It’s A Beautiful Day.

I decided it was only appropriate to broadcast my current emotion through song, considering I’m still a high school theatre kid at heart who will always wish their life were a musical. Today I would have danced down the sidewalks if it were appropriate and socially acceptable. Then again, I will always look like a foreigner no matter how good my Spanish becomes so I suppose I could have gotten away with it.

Today was a beautiful day. After a slow morning of learning about the education system in Argentina, a small group of us headed across the street for lunch. For 15 pesos (between 2-5 US dollars, depending on how you exchange your money) I enjoyed a delicious sandwich con jámon y queso. Simple, but SO good. So far, I have loved every meal in Buenos Aires – from the steak and wine to the pastas, pizzas, and breads, to the hundreds of delectable tortas, tartas, and goodies covered in dulce de leche.

Since fellow international student, RJ, and I had two hours until our academic meeting at 3pm, we decided to wander around the city, aimlessly meandering down different streets. Our FLACSO program center is located in Recoleta, which happens to be fairly close to Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world. It has up to 7 lanes with the obelisk standing intimidatingly in the middle. During our exploration, we stumbled right next to it.

Avenida 9 de Julio, as seen from an airplane's view.

Avenida 9 de Julio, as seen from an airplane’s view.

Buenos Aires 9 de julio nocturno

Next trip, I’m visiting at night. It’s clearly magical.

On our way back across the large avenue, we took a slightly different route to figure our way back to FLACSO. Within seconds, we pleasantly arrived in a small park that was surrounded by gorgeously old buildings (including the Supreme Court and Teatro Colón). I also spotted the subway line I take across the road, further proving how easily I could return to this quaint corner of the city. It may be “winter” here, but the sun was shining and the 50 degree weather wasn’t unpleasant in the slighest. Cue “Beautiful Day” to this moment.

Later, RJ, Haley and I decided to grab a bite to eat before heading home. It was a little early for a merienda*, but we went to a café for coffee and treats anyway.

*Lesson #1 on Major Differences Between Argentina and Los Estados Unidos
Meal times.
Although Argentines will wake up and eat breakfast (fruit, bread, coffee) at the same time as Americans, their days last much longer in terms of meals. Lunches appear to be of a normal size, though on occasion can definitely be more substantial meals.

Dinner is normally served anytime between 9:30 to 11pm. It was very strange at first, but I’m quickly adjusting to this new dinnertime. Obviously everyone becomes hungry between 1pm and 9pm, thus merienda. This is a light meal in the late afternoon (5 -7pm), which usually includes coffee, tea (or mate) and a sweet snack such as a cake or pastries.

My only regret today was not bringing a camera. I’ve been cautious due to all the potential pickpocketing, especially since I ride the subway every day usually during rush hour (8- 10am and 6-8pm) which gets CRAZY busy – perfect for un ladrón. Tomorrow I plan on taking full advantage of my obvious foreigner appearance and snapping photos like I’m rocking a fanny pack and can’t speak a lick of Spanish.

There is already so much more I want to share and reflect on so far, but I’ve decided against overloading my readers with too many posts just yet. But hold on to your hats, folks, it’s going to be a crazy, wonderful ride 🙂

Primeras Impresiones

It’s the end of Day Three en la ciudad grande de Buenos Aires, but it certainly feels like I’ve been here much longer. So much has happened that I still don’t know how to summarize it properly into a single blog post.

For now, here is a sampling of my study abroad experience thus far via thoughts that have run through my head.

1. I’m going to throw up.

2. “I think I’m gonna like it heeere!” (Sing to the tune of that Annie song)

3. The city is around the size of Germany? How will I POSSIBLY see it all?!

4. Café con leche y torta at 6pm BEFORE our 9:30pm dinner? Yes, please.

5. My host sister is studying culinary arts, particularly desserts and pastries. Hello, Study Abroad 15.

6. Dear fighting/crying couple en el subte. You are two inches away from my face. I wish I knew what this emotional moment was all about. P.S. Sorry for staring.

7. Ayyyy no entiendo, lo siento.

8. I miss home.

9. Ohmygosh. I understood every palabra that came out of su boca. WINNING.

10. Our 3 year old dog, Enzo, reminds me of a young Sandy. And my sister, Luisa, wants to call me Rach because it’s easier to pronounce. Oh, the comforts of home.

11. I want to take photos of every single building; the architecture is incredible.

12. Carne y vino tinto for dinner. I’m a happy, happy camper.

13. I spy four seasons of Lost. We must bond over this soon, familia.

14. Walking around an Argentine supermarket. Hearing Killing Me Softly in English from the speakers is oddly putting me at ease.

15. The combination of my fried brain due to language struggles and my mix of contradicting emotions has made me one awkward cookie. Apologies to those who experienced my inability to socialize as usual. Flashbacks to 3rd grade, April? Perhaps I will always be initially shy at heart.

Surprisingly enough, I’ve already had moments of homesickness, which is very out of character for me. I barely even flinched when moving away for college or visiting foreign countries without my family – I’ve always adapted quite well to new places and people. The language barrier has definitely put me more out of my comfort zone than I’ve ever been before, but I know that with time this current challenge will be incredibly rewarding. I can only imagine how fluent I will become five months from now, considering it’s only been three days.

More to come soon. There is so much to be said about my awesome host family and the many opportunities available through the FLACSO program and in the city. Plus we have an awesome group of students in our program. Now that I’ve conquered one solo trip on the subway traveling home to my barrio, all I want to do is take public transportation and explore new parts of this beautiful city.

Five Months. Two Suitcases.

I am  officially six days from final departure. The anxiety is setting in. I will not set foot on American soil for five whole months. The concept is still daunting. Then again, I get to trek around an exciting Latin American city and finally accomplish one of my life goals: becoming fluent in Spanish. So yes, the nerves will be more than worth it in the end.

I’m currently in the middle of The Packing Extravaganza. Whenever I set out to accomplish a cleaning/packing/moving task, I get aggressive. I am on high speed mode for a solid 20 minutes, before needing to break for sixty seconds on my bed to recharge. I don’t need any coffee for this endeavor. It’s all adrenaline filling this ball of energy. Even with nice air conditioning drafting through the house, I still feel like I’m running through this 90 degree humidity, so I collect myself before I overdose on dust fumes or cramp up from folding clothes.

Here’s a bit of my progress so far.

packing.  Spanish books

JJJ

I’m pumped with my recent purchase of combat boots, because they are all the rage in Argentina. Tons of women rock them on the daily, so I figured it was only appropriate that I do the same. Plus they’re versatile and will be great for the winter months I’m jumping into.

Unfortunately, I have to pick and choose what I bring with me. Besides clothes and toiletries, I’m bringing my laptop, camera, and a few photos from home. That’s it. Internet access is all I’ll need to bring me comforts of home. Skype, Facebook, and the many photos saved on my computer will be my venues for missing home binges.

argentina shirt

Sorry, but I think I’m just going to stick to the soccer jersey.

See you later, US of A.

The Final Countdown

Hello friends and family!

It’s almost here! My five-month adventure in Buenos Aires, Argentina begins in just two short weeks. After my first trip out of the country five years ago, I realized how much I could learn and grow as a person by traveling abroad. Once I started exploring new cultures, I never wanted to stop. I’ve been blessed to receive the opportunity to visit the Dominican Republic three times, along with trips to Greece and India.

Now it’s time for my longest journey yet in the “Paris of Latin America”. Everyone has been asking me if I’m nervous or excited, (both, of course) but these are the understatements of the year. Every night in June, I lay awake letting my worries cover me in such thick blankets that I’d wake up sweating and anxious. Okay, so part of that might have been this humid New England summer weather. But even so, the idea of my first true city experience, pickpockets and confusing bus schedules and all, along with a new culture of people, places, foods, and expectations (not to mention the constant language barrier) was quite overwhelming when all pieced together. Thankfully, the thrill of this new challenge has officially set in and I practically shimmy in my seat right now realizing how soon I will be leaving.

Not only will I be living with a host family and taking academic courses through my study abroad program, but I will also be conducting my Lumen Scholar research while in Buenos Aires. My summer has consisted of reading scholarly books on feminist movements in Latin America and looking more closely at women’s impact on the history of Argentina – particularly after the 1970s Dirty War and how organizations such as Las Madres de La Plaza de Mayo have influenced the state of the country today. I’m excited to begin researching and observing women’s organizations in Buenos Aires and share my findings through this blog a bit as well. 

I have high hopes for this semester and am keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t get incredibly homesick until late November. Every day will be new and exciting, with full potential to get lost in the city and stumble on a perfectly hidden café or meet the inspiring Argentine women that march at the Plaza every Thursday. All I have left to do is pack my life into one suitcase, prepared for both winter and spring weather, and print those boarding passes!

¡Listo o no, aquí vengo Buenos Aires!