Today roughly marks the date when I set off for Argentina a month ago. WOW. I remember days before leaving, how extremely nervous I was, and in my anxiety, I was questioning whether I should actually leave home since I wasn’t very confident about my Spanish. I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle homesickness; after all, I’d lived in the Boston area for 10+ years AND Brandeis is only minutes away from my hometown. And yes, I’ve traveled before, but this would be the longest and farthest I’d be away from my family and friends. I kept wondering how I would make it five months. BUT looking back now, I can’t emphasize how extremely relieved I am that I’m here. And while I’m at it, I’ll stress again how Mendoza is the place to be It’s essentially the outdoor lover’s dream. The weather is beautiful, palm trees line up the sidewalks, gorgeous parks, inviting flower gardens, and best of all, everything is walking distance! (So far I’m refusing to take the micro/buses until it gets cold. And I’m proud of myself for not needing my map anymore!) With all these things, it’s impossible to feel homesick or stressed out. And that’s another point I want to make (although I think I’ve emphasized it before): I haven’t felt this relaxed in so long. The culture is to live and enjoy life; and so, I’ve been able to shed the stress I’ve always accumulated during the past semesters.
This past weekend was my 21st birthday and St. Patrick’s day, so needless to say, there were celebrations The streets were so packed it was hard to find a place to sit down!
On a different note, I went to my first class at UNCuyo yesterday. My friend and I each wrote down the times and names of five classes we wanted to check out before committing to a set schedule. Once we got to the building of the first class, we had to locate the wall that contained information regarding professor names, class hours and locations, and office hours. We were slightly frustrated that the times of all five classes had drastically changed. Furthermore, the classrooms were hard to find (we wondered if there were multiple classrooms with the same number), and I felt more unsure about what my schedule would look like….for example, I wanted to take an art class but every art class is around 16 hours a week. Since I only want to take it for fun and not as an art major, I’m not quite sure I’ll follow through. Anyways, we entered a class about 10 minutes late (oops), and I could immediately sense EVERYONE watching. Which was weird to us, since there was a continuous stream of students coming in the room (AND leaving, darting right past the professor!)! Someone even came an hour and a half late to the class (I wondered why she would bother coming). We tried to blend in with the class and take notes, but it was hard because the professor proceeded to ask us where we were from, and any time US was mentioned in conversation, he pointed toward us. As if we needed more attention….-_- I thought I imagined the stares, and the curious glances, but my friend confirmed that we actually weren’t. Maybe it’s because we were wearing bright colors. No se.
But I can honestly say that I was relieved. First off, the professor told us he had experience with international students and spoke pretty slowly, so we were able to understand roughly 80% of the lecture. Second, the material was interesting and the other students seemed pretty nice/interested in the class and in us. So I guess it was okay…..but after class, we were told to buy photocopies of the syllabus (programa). Seeing as we had 2 hours until our next class, we went to the photocopier, but the cashier told us there weren’t any syllabi. Confused, we then went to find the professor, and when we couldn’t, we decided to just recover from the class outside, but just as we were about to leave, a Johnny Depp look-a-like professor quickly approached us and INSISTED (VERY STRONGLY) on helping us and wouldn’t leave us alone until he located our professor. So basically, our professor walked us down to the photocopier, reassured us (at least, that’s what it sounded like, at this point I was so exhausted that my brain was refusing to operate at 60mph translating and spitting out Spanish), and directed us to a (very cute) classmate who spoke English and helped us out. It was a long day.
To be honest, the experience made us miss the school system in the US. Yes, they don’t take attendance here and in a lot of ways it’s easier to get away with things and not to be studious, but in the US, powerpoints would be posted online, all registration and academic information would be easily provided, and everything is very organized. I think I wasn’t expecting myself to have to exert so much energy in finding classes, figuring out my schedule, and operating on my own…..since everything in the US is a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong; I am very capable of acting independently, but it was hard to be independent with no information available, if that makes sense. But complaints aside, I’ve only been to class once, and it can only get better, right?
*Fall is coming to Mendoza! The air is definitely getting slightly chilly, but I’m still loving the weather! I had to keep telling myself it’s FALL, not SPRING, since I’m in the southern hemisphere.
from top to bottom: San Martin Park/acequias, aka “gringo traps”/lake/beautiful sky