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Final Thoughts

Time January 4th, 2017 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | No Comments by

I’m finally home!! After my program ended, I was fortunate enough to travel around Argentina with my parents for ten days before catching a flight back to the States (I’ll insert some pictures of our adventures below) and since then have been having a relaxing holiday week with family and friends.

To wrap up this blog series, I wanted to share three takeaways on my study abroad experience now that I have been home.

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Semester Favorites in and around Mendoza

Time December 6th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | No Comments by

It’s my last few days here in Mendoza (wow time flies!), so I thought that I would do a wrap-up of some of my favorite places and things to do (as well as some tried-and-true tips and tricks) in and around the city!

Food:

Top 3 places to get ice cream (obviously the most important thing):

  • Bianco & Nero – Any flavor is good to be honest. I went there so often that the woman who works there felt comfortable enough correcting my Spanish…
  • Mailhó – The oreo flavor is my favorite!
  • Ferruccio Soppelsa – Go for the fruity flavors here

Yummy Argentine foods:

  • Milanesa de pollo – Chicken milanesa is most definitely the best of the milanesas.
  • Homemade alfajores – Kiosks sell packaged ones, which can also be good (try Avila or Pepitos brand). But best of the best are homemade with dulce de leche in the middle and coconut flakes around the outside – most bakeries sell them!
  • Medialunas – Pure flaky, buttery yum
  • Tartas – My host family made a lot of tartas (kind of like quiche, but without egg) – my favorite was spinach and chard.
  • Empanadas – Done right, they are absolutely delicious.
  • Gnocchi – In Argentina, it’s good luck to eat gnocchi on the 29th of every month. Not all families abide by this tradition, but mine often did!

Fav packaged snacks:

  • Toddy’s chocolate chip cookies – The perfect cheap cookie (tentative consensus that they’re better than Chips Ahoy)
  • Frutigran cookies – My “healthy” cookie of choice
  • Peanuts – In the search for a healthier and more sustaining snack than cookies or bread, I came to discover a soft spot in my heart for peanuts. I often go for the unsalted just because I eat a lot of salt here already. But other good variations are maní japonés and maní con miel.

5 fun restaurants:

  • Fuente y Fonda – Traditional Argentine food in large portions for sharing.
  • Anna Bistro – Get the vegetable salad with goat cheese pastries!!
  • Decimo Resto Wine Bar – I haven’t actually eaten here, but the restaurant is on the 10th floor of a building so it’s the ideal spot to share a bottle of wine and watch the sun set.
  • El Club de la Milanesa – A good place to take someone visiting Mendoza that has never had milanesa before – huge portions and lots of fun milanesa toppings!
  • Brod – Super fun for a more American-style brunch – definitely get the ginger and mint lemonade!

Places to study/hang/get wifi:

My favorite cafés:

  • Café Petrona – Cute, tea party vibe with an outdoor patio!
  • Café Leon – Simple place, friendly staff
  • Kato Café – The service here leaves something to be desired and the wait staff can get a little snarky, but it’s a good place to study i.e. never too busy, open during siesta, comfy couches, lots of space and plenty of fun (and sometimes distracting…) throwback music
  • Silla 14 – Haha haven’t been but I’ve heard it’s great!

Good places to get free wifi (if like me, your home wifi slowly crumbles before your eyes or you just need to send a text while out and about):

  • IFSA office – Always dependable if you arrive while it’s open (plus air-conditioning)
  • Outside of the IFSA office – The wifi still works when you stand outside of the door!
  • Outside of Starbucks – The Starbucks outside of the IFSA office has wifi without a password, so it’s easy to connect when you’re on the run. I would also recommend Starbucks as a study space – lots of nice tables and chairs, wifi, air conditioning when it’s hot. There’s also more of a typical “college-student studying” vibe going on there than in any other part of the city, which can be nice at times.
  • Outside of McDonald’s – Same deal as Starbucks – no password, so free wifi outside!

Bonus: On the go and need to pee? The Carrefour on Belgrano and Las Heras has free public bathrooms!

Activities:

Tried-and-true things to do (in no particular order):

  • Hike Cerro Arco – The classic thing to do for tourists in Mendoza, but I think it’s worth doing once.
  • Go to all the ferias – It’s always fun to go to ferias artesanales (artisanal fairs) when they pop up in Mendoza, specifically in Plaza Independencia.
  • Try out events in the plazas – I went to an event in Plaza Chile to celebrate Chilean independence and an event in Plaza España to celebrate the Spanish harvest.
  • Take a trip to Chile – It’s a cheap and easy bus journey to get to Santiago and/or Valparaíso – both are definitely worth a visit! I’ve also heard amazing things about the desert in the north of Chile – San Pedro de Atacama – if you’re in the market for a longer adventure.
  • Go to happy hours – Lots of bars and restaurants have happy hours where you can get 2 for 1 drinks or drinks at a discount (Antares has artisanal beer and also delicious peanuts)
  • Sip mate in a park/plaza – Argentines like to “no hacer nada” (not do anything) and can spend hours just sipping mate and chatting with friends – it’s a great way for us Americans to learn how to “take a chill pill” if you will and not be on and doing something every second of the day.
  • Exercise in Parque General San Martín – A great place to take a run (I recommend around the lake) or to go to a free exercise class.
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Cacheuta!

Time November 23rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | No Comments by

This past weekend, I went on an IFSA-sponsored trip to Cacheuta, a small touristy town about 45 minutes away from Mendoza. Despite some bad weather, the trip ended up being really fun and a great way to wrap up almost four months in Argentina.

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Post-election Thoughts and Short Update

Time November 11th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 1 Comment by

So sorry this is about a week late!

I struggled to decide what to write about for this week’s post – should I just write a happy update and leave politics out of it? Or should I address how I’m feeling in Argentina after the results of the 2016 presidential election? I’ve decided to share a little bit about my feelings on the election, as well as an update of what I’ve been up to for the past three weeks.

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A Day in My Life

Time October 25th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | No Comments by

On my blog, I have often highlighted exciting trips or fun moments from Mendoza. So I thought that this week I would switch it up a bit. Here’s how a typical Monday (October 24th) in Mendoza goes for me:

8:50am – Wake up. I tried to get up a little earlier this morning because I thought that I needed to put more minutes on my Argentine phone. I tried two stores with no success, but then realized that I didn’t actually need to call anyone (email did the trick).

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Spring Break in Chile!

Time October 11th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 2 Comments by

The last week of September was spring break for the students on my study abroad program! All of my classes (except one) were cancelled for the week, so my friend, Lucia, and I decided to go to Chile to visit another friend from Macalester. It ended up being an incredible, much-needed vacation!

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Halfway Point

Time September 27th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 1 Comment by

“Cuanto más participa menos observa y cuanto más observa menos participa.”

Translation (roughly): “The more you participate, the less you observe and the more you observe, the less you participate.”

I found the above quote in one of the readings for my anthropology class. It stuck out to me because, much like an anthropologist, I am living and studying in a new environment for a specific amount of time. And although I am not taking field notes and conducting interviews, I am constantly observing the culture, habits, and traditions that I grew up with and comparing them to those of my new environment (never in a better/worse comparison, but more in an “Oh, this is different. I wonder why they do this here and I do something else in the United States?” kind of way).

But because I tend to “observe” more than I “participate”, I sometimes feel like I am not making the most out of my experience in Mendoza. Like the quote above suggests, I sacrifice participation time for observation time.

I see this discrepancy most acutely in my relationships. For example, I have not made any local, Argentine friends. Of course, I have acquaintances that I’ll greet before my classes and who will help me if I don’t understand something. And I know one, super-sweet girl through a mutual friend. But these people have never invited me out to a bar or a picnic in the park.

To be fair, going into this semester, I did not expect to make any Argentine friends I know myself well enough to understand that the mere act of living and studying in a new country (as well as making friends from other colleges in the US) would be difficult enough; the observer in me would already be stretched to participate in customs and activities that were out of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, it is difficult to watch other people on my program making friends (or even acquaintances) with Argentines because I always second-guess myself, “Are they making more out of their experience than I am?”

For the past two weeks, I have been mulling over this question and working to reframe it: “How can I make the most out of my experience in Mendoza?” After all, my idea of the best study abroad experience is not necessarily the same as a classmate’s idea. We all move at our own pace and need different things to thrive in our environments (something that I always need to remind myself).

So at this halfway point in my semester, I have made three goals for the rest of my time in Mendoza:

  1. Say yes to every opportunity.
  2. Always try something new.
  3. Speak as much Spanish as possible.

Keeping my fingers crossed that opening myself up to new opportunities and experiences results in an even more well-rounded and fulfilling experience. (Because don’t get me wrong, I already feel so happy and excited to be in Argentina for the semester!)

So far (as the pictures below suggest), saying yes has only resulted in good things :)

(Except for a small bout of food poisoning, but that’s a different story…)

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Wait I have to take classes here too?

Time September 12th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 1 Comment by

Wow time has flown! I’ve already been in Mendoza for over a month!

A lot has happened since my last update. Most importantly, I’ve chosen my classes for the upcoming semester. I will be taking two classes at the local university (UNCuyo) – Historia de las corrientes literarias (History of Literary Movements) and Antropología Social y Cultural (Social and Cultural Anthropology), along with two IFSA-Butler classes – a mandatory Spanish class and Desarrollo Regional (Regional Development). I am a little disappointed that none of these classes focus on Latin America or Argentina specifically, but overall I think all of the courses will be interesting and useful in the context of my major at Macalester.

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First Impressions of Mendoza

Time August 22nd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 3 Comments by

I have been in Mendoza now for about two weeks, and so far I think that I have made a good choice about where to study abroad. As I expected, though, my transition from the US to Mendoza has definitely had its ups and downs. During orientation, the director of my program told us that our days (especially towards the beginning of the semester) would be rollercoasters because of the choque cultural (culture shock); for example, we could be happy in the morning, upset at lunch, homesick in the afternoon and happy again by evening. This rollercoaster aspect of culture shock is definitely true. In an effort to show both the amazing and the hard-to-get-used-to parts of this adventure, I’m going to split this post into two parts.

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First Stop: Buenos Aires!

Time August 16th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 1 Comment by


I made it to Argentina! My flight finally arrived in Buenos Aires at 3am after being delayed another 7 hours (supposed to take off at 8am, but didn’t end up leaving until around 4pm). There were three other girls from my program on the flight with me, so we were all able to take taxis (organized by IFSA Butler, even at 3am!) to the hotel, sleep for a few hours, and then get ready to start two days of touring through Buenos Aires!

One of my favorite stops in Buenos Aires was the Plaza de Mayo. This central area of the city features La Casa Rosada (similar to The White House, except that the president does not live there). Our guide also explained that this plaza is important for the political culture of Buenos Aires because it is so near to gubernatorial offices. For years, Argentines have come to the Plaza de Mayo to protest. Two symbols of these protests still exist today — a camp run by unrecognized veterans of the Malvinas War and painted outlines of Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, women who walked (and continue to walk every Thursday) around the plaza lamenting their disappeared children (desaparecidos) who were murdered by the Argentine military.

A more light-hearted feature of the plaza is the Cathedral of Buenos Aires, where Pope Francis held mass before he became the Pope.

Another favorite was a neighborhood called La Boca filled with colorful buildings (They were painted with leftover paint from construction sites around the city) and kind-of-creepy/really neat models of historical figures from Argentina, such as Eva Perón (Evita) and Pope Francis.

My third favorite stop in Buenos Aires was La Recoleta, an eerily beautiful cemetery filled with mausoleums (both ornate and modern). Eva Perón, a beloved figure among many Argentine people, is buried there.

After our trip to La Recoleta, it was time to head to the domestic airport in Buenos Aires to catch our flight to Mendoza. Like true Argentines, our bus arrived just as the flight was scheduled to board, so the plane ended up waiting for all twenty-something of us to check our luggage, pay for our overweight bags (you can only check about 33 pounds of luggage flying within the country), and clear security (which only involved putting our bags through a scanner and stepping through a basic metal detector…very different than in the US).

Overall, the two days in Buenos Aires were exciting and jam-packed with sightseeing, listening and speaking Spanish, learning about Argentine customs and culture, and meeting new people on my program. My days were so full that I didn’t have too much time to be homesick (which for me is a very good thing).

Now, on to Mendoza!

 

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A Bumpy Beginning

Time August 1st, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 1 Comment by

Since the day I found out that I would have the opportunity to study abroad in Mendoza, Argentina, I have been getting advice where to travel, how to dress, what classes to take, etc. Most of this advice has been sought out and welcomed (I am the queen of internet research). But apparently some of it didn’t stick…at least, the part about having everything packed and ready to go a day in advance.

Like I always do before a big trip, I procrastinated packing my bags until the night before. In fact, while I wrote the beginning of this entry (because obviously I procrastinated writing this, as well) my mom was in the next room reorganizing my suitcase so that everything fit. Read More »

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