that is made up of friends. We cried, we got mad but also we laughed and we loved each other. We had joy and we had fun. In brief, we found happiness. Certainly, everybody has become unforgettable. All in all, most of us somehow fell in love with the UNM, in part thanks to the people with whom we shared this experience and in part thanks to its particular beauty and the educational excellence that is offered. That is why most of us would like to return since as we received in the first email from UNM: “Once a Lobo, always a Lobo”.
Written by Ana Belèn Cangiano and Ignacio Evangelista