Wait I have to take classes here too?
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.
Both of my classes at the university are relatively easy to follow (although they have their ups and downs). In my Historia de las corrientes literarias class, I understand probably between 80 to 90 % of what the professor says. Readings that we read in class (without me being able to prepare them beforehand) and audio clips pretty much go right over my head, though.
My anthropology class is a little more difficult. We have three different professors; one is super hard to understand, but the other two are good. The real struggle in this class is that it’s basically a 3.5 hour lecture, which I can’t zone out of or else I will have missed important topics.
One funny story: The other day, my literature professor played us an audio of author, Jorge Luis Borges, giving a conference about Greek narrative forms. Knowing that audio without video is pretty difficult for me to understand, I braced myself for ten-or-so minutes of confusion. Turns out, the clip was 45 minutes long! I spent most of that time doodling because the audio quality was really poor and I could only get maybe one out of every ten words. After class, one of my classmates asked me if I had understood the video. A bit defeated and embarrassed, I said no, not at all. She replied that she and her friends hadn’t understood any of it either! (Turns out, maybe I’m not as bad at Spanish as I thought).
In addition to my classes, I have also chosen to volunteer at the food bank (Banco de Alimentos) here in Mendoza with two other girls from my program. For those that don’t know, volunteering is a huge part of my life at Macalester, so I was glad to find out that volunteering was an option! So far, I have been to the food bank three times. For the past two weeks, we have checked bags of pasta for little bugs (bichitos) – riveting stuff, I know. But the monotonous work lends itself well to talking to other volunteers. And it’s also a really fun way to get involved in the community and practice my Spanish with the Argentines that work there.
I have also been practicing my Spanish at a weekly conversation group called Intercambio de los Martes. Every Tuesday, this group meets at a bar and speaks for one hour in English and one hour in Spanish. So far, the group has been a really great way to meet new people from all over the world (At this group alone, I have met people from Denmark, Canada, Mexico, and Argentina). And it’s also led to quite a few funny/awkward conversations…
I’m sure the reality of taking classes (and exams!) in a foreign language will set in soon, but for now I still feel like I’m in a bit of a “honeymoon” phase here in Mendoza. Keep your fingers crossed that this keeps up as long as possible!