Florida International University students on a 15-day Hospitality at Sea South America study abroad trip experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — celebrating the 2022 FIFA World Cup champions, Argentina, with locals in Buenos Aires, the country’s capital city.
Many of the 50 students on the trip chanted along with locals “Argentina, Argentina,” while standing at the obelisk, a historical site and one of the city’s central gathering places to celebrate the victory.
“There was chanting, singing, people playing drums, and just having a good time,” said Ashlene Thomas, 25. “We were there when the team arrived. People were losing their minds when the team’s plane flew overhead,” said the travel and tourism-focused student, who expects to graduate with her bachelor’s in Hospitality & Tourism Management degree in Fall 2023.
Others waved the country’s blue and white flag or wore No. 10 Lionel Messi’s jersey in honor of the star player. For hospitality sophomore and native Argentinian Sabrina Pavon, it was an unforgettable experience, as she was hoisted up onto someone’s shoulders.
“This is the best day of my life. As an Argentinian and a student, it was so great to be surrounded by so many of my people and to celebrate with my fellow FIU students,” she said.
The month-long fútbol or soccer tournament crowns the sport’s very best every four years and is the most-watched sporting event in the world.
On Sunday, Argentina beat reigning World Cup champs France in extra time, winning with a penalty kick shootout. The win sent Argentinians everywhere into the streets and resulted in a national holiday to celebrate the win and the team’s return to their homeland.
For students like Gabriela Cortes, who is getting her master’s degree in mega event management, being in the heart of such an important world event, brought new meaning to her hospitality degree.
“Being in the home country of the champions was an emotional experience, even though I’m not from Argentina. This really brought my lessons on the ship to life.
Students started their trip on Dec. 5 flying from Miami to Santiago, Chile. There, they boarded Holland America Line’s Oosterdam where they took classes while at sea. At the time, no one knew who was going to win the championship.
The voyage down South America, across the Straits of Magellan, and around Cape Horn included breathtaking and up-close views of glaciers, penguins and turquoise-blue waterfalls. Stops included ports in Chile, in the British Falkland Islands, in Montevideo, Uruguay, and in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in South America.
In Ushuaia, students watched the World Cup semi-final match together first streaming it on their phones while on a bus to a shore excursion and then together at an eco-lodge after trekking through the Patagonian wilderness.
Those who weren’t soccer fans before this trip couldn’t help but give in to the excitement and gain a new appreciation of the sport. Others couldn’t believe they were going to be in the right place, at the right time to celebrate the win.
"The emotion at the obelisk and during the semi-final was unimaginable," added hospitality student, Adilene Rivera Chavez.
All the students agree being in the middle of a World Cup Championship celebration was a win-win for everyone.
Hospitality students, Isaac Selinger, Ashlene Thomas and Adilene Rivera Chavez, revel at the obelisk.
Images of national heroes and soccer players, like superstar Lionel Messi, are all over Buenos Aires.
Hospitality student Mia Baez Pineda draped in an Argentinian flag.