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Outdoor portrait of Bobby Way

Exchange student ready for long ‘winter’ of international study

By Blake Sebring

August 10, 2023

According to John Jensen, Purdue University Fort Wayne’s director of the Study Abroad Program and its National Student Exchange program, 34 Mastodons participated in international programs this summer. The destinations included Costa Rica, Italy, France, Greece, Spain, and China.

And this fall, two more students are headed abroad—one to the United Arab Emirates and another to Argentina. Junior political science major Bobby Way left July 29 to head into South America’s winter. It’s just his luck that he’ll be returning in late November to start North America’s cold season.

Way is so excited, he couldn’t care less what the temperature is in Buenos Aires.

“I’m still kind of in the process of figuring out what I should pack,” Way said in early July. “I’m realizing I can't pack everything I’m going to need, of course, so I’m planning on buying a lot of things down there—probably a lot of clothes.”

He’ll be studying at Universidad del Salvador, which attracted Way in part because he wants to immerse himself in perfecting his Spanish speaking, but he can also take his other courses in English. Buenos Aires has a population of 15.6 million and is the second-largest city in South America behind Brazil’s Sao Paulo, which has 17.9 million people.

“I really wanted to go to a larger city with a larger international environment,” Way said. “I basically wanted to do it ever since my freshman year. I love this university and wanted to be able to spend my time here and get my degree here, but also to study one semester away and get that much broader feel. I wanted to have a mix of experiences at PFW and to go somewhere else where I can embrace and soak up as much as I can out of a larger environment.”

Way said his parents have also created interest by always talking to him about international news.

While there, he wants to take part in Argentina’s world-renowned steak culture. No other country consumes more beef, but there’s also a strong tradition of outstanding Italian food sparked by 2 million immigrants from 1880 to 1930.

Working with Jensen and the ISEP program to organize the trip, Way also received guidance from Farah Combs, Honors Program director, in finding scholarships. He considered other cities, but Buenos Aires provided the culture, landmarks, and cosmopolitan feel he was looking for. He also consulted with history professor Andrew Hakes on a checklist of places to visit.

Because of his interest in astronomy, the top of Way’s sightseeing list is the Galileo Galilei Planetarium, which was built in the 1960s to resemble a UFO and includes a museum for a collection of meteorites.

“I want to create an essay of my experience and journals while I am there, taking photos, making videos, and sharing my thoughts,” Way said. “This will be a trip that will not be comparable for at least a very long time, so I really want to take what I can from it and learn as much as possible.”

Before he left, Way didn’t know anyone in Argentina except for phone conversations with his host family and the program director.

“I have a lot of international friends who go to PFW, and I hear their stories,” Way said. “I like hearing stories from them regarding their journeys coming to the U.S. They are fascinating because of how they ended up here and seeing how that all ties together.”

After finishing the Spanish 5 course in the spring semester, Way has been working hard on his vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension, but understands it may take him a bit to adjust to “Argentinian Spanish.” His ultimate goal upon his return is to apply for a Spanish-speaking position, possibly as an interpreter.

“Spanish is being used more and more here in the United States, and I think that’s a great thing and hope to use the mix of English and Spanish,” Way said. “Especially if I can use that skill for employment, that would be great.”