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

Lemons, Dedos, and Water: My Adventures in Uruguay

Time May 2nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey world, and thanks for tuning in.  I hope things are going well for you, wherever you may be :)  I’m sure you’ve all been quivering with anticipation since my first post where I mentioned Uruguay, and so now, after long last, I shall finally write about it.  

HOWEVER, my one disclaimer is that the pictures that you will be shown are not mine, and they have been shamelessly stolen from sites on the Internet.  I took some lovely photos while I was in Uruguay, but managed to lose my phone on one of our many bus rides, so all of my photos were tragically lost. That said, though, I’m going to try and include photos of all of the places that I went, so you can get an idea of my visual journey.  But anyway, on to Uruguay!  Dale aventuras!

Uruguay is a gorgeous (albeit a tad bit more expensive than Argentina), peaceful, and fun country, and it is only a quick jaunt over the Rio Plata from Buenos Aires, making it a popular destination for many Argentinians with the means to travel there.  IFSA had set everything up for us (and very generously too, I might add), and as this excursion was one of the three times that the entire program group got together (the other two times being orientation and our closing ceremony), it was pretty fun to see everyone in the program who I hadn’t seen in a while.  We had all come a long way from our overwhelmed selves during orientation, and I enjoyed hearing of everyone’s unique scene in Buenos Aires.

Our boat silvia-ana745x cruised across the river, fueled by caffeine and the excitement of 80+ American students, and we were in Uruguay in no time!  From the dock we hopped on a couple of big buses to our first stop: Colonia!  Our host and program director, Mario Cantarini, had generously offered his house for us to stay and frolic, and that afternoon was probably one of my fondest memories of my trip so far.  Mario’s “house” is a boutique hotel/lemon farm/place so beautiful I could see myself getting married there, and it was only a few blocks away from a beautiful beach on the Rio Plata ima1 Heaven.  We feasted on emapanadas, choripán, fresh fruit, pie, artensanal bread, and some of the most delicious meat I had ever eaten.  We splashed around in the pool, played soccer on the hotel’s front lawn, and then cooled off by sprinting down to the beach and jumping into the river.  At the end of the day, we bussed into the center of town (Mario’s place is on the outskirts) to check into our hotels for that night.  

Colonia has a ton of history and is a World Heritage Site, and we took a tour to check out some of the old (they’ve been around since the 1600’s) buildings. colonia-uruguay The town was super safe, quiet, and peaceful.  Stray dogs (who are neutered by the city so that overpopulation doesn’t run rampant.  Fun fact) run around, barking at cars, and the air buzzed with the sound of birds and insects.  Some good friends and I feasted on paella and jazz music, and then went down to the river bank for stargazing, fireflies and good conversations.  After the breakneck pace of Buenos Aires, the peace and quiet of Colonia was cool water to my parched and chapped nerve-endings.  

The next day, we were up early again to scamper off to Punta del Este, which is one of the biggest resort towns in the area, and was much more built up and touristy than Colonia.  modopuntadeleste Argentine author Rodolfo Rabanal describes it thusly: “Los turistas se marañan sus calles peninsulares durante el verano. Pero en invierno, edificios telar vacío, como si en los talones de una alerta atómica, mientras que barrido gaviotas y cormoranes negros que anidan en las grietas de mejillones rellenos de caminar por las calles” (“Vacationers snarl its peninsular streets during the summertime.  But in Winter, buildings loom vacant as if on the heels of an atomic alert, while scavenging seagulls and black cormorants that nest in mussel-filled crannies walk the streets.”)  As we were there in the fall, the streets were mostly free of the snarling vacationers, and it was a pretty odd experience to wander the hotel-laden streets that seemed to offer everything except people.  

We certainly, made the most out of Punta del Este, though.  IFSA (praise be unto Them) put us up in some sweet digs that were equidistant from three different beaches, and they also paid for some spectacular restaurant meals of fresh calamari, fish, and carne de vaca (the former two are some delicacies that are uncommon in Buenos Aires, and they were happily welcomed by my palate).  Punta del Este has some gorgeous beaches, the Dedos de Punta del Este, and some very fun beachfront nightclubs.  la_mano_de_punta_del_este_toma5_big Shenanigans, surfing, and silliness ensued for the next few days, among which included: Bodysurfing in torrential rain, meeting a professional-level breakdancer and dancing with him and a club, and spending a lot of time in the complimentary hotel bathrobes. Before I knew it we were back on the waterbus to home sweet Buenos Aires.  It had been an amazing adventure in a gorgeous country, and despite the comparably terrible exchange rate, I can’t wait to get back to Uruguay.  But, until then, there is always LOLLAPALOOZA (see my next post 😛 )

I hope you enjoyed this blast from the past, and I assure you that one day I’ll catch up to what I’m doing currently.  Classes have been excellent so far, though.  I’ve watched a truckload of excellent peliculas, spent many an hour toodling around on REAPER (a free sound-editing program) building “sonic stories”, and have met a bunch of fascinating and diverse South American students.




A Spot of Fun

Time February 14th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well it’s reading week and that means my time of being in British lectures is half way over already. Kind of crazy when you think about it, but it’s true. The third term after Easter break is just exams and finals and since the final for my courses is an essay, a lot of my time seems to be free during that term. I don’t really want to think too far ahead though because the end of term means I’m getting closer to going home and I’m definitely not ready to do that.

Yesterday was Butler’s first Saturday excursion of the semester. We went to Hampton Court Palace and then Windsor. I didn’t go into Windsor palace, but in the few hours we were there, there was plenty to do and see around town. Hampton Court Palace was also pretty interesting. I’ve always been interested in Henry VIII so being able to see some of his rooms and the rooms of the monarchs who took over after his children was pretty cool. Some of the wall paintings were just amazing. And the gardens! Even in winter they were beautiful and I really want to go back in the spring when there are flowers. Windsor was just as fascinating, with old buildings, churches, and the castle. I had a lot of fun, though my feet are killing me. It probably didn’t help that I went exploring around the area where I live today. I should probably give them some rest, but there are so many places I want to go and see while I have the week off.

Not much else is going on right now. I’m still getting to know the area and the people around me while trying to keep up with all my schoolwork so that I have time to have some fun. I may be visiting Italy during Easter break which would be amazing, but we shall see. Until then I hope to just keep enjoying all the wonders of the city and the surrounding area. Cheers!


Playing cards with the little ones/ midterms

Time April 28th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hi all,

It is strange to think that I just finished taking midterm exams when my friends back home are thinking about finals. Anyways apart from getting less sleep at night because I have been studying hard for my Arabic and Egyptology midterms among others I have of course also found time to have fun.

So I was at this family party (not my family) and I was looking after the little ones ranging from the ages of three to seven. (I tend to drift and play with children when I am at gatherings). Omar, Yahia, and I decided to play cards. Actually we were using the cards from the game “UNO.” As we were playing a made up game by Omar (5), I was communicating with the children in Arabic and they were talking back to me also in Arabic. We played for about forty-five minutes until we got bored and decided to do something else. The reason I have retold the story is because when you can play card games with children in the language you have recently started to learn this turns into one of the signs that shows you really are learning something. Actually, I find that children are the best to practice Arabic with because they will only speak Arabic to you. (It forces you to use all of the vocabulary in your repertoire).

In addition to the party I have also gone out to eat, believe or not, at Macaroni Grill. I know you are probably thinking why would I do that being in Egypt, but I just had a craving for Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo and it was the only place I could think of.

All in all I have been having a marvelous time per usual. I recommend to all of my readers to try and come visit this marvelous country and if anyone is considering the IFSA program I would definitely recommend the one in Egypt.


Classes, Homework, Presentations, and FUN

Time March 16th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

As you all know classes started which means being busy with homework and stuff. The usual academic responsibilities. Nevertheless, this does not mean I can’t find time to do other fun things. Actually, in my Egyptology course I had to present on Merimda Ben Salam, El Badari, Dier Tasa, and Naqada I II and III, pottery at the Cairo Museum. I had been to the Cairo Museum twice before, but this time it was a completely different experience for several reasons. First of all I entered through a different entrance than everyone else because I was following prof. Hassan who has special connections at the museum. Through this special entrance I got to see some artifacts that were not out for display. Following the secret passage way, my presentation started. This was even more fun not because it went super well and my professor said I did excellent, but because when I was giving my presentation funny things happened. 1)Tourist at the museum who understood English were gathering around me as if I was a tour guide, 2) Since everyone mistakes me for an Egyptian, people were confused as to why I was speaking English, 3) People were smiling at me after realizing I was giving a presentation for class. As you can see it was a fun experience, even more so because I knew details about Egyptian history that I had no previous knowledge of.

Apart from the museum, I visited Cairo Stadium and watched Al-Ahly play against Talaea El-Gaish (???) which was an experience in itself because of the fans. Also I went to see “My Name is Khan” at City Stars. I recommend everyone to see this film. To say the least there wasn’t a dry eye in the cinema. But of course the fun does not stop with the end of the movie, after it finished I got to meet AFROTO one of the players of Al-Ahly I had seen playing at Cairo Stadium.