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Saying Goodbye to Mendoza

Time November 29th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So this past week I have been slowing saying goodbye to Mendoza. My classes ended last Thursday, and yesterday I turned in my last project. For me, it also happens to be my last project ever of college because I can graduate when I get back.

This afternoon I am leaving for my Patagonia trip. I am going with another girl from the program, Joy. We are busing it to Buenos Aires, then boat to Uruguay, flight to Ushuaia, and traveling back up to Mendoza by land stopping in El Calafate, Rio Gallegos and Puerto Madryn. We are planning on going from Ushuaia to El Calafate through Chile in order to see Chilean Patagonia too. It should be an amazing time. The perfect way to celebrate the end of college!

In these last couple of weeks I have been doing all the things I couldn´t leave without doing, like seeing a football game.

A big group of us went all wearing our rip off Tumba jerseys. tumba

Brian, Joy, me, Julie, Stephanie, Gina

The game was a bit calmer than I expected because we didn´t see a great rivalry. Still, it was a lot of fun learning all of the chants and seeing the fans jumping and screaming. In the end, our team won 2 to 1.

I also finally went camping, that was an interesting experience. At least we saw the full moon over the dike and took some great pictures.

Last night we had our Cena de Despedida, or Goodbye dinner, and Thanksgiving. The food was delicious, the view was spectacular. We could see the entire city lit up. There was also a cute little talent show at then end where some of our friends played guitars and sang songs. Some made a video of skiing to get us all pumped up to go back to the cold and snow. I can´t believe that it´s Tanksgiving and Christmas time. It feels like the middle of summer here.

All in all, I´d say it was an awesome semester. I´m really thankful to have had the opportunity to experience Mendoza, and I am so excited for this trip we are heading off on today

Well, Julie and Gina just got here. We´re going for one last mate in the park. So, I´m signing off.

Besos to all,

Nikki

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Springtime and Stress-relief excursion to San Rafael!

Time November 12th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So, we´re in the middle of the end of classes here. I’ve only got one more week, and I´m a free woman. This unfortunately means a bit of stress, so it was awesome that last weekend IFSA brought us all to San Rafael to go swimming and hiking and rafting. We jumped into the cold water of the Valle Grande Dike and lounged on the beach tomando sol. A group of boys actually climbed all the way to the top of a giant sand dune, slipping down about half the area they climbed with each step, then jumping their way down. The climb was at about a 90 degree angle. This was hilarious to watch, as you can imagine. Especially on the way down.

Also, we saw 6 condors!! Condors are ¨new world¨vultures, and the largest birds in America with a wingspan of up to 9 and a half feet. They are apparently endangered and rare to see, but since we are up in the Andes, we got to see six this weekend!!

It was awesome to just get away for a weekend to relax in beautiful cabins in the mountains. Also, the food was delicious. We ate an asado, and we had vegetables!! Vegetables are always exciting down here because they are lacking in our diet. It is normal that your daily serving of vegetables here is one type of potato, mashed or in the form of french fries, or your ensalada with just lettuce and a bit of tomato. When we see a salad bar, we go a little crazy.

Here are some pictures of the beautiful scenery this weekend:

rosas

Jardín de Cabañas en Cerro Encantado

This is the garden of our cottages. A river ran through it. There were also pools here and there for us to enjoy.

dike

Valle Grande Dike

This is the beach where we went swimming at Valle Grande Dike.

trees

Valle Grande

Another photo of the beach we were at.

group

Group Hike

Here we are walking up the mountain covered in sand. Later, when we emptied our shoes, we had a competition to see who had the biggest pile of sand. Elise won by a long shot.

hike

Cañon Atuel

The Canyon where we were hiking.

I´ve been having a great time here in Argentina. I have awesome classes in the University of Cuyo and we´ve learned to dance folklore and tango in our dance class at Chopin. Tonight we might be going out to dance milonga on Aristides so we can show off our new moves. We just had our tango exam Monday, so we´re as good as we´ll ever be!

As I mentioned last post, we´ve also really been enjoying the food. I wouldn´t go so far as to say too much, but last night my host sister and I were joking about it and she said then when I got back to the states and lose the weight I´ve put on, about ten pounds, I can always have the pair of larger Argentine pants  as a ¨recuerdo¨of my time here. we all joke about the weight we´ve put on; stories about unzipping jeans to sit down and eat, then forgetting to zip them back up, some people can only fit in one of their jeans, we all have funny stories relating to fattening up in Argentina. But, amazingly, we are all happy with ourselves. We´re thoroughly enjoying the pounds of bichotes, facturas, churros, media lunas and dulce de leche, and of course, asado, that we have been eating for these last few months. No one would dare think of dieting and missing out, especially not with only one more month to enjoy these delicious treats!! No, we´re all going out to buy new pants. :) Yay new pants!! I realized how much a part of studying abroad the food has been yesterday when we had the Dean or Provost of Barnard come to visit and I gave her a list of all the goodies she had to eat before leaving today; in the mercado central: pizza, 2 slices covered in grease and a jugo for 6 pesos, empanadas: jamon y queso, carne, and caprese, and the deliciously glazed peanuts, in Grido Helado: the 3 bola waffle cone dipped in chocolate and nuts also for 6 pesos, in a little kiosk that is really a panaderia: churros and tortita frita (it´s like a doughboy, but thicker, more delicious and absoutely covered in granulated sugar!).

We are currently most excited about the helado because the summer is here. We have crickets chirping and nice warm weather with beautiful nights for walking.Last night my host sister and I went for a walk in the park before dinner, (we got back at 10), and it was breathtaking. Everyone here is always exercising and the park was full of people, all chatting and walking or running, or rollerblading as that is very popular here right now. I feel really lucky to have been able to get close to my host sister. Last night walking with her, musing about life and boy and happiness, I was very sad to be leaving so soon.

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Time is flying in Argentina

Time November 8th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey Everyone,

Classes are wrapping up here in Mendoza and I can´t believe that there is only about a month left.

Last weekend we had our program Halloween party, and it was a blast. My host mom and I made a Tigger costume, which was just the cutest thing I have ever seen and so fun to work on with her.

halloween

I actually got my host brother and one of his friends to go with me and we spent the night dancing with them. It was so much fun. The after party in the Pancho place was pretty sweet too.

Aside from the weekend stress relief, these weeks are really intense as everyone busily writes all those papers thrown on us at the last minute for final exams and projects in the daze that comes after four months of amazing experiences and not so much worry about classes. I´m starting to realize how much I have learned in my classes and about life in general.

This week I finished my ¨monografía¨ for my art history class. It´s an 11 page paper, but 1.5 spacing is used here, so in the US it would be a 15 page paper. It really stressed me out because I had to come up with a thesis relating art from the Baroque with something from Argentina or the U.S., in Spanish none the less. However, after four months in Argentina it was much easier to write than I had imagined it would be.

Unfortunately, there isn´t too much to report here. We´ve been buckling down with work a little and spending our free time drinking mate in the park. Have I mentioned how beautiful the park two blocks from my house is? And, it´s huge. Yesterday I spent two hours wandering around in parts I haven´t explored yet, got lost, found the soccer stadium, stumbled upon some makeshift houses in the side of a canal blasting music, watched Argentines learning to drive and got a crazy new tan.

It´s starting to warm up here, and quick. It´s been beautiful for the last couple of weeks and I am starting to realize that sunscreen is a definite necessity here. We´ve also been realizing that it´s time to go clothing shopping. Meaning, the delicious dulce de leche, helado, asado, vino and facturas have us ¨subiendo en peso¨. However, it would be a crime to diet here, so buying new clothes is definitely the better option.

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IFSA Runs A Marathon (10 and 4 k)!!!

Time October 25th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey all,

Today a bunch of us ran a marathon to benefit a Children´s Hospital down here called Conin that provides food and checkups and in some cases a home for malnutritioned children here in Mendoza and around the world. It was a great time. 5 of us promoted the marathon for our Desarrollo Regional concentration class and more than a dozen of us ran it! Annabel, Alana, Meg, Melanie and I ran the 10 k along with Robert and Angus. Joy, Stephanie, Kate, Mary and Brian ran the 4 k! And I´m pretty sure I am missing a couple people. Dan, Ivonne and my host mom came to watch us finish.

It was the only marathon I have every been to that began and ended with a group mambo class (the latin american warm up and cool down hahaha). Who knew running six miles could be so fun?? There were about 1500 people running, so that means CONIN raised at least 50,000 pesos!! It was 50 to run the 10k and 30 for the 4k.

Here´s a great pic of our 5 girl group running the 10k!

conin

Cariños de Mendoza,

Nikki

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Chile and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Time October 20th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey everyone,

Life down here in Argentina has been going well. Last weekend I went to Chile for our last Monday holiday and spent four days exploring Santiago, Viña del Mar and Valparaiso. It was beautiful. I spent a night in a hostel for the first time in my life, and it was nothing like I imagined, much cleaner and friendlier. Chile was beautiful in a very different way from Argentina. Since it is right between the mountains and the ocean and so much thinner, it is greener but still has the mountain back drop. The people were also very nice and I didn´t think their accent was too hard to understand, although I did here come ¨como estáy¨ instead of ¨como estás¨, as they are apparently known for. Our hostel when we went to Viña del Mar and Valparaíso was amazing. It was three little houses at Ritoque Beach, a tiny little beach community (probably 20 houses and a restaurante) outside the town of Quintero about an hour from Viña del Mar. It was much, much quieter than the city and as if we had rented a beach house for a couple days. It was awesome to see the ocean again after 3 months of mountains. There is something calming about the ocean and it is almost as if when I don´t see it for a long time I start to get a little  claustrophobic. The little beach community was so calm and friendly that the owner of our hostel, a German woman who one day just decided to learn Spanish the hard way by moving to Chile, suggested we hitch hike into town in the morning. Apparently it was very easy; just start walking down the road and someone will pick you up. It was! We just started walking and this adorable older couple in a nice new car that had just moved to Ritoque from Santiago picked us up and gave us a ride. Apparently the people in Ritoque love foreigners and love to talk. This couple has a son in Florida and a niece in Colorado. They told us all about their trip to their niece´s wedding, and how beautiful America is. So, now I can say I hitch hiked and stayed in hostels! Which sounds silly but were both things I always wanted to do but was leery of.

route to chile

The route to Chile. There are somewhere between 27 and 47 curves. Talk about mariada.

santiago

Santiago, Chile

ojo

Ojo!! with the subway.

mar

Viña del Mar

boat restaurant

Boat restaurant!

This past week in Mendoza has been very lazy. It has been cloudy and rainy, which is very rare here. Wednesday night we had an intense thunderstorm, which was beautiful. Mía, the little three year old kept saying, ¨trueno! trueno! trueno!” which means thunder.  I´ve been doing a lot of researching for my art history paper. It´s funny because as we don´t really have that much work here, what wouldn´t be so much in the States seems like a lot, especially when you add how long it takes to get to the library, wait for them to find you books, wait in line with a number for photo copies (with a number machine like the ones we have at delis!), and then wait almost an hour in the cold for the bus to take you back.. it is exhausting and you haven´t even begun the actual note-taking part yet!  As you can tell, this was my afternoon yesterday. My morning was filled with notetaking from a previous batch of books and delicious chocolate chip cookies! A week ago, I began the attempt at making chocolate chip cookies here but got derailed and frustrated with the lack of brown sugar in our supermarket. Then, everyone was busy at different times and they just never got made. Yesterday we spent the morning making cookies and eating cookie dough. They came out great even without the brown sugar, just used all granulated sugar instead and they had a hint of sugar cookie to them! They were perfect, and all of them were gone before dinner. So, after dinner we made homemade kettle corn!! Or, po choclo as they say here. It was delicious. Now we are planning what food we will make for mother´s day, which is tomorrow (Sunday).

Hasta luego, un beso,

Nikki

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The Ups and Downs of the South

Time October 13th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey everyone,

My blog has been mostly about travels and awesome touristy things, and I’ve been thinking that it could use a little bit of a reality check. Studying abroad is all about new adventures, finding yourself, practicing a foreign language and getting out of your comfort zone. They say that at first you are so in love with the new country that everything seems awesome, then you get culture shock and everything sucks, and then you settle in. I think for all of us the everything sucking week was when we were picking classes, but I noticed too that some of us have been more homesick in this third month. I particularly am missing autumn. I want my color changing leaves and hot apple cider. It´s weird to think that my year this year is going from summer to winter to spring to summer to winter and back to spring again. All in the course of a year, 6 seasons! Anyway, I was going to let you guys know a couple things to expect to get upset about so that you don´t have to feel like you are upset alone once your hear. At first, I had problems with how relaxed it is here. When I was nervous about an assignment or upset about being late somewhere, I always got ¨Tranquila¨ or calm, and sometimes this ¨don´t make drama¨comment. Apparently it means don´t make drama for yourself and is similar to don´t worry, but the consoling effect is lost in translation. The micros, or buses, are very rarely on time, and for this and other cultural reasons, neither are the people. Luckily, the majority of people here understand this and are pretty excepting. I have learned this now and am no longer so worried all the time. I can walk into class late, and it´s normal. If I show up to a doctor´s appointment 45 minutes late because my bus never came (last Tuesday), it´s all good, he just gives me an appointment for the next day. But, be careful, there are a few people that still manage to be punctual and cranky when your ten minutes late, even though their friends  kept you waiting an hour or so the night before. Aside from these cultural shocks, you should also be prepared for the food availability shocks. There is no brown sugar here. Apparently they have red sugar which is comparable, but not in the supermarket near my house. There is black sugar, which is normal granulated sugar mixed with caramel and apparently kills whatever cookies you use it in. Also, it seems like hardly anyone cooks with vegetables here. I´m pretty sure my diet is 70% meat, 20% bread or rice, 5% fruit and 5% dulce de leche.

On a high note, I´m finally starting to understand the humor here. Oh, yea, don´t expect the new culture to get your jokes for a while. Argentina, for example, has a really hard time understanding sarcasm. I, in return, had a really hard time understanding why little things they said which weren´t snarkily clever or particularly ironic were so darn funny. Now I´m getting the hang of it. The first time my latin american friends laughed (actually laughed) at one of my jokes felt so good!! There is something accomplishing about understanding the humor of a place.

Well, I hope you guys are enjoying following all the blogs and that everything is going well in preparing to study abroad. I can´t believe how fast the time flies once you are here. It seems like I am just starting to settle into a routine and feel as if I were at home. I can´t believe I´ve got less than two months left.

un beso,

Nikki

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Pictures from Argentina

Time October 1st, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey everyone.

Here are some pictures to go along with my last blog post.

asado

This is the Chilean Bicentennial Celebration in our Plaza Independencia. They come to Mendoza to celebrate because it´s cheaper here, and in return we get chilean empanadas and interesting drinks.

menu

We tried a strawberry wine (literally red wine that they had left tons of strawberries in for a while), gancia and cola de mono. Cola de mono is like a Chilean white russian.

reggae

This was the Argentine reggae concert/protest that was going on that same night. Awesome music, and it was interesting to see how the youth is still so involved in the political disappearances forty years ago.

mud

This is mom, grandma and I at the thermal springs in Cacheuta, about an hour from Mendoza, covered in the spa´s special mud.

lirolay

Lirolay is the name of the hotel we stayed at in Bariloche, though I think of it more as a castle. It was right on the side of Lake Nahuel Huapi and 7 km from the city center. We had the most beautiful view from our apartment.

arrayanes

We went on a boat tour to Isla Victoria and Bosque de los Arrayanes. These are the Arrayanes, the trees that inspired Walt Disney´s animation crew to create the forest in Bambi.

ruta 40

On the afternoon ride home, Ruta 40 didn´t disappoint as we drove through the beautiful lake region of Northern Patagonia.

Hope you´ve enjoyed my journey so far.

Until next time,

Nikki

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Three Generations of Women Travel Argentina

Time September 29th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Hi everyone.

Last week in Argentina was mesas de examenes for the Argentines, also known as vacation week for all of us studying abroad. Everyone went somewhere. There were groups of people going north to Salta and Jujuy, to Iguazu. Some of my friends went to Peru to see Machu Pichu while others went to Bolivia to see giant salt flats. I took the week to show Argentina to my family, and so began the trip of three generations.

My mother and grandmother arrived on Friday to Mendoza. It also happened to be a huge party in Plaza Independencia for the bicentennial celebration of Chile. Our joke was that the country was celebrating their arrival. The plaza was full of tables and chairs and booths of food surrounding asado pits. Asados are something Argentina does very well. That night there was a huge concert with many singers and traditional chilean dances. There was also a young reggae concert on the other side of the plaza remember the disappeared which we really enjoyed.

Saturday we went to the spa in the natural thermal pools about an hour outside of the city and deep in the mountains, enjoyed the water and the view and the luxurious pampering. We covered ourselves in the special mud, ¨aplicación de fango¨ and after showering enjoyed the biggest and most delicious buffet I have ever tasted.

Sunday my US family met my Argentine family over a huge tea with tons of delicious Argentine sweets. It was really something to have everyone together, especially when neither of my moms spoke the other´s language, but we had a lot of fun.

Sunday night we took an overnight bus to Bariloche, in northern Patagonia. We drove the beautiful and often desolate route 40 for about 17 hours while being served more food than we could eat, wine, champagne and caramelitos. We even played bingo, with me calling out the English translations for mom and grandma of course. Upon arrival to Bariloche we were met by a Remis to take us to our castle, literally a castle, on the edge of lake Nahuel Huapi. We ate hamburguesas and superpanchos (fotlong hotdogs) in a spinning restaurant on the top of a mountain with an incredible view of the whole city and surrounding mountains. Tuesday we took a boat tour of the lake stopping at Bosque de los Arrayanes with the beautiful cinnamon and white trees that inspired the forest in Bambi and Isla Victoria with the exotic collection of trees from all over the world. It was actually snowing!

Wednesday we went horsebackriding on one of the nearby mountains and mom and I tried galloping. In the typical Argentina fashion the conversation went like this, but in Spanish, me: ¨Why does Dalilo keep making those noises¨ Martín our guide: ¨the horses do that usually in the morning when they really want to work¨ me: ¨so is he bored? Does he want to gallop or something¨ Martín: ¨yea, he want´s to work a little harder¨ me: ¨well, I would love to gallop.¨ A little while later, Martin: ¨we´re going to gallop here. I´ll bring grandma upfront then come back and gallop with you and mom¨ So, he leaves us with the horses and after about a minute the horses are already angrily galloping because they don´t want to be left. We catch up to him, holding on for dear life, and turn around to do it again. me: ¨So, we´ve never done this before. Do you think you could teach us?¨ Martin, ¨Of course.  So you´re going to keep your legs out straight and move with the horse. Now, when I take off, give him a kick and hold on.¨ Well, the horse didn´t need a kick, but I was sure holding on. And, during our first attempt, mom´s food came out of the holster. So, what did we do? We did it again! :)

Thursday we attempted to buy gifts for everyone back home before all the stores closed for siesta and then took the bus back to Mendoza. I must say, the U.S. needs to take some notes from Argentina on public transportation because it is so easy to travel here and the buses are great. Traveling to and from Bariloche we saw 6 pretty new American movies, one of which is still in theatres down here. Friday we arrived in Mendoza at 820 in the morning and had the whole day to ¨aprovechar¨. So, we did the wine road, on bicycles. :) Nothing beats cycling back from a generous wine tasting of 15% alcohol Argentine wines. It just felt so much easier to bike after all those samples. Then, we discovered that with the cost of the bicycle rental (6 US dollars) you also receive a bottle of wine and two bowls of snacks!

After a week of the best vacation ever, my mom and grandma returned to the states. Though apparently my grandma now has a record, as a fruit smuggler. haha.

Pictures to come. I am currently having trouble getting them to load, but check back in a day or two!!

Cariños,

Nikki

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Journey to La Plata, the other capital Buenos Aires

Time September 13th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past week I decided to take a leap of faith and join the group of art and design students from the National University of Cuyo that were going to a student congress in La Plata. La Plata is the capitol of the Province of Buenos Aires, located near but not to be confused with the city of Buenos Aires, capitol of the country. A couple of guys in my Art History class were going and talked me into going as well with the promise that there would be live music every night and we would paint a mural. (and they were right). There was live music, every night. Even our first night in the bus was a party because a couple of guys had brought their guitars, and others had brought maracas and a caja peruana, which is something like a wooden box used as a drum. Everyone knew all the songs of course, except for Ashley, a girl I recruited to go from IFSA and I. So, we shook the maracas and banged on the ceiling. Music is universal no matter the language.

The only bummer was that it rained the first two days we were there, and the floor we were sleeping on got wet and cold. Aside from the weather, it was excellent. We met people from all over Argentina. It was a very liberal conference about educational reform and there was a definite hippie vibe amongst the group. We went to a few of the ¨tallers¨, but the audio was hard to hear and with our Spanish skills hard to follow. However, we did somehow find an interview with a song writer from Uruguay, Ana Prada, which was not part of our conference, but probably the best thing I went to while there. She talked about her life, finding her passion, where her songs came from and played a bunch of songs. We almost couldn´t believe we had stumbled upon this.  And, we could understand every word she said!!

The difference between the dialects of Spanish countries is astounding. We spent most of our time with 6 other exchange students; 2 from Mexico, 2 from Chile and 2 from Colombia. The mixture of Spanish was, obviously, hilarious. We also had Ricky from Missiones which is a town near Iguazu, and a group from Mendoza. Since the congress was a little hard to follow, we decided to go exploring in the city. We saw the famous cathedral, the theatre, the government building, the park, their cultural center which doubles as an art museum, and the museum of natural science. I have never seen so many dinosaur bones, or just bones of every kind of animal rather, in my life! They had rooms of taxidermied animals I have never seen before. Not to mention that all the dinosaurs were different from those I grew up with!

On the last night there was a big closing ceremony which seemed to double as a political rally. The speakers were very passionate and excited about their Neoliberal cause. We weren´t very involved in it, but neither was the majority of people. Everyone was huddled in circles talking or passing maté. However, after dinner that night we had the last musical performance. It was very laid back, just people come up to the mike to sing and play songs. But, as always everyone knew all the lyrics and the dances to go along. When the last few songs were played, someone got up on a table and started to sing the songs rewritten with new lyrics. The lyrics were political and contemporary and somehow everyone knew these too. Anyway, the huge group of people began to form a circle and jump up and down moving the circle from a circle to a giant moving blob and back to a circle again. So, of course, we joined in.

Sometimes I feel lost in the latinamerican lifestyle because it is so culturally different from ours, but this was an awesome weekend and I felt right at home, though a little mojada y con frio. jajaja

congress

we´re not actually this important, but the famous singer that was giving a talk on social movements and music had left…

floor

This is the room we stayed in

party

party2

The first night´s party.

mural

The mural we painted.

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Dear mom, Today I snowboarded in the Andes and ate a goat.

Time August 30th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

That is what my letter home would have said this week, if it didn´t cost nearly two dollars to send a letter home and three weeks for it to arrive. Thankfully, we all live in the age of email, facebook and blogs, so my mother received an email regarding the above statement the following night. Life is insane here. Everyday I have to remind myself that this is real life. Even the classes can´t make it feel like school.

Last weekend, I went with another girl in our program to Las Leñas, a well known ski resort in the Andes. It is a valley right in the middle of the mountain range, and it was beautiful. We had clearly just made it because even though it isn´t low season yet, the snow is quickly melting from the beautiful weather we´ve been having down here. Still, there was enough snow to make the snowboarding worth while, and I never imagined I would snowboard somewhere where everywhere you looked was a beautiful view of the Andes.

las leñas

We had taken an overnight bus to get to las Leñas (about 6.5 hours), so we had all day to ski/snowboard. We stayed the night in a hotel 15km away called Los Molles, and were so excited that we got to return for a second day. Our hotel had a beautiful view of the mountains, friendly guests with whom we watched the Godoy Cruz soccer game (where a bunch of our friends from the program were) and played ping pong, and dinner. Dinner was three courses and one flat price. Empanadas, Chivo, and a choice of desserts. What is Chivo you ask? Well, I asked too. Our new friend tried to explain it to us, confused, asking his friends, how do I explain Chivo???¨ Finally, he was just like, ¨Es como cabra, sabes que es cabra?¨ Cabra= goat. It wasn´t the most delicious thing, but I made a sandwich with it, and could pretend it was a steak sandwich. Anyway, I crossed eating goat off the lifelist, though I never thought I would ever it a goat… haha. Also at dinner, we made quick friends with a couple that wanted to bring us to Las Leñas in their car. (it was cheaper for everyone involved).

In the morning, we met our new friends during breakfast and were on our way!! We even got to see a cool well called the well of souls. (Pozo de los Animes). No one has ever reached the bottom, so they think it connects somehow with the sea. Our second day of skiing was just as beautiful as the first, but a bit colder.

telesilla

mountain

This week has been pretty awesome too. I tried out a new tango class which also teaches folklore and loved it!! There were three of us from the program in the class, and the girls studying dance seemed to enjoy helping us figure it all out. Not to mention that the professor was not only awesome, but very attractive. For next week, we need skirts and handkerchiefs, but a woman in the class is making them for us!!! Some people here are unbelievably nice. Tuesday, I went with a new Argentine friend to Cerro de la Gloria, which is amazing. It is a huge monument to San Martin, a true work of art. I was, however, unaware that ¨Cerro¨ de la Gloria meant that it was going to be on top of a small mountain. So, that was an interesting surprise when we arrived and the bottom and he was like, subimos (we´re going to climb it). Every day, a surprise. But, it was worth the climb.

¨Cuando alguien desea algo debe saber que corre riesgos y por eso la vida vale la pena¨-Paulo Coelho.

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I think this is week four, Mendocina style

Time August 18th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It seems that Mendoza time is rubbing off on me. I´m starting to feel like I live in this city as my Spanish has been improving drastically and it is easier to communicate. I´m also not losing myself anymore! I´m getting better with the buses and getting to know the streets. I thought I knew the park, but today I walked home from the University with a new friend and we took this long route through the park. I realized the park is about 100 times as big as I thought it was. I also got to see the school that Eva Peron founded which is inside the park.

This weekend was the first long weekend we had for traveling. However, since many of us, including myself, have Fridays free every weekend is now a long weekend where we can travel. For this weekend, I stayed home. Friday, I explored the Museum of Natural History that is in the park about two blocks from my house. Saturday, I had lunch at a friend´s house. She is a tutor for the arts students at the University whom I met when a few of us went to the orientation for the other program by accident, but she´s studying photography like me and the two Colombian girls that are staying in her house are in my photography class. I ended up staying for dinner and tagging along to a cool little bar with them later that night.

Sunday, a friend from IFSA and I took a bus to Las Vegas, a small town in the mountains. We had about three hours there which was sufficient because it was quite freezing. Even with only three hours, it was a beautiful day.

the mountain

la virgin

beautiful view of the mountains

and a little wine

Well, that´s about if for now. Classes all day tomorrow. We´re still technically in shopping period, but we´re in our third week of classes. It was extremely frustrating at first figuring out the whole classes business down here in South America. Even the other exchange students from Latin America said it´s disorganized here! But, we made it. I have a solid schedule with exactly what I was planning on taking here, more or less. Photography = photography, Art History 2 = Modern Art History, and elective = Tango! Then of course we´ve got our Spanish class, and I am taking Desarollo Regional (or Regional Development) so that I can volunteer in the orphanage.

Hasta la proxima vez, que te vayas bien!

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Can´t believe it´s been two weeks already

Time August 6th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hi everyone,

For anyone who speaks Spanish, Mendoza is the place to be (sorry Buenos Aires). It is beautiful here. The mountains are like a picture postcard. It´s been cold lately. They say below zero, but in Fahrenheit its only about 30 degrees. However, it was snowing yesterday and is supposed to snow again today. I never thought I´d see snow in August, but there it was. There is a lot more snow in the mountains than down here in the city where it hasn´t yet stuck to the ground.

I finally figured out how to upload photos here, so here are some photos of my first weekend here with my host family. We went on a little family trip to the mountains; my host mom, sister, older sister that doesn´t live with us, her husband and their daughter, who´s three.

My host family at our picnic at the Old Manzano

This is my two host sisters and my cuñado.

my host sister and I

My host sister Vicky and me in the nieve!

beautiful view of the mountains

The view of the mountains as we drove through.

sunset and moonrise in the farmlands

As we drove home, the moon was rising just as the sun was setting with bodegas, and fruit trees all around us.

It has been an excellent first two weeks in Argentina.

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Discovering Mendoza, day one

Time July 26th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I just spent three days in Buenos Aires and arrived in Mendoza last night. My family picked me up at the airport and it was crazy like José said it would be. There was un motón of families, all frantically waving signs with our names on them. We were all extremely nervous, but it was pretty fun, looking back on it. We lined up and José called out our names then his assistant called out the names of our host families, who then appeared from the giant of the crowd at the little walkway, waving the card. My brother and sister were there waiting for me, excitedly waving a Nicole N. card, which was waved again today, by a neighbor who also has a student from our program when he took us out to see the park. (I live very close to the huge park in Mendoza.) This morning my host mom came home from a trip to a casamiento (wedding) in the north. I got to meet her, and her granddaughter, Mía, and her older daughter and husband. I ate a second, later breakfast with them and tried Maté ! which was pretty good, but nothing like what we call maté in the US. We drink it wrong you see. Here, you fill the little cup completely with the maté and it needs more water every 3 or 4 sips. Also, dulce de leche is delicious and goes well with this cheese they eat here on top of medialunas, or crescent rolls. After lunch, which was pizza and Arabic empanadas, our neighbor came over with Julie, another IFSA student and took me for a walk in the park. It was amazing. The park is beautiful and hey sell artisan crafts and food on the weekend extremely cheap. There is also a free aerobic class which we watched, and is hilarious and long. One moment there are three women standing around shaking to some music. The next, there is a huge crowd of over 50 women and an instructor is yelling Arriba! A la derecha! We played a little soccer with another student, Julie´s host brother and his girlfriend by kicking around the soccer ball in a circle. What fun! I think everyone in Argentina knows how to play soccer, at least better than I do.
Now, I am waiting to see what I am doing tonight. My host-sister is going to a dinner at a friends house that she invited me to, but we are waiting to hear from her friend to see if there is enough food that I can go. You see, it´s a special dinner. They´re eating conejo and the ratio is one rabbit for four people. I´ve never had rabbit before, but I figure if I had my first hamburger in my whole life in March and now I eat beef at least once every day, I can try rabbit in Argentina.

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Three Days and Counting

Time July 19th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hi Everyone,

I guess I should introduce myself. =)  My name is Nicole Najecki and I study Spanish and Photography at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. I’m leaving for Argentina on Tuesday, and I keep bouncing back and forth between being really nervous and maybe a little too calm. I’ve traveled a lot in the past; my mom and I have been to the Bahamas, Paris, Italy and Canada along with trips around the United States to places like the Grand Canyon and a dude ranch in Wyoming. I spent my first year of college at Tulane University in New Orleans, and last summer I studied in Guatemala with a group of students from my university. Still, I’ve never lived outside of the U.S. before. This semester, I will be living in Mendoza and attending the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. I need to take a couple of art courses, but other than that, I can study whatever I want. Which is a good thing, because I won’t know what classes I can take until I’ve been there for a little while! This is a little nerve-racking due to my very organized and planned nature, however I’m sure everything will work out fine.

I found out last week that I will be living with a three person family, a mom, a son and a daughter, both of which are around my age. I  got pictures of them with my family information and they look really nice. I was surprised how much the simple act of learning who I am living with calmed my pre-departure jitters even though I still haven’t met them.

I’m really excited to head out on this adventure. I’ve been reading the guidebooks, and I want to take some mini-trips to Iguazu Falls, Tren de las Nubes, and the Glacier National Park. I’ve never seen a glacier before, and they say Iguazu is better than Niagra! I’m also excited for spring break when my family is planning to come down and visit. I’m trying to convince them that we should go to Patagonia.

I’ll let you know what it’s like when I get there =)

Nicole

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