Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Una Semana de Familia

My parents arrived in Buenos Aires three days ago.  I still haven't gotten to writing about Cordoba because any time I'm not in class, I'm out with them.  Tomorrow, though, they're going to Colonia del Sacramento on their own, so I might have a few minutes to write a little something.

ALSO, I've been having problems with Flickr so my pictures are not up to date.  I'm thinking about photobucket or something like that, so stay tuned.  Otherwise you can see most of them on Facebook.

Hasta luego!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lessons Learned

I don't remember which number I left off on, and I don't feel like fighting with the Internet to go back and check, so let's call it...

#5. Mate: delicious, energizing, comforting, but does not help you focus.  Exhibit A: me, drinking mate; the pile of homework next to me that I've been "working on" since I woke up four hours ago.

#6. Everyone in Buenos Aires has a dog.  EVERYONE.  I've observed this since I got here: dog-walkers with packs of leashed dogs of varying breeds, dog crap all over the sidewalks (yeah, everywhere).  But today I saw a few paseaperros with easily 18 dogs in tow.  Some big, some small, but all walking in perfect formation.  And whenever the walker/owner stops in a store or a cafe, they tie the dogs outside, where they all wait calmly, staring at their person until they return.  I've even seen dogs not tied up, sitting outside the pharmacy just waiting for their person.  They're really well-trained in that respect.  It makes me miss my stupid, crazy dogs.

#7. Punctuality is nonexistent.  Professors roll into class twenty minutes late and don't seem to mind if you do the same; meetings don't really have a start time; 10:00 means 10:15...convenient when the colectivo is running late, but annoying when you arrive on time and have to wait.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ya No Soy Turista!

Last week was busy.  Actually it was just Wednesday that was really packed, which was compounded by the fact that I went out on Tuesday night (knowing full well how many things I had to accomplish in the next two days!).  So I got home Wednesday morning at 3:30 (bad decisions, bad decisions, bad decisions), slept for a few hours before getting up and going to Immigration: not nearly as scary as they made it sound; we only had to hand in paperwork and wait for them to process it.  And it cost half as much as expected!  Also on the list of things to do: buy tickets for Cordoba, register for classes, hit a few fotocopiadoras to get some readings, read said readings, go to a bookstore to buy books for a lit class, and buy tickets for Eric Clapton, who's coming in October (the one thing on the list that I am still unable to check off).  Oh, and I almost forgot.  Our room-swapping plan was rejected, since USAL suddenly decided all of the U.S. exchange girls had to be rooming with a native Spanish speaker instead of each other.  So I still get to move to Katia's room, on the condition that we speak in Spanish rather than English, but Callie and Katherine have to move to another floor.  I don't understand why USAL didn't issue this decree before we all settled into our rooms?  Maybe before we arrived?  I'm excited to finally have a roommate, but I'm not excited to be moving into the third room I've had since arriving here.  I'll be happy tomorrow night, when I'm all settled in for good (I hope...)

So last Wednesday and Thursday marked the end of our trial period with classes, and we had to finally register.  I actually had no trouble: I knew exactly which courses I wanted to take, and I'm pretty excited about almost all of them.  My history class is a bit dry, but that's to be expected, I suppose.  I'm taking two political science classes: History of the Political Processes and Ideas of Argentina, and of Latin America.  I'm also taking an Argentine lit class, and a Spanish course that is a seminar of the History and Culture of Tango.  The first day I tried it out, it completely intimidated me (not hard to do), but after last week, I love it!  It's fascinating material: cultural history, not the economic data and dates and presidencies of my other history class.  And it's a very small group: I think we're going to end up with only three people registered, so it's intimate and surprisingly easy for me to participate, something that's usually absurdly stressful for me.  I'm excited for the semester.

Thursday night Maria and I left for our second trip: Cordoba!  It was an incredible weekend, which I'll be glad to recount tomorrow.  Like last time, here's a quick overview:

  • Days away from Bs As: 3
  • Nights in hostel: 2
  • Nights on overnight bus: 2
  • Different hostels stayed in: 1
  • Mind-blowing meals: 3
  • Number of doors that stuck, making me think I would be stuck in a bathroom forever: a shockingly high 3
  • Churches visited/viewed: +/- 5
I think that'll do for now.  Pictures and details to come.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Up Ahead

I suddenly have a bunch of things to look forward to.
  1. The most obvious: my parents' arrival in less than two weeks!
  2. A trip to Cordoba this weekend with Maria and possibly Katia
  3. An Eric Clapton concert in October-- for about US $50
  4. Possibly seeing The Strokes in November, just days before I head home.
  5. Heading home is in itself something to look forward to, though I won't be counting the days or anything.
  6. A visit to Loyola in November!
Another possible reason for my current excitement level?  I drank a lot of mate today. 
...I'm never going to fall asleep.

Comienzo del Cuatrimestre

For the first two weeks of the semester, exchange students were allowed to try out classes to see which ones they wanted to take.  Tomorrow begins the third week of classes; we have to register by Wednesday, and I'm still not 100% certain.  The goal is to achieve a balance of extranjero and regular classes (extranjero classes are designed for exchange students) as well as a schedule that leaves Fridays and/or Mondays free for traveling.  I was surprised to find that two of the classes that interest me most are political science classes.  Aside from that, I'm looking at two lit classes, a history class and a Spanish class about the history/literature/culture of tango.  It's been interesting finding all the different buildings-- most USAL students take all of their classes in one facultad, or department, but since we can pick and choose we have to go to various facultades-- and meeting new people and seeing what kind of things we're going to be doing in classes this semester.  And with every class, you have to go to different kioscos and fotocopiadoras to get photocopies of the reading material: a bit of a hassle finding them all, but so much cheaper than textbooks that it doesn't matter. 

On Thursday the exchange office organized a get-together for exchange kids and anfitriones (host students) at a bar a few blocks from our residence.  I arrived late, as I was coming from a class that ends at 10:00 (absurd).  When I got there, though, Callie confirmed my suspicions by telling me that yes, Maria was here and she was with her anfitrión (Germán) as well as a friend from home.  Claudio, who Maria and I both know from Loyola, had come to visit Germán and was there at the bar.  There's something so exciting and comforting about seeing someone from home.  We ended up going out with them and a few more of Germán's friends and had a really great night.  In the time since I last wrote an entry, I've also hit a couple of well-known clubs in BA: Club 69, which, on Thursday nights, has an absolutely wild drag show, and Asia de Cuba, which I've been to once before, a place that always makes you feel like a super VIP (especially when you're on "the list" thanks to the girls from the Resi!).

Friday we met up with Claudio again and visited MALBA, the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (pretty sure that's the acronym), which was really nice and something I'd been meaning and wanting to do.  Saturday Katia and I went for a walk and hit all the major sights of Recoleta: the flower sculpture, the cemetery, the fair-- things we've checked out before but are always worth a second trip.  And today will consist of a great deal of reading and some planning for a possible trip this weekend.  Maria and I were looking at Mendoza, but it's looking more expensive and less necessary than we'd thought.  Not sure where we'll end up, but you can bet I'll be writing about it.  And by the time the next weekend rolls around, our parents will be arriving for their week-long stay.  Time is FLYING.  Less than three months till I'm back in the U.S.-- absolutely unbelievable.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Destination 4: Rosario

Let me see how many descriptive phrases I can stick together to describe Rosario.  It's like this cool, laidback, indie, semi-hipster, stellar little city about four hours northwest of Buenos Aires.  Maria and I arrived there Tuesday morning.  For the first hour or so, we walked up and down streets looking for our hostel, but realized that we had a bad map and the bus hadn't dropped us off where we thought it had.  So we grabbed a cab.

The hostel we stayed in was called Che Pampa's.  Rosario is the birthplace of revolutionary icon Che Guevara; his face and name are everywhere.  The place was really cool.  It was an old rowhouse, refurbished and redecorated.  It was all bright colors and cool music (I was geeking out when I heard The Strokes and The Black Keys within ten minutes of each other) and a great view off our little balcony.  We just needed to drop our bags, shower, and change our clothes before we headed out on the town.  We didn't have solid plans for Rosario: we had read about a few museums and the monument to the national flag, so we figured we'd check them all out.  What we didn't read about was all the shopping.  We left the hostel, bound for the flag monument, but within two blocks we were distracted by a peatonal (pedestrian street, like Calle Florida in Buenos Aires) lined with stores.  We saw dozens of shoe stores with the same beautiful boots we'd seen in Bs As, only here they were actually affordable!  Suddenly our mission in Rosario was for each of us to find a pair of boots.  For me, it was the first pair I tried on:

Maria had a harder time.  Three or four pairs, two or three stores, but she finally got hers, too.  After we finished, we walked down to admire the flag monument for a while.

Then we went down by the water, got hot dogs, and snacked for a while, enjoying the sunlight and the people-watching.  That's what I'm going to remember most about Rosario, I think: the peacefulness.  It was decidedly urban, especially in comparison with the other places we'd been in previous days, but it was not Buenos Aires.  It didn't have that hurried feeling of chaos.  It was so nice.  Any time not spent shopping here was spent sitting in a relaxed, sort of pensive silence.  As it got near sunset, we went back to the hostel for a bit.  We met some people-- a girl from Holland and a girl from Argentina-- and watched a movie before heading back out for dinner.  We went, of course, to another excellent pizza place.  Afterward we went to the movies.

Wednesday morning, our bus was at 11:00.  We checked out of the hostel around 10:00 and grabbed a cab.  We had full-reclining seats and meal service again, despite the short duration of the trip.  When we got in at Retiro, we started walking up Avenida del Libertador, looking for a stop for the colectivo 61.  We never did find it, and actually ended up walking all the way back to the Resi.  It wasn't terribly far, but I think next time we'll make sure to look up how to get home before we leave the city.

So, there you have it!  My first major traveling excursion in Argentina.  FIN.