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

The Argentine Classroom

Time April 27th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Argentina | No Comments by

Despite classes starting relatively late in my time here, I have undoubtedly learned plenty both in and outside the classroom. Class registration was last Monday and I finally decided on my schedule; the mandatory IFSA Spanish class, Advanced Spanish and Argentine Culture, another IFSA class, Regional Development (which I love), History of International Relations and Introduction to Sociology (something I’ve always wanted to take in the US) with an environmental focus. Together, I feel like these classes are not only providing me an exciting interdisciplinary semester, but are introducing me to new ideas about Argentina, human rights, international relations, interpersonal relations, a less Westernized view of world history and basically a new perspective on a lot of things I have learned or read about before. Without a doubt, Argentines have a very different worldview (which is pretty varied in itself) than what I have confronted in the US as well as in my home university. With a focus on international studies in college, I find these differences fascinating and it’s really opened the door to perspectives from a country often considered between “developed” and “developing.” In fact one of my History of International Relations classes ended up focusing on the United States’ involvement in global affairs and it was NOTHING like I ever hear in the US. While I agreed with a lot of it, there was also a lot I didn’t agree with or that made me question what I had been thinking my entire life. This led to some fruitful conversation between my Argentine and American classmates (in both Spanish and a little English they were practicing) after class since the Argentine students sought out our opinion. It’s moments like that that really excite me about being able to learn in a culture so different from my own. It’s also perspectives that I am thankful to hear as I continue my studies in international relations where intercultural dialogue and understanding are imperative to efficacy.

Since a lot of you may be wondering what it’s like going to class in Argentine universities, I think I finally have enough experience to share some of my observations. If you choose the Mendoza program, you can choose classes between Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, a giant, beautiful , public renowned college campus located in El Parque General San Martin and Universidad de Congreso, a much smaller private college located in the center of the city. In Argentina, public universities are usually more acclaimed and tuition is free. Most of the IFSA students here take classes in both and there are definitely classes to fit everyone’s interests and needs here. There are even dancing and music classes offered by a smaller offshoot of Universidad de Congreso. I recommend looking at their websites to get a genera idea of what classes are offered. Read More »

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A week’s worth of “firsts”

Time March 29th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Argentina | Comments Off on A week’s worth of “firsts” by

As expected with study abroad, I knew I was going to be put into a lot of new situations and try a lot of new things. In fact, it began that way; flying here less than a month ago was my first time flying to another country without a single person I know with me. There’s been plenty of “firsts” since I arrived, but the last week and half was particularly packed with new experiences.

For our first weekend in Mendoza, IFSA took us on a weekend-long excursion to Cacheuta, a high altitude area known for its thermal springs. Prior to choosing Mendoza as my study abroad location, I was a bit nervous about this field trip in particular. When I was reading about the Mendoza program, I remember it said it was great for people who enjoy the outdoors more so than a big city. That is definitely true for me, but I like the outdoors for hiking, taking walks and taking photos; I had never tried or even considered anything as adventurous as rafting and horseback riding. Still, I went ahead and chose it.

Heading into the trip, I was still a bit nervous. First on the schedule was a hike through the mountains (something I love!) which ironically ended up being my least successful experience of the trip. While I normally hike much longer and can handle it pretty well, I was so out of shape and perhaps the high altitude was getting to me, that I had to stop and never got to the top. Still, I did get to sit in possibly one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever been – alone on a mountain with a lovely view, with only the chirps of birds to break the silence and the flitting of butterflies to distract me from an endless view of the mountains.  This lasted a lovely 40 or so minutes before some other students joined me on the way down.

After a delicious lunch, we headed to a rafting site. Since I can’t swim, I was a bit nervous but the life jackets and surprising shallowness of the river calmed any worries I had. Unfortunately, I did not want to risk getting my camera wet to take photos, but it was a great experience and was surprisingly easy to paddle and make our way down the river. Again, the views on both side of the river were lovely, further convincing me that I made the right choice by selecting a location where I could see much different landscapes than I can at home. I had a great time and would definitely do it again, given the chance.

The next day, it was time for horseback riding. This too was nothing like anything I had ever done. Lucky for me, they gave me the calmest, cutest and probably the slowest horse, named “Nino.” To my surprise, we were not riding the horses in a field or anything normal like that – we were riding them into the mountains of course!  While I did get a little scared the few times the horse started running, I enjoyed every minute! There is something majestic about riding a horse through mountains, streams and tiny waterfalls while never failing to see a beautiful view before, beside and behind you. Despite being so high up and putting my trust into another living being as it trotted, tripped a few times and distractedly walked off the path to eat once in a while, my first time riding a horse went really well and will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable experiences of my time in Argentina!

Aside from being a good program for those who love nature, Mendoza itself is world famous for its wine. Meanwhile, I actually had not even tried wine before coming here and just generally don’t drink. Nonetheless, this did not stop me for joining some of the other students in a tourist favorite around here – biking through the bodegas accompanied by wine tastings. For some reason, I thought the biking would only take place in the orchards…but actually it was bodega to bodega. Perhaps it’s somewhat normal, but biking through the streets, across streets and at one time along a highway was scary!!!! However, as with the other “firsts” I had just endured and enjoyed in the past week, I did not want to let fear of something new stop me. It was great being back on a bike after so long and I learned a lot not only about the wine industry and its history in Mendoza, but also olive and olive oil production. This was accompanied by tasting the best olive oil and olives I’ve ever had and some okay-wine (maybe it has to grow on me…). Overall, this had to be one of my favorite days in Argentina so far.

My most recent “first” was attending my first class at an Argentine university. As expected, it was pretty intimidating knowing all the other students could speak and understand Castellano fluently and without issue. Trying to focus is difficult enough in 4-hour classes in English, so it was pretty difficult in a 4-hour class in Argentina which started at 6pm at night (thanks to Siesta). I left feeling a little unsure how I would be able to manage Argentine classes, but some encouragement from a professor and some of my fellow students made me feel a little better. I am still in the process of choosing classes so hopefully by the next time I write, I will have a better idea of what exactly I am taking on this semester!

Overall, while these weeks have been fun and exciting, I have also proven to myself that it was worth not letting my doubts and worries get in the way. If I had worried too much about rafting, horseback riding, going to one of the wine capitals of the world, riding a bike through town or thought I could never handle an Argentine university class, I would have missed out on all these great experiences I’ve already had (and will hopefully have as I continue with classes). In fact, I may not have even chosen Mendoza at all over worries that now seem so small and unwarranted. I have no regrets and have already made some incredible memories in these few short weeks. I hope I will keep this in mind as I am undoubtedly faced with numerous more new situations over the next few months.

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A Long Overdue Reflection

Time March 13th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Argentina | No Comments by

I have now been in Argentina for 11 days and it’s been quite a ride! The other program students who I did not even know 2 weeks ago, already feel like good friends, the city of Mendoza’s roads are slowly taking shape in my brain and I feel quite comfortable with my host family and their daily routine.

So I arrived in Buenos Aires with many other IFSA students yet only one seemed to be going to Mendoza with me. Turns out, the others were so hard to find because we have only 9 students in the group this year, along with 1 full year student! For me, 10 students has been great since we’ve all gotten pretty close and we will likely get a lot more personal attention and support this semester than if we were a group of 50 or more students. For some reason, I left my college feeling I have a pretty strong command of the language since I have taken Spanish for 8 years, but turns out, I still have much more to learn than just eroding my American accent! At first, I was intimidated knowing the other students were much more fluent than me and had actually taken serious, complex Spanish classes back in the US. I was constantly pausing and tripping over words which was frustrating (it’s way easier to conjugate on paper than in your head in real time!) . Sure we’re all in the same Spanish class since we’re a small group, but being expected to know more and surrounded by students who can already speak well will undoubtedly force me to catch up and learn quickly.

We spent our first days in Buenos Aires largely doing tours, adjusting to the Argentine accent (it’s not as hard to understand as people led me to believe thankfully), and trying typical Argentine dishes (Argentina’s beef definitely lives up to its fame!). Those few days flew by and by the end, I had seen La Avenida 9 de Julio (the widest highway in the world), Recoleta Cemetary (a huge cemetery where some of the most influential Argentines have been buried the past 2 centuries), El Ataneo (a theater converted to a bookstore), La Casa Rosada (the White House for Argentina) and so much more that I had only heard or read about before! It was truly an incredible and exciting few days.

Still, I think we were all pretty eager (and a bit nervous) to meet our host families. After a short plane ride, we arrived in the lovely city of Mendoza where we will primarily be living the next few months. I was lucky enough to get a fantastic host mom and brother, in a well-located part of town and even get to enjoy the cuteness that comes with having a pet guinea in the house. Mendoza itself is a great city, full of fantastic views, cute cafes, friendly people, walkable streets, a great park and nice plazas for relaxing or spending time with friends. The Andes mountains are not only amazing to see, but provide plenty of opportunity for hiking which I really love! Though Mendoza may not be the capital or even the second largest city, it has quite a lot of unique features. It happens to be the home to the Aconcagua (the tallest mountain outside the Himalayas), be the site where the largest dinosaur remains in the world were found and be the birthplace of one of Argentina’s most beloved comic writers, Quino (who created the popular series “Mafalda”). The timing of our program couldn’t be better as we were able to watch the parades and Fiesta de la Vendimia which occurs after the grape harvest (a very important crop in this region of the country). Watching the parades helped form my understanding of not only Argentine culture and the parts they take pride in, but also specifically Mendocino culture which is rich and complex itself. At the Fiesta, I watched some of the most beautiful dancing I’ve ever seen and could not help but feel incredibly thankful for the experience. Honestly, I wish more people would enroll in this program to get to see and learn about all of this!

While I am really enjoying myself, I have realized that this program appears to be perfect for my needs. With little experience with following maps or public transportation, Mendoza has allowed me to slowly practice and get better while the city is safe enough and organized enough that I don’t have to be too worried when I do get lost. There is also such little English spoken and such few other students, we are all forced to continually use Spanish and thus I’d say we have all already seen a fair amount of improvement! Overall, those and many other aspects of Mendoza give me confidence that is may be the ideal place for me to challenge myself, try new things and continually strive to improve many aspects of my life.

Our time since our arrival in Mendoza has been dedicated to orientations, the first of our Spanish classes, getting to the know the city and acclimating to a very different way of life. Classes will begin next week and hopefully that will give me more of the routine I have been craving, though following schedules is not always easy in Argentine society. I know it’s early on, but right now, I am entirely content with my choice to come to Mendoza and am excited to see what the next few months have in store!

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Who I am and how I got here!

Time February 27th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Argentina | No Comments by

With less than three days remaining before study abroad, it seems time to introduce myself! My name is Amanda, I am 20 years old and I am currently in my third year at Soka University of America (SUA). While my university is situated in Southern California, my home is actually about 3,000 miles away in Massachusetts, and I have been bouncing back and forth across the country since the summer of 2014. Sure, being away from home and family the majority of the past few years may have prepared me for study abroad to an extent, but somehow, this semester away in particular feels like it could be very, very different. Read More »

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Final Thoughts

Time January 4th, 2017 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | No Comments by

I’m finally home!! After my program ended, I was fortunate enough to travel around Argentina with my parents for ten days before catching a flight back to the States (I’ll insert some pictures of our adventures below) and since then have been having a relaxing holiday week with family and friends.

To wrap up this blog series, I wanted to share three takeaways on my study abroad experience now that I have been home.

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Cacheuta!

Time November 23rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | No Comments by

This past weekend, I went on an IFSA-sponsored trip to Cacheuta, a small touristy town about 45 minutes away from Mendoza. Despite some bad weather, the trip ended up being really fun and a great way to wrap up almost four months in Argentina.

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Post-election Thoughts and Short Update

Time November 11th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 1 Comment by

So sorry this is about a week late!

I struggled to decide what to write about for this week’s post – should I just write a happy update and leave politics out of it? Or should I address how I’m feeling in Argentina after the results of the 2016 presidential election? I’ve decided to share a little bit about my feelings on the election, as well as an update of what I’ve been up to for the past three weeks.

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A Day in My Life

Time October 25th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | No Comments by

On my blog, I have often highlighted exciting trips or fun moments from Mendoza. So I thought that this week I would switch it up a bit. Here’s how a typical Monday (October 24th) in Mendoza goes for me:

8:50am – Wake up. I tried to get up a little earlier this morning because I thought that I needed to put more minutes on my Argentine phone. I tried two stores with no success, but then realized that I didn’t actually need to call anyone (email did the trick).

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VIDEO: Mendoza

Time October 12th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina, LGBTQ Correspondents | No Comments by

Bodegas, the Andes and QUIET: a great getaway from the chaos of BA.

 

 

 

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Spring Break in Chile!

Time October 11th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 2 Comments by

The last week of September was spring break for the students on my study abroad program! All of my classes (except one) were cancelled for the week, so my friend, Lucia, and I decided to go to Chile to visit another friend from Macalester. It ended up being an incredible, much-needed vacation!

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Revelations in Mendoza

Time October 10th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina, LGBTQ Correspondents | 1 Comment by

My trip last week to the 4th largest city in Argentina was an important one. Way back during the application process for study abroad, I was torn between big city life of BA, and here in peaceful outdoorsy Mendoza. Ultimately I chose BA , yet I told myself I would eventually visit my would-have-been home. I was worried coming here that I would fall in love with Mendoza and regret choosing the dirty calles of BA.

Indeed, Mendoza is an absolutely beautiful city- extremely walkable, with not too much traffic. Every street is lined with trees, currently in springtime bloom, as well as aquaducts with gently flowing water. There are multiple parks like Plaza Independencia and Parque San Martín, filled with open fields, plenty of trees and stunning views of the Andes, only a few miles away. There are plenty of cute cafés and shops. Probably most dramatic is the quiet! Sure there are a few parks in BA but you can always hear the city around you. Here, you actually feel connected with nature. There aren’t too many tall buildings, so you can actually see the sky!  Even the air seemed purer. Life definitely moves slower in Mendoza, although you have hiking, skiing & rafting nearby for a change of pace.

I definitely would have been happy here, yet I don’t regret about my choice. At this point, I have a solid footing in BA, I feel good about my classes, and I have great friends, both American and Argentine. I had never lived in a city before, plus Bates was already relatively isolated, so I’m glad I got this different setting. I’m also glad I’m at the center of Argentine politics with protests and debate everywhere. The fact that I’m still discovering new parts about the city from its barrios to its people also means that everyday is different.

I was accompanied by one of my closest friends from the program while walking around Mendoza. She also comes from a small LAC, with close proximity to nature. We both agreed that we would have been happy in Mendoza, although we’re content with our current lives in BA. We also discussed some of the not so nice things we’ve noticed about our experiences:

Despite getting 15 pesos for every dollar, costs still add up, but it’s obvious that this is more of an issue for some people than others. For some, side trips every few weeks to new places like Mendoza just isn’t feasible. Obviously it’s an enormous privilege just to be in BA on a program like this. Yet especially in the beginning, being social and making friends requires these trips, going out to expensive restaurants and spending lots of money in general. I know for myself I’ve felt pressured to spend more money than I was planning just so I could be social and not feel left out. In the future it would be nice if IFSA held a general discussion around the topic of money so people wouldn’t feel ashamed by having less than their peers.

Similarly we talked about the need to really take advantage of our time here. Throughout the trip, fellow IFSA people have been our go-to people for dinners or to hang out. Some of us have made friends through the program, some I haven’t seen since orientation. Regardless, it can be frustrating trying to immerse yourself in your surroundings when you’re with a large group of IFSA people, speaking English and generally looking very American. Sometimes I actually wish there was a language pledge- perhaps we wouldn’t get to know each other as well, but we’d improve our castellano so much. That’s why I think I’m going to have my own self-imposed language pledge for now on. We’re also more and more comfortable with the idea of exploring alone. Obviously I’ve made wonderful friends here and I’ll continue to go out with them, but if plans don’t work out, I won’t be upset, I’ll survive. We’re only here for a limited time (only two more months gahhh), and we’ll be interacting with Americans anyway once we return. That’s why I intend to take full advantage of my remaining time here and learn as much about the culture, the people and castellano as possible. As Mendoza emphasized, independence is the key.

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Halfway Point

Time September 27th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 1 Comment by

“Cuanto más participa menos observa y cuanto más observa menos participa.”

Translation (roughly): “The more you participate, the less you observe and the more you observe, the less you participate.”

I found the above quote in one of the readings for my anthropology class. It stuck out to me because, much like an anthropologist, I am living and studying in a new environment for a specific amount of time. And although I am not taking field notes and conducting interviews, I am constantly observing the culture, habits, and traditions that I grew up with and comparing them to those of my new environment (never in a better/worse comparison, but more in an “Oh, this is different. I wonder why they do this here and I do something else in the United States?” kind of way).

But because I tend to “observe” more than I “participate”, I sometimes feel like I am not making the most out of my experience in Mendoza. Like the quote above suggests, I sacrifice participation time for observation time.

I see this discrepancy most acutely in my relationships. For example, I have not made any local, Argentine friends. Of course, I have acquaintances that I’ll greet before my classes and who will help me if I don’t understand something. And I know one, super-sweet girl through a mutual friend. But these people have never invited me out to a bar or a picnic in the park.

To be fair, going into this semester, I did not expect to make any Argentine friends I know myself well enough to understand that the mere act of living and studying in a new country (as well as making friends from other colleges in the US) would be difficult enough; the observer in me would already be stretched to participate in customs and activities that were out of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, it is difficult to watch other people on my program making friends (or even acquaintances) with Argentines because I always second-guess myself, “Are they making more out of their experience than I am?”

For the past two weeks, I have been mulling over this question and working to reframe it: “How can I make the most out of my experience in Mendoza?” After all, my idea of the best study abroad experience is not necessarily the same as a classmate’s idea. We all move at our own pace and need different things to thrive in our environments (something that I always need to remind myself).

So at this halfway point in my semester, I have made three goals for the rest of my time in Mendoza:

  1. Say yes to every opportunity.
  2. Always try something new.
  3. Speak as much Spanish as possible.

Keeping my fingers crossed that opening myself up to new opportunities and experiences results in an even more well-rounded and fulfilling experience. (Because don’t get me wrong, I already feel so happy and excited to be in Argentina for the semester!)

So far (as the pictures below suggest), saying yes has only resulted in good things :)

(Except for a small bout of food poisoning, but that’s a different story…)

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Wait I have to take classes here too?

Time September 12th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 1 Comment by

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.

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First Impressions of Mendoza

Time August 22nd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 3 Comments by

I have been in Mendoza now for about two weeks, and so far I think that I have made a good choice about where to study abroad. As I expected, though, my transition from the US to Mendoza has definitely had its ups and downs. During orientation, the director of my program told us that our days (especially towards the beginning of the semester) would be rollercoasters because of the choque cultural (culture shock); for example, we could be happy in the morning, upset at lunch, homesick in the afternoon and happy again by evening. This rollercoaster aspect of culture shock is definitely true. In an effort to show both the amazing and the hard-to-get-used-to parts of this adventure, I’m going to split this post into two parts.

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First Stop: Buenos Aires!

Time August 16th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 1 Comment by


I made it to Argentina! My flight finally arrived in Buenos Aires at 3am after being delayed another 7 hours (supposed to take off at 8am, but didn’t end up leaving until around 4pm). There were three other girls from my program on the flight with me, so we were all able to take taxis (organized by IFSA Butler, even at 3am!) to the hotel, sleep for a few hours, and then get ready to start two days of touring through Buenos Aires!

One of my favorite stops in Buenos Aires was the Plaza de Mayo. This central area of the city features La Casa Rosada (similar to The White House, except that the president does not live there). Our guide also explained that this plaza is important for the political culture of Buenos Aires because it is so near to gubernatorial offices. For years, Argentines have come to the Plaza de Mayo to protest. Two symbols of these protests still exist today — a camp run by unrecognized veterans of the Malvinas War and painted outlines of Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, women who walked (and continue to walk every Thursday) around the plaza lamenting their disappeared children (desaparecidos) who were murdered by the Argentine military.

A more light-hearted feature of the plaza is the Cathedral of Buenos Aires, where Pope Francis held mass before he became the Pope.

Another favorite was a neighborhood called La Boca filled with colorful buildings (They were painted with leftover paint from construction sites around the city) and kind-of-creepy/really neat models of historical figures from Argentina, such as Eva Perón (Evita) and Pope Francis.

My third favorite stop in Buenos Aires was La Recoleta, an eerily beautiful cemetery filled with mausoleums (both ornate and modern). Eva Perón, a beloved figure among many Argentine people, is buried there.

After our trip to La Recoleta, it was time to head to the domestic airport in Buenos Aires to catch our flight to Mendoza. Like true Argentines, our bus arrived just as the flight was scheduled to board, so the plane ended up waiting for all twenty-something of us to check our luggage, pay for our overweight bags (you can only check about 33 pounds of luggage flying within the country), and clear security (which only involved putting our bags through a scanner and stepping through a basic metal detector…very different than in the US).

Overall, the two days in Buenos Aires were exciting and jam-packed with sightseeing, listening and speaking Spanish, learning about Argentine customs and culture, and meeting new people on my program. My days were so full that I didn’t have too much time to be homesick (which for me is a very good thing).

Now, on to Mendoza!

 

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A Bumpy Beginning

Time August 1st, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Argentina | 1 Comment by

Since the day I found out that I would have the opportunity to study abroad in Mendoza, Argentina, I have been getting advice where to travel, how to dress, what classes to take, etc. Most of this advice has been sought out and welcomed (I am the queen of internet research). But apparently some of it didn’t stick…at least, the part about having everything packed and ready to go a day in advance.

Like I always do before a big trip, I procrastinated packing my bags until the night before. In fact, while I wrote the beginning of this entry (because obviously I procrastinated writing this, as well) my mom was in the next room reorganizing my suitcase so that everything fit. Read More »

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Hotsprings, Hiking, and Hangliding (and wine): One Heck of a Good Time in Mendoza

Time July 14th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Guys: traveling is so so cool.  I know this is not a new observation, and I’m sure that as humans we have been exploring and pushing the boundaries of our known worlds at least as long as recorded history.  But I’m finally discovering this feeling for myself, and it’s wonderful.  The bug is real (the travel bug that is), and after my most recent trip I’m already planning on how I’m going to scrounge up the funds for another adventure.  Maybe I’ll just become a wandering minstrel…

On this travel note, last weekend, I went to Mendoza with two of my best friends here: Ali and Morris.  They’re the best.  However, the timing wasn’t, considering the trip was planned for the weekend before all of my parciales (FINAL EXAMS), so my trip was going to eat into some pretty important study time.  But, since we were taking Omnibuses to get there, this meant had a 15 hour drive to hit the books.  

(Plus, now that I’ve finished all of my parciales, I would like to report that they went SWIMMINGLY.  This note is for you, parents)

Yet despite the small cloud of academic worry that hung over us, we entered the weekend with high hopes, and we were not disappointed.  Not in the slightest.  Mendoza was, though not as visually striking as Patagonia or Salta, the best place I have traveled to in Argentina.  I was in heaven.  

Mendoza is gorgeous, a mix between the Sierra Nevadas and Napa Valley with a hearty dose of the Andes Mountains thrown in.  The weather was absolutely perfect; mid-sixties without even a hint of anything less than sunshine.  Is it even winter here?  We hiked all around her foothills while breaking every rule that I’ve ever learned as a hiker (we didn’t bring enough water, we didn’t tell anyone where we were, we went slightly off-trail, and we had no real destination or plan on getting home).  We also paragliding off the summit of Cerro Arco, and spent an afternoon perusing the many parks, fountains, and a few of the art museums that the city had to offer.  

Mendoza is delicious; I had probably the one of the top 5 desserts in my life (a chocotorta, in a splendid restaurant called El Mercadito), as well as some delicious wines, salsas, and liquors.  One day, we did the popular bike-wine tour; we took a bus out to wine country, rented some bikes, and spent the day tasting some of Mendoza’s best offerings.  We went to big wineries (LaGarde), small wineries (Carmelo Patti), organic wineries (Pulmary), and places with everything in between (A La Antigua).  

Mendoza is tranqui.  For a large (9.5 million people live in the city and the surrounding area) place, Mendoza doesn’t appear overly bustling in massive.  People smile more than they do in Buenos Aires, and the city pretty much shuts down every afternoon for a siesta.  It was a winning combination of the exciting buzz of a metro area with the comforting feel of a smaller town.  We also took a day trip to the Cacheuta Hot Springs with some British friends who we met at our hostel, and it was a day of fantastic food, peaceful soaking, and striking views.  I couldn’t have asked for a better last day in Mendoza.  I couldn’t asked for a better trip to send off my time in Argentina.  

If you want more of Mendoza, you can check out some pics below.  They’ll tell you more than my words could.

Also, on a separate note, I couldn’t really have asked for a better hostel than Hostel Mora, the hostel that happily housed us in Mendoza.  (Cue shameless plug here).  Hostel Mora served us breakfast to-order every morning (fo’ freee), which included EGGS (something that they never serve for breakfast here, and I had been missing), dulce crepes, fresh fruit, and a variety of pastries.  But, in addition to that, I adored the folks we that we met and spent time with at the hostel.  There were Alex and Becca, an American couple who were traveling the world after Alex sold his startup company.  Nick and Charlotte were a British couple who had been traveling in southern South America and were freaks about soccer.  Remy was an Australian girl my age who had be traveling for the better part of the last 5 months on her own, and had just spent a few weeks in Brazil at the World Cup.  And, of course, best for last were Oli and Dan, a pair of best friends from London who were on a gap year in South American and became our best friends in Mendoza.  They were a hilarious one-two punch who are low-key social media celebs.  Between shenanigans in the hostel, a dinner adventure, and quality times with a waterproof camera at the hot springs, we certainly made some great memories together.  I hope that I can visit them in London one day. In my experience, hostel dwellers are by and large pretty cool, but these ones were the best that I’d met so far.  It made me want to travel more.  

Now, I’m back in Buenos Aires.  I survived my examenes finales, have fanatically supported the USMNT with random gaggles of Americans throughout the city, and am starting to get sad about leaving.  As of now, I have 5 days left in Buenos Aires.  What the hell.  Also, my summer job just fell through due to restructuring in the company I would’ve  been working for, so after this stint as a blogger ends I’ll be officially unemployed.  Looks like Craigslist is about to become my best friend. 

Keep it real, stay classy, and take care.  I’ll write again soon.

Dylan

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That Strange Country Called “Home”

Time February 14th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Of course, I bawled like a baby on the way to the airport…

 

(“Sorry I’m not very good company,” I blubbered to the taxi driver.

No, por favor. Llora tranquila,” he said. Please. Go ahead and cry. And then he handed me a pack of Kleenex, bless his heart.)

 

By the time I got settled on my plane, I was more or less done sobbing for Argentina and the people I left behind in it. But as soon as I saw the familiar lizard-printed carpet tiles in the El Paso airport, I started to have a mini-panic attack. Put me back on the plane, send me back!! It was amazing how unreal everything felt, though the places and faces were essentially the same as I had left them. And then I saw my mom and my little sister and started crying all over again because I had no idea what to do with myself.

 

In the car, it took me approximately 5 minutes to annoy my mother to death. I couldn’t stop pointing at everything out the window that I hadn’t seen in half a year: “Whoa, Chipotle Grill! We have one of those here! Oh man, and Carl’s Jr. too! Weird! Oh it’s so weird. I never noticed how big our highways were before! Oh, billboard in English—weeeeeeeeeeeeird.”

 

And I’ve stopped freaking out about it, but it’s still kinda strange. I don’t know if I like it or not.

 

Things I missed out on while I was away: Les Miserables, all the media flak about the school shooting, Hurricane Sandy, the release of that catchy Taylor Swift song, my little sister growing two inches.

 

Things I forgot existed and didn’t realize how much I’d missed until I could have them again: my mom’s red beans and rice, huevos rancheros for breakfast, bubble tea, Target, Reeses peanut butter cups, curry powder, free refills, unlimited texting, Pandora.com, Netflix, my kitchen, my bed, wall outlets that already fit my plugs and work perfectly without having to be jiggled around, Arizona iced tea, hot chocolate with marshmallows.

 

It’s safer here. I don’t have to watch my things quite as carefully. Oh, the things we Yankees take for granted!

 

And my dog gave me the best welcome home ever. He was just beside himself wiggling and jumping and running around the yard like crazy. I was so happy to see him it hurt.

 

And all of that’s nice, of course, but at the same time…

 

Where is all the neon, polyester clothing? The thick-soled sandals and beat up, Velcro closure sneakers? Why is there so much open space and no pedestrians?  Why is everything stucco, and where is my brick? Where are all the kioskos, the alfajores, the stars? Why aren’t there any boliches in SoCal suburbia? Why aren’t men shouting at me when I walk down the street? (Am I still a girl?) WHY IS EVERYTHING IN ENGLISH?

 

One of the strangest things for me has been speaking English to strangers. It surprised me just how weird it felt because I spoke a lot of English while I was in Argentina, especially in my last weeks… (oops.) But I realized that it was because English had become an intimate language for me, the secret language I shared with my tribe of loved ones, while Spanish was the public language. I never spoke English to shop owners, public officials, strangers on the street. Here, it’s the other way around.

 

Even the phrase “loved ones” seems to have shifted beneath my feet. It’s not that I don’t still love my old friends, but it’s been more of a process readjusting to them than you might think. Many of my friends studied abroad last semester, and like me they’ve also changed in many subtle ways that even they haven’t finished working out about themselves yet. Last night I had a conversation with one of my friends that went more or less like this:

 

“Why do you always have to do that?”

 

“It’s what I do! I’ve always been like that. It was never a problem for you before.”

 

“Well, now it is.”

 

We’re working on it.

 

As for the rest of my social circle… They’re eager to hear about my adventures, yes, but in a cursory kind of way. People keep asking me big, broad questions with too many answers like, “How was study abroad? Did you like Argentina? What did you do?” and they ask me in passing or in the elevator or in the lunch line. Okay, sure, let me just jam 5 months of life-altering experiences into a 5 second sound byte. No problem. I understand it’s not their fault necessarily—of course they don’t understand my experience if they’ve never been to Argentina, and how else are they going to understand if they don’t ask? But it’s still maddening.

 

A few of my old friends have been to Argentina, and every time I see them I can’t help but call out, “Che boludo, que onda? Como andas?” Giddy with the knowledge that they get it. They know what I’m talking about. I’m starved for Argentine slang and humor.

 

I found out that there’s actually an Argentine store within 20 minutes of my campus. I’m heading there with a friend tomorrow to stock up on mate and alfajores. I’m excited to share Argentine goodies with my friends and explain to them a bit about why these things are special to me. …But it’s not quite the same as breezing by a kiosko with my chicas and talking about our shared daily existence there.

 

…However, as much as I cried and stomped my feet and pitched a fit about leaving Argentina… I realized as soon as I hit the airport that it really was time to leave. I hate the fuss and stress of the airport, but I got a thrill from passing other travelers, overhearing snatches of their conversations, speculating what their stories might be. They could be from anywhere. For all they know, I could be from anywhere, going anywhere. And even better: I remembered that, hey, I’m young, I’m strong, I’m savvy. I CAN go anywhere.

 

I can do anything that I want.

 

The last thing I did in Argentina was to buy myself one last legal drink. (Mostly to get rid of the last of my Argentine pesos.) Turned out it was from Mendoza—nice surprise. :)

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I did a silent cheers to Argentina, to Buenos Aires, to the people I met, to airports, to travel, and most of all…to myself. For all the things I’ve learned and accomplished. For all the things I will learn and accomplish.

 

I had my adventures, I had my fling, and I think I did both of those al maximo. There’s still a big wide world out there, and it’s time for me to get back to it.

 

I’m thinking next stop is India. Japan. Israel. Maybe Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand.

 

Quien sabe?

 

Thanks for reading, everyone. Happy travels.

 

Previous Posts

  1. Antes de que me voy  (Before I Leave)
  2. Host Families and Fun with Public Transportation
  3. “Are You the Girl with the Blog?”
  4. Playing Tourists in Buenos Aires
  5. Looking Good, Mendoza!  
  6. A Detailed Guide on All Things Micro 
  7. Trip to Las Termas
  8. Daily life in Mendoza
  9. Habia una vez en los Andes… 
  10. Night of the Soccer Game 
  11. Road Trip! 
  12. My Mate for Life 
  13. Ringo vs. Chuck Norris 
  14. Pros and Cons 
  15. CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!
  16. Philosophical Moments in Neuquen
  17. Cordoba and Oktoberfest
  18. Some tips about Hostels
  19. Student Life in Mendoza
  20. Trabajo Voluntario
  21. San Rafael
  22. The Chicas Take Chile
  23.  Soaking up the Last of the Sun – Mar del Plata
  24. The Return to BA
  25. Un Repasito
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Un Repasito

Time February 14th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

When I set off for Argentina, I had a short list of goals. I’d like to take a moment to look back at how I did during my 5 month stay.

 

Visiting the family in Buenos Aires—check.

Visiting my friend in Neuquen—check.

Visiting my roommate in Chile—double check.

 

Hiking in the Andes definitely happened. I took it a step further and climbed up to a waterfall in the Andes.

 

I didn’t get a whole lot of writing done, but I did do some. Finished a few poems (and even translated an old one into Spanish) and did some work on a few short stories.

 

I found multiple Argentine friends to do music exchanges with me, and now I’ve got so much music in Spanish, my poor iTunes library doesn’t know what to do with itself. 1/3 of my music is in Spanish now!

 

Meeting interesting people? Duh. (I should’ve set more challenging goals for myself!)

 

As far as cooking goes, I learned how to make empanadas, flan, and torta de chocolinas; got a recipe for homemade noqui from my host mom; and ate a whole lot more.

 

I think the only thing on my list that I didn’t accomplish (and then some) was tango dancing…and I realized very quickly in the program that a) it didn’t actually interest me that much and b) it’s not a Mendoza thing anyway, it’s a Buenos Aires thing. However, I did learn how to dance a couple different types of folklore, under the light of the moon no less!

 

And I accomplished so many more things that weren’t even on my list:

 

I got drunk for the first time. I had my first kiss. I learned how to ride a bike. I learned how to ride the subte in Santiago and the buses in Mendoza. I watched the sun rise over Mendoza with three girls I love. I watched the sun rise over Rio Plata with someone I didn’t love but definitely liked a lot. I was mistaken for an Argentine. I was mistaken for a Parisian. I traveled alone. I hung around on the beach on both coasts of South America. I’ve rejected jerks in three different languages, and I know about a zillion new Spanish words to explain to them how big of a jerk they are. I danced in the rain, under the moon, in the middle of the street, in a bunch of different clubs, with my chicas, with a drunk friend, with strangers, with old men, with nice guys. I marched to the casa del gobierno in a protest of 10,000+ people. I watched Charly Garcia perform live in Plaza de Mayo. I learned how to sand board, how to find my way in an unfamiliar city, how to take tequila shots, how to speak Spanish in the voseo, how to file an insurance claim, and how to river raft.

 

…Plus a whole bunch of other things I don’t have words for and I don’t want to try to explain.

 

And I made some of the three best friends I’ve ever had. Friends for life.

 

I could spend months talking about all the things I didn’t do–there’s so much to do and see in this little world of ours. There really is. But, ultimately, I made the choices that mattered to me, and I don’t regret any of it. Even if I didn’t get to see every major attraction, I made it count for the ones I did see, and I made a connection to each place I was, each moment. If nothing else, I have a bunch of excuses to return, no?

 

I learned what kind of life I want to lead and what kind of person I want to be: the kind who sees more to the world than just my backyard and the things that directly affect me. I want to travel, I want to learn, I want to explore, I want to challenge myself. I want to be the kind of person who can go with the flow and lets life show me what I can get out of it in the moment rather than only relying on plans and lists, because
a) plans fall through. Then what?
b) Sometimes the things you think you want aren’t the things you really want or need when the moment arises.

 

And I’ve gotten a little closer to becoming that person.

 

Argentina has definitely made me a stronger, more secure, more relaxed, happier person. And I even learned some Spanish along the way. Bonus prize. 😉 Of course, I’ll be bringing home a whole bunch of physical baggage from Argentina (CAN’T HAVE ENOUGH MATE), but the most important things I take home with me are the ones you can’t see or touch. And no one can take those things from me.

 

It’s so interesting to look back on myself pre-study abroad and see how much I’ve changed and grown. And I think it’ll be even more interesting to look back on this point in my life after my next adventure. :)

 

I’ll end with a quote from my infinitely wise and occasionally, secretly sentimental friend Lorri:

 

“Study abroad is not about studying. It is and forever will be about LIFE. And life is what you do and how you handle things when you plans go to ever-loving crap. Focus on living in the moment, because nothing else really matters. The purpose of life is being as happy as possible with each little moment, whatever that moment may consist of. The bottom line is that happiness begins and ends with YOU!”

 

Write it down. Learn it. Embrace it. Live it.

 

Study abroad? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

 

El ultimo vocabulario

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Dejate llevar – Let it take you. (Go with the flow.)

 

Previous Posts

  1. Antes de que me voy  (Before I Leave)
  2. Host Families and Fun with Public Transportation
  3. “Are You the Girl with the Blog?”
  4. Playing Tourists in Buenos Aires
  5. Looking Good, Mendoza!  
  6. A Detailed Guide on All Things Micro 
  7. Trip to Las Termas
  8. Daily life in Mendoza
  9. Habia una vez en los Andes… 
  10. Night of the Soccer Game 
  11. Road Trip! 
  12. My Mate for Life 
  13. Ringo vs. Chuck Norris 
  14. Pros and Cons 
  15. CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!
  16. Philosophical Moments in Neuquen
  17. Cordoba and Oktoberfest
  18. Some tips about Hostels
  19. Student Life in Mendoza
  20. Trabajo Voluntario
  21. San Rafael
  22. The Chicas Take Chile
  23.  Soaking up the Last of the Sun – Mar del Plata
  24. The Return to BA

 

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The Return to Buenos Aires

Time February 13th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Today I’ll be talking about:

I. Buses (again) and public transportation

II. Mi familia Argentina

III. Receta: Torta de Chocolinas / Chocotorta

IV. My Buenos Aires

V. Musica

VI. Vocabulario

VII. Previous posts

 

I. Buses (again) and public transportation

 

When I arrived in BA late on a Thursday night, I was greeted not only by my cousins but also by the two staples of the Buenos Aires weather forecast:

1)      Rain

2)      And okay it’s not really weather, but it can be as intrusive and unpredictable: the subway operators and bus drivers were on paro, strike, meaning that my bus was not able to actually enter the bus terminal and I got dropped off on the median near-ish the terminal.

 

(Keep in mind that I had in tow all of my worldly possessions, all 80-something pounds of it.)

 

It all worked out without too much trouble, and within a few minutes I was able to meet with my cousins, who drove me home to their apartment. But all the same… nothing says, “Welcome back!” quite like rain and paros.

 

On the drive to the apartment, I began to realize exactly how expansive the city is. It just keeps going!

 

Two of my buddies were made fully aware of the city’s size with a sort of rude shock: the taxi from their hostel to my apartment was a whopping 100 pesos. To compare, the most I’d ever paid for a taxi in Mendoza was only 30 pesos. Ouch!

 

Clearly, that wasn’t feasible. That left us with the buses… My cousins were kind enough to leave me with not only a bus guide but also a bus card with about 30 pesos on it. However, one look at the bus guide made my brain want to crawl away and huddle in a corner somewhere. There are SO MANY buses. So, we had a bit of an adventure trying to figure out where we were going and how to get there.

 

And, surprise, surprise, the buses are slightly different here than in Mendoza. There are 3 different rates depending on how far you’re traveling, for one. The bus drivers are more impatient (which I hadn’t realized was possible.) I almost got squashed by the doors of one bus because apparently I was too slow getting on. Jeez.

 

By the end of that day, I was angry at the city. I felt cheated by my lack of understanding of its inner workings. I hated needing to cling to a map like any other Yanqui tourist yuppie. I had learned everything I needed about Mendoza, Valparaiso, and even Santiago by myself with hardly any effort—why was one city suddenly so terrifying and mystifying to me?

 

We finally did figure it out just fine, and I managed to successfully take not one but two Buenos Aires buses in one day by myself, and we got back in time for dinner with the family. (Though the bus ride took over an hour. Good lord.)

 

All in all, I was left feeling very grateful that I hadn’t been living in the capital for the last 4 months and very homesick…for Mendoza.

 

II. Mi familia Argentina

 

However, it’s hard to mope and feel homesick too much when you’re surrounded by family.

 

First of all, let me explain how I ended with family in Argentina that I had never met before coming here:

WWII Lithuania wasn’t the safest place for a Jew to be, so my grandpa left for New York. His brother went to Uruguay, settled down and had a family. (Leaked over into Argentina a bit, obviously.) His daughter is my second cousin. Her son stayed with my dad for about 4 months when he lived in California; they were about the same age. I’m staying with his two oldest children, Camila (20) and Mariano (26), but he also has a 3 year old and a set of 6 month old twins.

 

In spite of my misgivings about the city itself, I knew I had found “home” again when I entered my cousins’ apartment. They’re artsy semi-hippies just like me! They’ve got this great dining room table that they recovered themselves with newspaper comic clippings. Magnets made of old keyboard keys. And they drink actual tea, the kind that you strain through a small metal net, not the kind that comes in a package.
img_3882   img_3883
We’re pretty distantly related when it comes down to it, but we still have some of the most important things in common and we’ve gotten along very well. I’m so grateful that I’ve had the chance to meet them and that I get to claim them on my family tree!

 

In addition to showing me around town and hanging around the apartment together, I’ve had a few fun get-togethers with my family.

 

The first was dinner with the chicas (minus Lisa, who was in Chilean Patagonia, but obviously with us in spirit.) Mariano grilled up the best meat we’ve ever eaten and then played us some songs on his guitar. I was so proud to show off my chicas and their amazing Spanish that puts mine to shame and to show off all my nice cousins. We talked late into the night on Mariano’s dad’s balcony, looking up at the stars. (Stars in the middle of the biggest city in Argentina—say what?)

 

Since Ale and Lorri left the country a week before I did, we had a sort of sleepover/packing party at the cousins’ departamento so that we could spend one last night all together. “Welcome to our hostel!” joked Mariano.

 

I still cannot believe their generosity.

 

About a week later, I brought by another Yanqui friend that I met in Argentina to meet the family. We thought it would be a quick, “Hi, nice to meet you, bye, we’re going to Tigre now!” But little did we know that the family was throwing a despedida lunch for Mariano, who was leaving for Spain the next day. To their surprise, my Yanqui friend ended up swooping in and taking over grilling duties. “They didn’t believe me when I said I knew how to do an asado!” They also didn’t believe me when I said he wasn’t my boyfriend, but that’s another matter.

 

Asi que this apartment has been the place where all the pieces of my heart came together.

 

I also had the strange but nice experience of sharing the holidays with my Argentine family. Mostly the strange part was that it was so hot that I was dripping sweat, we drank cold drinks (or just sucked on ice cubes), and swatted mosquitos. And yet much of the holiday imagery is borrowed from us, like the tree covered in “snowy” tinsel. We drove out to the provincia for Christmas dinner with…my um… cousin-in-law’s (?) family. Lots of people I didn’t know, which was also weird. There were mountains of food, of course. Pionono, matambre , ensalada rusa, and (very atypically) turkey.

 

Around midnight, the neighbors started up with fireworks. (Cue the babies crying, haha.) Then we all got up to give besos to everybody at the party and wish them a merry Christmas. I think I would have thought it was cuter if I hadn’t been so hot that I didn’t want to be touched. After that, they carried the presents out of the house and put them under the tree in the backyard. By this point, my one glass of champagne and the heat had done some gnarly work to my system, and I curled up in the hammock under the tree to take a little mid-party nap. (Tee hee hee.) I was woken up when one of the kids brought my present to me from under the tree, which I hadn’t been expecting. The cousins had gone out and bought me one last reminder of Argentina’s bizarre fashion sense:

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My very own swag pants. Awesome.

 

III. Receta: Torta de Chocolinas / Chocotorta

 

For our family Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) dinner party, my cousin and I made a simple, classic Argentine dessert: torta de Chocolinas (or chocotorta.)

 

As my cousin Camila said, “Chocotorta will never let you down, because it’s easy and it doesn’t have to be pretty or neat.”

Plus, it’s delicious.

 

Ingredientes:

Cream cheese

Dulce de leche

Chocolinas chocolate cookies

Milk

Optional: cinnamon, liquor, chocolate milk powder, vanilla extract, fruit garnish, etc

 

(However, I could imagine some delicious variations with ginger snaps, oreos, thin mints…or any type of cookie, really. Not sure what you’d use as a substitute for dulce, though. Perhaps chocolate? Coconut cream? Pumkin? Lots of fun possibilities, and I’m really excited to play with it a bit.)

 

Metodo:

First, combine dulce and cream cheese in a bowl. (This is to taste, but I think you want a higher cream cheese to dulce ratio.)

 

Next, fill a shallow dish with milk and whatever additional seasonings you want. Soak the cookies in the milk until they are soft but not mushy. You want to take them out just before they start to fall apart and lose shape.

 

In a casserole dish, alternately layer cookies and the dulce/cream cheese mixture. (The bottom layer should be cookies, and the top layer should be dulce/cream cheese.) Garnish with crumbled cookies and/or fruit. Put it all in the fridge or freezer. Serve cold.

Bam.

 

IV. My Buenos Aires

 

Even though I was still in same old Argentina, I felt like I was in a different country than the one I had been in all semester. The architecture of Buenos Aires is very distinctive, for one. It’s also easier to find “Americanized” restaurants, products, and English-speakers, which was all very weird to me.

 

Possibly most importantly and most strangely, Buenos Aires has been the circuit breaker between my life in Argentina and the life I’ll return to back home, between Yona and Paloma.

 

Maybe it’s because I’ve had it in mind this whole time that I’m about to leave. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been hanging around with a guy who has central AC and peanut butter in his apartment. But as soon as I got here I started forgetting tiny, strange details of the Argentine social norms that I know so well and have been using every day all semester. Trying to shake someone’s hand instead of giving a beso. Saying “Gracias,” after being handed mate. What the heck, Yona? It’s not like I don’t know these things.

 

It reminded me of the moment when I realized our Mendocine friend, the IFSA secretary, who the chicas and I tried to emulate in many ways… wanted to be a Yanqui in many ways. We’re trying to be Argentines, who are trying to be Yankees, who are trying to be… So, who’s who anymore? Which identity am I trying to assume?

 

Buenos Aires definitely zigzags back and forth across that line into the blurry gray middle zone too, but it’s still uniquely Argentina. With all its quirky crazy charm.

 

Since coming to Argentina, I’ve seen 3 different faces of the famous downtown Plaza de Mayo: I’ve seen it on an afternoon when the madres de los desaparecidos marched and called out names of their missing children. I’ve seen it at Very, Very Late O’Clock packed with people and choripan vendors, the Casa Rosada alive with flashing lights and live music, for Dia de Dependencia. I’ve seen it decked out for Christmas, with the lush lawn trimmed down and a tree made of recycled materials covered in tarp.

 

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But to me, none of those images represent Buenos Aires. Maybe they should. But my Buenos Aires was a bit off the beaten path, which is just how I like it.

 

I spent the majority of my time in barrio Agronomia, which isn’t exactly central.

 

(The hour+ bus ride meant that I didn’t venture out to the microcentro very often.) Luckily, Agronomia was much more my speed. I had a great time getting to know the neighbors, doing my own grocery shopping and cooking, and pretending that I lived there on that street shaded by hibiscus trees.

 

I will also always think of Buenos Aires as my romance city.

 

I’m still not sure what I want to say about it, but I feel like I need to say something because it was definitely a part of my experience in Argentina. An important one, I think, and a big change for me.

 

However, this is the one area of Things You May Encounter on Study Abroad that I can offer you exactly no advice on. (And who can?) I can’t tell you how to find love. I can’t tell you how to avoid love. I can’t tell you what to do or how to handle it when it’s time to go home. I can only tell you what my experience was.

 

The first pieces of advice everyone in Mendoza gave me was
a) Get an Argentine boyfriend so I could practice my Spanish
but
b) don’t fall in love with an Argentine because he would only break my heart.
Gee, thanks guys. Well, it turned out that none of the Mendocines I met were really my style, so I avoided that problem all together. However, I did meet an American man…

 

Before I left the US, I joked a whole lot about all the men I was going to meet and hook up with in Argentina. But I didn’t actually expect or necessarily want that, and I definitely didn’t see my little fling coming. He wasn’t the type of guy I thought I should be looking for: older, military, American. It was sheer dumb luck, but I don’t think I could have picked a kinder guy to hang out with, and I think it was something I really needed. I had my first real dinner and movie date. We went sailing, a first for both of us. I learned how to kiss. I think I learned a lot of useful things about myself, men, and relationships, but I’m still too emotionally tangled in everything that happened to be able to process it all yet.

 

It lasted about a week all together…and then we had to go our separate ways. He was the last person I said goodbye to before I left for the airport. (And I was almost late because of it. Oops.)

 

“I don’t want to leave,” I whimpered through my tears.

 

Ever the pragmatist, he replied, “I think your experience of the past week has been very different from mine…” Referring to the break-in of his car two days before Christmas and the ensuing paperwork quilombo.

 

“Okay, so I don’t want to stay in Argentina forever,” I admitted. “But I still don’t want to leave…”

 

So my heart broke—colossally, spectacularly. But I’m so grateful that it all happened, and if I could do it all over I don’t think I’d change a thing. And the Yanqui and I are still friends.

 

For those of you who find romance on your study abroad, or wherever you are, that’s the least I could possibly wish for you.

 

V. Musica

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I believe this will be the last time I share music with you guys, so we’re going out with a bang: 2 good bands for the price of one!

 

The cousins introduced me to Onda vaga

(My favorite song starts at 5:02. The comments list each individual song and let you skip between them.)

 

The love interest introduced me to No te va a gustar.

(And here are the lyrics for this particular song.)

They’re from Uruguay, but their musical style is very much like Argentina rock nacional.

(Other good songs: Chau & Memorias del olvido.)

 

Here’s hoping these guys keep you dancing through your day and whatever your next adventures may be.

 

VI. Vocabulario

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Mellizos – fraternal twins

Flequillo – bangs (hair)

Despedida – farewell

Chorro – (slang) thief

Fuegos artificiales – fireworks

Hamaka – hammock

 

VII. Previous posts

  1. Antes de que me voy  (Before I Leave)
  2. Host Families and Fun with Public Transportation
  3. “Are You the Girl with the Blog?”
  4. Playing Tourists in Buenos Aires
  5. Looking Good, Mendoza!  
  6. A Detailed Guide on All Things Micro 
  7. Trip to Las Termas
  8. Daily life in Mendoza
  9. Habia una vez en los Andes… 
  10. Night of the Soccer Game 
  11. Road Trip! 
  12. My Mate for Life 
  13. Ringo vs. Chuck Norris 
  14. Pros and Cons 
  15. CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!
  16. Philosophical Moments in Neuquen
  17. Cordoba and Oktoberfest
  18. Some tips about Hostels
  19. Student Life in Mendoza
  20. Trabajo Voluntario
  21. San Rafael
  22. The Chicas Take Chile
  23.  Soaking up the Last of the Sun – Mar del Plata
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Soaking up the Last of the Sun – Mar del Plata

Time February 12th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

My last adventure with the chicas (minus 1) was to take a relatively short journey to South America’s east coast for some sun and sand.

We’d been researching (sort of) this trip since November, and everyone told us that we should go to a smaller beach town, like Pinomar to avoid the summer hordes. Of course, Latin American life intervened in our plans to plan, and the actual structuring of this adventure took place mostly two days before it happened. Typical. So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we had some major trouble booking rooms and transportation. First the usual mess with phones, saldo (pre-paid minutes), and sluggish internet connections. Then, when we finally got the info we needed, we couldn’t believe how pricey the hostels were! Fate and dwindling bank accounts pushed us to Mar del Plata. Although it had been the furthest thing from our intentions, it ended up being a good thing.

The bus to Mardel was about 4 hours, with nice views. Getting back to the campo after hectic BA life (more details on that later) was a real breath of fresh air.

Our first adventurous act was when we decided not to take a taxi to the hostel like most tourists would. No way. We’re traveling pros. We knew by then how and whom to ask. So we took our chances with the bus, even though we’d never set foot in the city before and had no idea where the buses would take us. It was an epic success—we aren’t just awkward outsiders, we’re media Argentinas! The #112 bus dropped us off within a block of our hostel.

Our hostel was the cutest place, by the way. It felt more like a hotel than any other hostel I’ve been to. The staff loved us, and it was the first time I really felt like I was on vacation. And with two girls I adore—who could ask for me?

Mardel had a Mendoza-like vibe because it was quiet and there were convenience stores scattered everywhere… but of course with that classic beach town feel. We liked it right away.

The section of the beach we hung out on was in a bay, which was a new experience for me. The water was so calm with so few waves, you could lie on your back and just float, watching the clouds go by. I was so relaxed I felt drunk on it all. We lived like children: we ate and slept. Rinse, repeat. It was a welcome break from the “real” world.

I loved being able to strut around in a bikini and a t-shirt knowing that my friends at home (and even other friends abroad) were bundled up in layers at that moment.

I managed to sunburn one half off my butt. Moral: ALWAYS USE MORE SUNSCREEN.

Get yourself a good scarf: in a pinch, you can use it as a sarong, shirt, sun protector, emergency stuff sack, and a beach blanket.

We spent one night climbing on the rocks on the far side of the beach. We sat in shared silence and contemplated infinity, the lights of the city dancing on the water like fireflies. Nearby, a couple fishermen sat doing the same. It felt so right for all of our adventures, challenges, emotional swings, and frustration to end in a moment of such deep peace.

All the same, it was hard not to think how close we were to the end of this moment in our lives.

I wanted to feel the sand under my toes, so I headed up the beach alone. The chicas caught up with me later, and I said,

“Oh look. A message in the sand. We had better read it before the waves come and wash it away…”

Some things are more beautiful because they’re impermanent.

As usual, I left everyone else behind and went back to BA early to take care of some other business. (I had originally intended to visit family in Montevideo but it turned out to be more time-consuming and expensive than I had anticipated. Next time!) Settled back into the city…and started bracing myself for some difficult goodbyes.

Previous posts

  1. Antes de que me voy  (Before I Leave)
  2. Host Families and Fun with Public Transportation
  3. “Are You the Girl with the Blog?”
  4. Playing Tourists in Buenos Aires
  5. Looking Good, Mendoza!  
  6. A Detailed Guide on All Things Micro 
  7. Trip to Las Termas
  8. Daily life in Mendoza
  9. Habia una vez en los Andes… 
  10. Night of the Soccer Game 
  11. Road Trip! 
  12. My Mate for Life 
  13. Ringo vs. Chuck Norris 
  14. Pros and Cons 
  15. CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!
  16. Philosophical Moments in Neuquen
  17. Cordoba and Oktoberfest
  18. Some tips about Hostels
  19. Student Life in Mendoza
  20. Trabajo Voluntario
  21. San Rafael
  22. The Chicas Take Chile
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The Chicas Take Chile

Time February 11th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Today I’ll be talking about:

I.            Chile at a Glance

II.            Santiago

III.            Valpo again

IV.            Reñaca

V.            Concon

VI.            Life After Chile

VII.           Vocabulario

VIII.        Previous Posts

 

I.                   Chile at a glance

 

My friends had been planning to visit Chile in November all semester. As much as I wanted to be with them, I resisted for a while because I was afraid of missing out on other travel opportunities. I was dying to travel north to Salta and Jujuy. Unfortunately, I never had the chance. Weather and conflicting travel plans meant that I’d probably die of heatstroke and be doing it alone, so I decided to shelve that trip for another day. I finally decided that Chile was probably worth revisiting, especially because I hadn’t had a chance to do everything I wanted to do the last time. It turned out to be a very, very good choice.

 

It felt really nice to go back. I’m glad that I was able to spend enough time there that I understand a bit of the culture and slang and I can laugh at the jokes that Chileans and Argentines make about each other.

 

After spending a decent amount of time in Chile, I feel like I can say a few things with confidence:

 

-Chileans are terrible at giving directions. Just terrible.

-Chile has cuter cafes than Argentina…but less outdoor seating.

-It has better bread than Argentina, but fewer varieties of alfajores.

-The buses are easier to use

-Clothing is cheaper and more “Americanized”

-It’s a pretty neat place.

 

Someday in the future, I’d like to visit Atacama and Patagonia as well. But for now, I had some fun adventures where I did go.

 

II.                Santiago

 

 

First stop was the capital.

 

I think if I had to live in South America, I’d like to live in Santiago. It’s surprisingly clean for being so large, and it’s got nice parks. It’s got a little of everything, in fact.

 

A week earlier, one of my friends had a piojo mishap (it’s much more common in this part of the world), so we decided that we needed to visit the (in)famous bar, La Piojera. They’re best known for a drink called the terremoto, which is wine + pineapple ice cream. (We also had grenadine in ours.) Worth trying. Even if you don’t want a drink, La Piojera is worth visiting just for the atmosphere. It’s dark and crowded inside, bodies pushing up against you from all sides, and the furniture is vaguely reminiscent of a medieval pub. But the cool thing about it was that you were equally likely to see, a group of preppy girls, a pair of novios, kids who were barely legal to drink, and someone’s grandma all in this one place.

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On the way back to our hostel after exploring the city, my friends and I caught the after-work rush hour. Unlike Mendoza, there is no siesta in the middle of the day, so the work day ended much sooner than we were used to. The result was being jammed like sardines onto the subway—and I was very nearly smashed in the door! Luckily, we all made it with all of our limbs attached. Call it part of the adventure.

 

Valpo Again

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Returning to Valpo was another kind of homecoming. It was the coolest thing to be able to show my friends around and explain how things worked—I really had learned a thing or two on my last visit! Even better, I loved that my chicas, those crazy girls I love, also loved the city I loved.

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We attempted and failed to go to La Sebastiana—the only one of Pablo Neruda’s houses that I didn’t visit. We got distracted by the city and by each other. It was a fair tradeoff, I think.

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One night, we indulged in a luxurious seafood dinner (as opposed to the cheaper version) in Valpo. Quote of the night:

“What’s in this cake!?”

“..MAGIC.”

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IV.             Reñaca

In Reñaca, we went sand boarding. I think it was 2500 Chilean pesos ($5 USD) an hour to rent boards, but that could be completely wrong. It was cheap—I remember that much. And it’s no small wonder: there’s no “board rental establishment,” of course. There’s a lady with a truck and boards in the back. The dunes themselves are plenty big—we were higher than the ocean fog, so we look like we’re in the clouds in all of our pictures. The bottom of the biggest dune was rimmed with old tires—you know, for safety. (Right…)

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One thing you should know: the sand is really, really hot going up. Don’t be tempted to go up barefoot.

 

If you’re expecting snowboarding but with sand, don’t even bother. We had a blast because we were being goofy and laughing at each other, and for us it was very worth it. If you want real adventure sports, go hang-gliding or something else.

 

After that, we bused back down the coast to Viña for lunch and the beach.

 

When we asked people for directions for good places to eat, they directed us to the piers along the coast. …Silly. What restaurants we saw were way too expensive (there were tablecloths and the waiters wore ties, man). There were also churro stands (dipped in chocolate, full of dulce, or both), but that didn’t do it for us either. We ended up walking about 8 blocks inland, where we found the absolute best empanada stand.

 

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The dough was delicious—fried or baked were available. The fillings included everything from corn to mariscos to beef and back. One of mine was full of machas, clams.

 

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Then we did beach things.

 

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When we arrived on the beach, we met up with my US roommate and some other friends from the program that had come with us. Our program friends were getting to know Chile’s alcohol selection. (We did our own thing, being amused at them from afar.) That was all fine and funny until
1) The drunk folk got sunburned
2) Someone’s backpack was stolen

 

It was obvious we were Americans and that they were drunk, so it was an easy target for one Lucky Chilean who made off with $200 USD, an American passport, a photocopy of the same passport, an Argentine visa, and our friend’s ego.

 

Everything worked out in the end, but I think it never hurts to have a few WARNINGS AND REMINDERS on that front:

 

-Never carry important documents in your backpack

-Don’t leave your important documents unattended (or in the care of drunk people)

-Keep your passport and the copy of your passport separate

-If you do any of those things and something bad happens as a result…don’t panic

-Contact the program director

 

V.                Concon

The next day, we went back up the coast to Concon beach to search out a horseback riding excursion. We found the stalls but no horses. Apparently it happens every day of the week…except the day we chose to go. Doh. I feel like it was a Monday or a Tuesday. Try to check beforehand with the hostel, and good luck.

 

We still had a nice time soaking up the sun and talking about our lives. And then, before we knew it, it was time to leave for our next adventure…

 

VI.             Life After Chile

 

Chile was more than just a beautiful place to visit or another adventure for us. It was an anchoring point in our friendship in a very Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants kind of way. For a weekend, Valparaiso was ours.

 

On the bus to Reñaca, with a world of color and chaos whizzing past us, we made a promise to ourselves to return someday to this beautiful part of the world. Together. We decided what we want to do with our lives, that we are unstoppable, that we really do mean that much to each other.

 

I won’t even try to explain, because that moment belongs to us, but it was a big deal.

 

Back in Mendoza, finals came and went like the blink of an eye. Then it was time for me to pack my bags for Buenos Aires…and for the chicas to go our separate ways. Lorri and Ale would be meeting me in BA for a few days, but Lisa was off to Chilean Patagonia for a few weeks of backpacking with her sister. Before we split up, there was one last thing we had to do. There’s a bridge in Parque San Martin, and we closed a love lock around the rail. One key we kept, and the other we tossed into the lake. The lock will remain in Mendoza, one of many tiny symbols of our life there that we left behind, until we return together to reopen it. To end with a bang, we had a party on Lisa’s balcony with the last of our pisco sour from Chile. It ended with us sobbing, of course. Beso’d Lisa goodbye and her tears were on my face. And, because we’re the cheeks, our crying turned to laughter as we made our way down the street back to my house, arms locked.

 

Separate, but connected.

 

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For all the Chile pictures (because I took approximately TOO MANY of almost anything that held still long enough), look here and here.

 

  1. Vocabulario

 

Botilleria – convencience store

Macha – clam

Cabalgatas – horseback riding

 

  1. VIII.       Previous Posts

 

1. Antes de que me voy  (Before I Leave)

2.  Host Families and Fun with Public Transportation

3. “Are You the Girl with the Blog?”  

4. Playing Tourists in Buenos Aires

5. Looking Good, Mendoza!  

6. A Detailed Guide on All Things Micro 

7. Trip to Las Termas

8. Daily life in Mendoza

9. Habia una vez en los Andes… 

10. Night of the Soccer Game 

11. Road Trip! 

12. My Mate for Life 

13. Ringo vs. Chuck Norris 

14. Pros and Cons 

15. CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!

16. Philosophical Moments in Neuquen

17. Cordoba and Oktoberfest

18. Some tips about Hostels 

19. Student Life in Mendoza

20. Trabajo Voluntario

21. San Rafael

 

Coming Soon:

The Return to BA

Mar del Plata

Goals Revisited

Culture Shock and Life After Study Abroad

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San Rafael

Time January 7th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I don’t think I actually have too much to say about San Rafael, except that it was a good time, a great program excursion, and I have a  lot of great memories from that weekend. I also took a TON of pictures, and I think I’ll let them do most of the talking this time.

 

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The cabins we stayed in + garden

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“Beach”

 

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Hike

 

We also went rafting, but for obvious reasons I didn’t bring my camera for that. The river was pretty mellow, but our guides made up for it with their humor and mischief. (Splash attacks on the other boats, etc.) Also, one of my chicas threw me in the river, which definitely woke me up.

 

For some reason, this seems to be a pattern with us. “Yona, drink this! Yona, kiss this guy! Yona, jump in the river!” And each time I back away kicking and screaming, but end up doing it anyway. Some craziness ensues…and I end up being glad I did it.

 

So I guess the moral of today’s story is never be afraid to jump into the river.

 

Previous Posts:

1. Antes de que me voy  (Before I Leave)

2.  Host Families and Fun with Public Transportation

3. “Are You the Girl with the Blog?”  

4. Playing Tourists in Buenos Aires

5. Looking Good, Mendoza!  

6. A Detailed Guide on All Things Micro 

7. Trip to Las Termas

8. Daily life in Mendoza

9. Habia una vez en los Andes… 

10. Night of the Soccer Game 

11. Road Trip! 

12. My Mate for Life 

13. Ringo vs. Chuck Norris 

14. Pros and Cons 

15. CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!

16. Philosophical Moments in Neuquen

17. Cordoba and Oktoberfest

18. Some tips about Hostels 

19. Student Life in Mendoza

20. Trabajo Voluntario

 

Coming up soon:

The Chicas Take Chile

Mar del Plata

The Return to BA

Goals revisited

The Return to “Home”

 

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Trabajo Voluntario

Time January 4th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

(Volunteer Work)

One really nice thing about the IFSA program was that they provided opportunities to give back. Trust me, when you’re in a developing country, you’ll be dying to try to help somehow. There’re a lot of problems to be fixed. And, of course, it’s another great way to practice Spanish.

Choices:

  • Recording books in English for blind people studying English literature at Cuyo
  • Knitting blankets
  • Children’s shelter / food collection
  • Environmental workshops with elementary school kids

(And I think there might have been some others, but I can’t remember now.)

You know me by now. Guess which one I picked?

 My experience:

It was time-consuming, like another class. You had to be dedicated because you not only had to wake up early but also because some sessions and initial set-up took precedence over class.

I had an opportunity to travel, but I couldn’t accept it because it conflicted with other plans I had at the time.

My job was basically to give a presentation to a group of kids, like any other Spanish oral presentation for class. Kids were fun to work with. They were very curious about us and where we came from. Hard to understand, but fairly forgiving with our Spanish.

So all in all, it was an interesting and challenging experience. And, when it went well, it was also very rewarding.

 

Another IFSA student and the NGO director strategizing near the soap-making supplies

Another IFSA student and the NGO director strategizing near the soap-making supplies

Kids making soap out of recycled cooking oil

Kids making soap out of recycled cooking oil

Another IFSA student ready to answer kids' questions!

Another IFSA student ready to answer kids’ questions!

 

All of my posts:

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

Read about students who study abroad on one of IFSA-Butler's programs

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Student Life in Mendoza

Time January 2nd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Today I’ll be talking about:

I. My classes this semester

II. A side note on making Argentine friends

III. General structure and organization of Argentine classes

IV. Vocabulario

V. Previous posts

VI. Coming soon

 

I. My classes this semester

 

First, let me tell you PLEASE DON’T STRESS ABOUT TAKING COLLEGE CLASSES IN SPANISH. You’ll be fine. Most of my classes were easier than my U.S. classes to be honest.

 

That said, classes here were definitely a source of stress at various points during the program. I had a professor I could not stand, I had miscommunications and misunderstandings, I was confused about exam dates or even whether I had exams… But it all worked out, and I escaped with a solid GPA. And as long as you go to class, communicate with your professors and the IFSA staff, and keep your chin up, you will too.

 

Two recommendations:

  1. When you try out classes, pay special attention to the professor. If your prof is uncooperative with foreign students, it’ll make your experience much less pleasant. Is your professor easy to understand? Are they boring as mud? Do you feel comfortable asking them questions? Etc.
  2. Unless your home university requires specific types of classes, don’t limit yourself to courses that fall under your major at home. This is a chance to try out a new subject and experiment—especially because the courses that do pertain to your major might not be what you’re looking for or expecting.

 

IFSA students can take classes at two universities in Mendoza:

-Congreso is private. Smaller classes.

-Cuyo is public. Bigger classes, more expansive campus.

 

I took painting at Cuyo and Sustainable Development (philosophy of environmentalism) at Congreso, plus the Spanish class and Regional Development (mostly economic history) with IFSA.

 

Painting was easily my most demanding class…which was really a shame because it was the one class I knew I wouldn’t get credit for at Soka. Not only was there a lot of work (5 large paintings in class plus 12 individual paintings of any size outside of class) but the professor was a bit difficult to understand. It wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t understand his words or his accent, but that he would say one thing and change his mind later. Oh and did I say professor? I meant professors, plural, because there were 3, and they would each give a different opinion. Oy.

 

At the end of it all, I got a 10/10 (probably mostly because I’m foreign. Doh) so all’s well that ends well. And I got some cool paintings out of it.

 

Still life painting from class

Still life painting from class

lisa in progress

Black and white landscape

Black and white landscape

still life zoom

still life zoom

dream deer

 

Sustainable development was neat because all of the class time was used for discussion, so I had the chance to hear about what people in my age bracket think about environmental issues in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Brazil. …Frustrating because, surprise, surprise, the poor organization of both countries’ governments makes it difficult for them to make change in the way that the U.S. has. (Although most environmental movements out there are modeled after the U.S.’s movements.)

 

What I didn’t like about it was that there was only one grade: an oral exam. No way to gauge beforehand how the professor was going to grade, no way to make it up if you messed up. I did okay, but not as well as I wanted. Moreover, I was disappointed by how abstract the material was. There was no way to apply any of it. What little concrete information there was I already knew from previous classes in the U.S. So, I’m not sure how much I really got out of it other than a few interesting conversations.

 

I was bored silly by Regional Development, to be honest, but I think that was probably the class I learned the most in. I probably would have been better off taking some kind of Argentine history class though. The real problem here was that, although there was a “shopping” period to test out the main section of this class, the “concentrations” within the course didn’t start til later in the semester and so there was no way to preview them. Let’s just say that if I’d had the chance to preview my concentration, I would not have sat through a semester with that particular professor.

 

I really wanted more grammar, writing, and vocabulary from the Spanish class, but there was lots of verbal and listening practice. We also read a whole bunch, which also provided a cultural context.

 

Basically, I’ll tell you that if your goal is to become fluent by the end of your semester abroad…you’ve got to do a LOT of work beyond your classes. The best thing you can do is to avoid the other Yankees in the program and seek out Argentine friends.

 

II. A side note on making Argentine friends

 

And now I bet you’re thinking, “Well, duh, Yona. That was my intention.” Ojo, buddy, because it’s a whole lot easier said than done. First of all, you’re going to be naturally inclined to befriend IFSA kida because a) you’ll see them all the time. Program events, classes. You might even live near them. b) You share a cultural context with them, so you naturally have more in common and more things to talk about. c) Spanish is harder and potentially scarier, and English-speaking friends are a safe zone. If you’re not taking a language pledge of some kind, you might find yourself speaking English without even meaning to just because it’s so much easier and because, gosh darn it, you KNOW full well that these guys speak English better than Spanish.

 

So, be aware that there’s a lot you’re working against in that department and there are a lot of other things to distract you on study abroad, especially if you choose to travel a lot. It’s not all about language and making Argentine friends.

 

That said, it can be done. Here are a few tips to help you out in this department:

 

  1. Be tenacious! It’s not going to be easy, so you’ve got to really want it!
  2. Attend as many cultural events as possible. Get involved in the community. These are the kinds of events where you’ll be likely to meet people you have things in common with and an excuse to talk about them. (Plus be able to actually hear each other, unlike in clubs.) One of my good friends was a music junkie, and she made a couple of good friends at folklore or dance events.
  3. Try to talk to one new person every day or every week, especially towards the beginning of the program. The more you talk to people and put yourself out there, the easier it will be. Just go for it.
  4. Smile! Even if you’re nervous or uncertain of your Spanish ability, as long as you’re friendly and sincere…who wouldn’t want to be friends with you and learn more about you?
  5. Join a study group for class!

 

Now for my confession: aside from my host sister, I didn’t become very close with any Argentines. Sure, I talked to them. I was friendly, I went to cultural events… But I didn’t click with anyone. I didn’t have time to make connections because I had so much else going on! Part of the problem was also that it was very easy to get attention from men… but they didn’t really want to be FRIENDS, if you catch my drift. The women tend to be more standoffish.

 

However, if given the chance to trade my 4 chicas yanquis for some Mendocine amigos… there’s no way I’d do it. I think everything worked out the way it needed to this time around.

 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

 

III. General structure and organization of Argentine classes

 

See what I did there? It’s funny because there’s not much of ANYTHING in Argentina that was structured or organized!

 

Some of my classes were cancelled so many times that I almost forgot I had them. Either the professor didn’t show up or there was a paro (strike) or there was a Monday feriado (holiday.)

 

And, of course, there’s almost never a syllabus. The professor might talk about assignments and never give them. Or vice versa—announce an assignment with very little notice. Essays are much less common than in the U.S. Most of the learning is about memorization of thought, not so much critical thinking.

 

Sorry Argentina, but I’m definitely ready to go back to the college education I’ve become accustomed to, where syllabi are organized and followed to the letter, where final exam dates are clearly announced ahead of time, where grades are posted and calculated online, where the professor always shows up on time, where I have to use my entire brain….It’s been an interesting experience, but I think I’ve had enough of that for now!

 

IV. Vocabulario

 

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Paro – strike. Might be the professors themselves or might be the buses and public transport. Both can result in a class being cancelled.

Trabajo practico – Assignments, more or less. Homework. May or may not be an essay.

Promocional – Classes in which students who attend all class sessions and complete all trabajo practico don’t need to take the exam.

Parcial – midterm

 

V. Previous posts

1. Antes de que me voy  (Before I Leave)

2.  Host Families and Fun with Public Transportation

3. “Are You the Girl with the Blog?”  

4. Playing Tourists in Buenos Aires

5. Looking Good, Mendoza!  

6. A Detailed Guide on All Things Micro 

7. Trip to Las Termas

8. Daily life in Mendoza

9. Habia una vez en los Andes… 

10. Night of the Soccer Game 

11. Road Trip! 

12. My Mate for Life 

13. Ringo vs. Chuck Norris 

14. Pros and Cons 

15. CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!

16. Philosophical Moments in Neuquen

17. Cordoba and Oktoberfest

18. Some tips about Hostels 

 

VI. Coming soon

Trabajo Voluntario
Rafting in San Rafael

Chile Part II
The return to BA

Mar del Plata

Goals – accomplishments and compromises

Reverse culture shock

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