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

under the mendocinian sun

Time March 9th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Bienvenidos a Mendoza!

It’s been a while since I last posted! So many things have happened in just 15 days! It’s really hard to believe that only two weeks ago, I was at the airport anxiously counting down the minutes for my flight to Buenos Aires!  After a wonderful two days in the capital, we flew to Mendoza on the 25th to meet our host families. During the entire two hour flight I remember trying to figure out some basic phrases I could say, but I fell asleep; and within minutes,  my heart was racing as I was pushing the cart loaded with my bags at the airport in Mendoza, greeted by smiling faces who were all holding up each of our names. My host mom was extremely welcoming and had the patience to speak very slowly with me so I could understand everything. Her daughters are also very generous and the house is wonderful! Arriving in Mendoza made me finally realize that I’m actually in Argentina for a semester, trying to integrate myself as a Mendocinian. In a lot of ways, the adjustment has been both much easier and harder than I expected. For one thing, I’m falling in love with the patio outside my window, the pack of small dogs that follow me down the street when I leave for class, the endless rows of palm trees, the beautiful parks, excellent weather, and the friendliness of the people. I also can’t get over the vivacious energy of Mendocinians: I can feel the excitement at bars and boliches even on Monday nights, the happy family picnics I see frequently when I go for runs at San Martin park, and how the people are constantly relaxed and know how to live life.  But at the same time, speaking Spanish 24/7 has been a challenge. While at this point, I’m comfortable enough to initiate conversations with my host family and no longer afraid to ask for directions on the street (no longer getting lost!), I also realized how much I have to learn. Classes at the University start in two weeks, and although I’m nervous, I’m ready for the challenge and excited to make more Argentine friends. 

Everything is passing by like a whirlwind and since I can’t describe everything, here are a few pictures below to describe my life so far!

Here is a brief video about the Vendimia festival. I apologize for the shakiness, for some reason I really couldn’t hold still!

I also apologize for the order. From the first picture: Mendoza sign at Plaza Independencia/palm trees/a scene from the Vendimia Festival/Vendimia parade on San Martin street/the Andes/man made lake at San Martin Park/IFSA love/Vendimia stage 1/Vendimia stage 2


here comes the sun!

Time September 18th, 2008 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I saw my shadow today!  I was sitting on the grass in front of the cafeteria eating Leah´s avocado and then there it was, right next to me, right where it used to be all the time…until I came to study spanish in Lima.  It´s winter here now, which instead of meaning snow or rain or freezing temperatures just means GREY.  Since I got here about a month and a half ago (wow) I´ve seen the sun in the city for an hour or two at a time, on maybe four different days.  It should start to get better soon as we get closer to summer, and I can´t wait!

The kind of amazing thing is that it´s just Lima that´s like this;
when we went to Caral a few weeks ago the sun was beating down on us as we toured the ruins. As we rode the bus back into the city we could tell we´d made it back when we no longer had to squint our eyes to see out the windows.  Even in certain outer areas of the city there´s sun a lot of the time.  Unfortunately, where I hang out it tends to be pretty grey.

So today was exciting!  In an effort to take advantage of the weather, I decided to find a quiet space and read a bit on the grass after lunch.  Obviously that didn´t happen…how could I read when I was busy being deliriously happy with the feeling of the sun on my shoulders?  Leah and I ended up playing catch with a small orange for a good half an hour…and it was surprisingly amusing, especially when it bounced off my head or hit a building and split open and then squirted juice everywhere (don´t worry Whittemores: I´m not wasting fruit, it was already bruised and moldy when we started :] ).

Anyway, when I´m not experiencing sun-induced regression to childhood, what do I do with my life?

I spend a lot of it at La Católica, the university, and a lot of it on public transportation trying to get there or back.   The university is completely closed off from the street, and I have to show my ID card to get in every morning (I feel so official!).  The street outside is really busy and dirty, but inside is very nice and green and pretty.  It´s not like Brown or other traditional US universities with big brick buildins around a main green…it has lots of small buildings connected by paths and walkways through green lawn areas.  The buildings mostly are designated as belonging to a facultad, which is like a department (math, social sciences, etc), and tend to look pretty different from each other.  There are a bunch of cafeterias scattered around that are named after different areas of study, but since I don´t belong to a particular facultad I just eat at the one that I think is the best, which is right in the middle of campus.

Católica doesn´t have dorms on campus, since most students still live with their parents while they´re attending school.  In between classes the students either go to a library, a study room, a cafeteria, or hang out on the grass (my place of choice).  It´s great because there are always people around, and it´s not a huge campus so I can usually find someone I know if I want to wander around long enough. the bad part of it is that all the couples have nowhere to go to do their couple-y things, so sometimes my favorite reading nooks are occupied by people who…well, people who aren´t reading.  Less frequently I come across another interesting thing about la Católica–the deer that live and roam around freely on the campus.  It´s said that they escaped from the zoo nearby a few years ago and now they make their home on campus.  I don´t know how many there are, but I see them every day, and occasionally even see one of the two little fawns…so cute!

Students here take two years of classes in the school of general studies, and then three years of study in their major in a particular facultad.  Since most of the classes they take are required and in a certain order, a lot of people have their classes with a set group of people every semester.  For example in one of my classes there´s only one student in the class who is not in the facultad, and almost everyone in the class is in their second semester of the major.  So they all know each other, which is definitely different than a lot of my classes at Brown, where I wouldn´t know a single person.

I´m taking 2 courses that are required by the IFSA-Butler study spanish in Peru program: a writing/grammar class and a class called “Peruvian Social Reality.”  Other than that I am taking one class in the school of general studies (history) and one in the language arts type facultad (sociolinguistics).  I also am sitting in on a class in the comunication department, but I´m not officially taking that one.

My classes are mostly really interesting, but I don´t find myself having to do much work.  That surprised me, since I was expecting to have reading to do, and to spend a lot of time on it deciphering unfamiliar Spanish words.  But it turns out some of my classes don´t have any reading, and the sociolinguistics class has a lot–in English!  While that´s good for my comprehension and general sociolinguistics-learning, it´s a little disappointing too, since any Spanish practice disguised as something else is helpful.

Oh well, it just means more time to play catch with fruit or nap on the grass in the sun!