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Mundial Fever!

It’s been pretty amazing experiencing the World Cup here in South America- it’s very hard not to get lost in the fútbol madness! I’ve been watching a ton of games, and I know I’m waaaay more into it here than I would have been back in the states. A few days before Argentina’s first game, I went out and bought all the gear I’d need to cheer them on. I went to a hostel where a lot of my friends are staying to watch the game, and when they saw me all decked out in blue and white, they said I was more Argentine than American! I guess I didn’t mind too much- it was somewhat of a compliment to me :)

When Argentina plays, the entire country literally shuts down. Stores close, public schools watch the game during class (if they don’t send the kids home altogether), university classes are cancelled- it seems there’s not a single person NOT watching! And after a win, everyone flocks to el centro to celebrate. My host mom here always says that this is the only event that unites the people of Argentina and allows them to forget about the problems Argentina has, at least for a little while. The whole city also has been decorated for the mundial, too. Blue and white banners and ribbons are on many of the street lamps, Argentine flags are displayed out of every window, and vendors are all over the city selling everything from vuvuzelas to fake cheap jerseys. It’s a pretty cool time to be here, I have to say.

The other thing that’s been really fun is watching the games with all my intercambio friends. The problem I’m finding is that I know people from a ton of the countries that are competing, so it’s hard to know who to root for! I watched the game last week between Brazil and Mexico, and it was nuts! The biggest concentration of exchange students are from Mexico and Brazil, so, naturally, they all got together to watch the game in the same bar. There were probably at least 60 people in the bar we went to, almost all from one of the two countries. I almost felt like I was in the stadium in Brazil, judging from the yelling that went on. One side would start chanting, and the other would shout back with cheers of their own, and it would continue until, well, the game was over I guess :) I had friends on both sides, so it was hard for me to pick a team- I ended up painting a Mexican flag on one cheek and a Brasilian one on the other to make sure both sides were happy :)

The lack of Americans here has also made me even more pumped up to watch the US games and to cheer on my country. The kids in the program and I have made a point to watch all the games together in bars around town, and it’s been really awesome cheering on our team together. The other night, we got together to watch the USA vs. Ghana game, and afterwards we found a place nearby that sells authentic American food- burgers, wings, and chili cheese fries! The guy who owns it lived in the US for 15 years, so he definitely knew what he was doing. It was SOOOOO satisfying to have a taste of the States, especially after winning a world cup game :)

We’ll have to see what happens now- all the teams I’ve wanted to advance have moved on, so pretty soon I’ll have to pick sides. It might be a bit stressful if Argentina ends up playing against the US, but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it :)

Hasta luego,

Ben

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