As Sara Cuevas walked by herself back to her apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she noticed someone was following her. The man pulled on Cuevas’ hoodie, causing her to fall on the sidewalk, and asked for money.
Cuevas, a college freshman at the time, somehow escaped the dangerous situation. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time she had been mugged in Argentina.
Cuevas’ parents were concerned for their daughter’s safety, so she moved back home to Bolivia and completed her sophomore year.
After her sophomore year, Cuevas, who has a passion for traveling, decided that she wanted to study abroad in the United States.
As a junior, Cuevas, applied for a scholarship program through the United States Embassy, which gave her a list of schools where the scholarship applies.
After being accepted by Mercer University, Cuevas and her younger brother decided to attend Mercer in the fall.
Before starting school at Mercer, Cuevas went to the English Language institute in Atlanta to practice English for two months. Prior to attending the institute, Cuevas studied English in Argentina for 12 years.
When Cuevas first stepped foot on Mercer’s campus as a journalism major in the fall of 2011 she noticed some major differences. “First of all you don’t live on campus [in Argentina]. That doesn’t exist. Also, schools in South America are more liberal,” Cuevas said. “If you don’t go to class it’s not a problem like here where teachers are worried about you coming to class.”
The international student’s biggest culture shock was the food. Growing up in South America, Cuevas was accustomed to having rice with every meal and having dinner much later in the evening. “Usually, where I am from dinner is around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. Me and my brother were not used to eating every three hours, so we would be like ‘I’m not hungry I don’t want to eat dinner at 5:00 p.m.,’” Cuevas said.
Although assimilating was difficult, Cuevas said that having a bachelor’s degree from the United States increases her opportunities back in Bolivia. “If I have a bachelor’s degree from the states, I can come back [to South America] and work where ever I want,” said Cuevas.
In Bolivia and Argentina Cuevas studied social communications, which is similar to journalism, but is somewhat broader. “In social communications you have journalism, P.R. and marketing. It’s just a big thing, and once you graduate from that you go to graduate school and focus on one thing,” Cuevas said.
Although the 22-year-old is technically a senior, she decided to major in political science as well. She plans on studying at Mercer for one more year. Fortunately, her scholarship covers her tuition.
The aspiring journalist said that her family gives mer moral support and is a huge part of her life. “When you talk about family in South America you aren’t just talking about your mom, dad, brothers or sisters,” said Cuevas. “You are talking about all your aunts, all of your uncles and your cousins. I come from a huge family.”
After Cuevas graduates, she plans on using her journalistic skills in Bolivia. “I could work at a news agency, news station, print, magazine,” Cuevas said.
Although Cuevas admits that the music school’s loud bell tower and the food at the cafeteria get on her nerves, nothing replaces the friendships she has made at Mercer. She said, “all of the friendships I made here and teachers [I have met] are my favorite part about Mercer.”