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Megapost Part Two! (Featuring School, Super-Tango, and Mexican Parties)

Time April 1st, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hola hola a todos, y gracias para leyendo.  Welcome to part two of this week’s Megapost (check HERE for part one), and I look forward to expounding more on this week’s adventures. When I last left you, we had just finished a lovely adventure through the streets of Buenos Aires for St. Patrick’s day.  I had been in Buenos Aires for about 3 weeks, and have absolutely fallen for the place.  I love speaking Spanish, and I can feel my confidence with the language growing.  I love the city, and how there is always something to do and good people to do it with.  I love the people, and the kindness they show to strangers.  And I have been blessed with some pretty excellent experiences in Argentina so far; I’ve been to oceans, rivers, and some of the most spectacular places that Buenos Aires has to offer.

But, like all things, the utter revelry that I’ve been experiencing for here has come to an end, and in the words of Sam Cooke, A Change Is Gonna Come.  School has officially started!  Last week, I had my first classes at the Fundacion Universidad del Cine (lovingly dubbed the FUC (pronounced “Fook”)), and I am welcome this next step into life in Buenos Aires.  The FUC is a small school; only about 1,000 students (including grad students) attend, and it only occupies 4 buildings on a street in San Telmo.  I almost walked past it the on my first day of class.  I dig the small school vibe, though.  It reminds me of Whitman in the sense that you have the opportunity to make really meaningful connections with your professors, and I’m definitely to take advantage of that here.  Out of the four classes that I’m taking (History of Argentine Cinema, Advanced Castellano, Filmmaking and Production, and Sound Design and Orchestration), three of them have only 3 students.  I’m in heaven.

Now, some of y’all who know me might be thinking, “But hold up Dylan.  You’re a physics major.  You like math and natural science and computer science.  Why on earth are you taking an about-face into the realm of Film Studies?  Do you even know what that major is?”  The short answer is: I have no real idea what I’m doing.  But that’s kinda the point.  I didn’t come to Argentina to keep doing what I’m used to, I came here seeking change, and that’s hopefully what I’m about to experience.  I’m fortunate enough to not have to fulfill any major requirements for Whitman while I’m in Buenos Aires, and so the only thing I need to knock out while I’m here are classes in the humanities realm.  Not only do Film Studies classes do that for me, but they’re fun!  My professors are awesome and knowledgable and super cool (my filmmaking Prof has already invited me to play tennis and go climbing with him), and I’m sure that I’m gonna learn a bunch.  Plus, now I get to hang out with artsy film kids who dress cooler than me and have educated opinions on the meaning of life.  And my school has really hip decor.  This is gonna be awesome. [Gallery not found]

And as if it wasn’t enough to have started school such an awesome program (the film studies concentration people here have already taken me out to 2 different meals as part of the “orientation”), IFSA upped the game by taking all the students in the film/literature concentrations (the “Artsy” kids) to an extraordinary concert by the Orquestra Típica Fernández Fierro (Heretofore referred as the “OTFF”, because I don’t wanna type that out every time). It was so so so fun.  The show was in this dive bar in this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that opened into a soundstage.  The program paid for the tickets AND our food and drinks, so I split an excellent bottle of wine with some of my new UW-Madison friends and thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Now, it’s really tough to describe a show by the OTFF, but I’ll do my best (check out the video I linked to really understand).  Essentially, this group plays traditional Argentine tango music, but all the musicians are young and cool and play with unbelievable passion and energy.  It’s like “Apocalyptica” meets tango.  I was in a wonderful musical trance the whole time, and while I watched I reflected on how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to experience so many cool things in such a short amount of time here.

BUT THE FUN DOESN’T STOP THERE OH NO.  I finished classes for the week on Thursday (woo I have a four-day weekend every week woo), so naturally some good, clean fun was in order.  The weekend before, I had met a few other international students from Mexico, and they had mentioned that they live in an apartment near Recoleta and that I should come over sometime.  Well, that “sometime” was this weekend, apparently, as my dear friend Stephanie (yes, this is your shoutout :)  Be stoked) invited myself and some other pals over to this new friend’s apartment for some good old-fashioned shenanigans.  As this is a public blog viewed by both my Grandmothers, I won’t entail precisely what went down, but what I did love about that night was how fun it was to be hanging out with other international students (Mexico, USA, Paraguay) all the while speaking Spanish and swapping stories.  And I was in Argentina!  And it was 5 AM on a Thursday night (Friday morning?)  How cultured can I guy get!? (Well, much more, I’m sure, but I felt pretty darn awesome.)

So now, here I am, the the cusp of another weekend in which I am headed to Uruguay with the whole program (and you can be sure that I’m gonna write about that in a future post), and I’m feeling happy and full of life.  This place is incredible, and while I’m starting to feel the vague hints of cultural separation from the US (mainly I’m just tired of people looking down my nose at me once they realize I’m from the states.  My Spanish is good, okay!), I’m too busy enjoying life here to mind.  Buenos Aires, stay magical.  And to everyone reading this, thanks for making it this far. We’ll stay in touch.  ALSO, be sure to check out part one of my Megapost here.




Big Rivers and Overdue Naps (Megapost part 1 featuring Rosario, St. Patrick’s Day, and More)

Time March 25th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey all, and thanks for tuning in.  A lot happened this past week, so I’ve decided to split this week’s post into a MEGAPOST featuring two parts.  This is part one, and part two will be coming soon!

Sorry I wasn’t super punctual with this update.  As much as I’d like to blame my tardiness on either

  1. My last weekend trip to Rosario (And boy, was it a doozy!  More on this later)
  2. St. Patrick’s day (We’re apparently all Irish in Buenos Aires on the 17th)
  3. My first week of classes starting (Ahhhh they are so exciting and my professors are really cool and I made my first movie trailer!)
  4. Long chats in Spanish with my host family that get my head spinning in two languages (the language barrier is starting to crack.  Now, I just have a hard time thinking in Spanish; I’m still translating my thoughts instead of speaking them.)

The real reason why I haven’t had the time to blog is because I haven’t been giving myself enough time for me.

Note: this next section contains nothing cool, fun, or exciting about Argentina, and is instead filled with silly drivel about my life balance.  If that sounds boring, skip ahead to where I say, “Too much exposition aside,” :)

“Me time” is super important to my well-being.  A week in Argentina is often packed with as much sensory overload and adventure as a month in Walla Walla, and while I’m not one to miss a good ol’ whoopdedoo, I hit my wall at a certain point.  As my relatives may recall, wee Dylan would frequently sneak away from the family gatherings to go cuddle up alone with a book (or take a nap), and while I am energetic in groups, I can’t always sustain that kind of energy. I am an unabashed extrovert, yes, but a crucial component to my life is the ability to take some alone time to cogitate, reflect on past activities, and generally just chill out.  This not only helps tame my overwhelming exuberance, but it also helps me process the big questions I strive to answer by living my life; it helps me think critically How and Why of what I do as compared to just the What.

Apologies for yet another personal digression, but the point I’m trying to make is that, while I had several opportunities earlier this week to sit down and hash out a blog, I chose to do other things instead.  I journaled, read, listened to some cool new artists, and took naps (#sorrynotsorry for sleeping on the job).  But now, finally, I feel refreshed, nay, even excited, to tell y’all about my adventures of the past week and a bit.

But yeah, too much exposition aside (HEYO HERE’S THE FUN PART), this week was pretty durn fun.  It began with a trip to Rosario, which is a city about 4 (by bus, which is how the smart, if slightly less frugal members of my group did it) to 8 (by train, which is the way that I and my other thrifty friends endured the trip) hours away from Buenos Aires to the northwest.  It’s beautiful there; located right on the Rio Paraná, Rosario has a gorgeous waterfront, tasteful buildings, and beautiful (like, wowzers) people.  When we were there, one of the main streets was taken up by a group of artists of all ages, arranged in the colors of the rainbow, all painting for the benefit of the public.  It’s also the birthplace of Che Guevara, Lionel Messi, and Argentina’s flag (which is commemorated by a gargantuan momument).

My pals and I had a grand ole time exploring the city.  Check out this NEVER BEFORE POSTED GALLERY OF PICS for some accounts of what went down (it’s woefully small; I’m sorry.  Check out my Facebook for more).

We ate delicious ice cream, watched a roller derby, checked out the birth home of Che, and watched a spectacular sunset over the water, but before all of that we took a trip across the river to one of the many large islands that dot the waterscape.  The rivers down here are massive, they look more like oceans, and the Paraná was (and continues to be) a crucial trade route that spawned Rosario’s popularity as a city.  The beach and the sun were lovely, although the river water was dirty, murky, and probably (editor’s note: DEFINITELY) unsafe to swim in.  Naturally, I splashed around for quite a while (to the horrified looks of the locals), and consider myself lucky to have not acquired some miserable intestinal parasite.  And speaking of intestines, I had my first taste of them!  We went to an unbelievably tasty restaurant in Rosario (we ended up going both nights because it was soo good), where they cooked us Parrilla de Carbon, which is a massive platter of delicious grilled meats and veggies.  However, the meat you receive may vary.  In my case, I supped on steak, chicken, pork, and a bite of intestines, but the other table received bloody sausage, a mound of intestines, tongue, and some sort of gland.  #blessed.  That night, while attempting to enjoy some Rosarino nightlife, I managed to: knock over a drink onto a couple of cute girls, embarrass myself by apologizing in some godawful Spanish, rock out to some music early 2010s music (to the delight of the DJ), and then get myself pepper-sprayed by a power-tripping security guard outside of a nightclub by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Wooo.

But anyway, after Rosario, we returned to Buenos Aires just in time for St. Patrick’s day.  I slept for most of the day (nightlife in Rosario is rough; see above), and after I woke up I had to run some typical Monday errands; changing money, recharging my SIM card, doing my laundry, etc.  To be honest, I almost forgot it was the luckiest day in the world until my host dad reminded me.  He was adamant that I went to one street in Buenos Aires that has a very high concentration of pubs, so I called up some friends and we headed out for a green cerveza or two.  My host dad, of course, was spot on: this street was BUMPING.  There were masses of singing, dancing people, and everyone was spreading the cheer of the Irish.  Apparently, everyone has Irish blood here on St. Patrick’s day.  I learned some new words (“Fondo!” means “Chug!”, apparently), and had a guid auld time.  The two other guys who I was with both have a solid grasp of the language, so I got to speak Spanish all night, which is something I love to do, especially when going out with fellow Americans.  It’s so much easier to become comfortable in a language if you speak it constantly, and most of the time when I go out with other students we speak English because of the varying levels of comfort with Spanish within the group.  It was a real pleasure to feel comfortable enough with the language to blend in with the crowd of jigging Porteños.

Woof.  Thanks for reading this far; this concludes part one of the megapost, and stay tuned for part two (which features my first week of classes, parties with Mexicans, and the urban commuter lifestyle).  You are all wonderful people and thanks for taking the time to keep up with my adventures.


Welcome Aboard!

Time February 3rd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hello all, and welcome to my blog.  This is not the first blog that I have tried to create, but I think that this will be the one that I’ll pay the most attention to.  All of my other efforts at blogging have coalesced into various URLs composed primarily of baseless yammering, and I will endeavor to make this blog something that is entirely more interesting, informative, and (dare I say it!?) fun.  Then again, considering this is my first experience of an extended stay in a foreign country without my family, I bet I’ll have a lot to talk about. Read More »