Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Mendoza, a city of culture

Time May 25th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Argentina | No Comments by

One thing I was looking forward to during study abroad aside from a new academic environment, was getting to know and even getting involved in the community. Mendoza may be a smaller city, but cultural events are not only important, but varied, frequent and often free or of little charge. Several areas in the city are known for screening movies weekly, often for free. You can find older and modern movies and movies from Argentina, the US and many other countries (of course with subtitles). Live plays happen all the time too so if you’re Spanish is good enough to follow them (mine is not) they are also a cool thing to check out. There are not only formal concerts like celebrations of classic rock and Argentina’s take on jazz and the blues as well as classical music events, but you can often happen upon informal mini concerts in the parks and plazas. Some even involve dancing. Personally, I really enjoy going to events that involve dancing. Not boliche-type dancing (I can’t dance at all) that happens late into the night at clubs, a young person’s typical pastime here, but actually watching the small dancing events put together by the city or other groups. Sure you’ll see much more tango in Buenos Aires, even in the streets, but I have been lucky enough to attend events involving the tango, mamba, samba, milonga and baile folklorico (which is more traditional). They all have different histories, dress and meanings and derive from around South America, but I can saying that I’ve been impressed by all that I’ve seen. Last week there was even an event in the one of the largest theatres in the city where you could watch a world famous traveling dance troupe. Tickets were only about $3.50 USD plus a donation of milk powder to the local food bank. Of course I was too late and the tickets sold out, but this just speaks to one of the great opportunities I’ve seen in the past few days. There’s a lot to discover if you look for it and luckily IFSA sends you updates of upcoming events too! As much as I like to watch dancing, I refuse to actually learn it it seems. However, if you are interested, not only can you take dancing classes at a local institute and possibly get some credits for it, depending on your university, but there are free dancing classes at the park too (as well as low-cost painting, photography, and other skill classes). Mendoza is a city that truly celebrates culture and has a wealth of events for those interested!


Our Unique Interpretation of the Afro-Peruvian Alcatraz

Time June 27th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

What’s the one sure way to put on a good show? Plan it half an hour in advance.

We were on our way to an orphanage/shelter in the outskirts of Cusco. Our bus was full of basic goods and gifts for the girls and young women who live there, and the plan was to gift them the gifts, play tag and volleyball for a few hours, and see a small performance they had organized for us. Then Lali, our program director, decided we should put on a performance, too. We being everyone in the program. No exceptions.

What then unfolded was a manifestation of youthful genius. We proposed a series of ideas, each more absurd than the last, until we found the one. We were to put on our own “unique interpretation of the Afro-Peruvian Alcatraz,” in which one dancer tries to light the other’s skirt on fire.

I didn’t have a skirt, and if I had I don’t think I would’ve gone so far as to put it on. A tail made of toilet paper, tied to my belt, provided the flammable material. We didn’t have a candle, either, so we settled for a lighter. And Oscar doesn’t even dance Afro. Add to that that our cajón was a cardboard box, and what results is the following video that defies words.

Post-Script: For future IFSA students, I highly recommend taking Afro-Peruvian dance at La Católica. It is an hour and a half, once weekly, of letting loose and having fun. You may even learn how to move your hips.

P.P.S.: This is what the real Alcatraz looks like.