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Post-finals celebration – PATAGONIA

Time December 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

After classes and finals are officially finished, it is very common for students in my program to travel for a week or so. I went to Patagonia for 12 days after the program ended, and it was easily one of my favorite trips in my life.

First, went to a small backpacking town called El Chalten and went on daily hikes and horseback rides. The best part of being there was all the people that we would meet each day. In our hostel, we stayed with an Austrailian couple who weren’t feeling their jobs so they just quit and are traveling for an indefinite amount of time (6 months so far) and two Italians who are just rock climbing for three weeks and had all this equipment. Each night, we would play bananagrams and card games with random people in the hostel from all over the world. Below, there’s a picture of my friend Megan and I with these two girls we met from Israel and Germany who met on the trail and are now traveling together for the next several months!

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Breaking News: I’m staying the full year!

Time December 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

When I arrived at the airport in Chicago to begin my travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the semester, I met a girl who was going to be in my IFSA program in Argentina and she told me she was staying for the year. I honestly could not believe she would want to stay abroad for that long. However, just recently I officially decided that I am going to stay another semester. While studying for one semester in a different country is an incredible opportunity, I feel that a full year abroad provides a completely new type of experience. In a semester abroad, I learned so much about the culture, feel almost fluent in Spanish, and was able to explore Buenos Aires, and now feel as though I know it very well. However, in the next semester in Buenos Aires, I am so excited to be able to use the skills I learned first semester and fully immerse myself in the normal life of Argentina. Living abroad is such a unique experience, and IFSA has provided me with the opportunity to make it my own and to get involved in what I am passionate about, whether it be the classes I take, volunteer jobs, or extracurricular activities I am involved in.

Important things I have learned in Buenos Aires:

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Mi mamá anfitriona//My Host Mother

Time December 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

One of the reasons I chose to go to Argentina through IFSA was because of the requirement to live with a host family. The majority of the host families are single, retired women. I had the opportunity to live with a wonderful host mother and her cat, Princesa, who I now consider my family.

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Marta never hesitated to help me with whatever I needed, whether it be recommendations of the best cafés in the neighborhood, which bus to take where, or reminding me to pick up my laundry. One time, I was going through a multi-step process to get my Visa and needed to bring a certain folder to the migrations office for one of the steps. I could not find the folder anywhere, and Marta helped me pull my room apart, including pulling the desk out of the room and bed away from the wall to search for the folder (turns out, I had never actually gotten the folder in the first place).

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I promise I am taking classes here

Time October 9th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

In lieu of midterm season here in Buenos Aires, I decided it’d be a good idea to write about my classes (also I may be doing this to procrastinate writing my paper oops). When I told adults I was studying abroad, the vast majority of them would make some kind of comment like “Make sure you actually do some studying!” or “You are taking classes, right?” I think a lot of times the perspective of “study abroad” is lots of partying, minimal studying. However, I have definitely not found that to be true!

Although I can honestly say that I spend significantly less time in a library or in my room studying hard here than I do at Northwestern, I think that I am definitely learning more on a daily basis than I do there, but it’s just a different kind of learning! The lifestyle here is so incredibly different from ours in the US, and each day I am surprised by the things I learn through interacting with other people and observing. A post another day can be dedicated to all the major differences, because I don’t want to bore you with everything now. Just trust me on it.
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Coduca Soccer Tournament

Time September 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I am playing for the women’s soccer team at the Universidad El Salvador. This past week, for five days, our team traveled to Mar del Plata, a city on the coast, for a tournament against other catholic universities from all over Argentina. We traveled with the guys soccer team and girls field hockey team from USAL as well (picture of all of us at the awards ceremony below). Pictured below are some of the friends we made through the windows at our hotel… I like to think the young girl at the top window looks like Rapunzel.

Playing soccer here is so different from playing in the US. Very few girls play soccer, so the games for us are 7 v. 7 on a smaller field. It was hard to play at first because I didn’t know a lot of the soccer terms. During games, coach would yell something at me and I would do the opposite until I learned the words. Also, I was confused after the first game because instead of going up to all of the players on the other team and shaking hands, they all kiss each other on the cheek.

Our soccer team got 1st in the tournament!! (pic of our celebration at awards ceremony below) On the bus ride home on the last day after the awards, the guys soccer team blasted music in the back and we all danced in the bus aisles to celebrate. As well as winning the tournament, I learned a lot about Argentine culture/language being with the team every day, AND i think my spanish improved woooo! First, I learned to (or tried to) dance like an Argentine. Second, they have lots of words for specific things and contexts that only they understand. These words change on a regular basis, and are different year to year. For example, when a team is in second place in a tournament, they are called “cebollitas” (little onions) due to a TV show here where there was a team that always came in second place.

Another very uniquely Argentine tradition… there is this tea called ‘mate’ that they drink in groups. You pour the herbs into a special cup and add water, then one person sips it until the water is all gone, then they fill it up again for the next person. We all shared mate together in each afternoon, and one day we were able to drink mate on the beach! The first time I tasted it I thought it tasted like tree bark, but now I’m a big fan.

¡Dale Campeón!

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DÍA DEL CAMPO – A Day in the Countryside

Time September 9th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Only two hours outside the always-busy city of Buenos Aires is the peaceful town of San Antonio de Areco, and the two could not be more different. San Antonio de Areco is a small, traditional Argentine town in the countryside. that we had the chance to escape to for a day this weekend. We took a bus to the town and when we got off, we were walking through unpaved streets surrounded by empty fields with few people in sight.

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It had rained the night before and the dirt road that leads to the ranch that we were spending the day at, Estancia la Porteña, was a gigantic mud puddle the entire way. The taxis wouldn’t drive through it, so a man with a truck from the ranch came and picked us up. We fit 9 people in a 5-person car! Pretty impressive I must say, but my friend Jane and I huddled in the trunk for the bumpy car ride.

When we arrived, there were empanadas and beverages waiting for us. We explored the ranch and played a little bit of soccer.

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They had cows, horses, pigs, ostriches, and plenty of dogs and cats (lots of baby animals too). Cows are my absolute favorite animal and they were just wandering around, not even fenced in! So that was exciting..

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We went on a horseback ride around the ranch. My horse’s name was India and I’m pretty sure we are soulmates…

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Then, it was time for the asado. Asado is an argentine tradition, which is basically a gigantic barbeque, but the best barbeque you could imagine. They cook many different types of meat on a huge grill – we had sausage, blood sausage (I tried it! But may not ever again..), a few different types of steak, pork, and chicken

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All that meat was in addition to the salads, bread, fine Argentine wine, and desserts. After dinner, we were all so full that my friend Steph started feeding her scraps to the cats under the table… at one point she was surrounded by four cats and a dog!!

img_4818  Jane the dog whisperer…

After the unreal asado, it was time for some traditional argentine folklore music – there was a father and son trio that played/sang music for us to enjoy as we digested J My friend Ashley sings, and they had her play the guitar and sing a song (as one of the brothers held her iPhone).

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It was incredible to see how these people have maintained the gaucho tradition that dates back to the 18th century!!

We went on another long horseback ride. It was so peaceful as the sun was going down, riding through fields where there was absolutely no person or building in sight. This will most definitely be un día para recordar (a day to remember).

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Salta and Jujuy

Time August 29th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

One of the things I was most excited for when coming to Argentina was the ability to travel and explore the surrounding areas outside of the city of Buenos Aires. I had my first opportunity to go on a trip! We went to Salta and Jujuy, very beautiful northwestern provinces of Argentina. These provinces have many indigenous people living in the mountains and the small pueblos.

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The first place we went was Cafayate, Salta, one of my new favorite places in the world, with its culture, kind people, mountains and wineries. After 24 hours on a bus, we finally arrived to our hostel, the Rusty K.

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We walked to dinner at a parrilla (the restaurants that Argentina is known for, with delicious meat. Like really really good meat. there’s nothing like it in the US let me tell ya), and on the way ran into a parade! (we never understood what it was for completely) There were a bunch of different groups of people of all ages, some young children, some teenagers, and some adults, in traditional/elaborate outfits that were doing coordinated dances on the streets surrounding the central plaza. There were also cars that drove throughout the parade that were decorated with fake money and llamas and Saints (I never figured out why it was that combination, but ya know it looked pretty cool).

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When we got back to our hostel, there was a group of Argentines that offered us beverages and invited us to hang out with them! They were all from Salta or Jujuy and gave us great tips that helped us the rest of our trip. One thing they recommended was for us to hike the Rio de Colorado the following day and to get a guide to take us through. We took their advice and were so glad that we did. The guide we had (Eduardo) lived in the mountains with his family (of 16 children), who has lived there for generations. It was incredible to hear about their lifestyle and how they get everything they need from the nature and animals around them. He would just grab a plant, break it off and tell us what they use it for (food, sunburns, medicine, etc.) The hike that we did had absolutely no path, we saw 7 waterfalls and were climbing rocks and jumping across rivers and into the pools.  It was easily one of the most incredible hikes I have done in my life, and we would have been so lost without Eduardo.

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The next town we went to was Tilcara, Jujuy, to do some more hiking. This town was more hot, dry, and the mountains were all rocky and many different colors.
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When we were walking home from a hike, we heard loud music playing in a little neighborhood and went to check it out. There were a bunch of people dancing, and we found out it was their Pachamama celebration, which is the celebration of the Incan earth goddess that happens each year right before their sowing season. We couldn’t help but join in on the celebration.
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One part of the celebration included a young girl herding an entire flock of sheep behind her. They followed her all the way down the street and up the mountain! Incredible.
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There was a dog that followed us literally all day and would not leave us alone. He was our guard dog, and we named him “Cocamate” – the two teas they drink here in the northwest provinces are “té de coca” and “mate”
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For dinner, we went to a “Peña”, which is a restaurant where they have bands playing folk music, common in the northwest provinces. One of the instruments they had was this really long horn that I had never seen before. Everyone in the restaurant was clapping along with the music, it was a lot of fun! At one point, they went around and asked where everyone was from. We were the only ones from the US, but there were people there from all over Europe and South America – so cool!

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While hiking to find a supposed lagoon, we found this beautiful area and played soccer here with a few kids who lived in the mountains!
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The final town we went to was Salta. It was more of a city but was surrounded by mountains, and had very beautiful buildings and churches.

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We explored the city and climbed up a mountain (you can also take gondolas up) to see a view of the entire city. It was beautiful!!
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It is incredible to have the opportunity to travel to so many beautiful places that are only a bus ride away from the city of Buenos Aires (my home for the semester) and have such unique experiences :)

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Vamos a vivir una aventura

Time August 25th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“Vamos a vivir una aventura”

I saw this on the plane on the way to Buenos Aires. It means, “We are going to live an adventure”. I really like this and have decided it’s going to be my motto for the five months I am here! Every day, whether I am exploring a new park or coffee shop, getting on the bus going the wrong way, or trying to figure out what my professor is saying in Spanish it is an adventure and something more to grow and to learn from! Even telling my mom I have “tres hijos” (three children) instead of “tres hermanos” (siblings) when I first got here. The expression on her face was priceless…

First off, in regards to my last post… the world cup did not get pushed back a week, and Argentina did not win. And even though I was not here to experience the game, the soccer spirit is everywhere, as anywhere you turn you are not far from a huge picture of Lionel Messi or his face on the side of a building. However I did successfully finish packing with (very little) time to spare.

Secondly, I am going to make a promise: Starting now, I will blog more often! I have officially been here a month and they have been absolutely packed. Instead of boring you with a detailed explanation of everything I have done, I’ve decided to do a photo tour of my experiences so far. It is almost impossible to explain all I have learned while in Buenos Aires, Argentina in a single post. So here we go:

  1. My Home: I have a single host mother (Marta) and a cat (Princesa) and live in the neighborhood of Caballito. I have never liked cats in my life, but this cat has changed that. I’m a big fan, especially because her behavior is more like a dog minus the barking.
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    My neighborhood of Caballito is a middle-class Buenos Aires area. This is not usually a neighborhood that people visit if coming to Buenos Aires, because it is mainly residential. I love it, because this means it is much less touristy and I already easily feel like it is my home! This is a wonderful park that is always completely filled with people walking, playing soccer, break dancing (as in this picture), and searching through the book stands that are there every day.
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  2. Café Culture: one of my absolute favorite things about Buenos Aires. Every block has at least 2 different cafés, and you will rarely be at an intersection without one in sight. Two of the girls that live in Caballito and I have discovered our favorite spot in the neighborhood, La Collectionista with cheap brunch, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and amazing “licuados”, the smoothies here.
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    Although La Collectionista will always be the go-to café, my favorite I have ever been to is called El Ateneo. It was an old theater that was converted into a bookstore and has a café where the stage was for the theater. It was voted the second most beautiful bookshop in the world. We sat there for four hours, drinking coffee and reading a few of the books we took off the shelves. This place is my paradise…
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    Even better, there are often concerts, tango shows, or theater in the cafes!  Every Monday evening in one of the cafés there is “Folk You Mondays”, where there is open mic and several artists come and play guitars, harmonicas, or other instruments and sing folk music, some in english and some in spanish, a very fun place to go and relax with friends :)
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  3. More!
    Sights of Argentina…

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    A show we went to with the program one of the first nights we got here, called Fuerza Bruta. At one point, there was a clear floor above us that the people were sliding on above us.

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    Avenida 9 de Julio — the widest avenue in the world

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    Casa Rosada — the Argentine version of the white house (where the president lives!)

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    Mario, our program director, giving us a tour of the incredible Recoleta Cemetery

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    My first rugby game ever! So much fun to watch

    Te quiero, Argentina :) Can’t wait for all the adventures to come!!

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Vamos Argentina

Time July 11th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

As I watched Argentina win the semi-final game in PKs, I (selfishly) could not help but think how great it would be if for some reason the big guys in charge have to delay the FIFA World Cup 2014 Championship game a single week so that I could be in Buenos Aires to experience the excitement surrounding the game. Also, I may have a little pride in the fact that, yes, the country I will be spending the next five months in is one of the two best soccer teams in the whole world. Argentina makes me, as a soccer fanatic, very happy. Other than watching the world cup on TV and practicing these soccer skills while playing outside with my younger brothers this summer, in order to prepare for Argentina I have been listening to the Spanish radio stations so much so that I have begun noticing my family listening as well (side note: not one of the six of us is fluent in Spanish – but we try).

 

Ask me how prepared I am to leave for Argentina in a week and a half not including thesoccer/music. My answer is… very little. To be honest, I have not even finished unpacking from school (but hey, we are on the quarter system, so my summer didn’t start until June 14th. So that’s fine, right?). I was considering attaching a picture of the current state of my room to prove this point, but chances are, if I did that I may disgust you and discourage all from reading my posts the rest of the semester. So I’ll spare you from that. You’re welcome.

 

Another thing you should know about me: If I was to have a list of the things I am the worst at, packing would be at the very top. Literally every trip I have ever been on, I have packed late the night before or the day of. When I left for school last fall, I started packing my stuff for the entire year at 10pm the night before. Once, when going on a long weekend trip with friends, I did not start packing until they pulled into my driveway to pick me up. That being said, I am nervous about packing for Argentina. How does one pack for 5 months in a checked bag under 50lbs and a carry-on? This will be an adventure in and of itself. Stay tuned to find out whether or not I begin to pack before July 19th (I leave July 20th) and if I can finish in time… oh, and also if the world cup gets delayed. You never know. Fingers crossed.

P.S. this is a picture of my brothers after a soccer win. Nos encanta fútbol. ¡Vamos Argentina!

 

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