Monday, August 23, 2010

First Week of Normal!

Yes it is! I have all of my classes figured out, which is why I haven't been posting anything--I've been running around Buenos Aires finding readings, classrooms, and schedules.

For two weeks we've been having workshops on Spanish. I found mine rather useless because they taught us how to conjugate in past tense (maybe it would have been good to learn this before enrolling in the southern hemisphere of Harvard, people?) but it was challenging for the kids in my class who were still working on...present tense. They kind of stress me out because I'm confused as to how they expect to pass their classes and/or function in a Spanish-speaking country.

So, for comparison, this was my schedule last semester. 21 credit-hours of ridiculous.

and this is my schedule for this semester. I have a class on Thursday, but it's a Spanish class through my program and it makes me really angry so I am going to pretend it isn't happening. Since I'm mature and deal with things well. It was originally at the same time as Literature and I was told I wasn't allowed to take Literature. After I'd missed two classes of Lit, my adviser emails me and tells me that maybe we CAN change it if I come in and ask nicely. He was super angry that I hadn't gone (but he said I couldn't take it?!) and told me that if IFSA was going to let me change my special grammar class I would have to go to USAL directly and plead for my life with them to let me take this class. And pretend that I'd been to filosofia and that my life wouldn't be complete if I didn't get to take that class as well.

The IFSA man made me agree that I was changing the Spanish class against their recommendation and then told me to take a different one that wouldn't conflict with my classes. (this was a lie and caused later drama.) Then I walked to USAL and, after sweating in the waiting room for 15 minutes, the exchange student representative looked at me like I was crazy and told me that of course I could take the classes, as long as I didn't skip any more and registered right away. (IMPORTANT NOTE! I am now the proud owner of an USAL email address: be jealous.) However, I couldn't register for filosofia. This concerned me a lot. The next day, when I went to ask where the classroom was, I off-handedly asked if I could register for the class or if I, as an exchange student, wasn't supposed to take it. This amazing woman named Carolina helped me register (which you aren't supposed to do, apparently) and found someone to literally hold my hand and walk me to my class. I was super late and sat, terrified, in the back of the room. We had a short break after which we called roll, and of course I wasn't on it. I had to announce that I was an exchange student (like it wasn't obvious) but the professor is super chill!!! I used one of my cool new Argentine words, which is apparently not very polite. I looked terrified when he explained it to me as using "son of a bitch" to a professor in English. But he said it was fine if I used it around him.

He is not very similar to my UBA professor. Pegoraro is his name. He very illegibly in chalk scribbles "turn your phone off" on the top of the board every class and flips out if he sees anyone using a phone. He yells about how he doesn't text during class, so we can't either. Argentine students do not like this at all. He is rather intense...and I am super glad to have such a funky professor!

AH I don't know what else to tell you about! Right now Aldo's sister Daniela is visiting from Montevideo. She is awesome and I am going to secretly be very sad when she leaves, because she is the only person that talks to me a lot--since she doesn't have tons of exchange students and I haven't been living with her for a month. UMMM maybe I'll make a post about the weekend later? It wasn't super exciting. I only did one culturally valuable thing. But pictures will make it more fun. SOON SOON SOON!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Aldo is my host dad. For the past week, my host mom has been in Uruguay dealing with some legal stuff. She is from Uruguay, so this isn't particularly crazy. At the beginning of this week, I was super terrified that Aldo was extremely bothered by me and that a whole week of the two of us alone would end with me sleeping in the elevator and subsisting off of empanadas and piropos.

This week I've learned that Aldo is not Argentine, or even from Uruguay, but is Italian. He's never bothered to naturalize, but also spends about equal time in Argentina and Italy. He's 77 and is an architect.

Aldo likes to watch TV. He's kind of on vacation right now I think...he loves watching the news. However, he absolutely hates every politician and is very conservative. I have yet to admit to him that I voted for Obama or that I like tofu. Every time they mention Obama on TelEspana (IDK why we watch this instead of like, an Argentine channel) he scoffs and complains about how little he's done. Maybe we don't watch Argentine channels because he would murder someone if he had to hear about Kirschner doing anything "good." Today there was an accident with this building and the announcer would say "we don't know if the victims are alive or dead." Aldo spent about ten minutes explaining to me that it wasn't that hard to check if someone was alive.

We also had a long conversation about the microwave. We were having a "pasta thing" for dinner (that's what he called it--it was a lasagna with spinach, slices of ham and...hard boiled it) and he told me I could microwave my portion, but there was no way he was going near it. He called it "the monster in the corner" and promised me that if it didn't have fire in it, he wasn't going to use it.

Last night I was heading to my UBA class. I had my backpack and was unlocking the door when he asked me "what's that thing on your back?" I stared at him, confused. He then informed me that the only thing I really needed for class was a notebook and a pen. He wouldn't let me leave until I'd put everything else in my room and then was like, isn't that better? it was awkward in a caring way.

This was also true of Saturday, when we aren't supposed to eat with our host families. He asked me if I wanted to eat with him and I was like, we aren't supposed to? He told me to fuck the law and offered it to me again. I told him I loved his food but i'd already made plans with everyone else who wouldn't be getting food. He told me that "it's better that way" in response to that his food was good.

In short, I'm really glad we've had this week to bond in silence, though I will be excited to see Cristina whenever she comes back and brings conversation into our lives.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jardin Japonesa

At the urging of our beloved hanchan, I'll make this post, but it'll be fast. Today we went to the Jardin Japonesa after a lunch of salami sandwiches, which are surprisingly/luckily popular here. We had to pay in cash, but that is always acceptable.

Then we went to the Japanese garden and walked around and made fun of all of the couples who are accidentally in our pictures. The PDA here is really intense--it's not that it's bad, it's just taking some time to get used to.

Now, because it's Saturday and my host family isn't required to feed me, I'm going to go eat cheap Chinese food from this lady whose Spanish is so heavily accented she could be saying practically anything. It's about 20$ a person, which is roughly $5. AMAZING, I know. Then we're going to go to a gay bar maybe. If we can find one we like, and we're bad at making decisions. So it might end up being another night of ice cream? Which I'm never against.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


So I didn't have internet yesterday, but it was okay because I didn't have class either. Apparently cancelling class on the first day is fine and conventional if you're from Buenos Aires. So I walked and walked all day and never went anywhere. I went to bed at 9:30 to confirm, yet again, to my host parents that I'm completely insane.

Today, despite the rain, we went to Tigre! although it is still a province of Buenos Aires, it was my first time leaving the city since I've been here! We took 3 trains to the end of their lines and then got off at a theme park. Because it's winter, it was closed. Practically everything there was closed, so we ended up going to a really expensive Parilla. However, it was super delicious and, coupled with the cute houses we had just blown by on the train, Katie and I have decided to definitely move to Tigre when we are rich enough to live in the middle of nowhere and train dogs. After the grand adventure of eating, we wandered around and looked at the ocean. Everything else was closed so we went and found the cheaper, less scenic train and fell asleep on the ride home.

Well, it's Thursday, which means free drinks for ladies night at my obviously favorite bar. Last time I made some interesting friends, so I am going to make a go of it again! Ciao!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First Day of Class!

Despite being sick of posting already, I figured I should start writing about current times as soon as possible so as to not let everything build up.

So today was my first day of class! It was at USAL, or the University of the Savior. My class was at 8am and I was fairly convinced that I was going to sleep through it. However, I woke up and was walking by 7! Since I had no idea where it was and figured it would be a bad day to be late.

And I wasn't! By roughly a half-hour, so I just circled the block a couple times until I saw other students go in. Then the security guard and I tried to figure out what classroom I was in. We got it wrong and I had a super-awkward conversation with this guy who kicked me out of the room. I
ran into a Korean exchange student, and we awkwardly talked about being lost. Then she helped me find this woman with a large binder who knew where the class REALLY was. The Korean girl and I kissed each other goodbye and I went and sat awkwardly in the classroom.

There were 2 other exchange students there! But the other 7 students already knew each other, so we stood out like black sheep caught on fire. The professor asked us to list what authors we liked from Latin American literature, and I just told her I'd never read anything in Spanish. So she thinks I'm illiterate. But the other kids in the class were very nice! They took us photocopying and will probably make adapting to the class a ton easier than they could. I got lost on the way home, but that's to be expected.

Afterwards, I went out with Morgan and Andrea and Katy to Avenida Florida to find the IFSA office and go shopping. Both of which were a fail, but we did find a Milka Cafe and got really cheap submarinos!

Submarinos are the coolest drink ever. They are a cup of really hot milk, and are served with a chocolate bar. You drop the chocolate bar into the milk and stir furiously, so the chocolate melts and you are left with hot chocolate! Sometimes the bar of chocolate comes in the shape of a submarine. We took the Subte home and I registered for my UBA classes! It was, overall, successful!!!

So I'll tell you more tomorrow?

Catching Up Part 2!

So I just finished Orientation. Most of it went like this:

I would walk to orientation at 9 am, and usually be late. But still early. They tell us that when boys ask us over to their house, we shouldn't go unless we want to have sex with them and that we gotta supply an
y birth control. And that we shouldn't go near...anywhere...late at night. Then we have a break for coffee and then go back to orientation until about 1. Then we get to have lunch! I have been trying to eat as many empanadas as possible, because they are cheap and oh-so-delicious. Sometimes I mix it up by having salami sandwiches, which is the only thing I would eat when I was little.

As a side note, for breakfast I have 2 pieces of toast and an alfajor(alpha-whore). They look like this:
and are probably everything you could ever want out of a breakfast food. That's dulce de leche in the middle, for a frame of reference. When my host mom doesn't watch me eat breakfast I usually put it in my backpack because I'm not quite gutsy enough to eat it that early. Today I discovered that if I do not eat breakfast my host mom takes it as a major insult.

After orientation is over, we usually go get more coffee. Or hot chocolate, which is super delicious. Because when I show up home too early, my host mom asks me why I don't have friends yet.

This was the first lunch that I bought. With real coke! and flan for dessert!!!

I Finally Did It!

I knew you figured I wouldn't--I figured I wouldn't. But I actually made a blog! Probably because Paul did it first, and I can't let him one-up me. I'll try and write every time I do something interesting, which will hopefully be often. I'll try to get everyone up to speed on what I've done so far.

On the 18th I flew from Boston to DC, from DC to Bogotá, and from there to Buenos Aires. DC was rocky because the airline had overbooked by like ten people and was trying to find a way to get rid of people, but I told them I absolutely had to be on the plane and eventually they put me on. The Colombian airlines were actually really nice, except for the very vague boarding times. And taking off times. I was sure I wouldn't make my connecting flight, but because of the air traffic in Bogotá it ended up being fine. I even made a friend on the flight! But I haven't seen her since. When I landed, I was super confused by having not slept in a day and not being sure of what the time difference was. Eventually I found my program, and we awkwardly stood around talking about how tired we were and where we were from.

From there they put us in RadioTaxi and sent us off to our host family's house. Despite my best efforts, I was asleep for most of the ride. Eventually the driver made me get out of the car and plopped me in front of a really expensive-looking apartment building. The doorman let me in and asked me if I was Cristina's new student. I was amazed that he knew who I would be with, but she has had 13 exchange students before me and this is all old hat for her.

When I arrived, she had just woken up and was full of energy and ready for lunch. She was really excited for the fried fish over which we discussed what foods I don't like. I figured it was too late to tell her I don't like fish, and forgot to tell her about peppers. Of course, that meant we had more fish and some peppers for dinner. Then my host mom went out to meet her friends and told me I'd be able to do it someday soon. That was my first day!