Wednesday, October 9, 2013

La Comida en Argentina, Food Food Food!

La Comida en Argentina: The Food in Argentina

I realize I haven't talked a lot about the food here, so while I have the time I decided that I'll share.

The food here probably isn't what you would imagine it to be. It's a LOT of meat, like giant slabs of cow thrown onto a giant barbecue. Vegetables aren't really a thought when it comes to any meal, and carbs are basically the only other category besides meat that exists, oh and sugar, lot's and lot's of sugar.

A typical drink that we get when we go out to cafes is a submarino. Basically, you get a cup of warm milk and a chocolate bar to melt into the milk. It doesn't taste exactly like hot chocolate, but it's really great.

Also, this isn't typical Argentine at all, but one of our favorite places to eat here is at a little Crepe cafe. You can get crepes with meat and veggies and such in them as a meal and then you can get all different desert types of crepes. My favorite are the Hawaiian (jam, cheese, and pineapple), berries and cream, apple (or strawberry, or banana) and dulce de leche (or nutella). The women who work there are also just the sweetest! They also have really great smoothies, and awesome music. It's such a nice place to be. 

It's located on Libertad one block from Sante Fe towards the Tribunales subte stop.

Dulce de leche: an absolutely delicious spread that tastes something like creamy carmel, but better than you would think creamy caramel would taste, like way better. You can put in on virtually everything: bread, toast, crepes, fruit, anything. Very typical Argentine.

Alfajores: heaven. I'll attempt to describe them here, but I WILL be bringing some home to share with all of you, so you'll be able to get a better idea then! But they are two cookies filled with dulce de leche and covered in chocolate. There is some coconut flavor thrown in there sometimes, but I can't figure out where, but trust me, they're amazing. 

Medialunas: "Half moons," aka their version of croissants. They are little croissants glazed with a sugary glaze which makes it almost impossible not to eat 10 at a time. They're extremely popular, they're something that's a very common breakfast, or merienda (snack) food.

When it comes to salads, they're not too big on them. Generally the different vegetables are separated into different salads. For example, on a menu at a restaurant you will have a lettuce salad, a carrot and egg salad, or a tomato salad. They don't throw them all into one. Some cafes do offer Ceasar salads and such but it's usually just lettuce, cheese, and chicken in those. Cucumbers and tomatoes are nowhere to be found in those. 

Soup is another foreign concept. They sell broth in stores, but nothing else. One day when I asked my host parents if the restaurant we were going to had soup, they told me that only old people eat soup, and that the restaurant was definitely not going to have any. So there ya have it.

Besides the medialunas, breakfast here is pretty disappointing. All we eat are a few pieces of bread, and then we can have cornflakes if we want. (And due to all of my medical issues that have been going on, I've developed some sort of aversion to milk, therefore, cereal is out of the question--especially since their milk is 3%, and not refrigerated). 

Pizza is also extremely different. The crust is thin, they barely put any sauce on it, then load it up with cheese, lots of olive oil, and green olives on top. You have no idea how much I miss Pizza Hut.

My favorite aspect of this country isn't the food, but there are definitely some things that I will miss, basically all of the sweets you could ever imagine on every street corner and in every cafe. That is a true miracle.

Juices and other organic foods and drinks aren't impossible to find here, but they aren't the easiest. Thankfully I've found some really awesome totally organic fresh juice places that also offer healthy sandwiches and salads and such. If you're travelling to Buenos Aires and are interested in them, send me a message or leave a comment and I'll let you know where they are! 

We're in the home stretch now, less than a month left of classes. I just have no idea where the time went.

See you all soon!
Chau mis amorcitos!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Life Updates

Hey everyone,

Sorry I haven't posted in ages, my past three weeks haven't exactly been what I would call fun or exciting. To fill those in who don't know what's been going on I've been sick, and in and out of the hospital.

Basically it started three weeks ago with excrutiating pain in my lower stomach. After countless tests (ultrasounds, blood, urine tests, CAT scans, etc..) they figured out that I have a cyst in one of my ovaries. This isn't really a big deal, as it's pretty common, but they couldn't figure out what was causing so much pain. They knew I had an infection as well but couldn't figure out where, but there was evidence of a ruptured cyst (in addition to the cyst that's there now), so it possibly could have come from that. Still, the pain wasn't going away so they sent me to yet another doctor and they're now testing for Crohn's disease and Colitis. I go tomorrow for another CAT scan, so all day today I'm on this strict diet where all I can eat is chicken, jello, and 7 up.

So these past 3 weeks have been pretty exhausting and draining. Good thing is that my mommy came for a week to be with me through out some of this stuff! That was wonderful, but she obviously couldn't stay forever.

The pain isn't unbearable anymore, but it's still there. Hopefully they figure out the issue tomorrow and I can continue living my life and doing fun things here, because that's all been on hold.

That's what's been going on. Maybe I'll post some things about my adventures that I haven't written about yet!

Thank you everyone for all of the support!
And a HUGE thank you to my housemates and my host parents for all helping me out SO much, I couldn't have done this without you guys!

Chau che!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Natural Wonder of the World: Iguazu Falls

Hola everyone!

Last weekend I visited Iguazu Falls, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world! It lies in the northern province of Misiones, which is bordered by Brazil on the right and Paraguay on the left.

I went with Kristen, one of my housemates, with a program that offeres different trips and activities to international students living in Buenos Aires. We took a bus there which took about 16 hours on the way there, and about 18/19 on the way back (when in reality it should have only been about 12/13 hours but when you're travelling with 200+ people, time constraints cannot exist).

Iguazu Falls in by far the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life, and makes Niagara Falls look like a little creek. 

Words cannot even begin to describe the views, so I will let the pictures do the talking:

Kristen and I at the enterance to the park

Toucan in the jungle!

The teaser: Dos Hermanas waterfalls

 Just one section of the falls!

View from on top of some of the falls 

Yes this is real

This too


We went on a boat that went underneath these, like the maid of the mist but way closer and way more intense. It was terrifying, given that I'm afraid of being under water but hey, at least we got to see the falls from this close up.

We also visited the Triple Fronteras which is where you can see Paraguay and Brazil from Argentina.

We got really lucky because while we were there the weather was in the mid 70's the whole time and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. But the weekend before, and the one after it has been in the 40's and 50's there, dreary and rainy. So glad we went when we did.

The beauty of Iguazu Falls was just breathtaking. Every single day I spend in this country and every new experience I have just makes me so much more grateful for this opportunity. I never want to leave, and I know this won't be my only experience living in Argentina in my life. 

As far as general life updates go:
  • School is fine. I feel like I'm rarely there though because I only have 1 class on Monday's, Wednesdday's, and Thursday's, no classes on Friday's, and 3 classes on Tuesday's (all of which are ridiculously easy). I'm taking advanced Spanish which is easy, Advanced Oral Production which is just talking for an hour and a half, Tango Dancing, and a literature class. 
  • Soccer is still amazing. We finally start games again next Saturday! Also I'm going to join another team, a club one separate from school. 
  • I started guitar lessons, and they're going so well! My professor is so sweet and talented, and his English is my favorite thing ever, he's the only person I let speak English to me--haha. 
  • My Spanish has REALLY improved. I feel pretty comfortable in the language, and can pretty much express myself in most situations. I definitely have a lot of room to improve though.
  • 5 people from our house have left to go back home in the past few weeks, and another person is leaving this Saturday, which I really just am dreading. 
Lastly, I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do after I graduate and my plans have changed quite a bit after only being here for 2 months. I've come to realize that maybe a Ph.D. isn't exactly what I want to pursue. I've finally started to enjoy living my life, without being so concerned about perfection. I'm learning to stop stressing about things that don't matter. The difference between and A- and an A is nothing that determines anything about my worth, capabilities, or intelligence. It says more about work ethic than it does about anything else, but stressing about grades is something that takes away from my ability to relax and enjoy myself. 

I like research but I don't think it's something that I want to spend the majority of my 20's on. I've always had the end goal of becoming a counselor, and that hasn't changed, but I don't need a Ph.D. to do that. I figure that I can get my master's in mental health counseling in 2/3 years, and then just go into counseling from there. I want to travel more before I start my career though. Once I start counseling I can't just tell my clients, "Yeah well I'm going to teach English in Argentina for the next 6 months so I'll see you when I get back, seeya." I don't think it really works that way. I'm really interested in coming back down here, to maybe live in the north and teach English. There are month long courses you can take to become certified to teach, which would give me the perfect opportunity to come back.

So the end goal is the same, just how and when I'm going to get there is changing a bit. There's no point in being so hardcore about studies if you're not enjoying yourself and making the most out of every dream you have in the meantime.

We will see what happens, but right now, that's where my thought process is.

Oh and p.s. I'm not coming back in November, I'm changing my plane ticket to stay almost a month longer. I'm sorry, I just love it too much to leave!

Chau amigos! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

San Miguel de Tucuman Vacation

Hola chicos!

It feels like it's been forever since I've written, but it's only been 2 weeks (which may or may not actually be a long time, I'm still undecided on the matter).

The month long intensive language program ended when Manuel and Nico left. I finished and got an A in the class, so I was extremely relieved about that. Within the next few days we got two new students in our house who are staying for just the semester program, so from now until November. One girl, Kristen, and a boy, Spencer. It was too frigid to go outside for the first 4 days of my vacation (which was only 10 days long to begin with), but on Wednesday of last week I left Buenos Aires and headed to San Miguel de Tucuman which was about a 16 hour bus ride north.

First off, I went to the bus station alone and had to wait and listen to the loudspeaker to find out which terminal my bus would be arriving at. Have you ever had trouble understanding a loudspeaker in your native language? Because I know I have. Now imagine trying to understand a loudspeaker in a language that you're very much still in the process of learning. It was near impossible. On top of that, my bus came 20 minutes late, so for those 20 minutes I thought I missed it. (Welcome to Argentina, where the idea of punctuality does not exist).

Finally the bus showed up and I got on and got all settled. I had a "bed with suite" seat, which is basically like a la-z-boy that reclines all the way back and there is a part at your feet that you can pull up to make it completely flat. I also got two dinners (one cold and one hot), as well as breakfast during the trip. Surprisingly it was really comfortable. I slept probably 12 of the 16 hours to Tucuman. However, we were, of course, 2 hours late arriving in Tucuman, but I've come to remain, as the Argentines constantly say , tranquila (or relaxed).

On the ride there we rode past gauchos riding horses! That was a pretty unique sight to see, since you don't generally see gauchos in the middle of the city in Buenos Aires.

So why did I go to Tucuman of all places?

12 years ago, when I was 8, we had an exchange student , Nico, who lived with my family from Tucuman, Argentina. Because of him, I have dreamt of coming to Argentina for the past 12 years. He was a big brother to me, and made a bigger impact on my life than I realized then, and even than I realized before I went to see him last week. Now he's about to turn 30, is a father, and has his life pretty much in place, drastically different than 12 years ago, but still with the same kind, caring, and funny spirit that he had back then.

When I got off the bus in Tucuman, he called my name and I think we both had the same sort of reaction of, "Oh my goodness, you're not [insert age] anymore!" Even though it had been so long since we'd seen each other, I felt instantly like I was with family. We talked a lot about our memories of when he lived with us, and what we've each been doing for the past 12 years, and I got to see into his life now. His son, Felipe, is PERFECT. While I was there he turned 1, and he was so much fun to be around. He's seriously such a precious little gem. I also got to meet Nico's girlfriend, Noel (who's more like his wife since they've been together for 10+ years and have a child together). She was so wonderful! I also met her whole family, and I got to meet Nico's parents, brothers, and their families as well!

 Noel, Felipe, and me!

 Nico, Felipe, and me!

 My nephew and me! 

When I went into Nico's parent's house I saw a picture that looked really familiar but I couldn't remember why. Come to find out it was the picture Nico had painted in America and the same painting that we had taken a picture in front of when he lived with us! For your viewing pleasure:

It was such an awesome trip. Because I stayed with them at their house, I got to see into an authentic Argentine life, which I don't really get to see since I live in a house of Americans and am at school most of the time. It was really cool to see how they actually live, and I learned a lot.

For example: The reason Argentines don't get hungry between lunch (at 12:00/1:00 ish) and dinner (at 9:00/10/11:00 ish) IS BECAUSE THERE IS ANOTHER MEAL IN BETWEEN! It's called merienda and it's at like 5:00/6:00 ish, which makes sense why I didn't know it existed because I'm never home around then to hear my host parents talk about it. In Tucuman they usually eat like a little sweet, like a piece of pie or something, and a coffee, or some fancy hot drink, but in Buenos Aires it's more of a "tea time." Which if you know me, you know that I am TOTALLY okay with.

I also learned that they do take siestas in Argentina but it's more in the north because of how hot it gets up there in the summer. Between 12-5:00 ish everything is closed, even in the winter. In Buenos Aires it doesn't get that hot so they don't really have as much of a need for a siesta, but still some people do take them but the city doesn't shut down for it.

Tucuman is surrounded by mountains, so we went a few times up to the mountains. One day we took a boat ride in this lake that is surrounded by mountains, and afterwards we drank mate outside at this outside theater.

Another day we drove up to the mountains and had lunch at the top of San Javier. It was awesome because the restaurant was at the very top so it overlooked the whole city of Tucuman. On the way down the mountain it was absolutely beautiful. We drove by this little section that looked like a scene from a fairytale. There was a really old, cute, and quaint looking church built from stone, it was just too cute.

We also toured around the city one of the days. Went into the place where the independence of Argentina was signed, and saw a pretty funny reenactment of the moments when their independence was declared. Tucuman is much smaller than Buenos Aires so it was much cleaner, and less people.

I also got to see Nico play (he's a musician) twice, which was awesome! My favorite memories of him from when he was in America was him playing music so it was really amazing to see him play now, and to know that he's doing something that he really loves.

Felipe's first birthday was on Saturday (when we went to San Javier) but his party was the next day. I only got to go for about an hour because I had to catch my bus back but it was seriously the most AWESOME 1st birthday party I've ever been to. Noel decorated everything and it looked so sweet. It was a candy theme and had tons and tons of candy and sweets everywhere, and bright colors. I want a birthday party like that.

Also, when I was in the Netherlands I had a friend from Argentina, Emiliano. Turns out he lives in Tucuman as well! So we got to meet up one day for merienda and hang out and it was really cool. It's been 3 or 4 ish years since we saw each other so that was really great to get to see him.

By the time I had to leave, I really really didn't want to. Both of their families were so sweet and made me feel so comfortable there that it felt like I was with my own family. Nico and Noel are both just amazing, I can't thank them enough for giving me such a great time. I absolutely adore Felipe, and am so happy I finally got to meet me nephew. He's seriously perfect. It was really nice to be able to get to know another city and see what a normal Argentine life is like. I hope I can go back before I leave, I definitely have to--they're too great not to.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Post Is Dedicated To...

Mis hermanos, Nico and Manuel.

They both left me. Manuel yesterday, and Nico today. It was awful. They're the ones that I started this adventure with. The ones that I figured out the city with, ate empanadas for the first time with, and sat around the dinner table with every night. We have had some crazy adventures in this past month, and I feel so lucky to have been able to spend my first month in Buenos Aires with such amazing brothers.

From the beginning it was like we were instantly family. The first night that we were here we sat in the kitchen on the roof and played cards, drank tea, and just hung out (after attempting to go out and getting ridiculously lost and ending up back at home). From then on I always knew that I had two people here who I could lean on, talk to, and be safe around. When just talking about a month, it doesn't seem like a lot of time, but with us, it's feels like it's been a year.

I really just don't have any idea what I'm going to do without you two. Home isn't going to be the same without you. You guys made it so easy for me to call this place home, and I can't believe that this month is already over. Seriously, what the heck am I going to do? 

HOW AM I EVER GOING TO KNOW WHERE I'M GOING?! (Real talk though... you guys know how good I am with directions...)

Thank you so so much for making this first month so memorable and amazing, and for being the best brothers I could have ever wanted to begin this with. I wish you guys were here to finish it with me, but no matter what I know that both of you will always be in my heart. I miss you both so much already, and it hasn't even been 24 hours yet. I feel so lucky to have you guys in my life, it's going to be so strange without you.

Love you both so much, stay wonderful. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Note-Worthy Argentine Observations

I love lists, because they're quick and to the point. Here are a few of some of my observations that I think you may find interesting, or at least I hope so.

  • The idea of putting ice in drinks does not exist
  • Milk is NOT refrigerated, it's just sold on regular shelves in the supermarket and kept in the cupboards
  • The majority of four way intersections DON'T have stop signs--it's probably the most terrifying experience
  • (For you language buffs) the "ll" is pronounced as "sh"
    • For example: Como te llamas? is pronounced: como te SHamas?
    • Also, the informal word for you isn't "tu," it's "vos"
    • And the "vos" form of verbs is sometimes different than the "tu" form
  • Unlike street performers in the US who get completely ignored at best, people here clap for the street performers on the buses and subways
  • The typical greeting is a kiss on the cheek, and EVERYONE does it ALL THE TIME, including at the end of soccer games, both teams make sure they have kissed everyone on the other team as to say "good game."
    • This applies to men with each other as well
  • If you aren't aware, Argentina's history is ridiculously sad
  • Dinner is at 9 or later every night, so that the whole family can be present

And since I'm getting sicker by the moment, I'm going to keep this short and sweet!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Much Needed Updates About the Adventures

I am so sorry all my beautiful people back in the US (and possibly The Netherlands as well) that I have totally slacked on my blog updates! Things got so busy and so exciting that I kept meaning to write, and then it got to the point where I am now that I don’t even know where to start.

But start I will!

First of all, I absolutely love Buenos Aires.

Since I last wrote:

I joined the soccer team officially. I had my first game the day after I wrote my last post, and it was amazing. To finally be able to get back into sports after being out of physical activity completely for 2 years is a feeling too great to describe in words. Sports had been my outlet for my whole life, and to have the ability to play them taken away devastated me. I never got over it (as my mother can vouch for—thanks for listening to me cry about wanting to cheer or play soccer for the past 2 years!) Soccer here is so much fun. It’s awesome because it’s a way I can get to make Argentine friends, which can be hard when I’m constantly surrounded by Americans. The girls are so sweet, and I’m so happy to be a part of the team.

I’ve also gone to a few Ferias. They are these big markets on Sundays where people sell tons of homemade stuff from jewelry, journals, tea boxes, tons of leather products, scarves, and any souvenirs you could think of, painted beautifully with scenes typical to Buenos Aires. It’s kind of the thing to do on Sundays since there’s not too much else open.

As far as landmark places I’ve been to, I visited the El Ateneo bookstore. It used to be a theatre and then they transformed it into a huge bookstore, and they even still have some box seats in there where you can sit and read for as long as you’d like. I bought two books in Spanish, one is a book full of over 250 of Frida Kahlo’s paintings and brief descriptions of where she was, what she was doing, and what provoked her to paint them. (Thanks Dr. McCutcheon for sparking my interest in her!) I also bought the book Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks in Spanish, Un Lugar Donde Refugiarse. It’s beautiful in there:

I also went to La Boca! The neighborhood of Buenos Aires always depicted in paintings and such with all of the bright colored houses. I went with two of my friends from school because we had to do a presentation on a specific neighborhood in BA and we chose La Boca. It was quite the experience. To be honest, I’m not really that big of a fan. It was packed with tourists and people constantly offering you this or that, for a tip. I wouldn’t mind if the tango dancers in La Boca danced and set out a hat for money (like the rest of the street performers in the world do), but in La Boca they wait until people walk by and then ask them if they want to take a picture with them, for money, or if they want to see them dance, for money. They’re just extremely pushy to the tourists there, to the point where it became really uncomfortable. The neighborhood itself minus the people is beautiful though. All of the houses are so bright and multicolored, and there are a lot of interesting things to see. Unfortunately, La Boca is only about 2 streets of safe area, and beyond that it’s a pretty dangerous place to be. We went to the Feria there as well but it was tiny, there were only about 20 tents, maybe less. There are a ton of shops though, some of which are inside a row of the bright colored buildings, so it almost feels like you’re walking into someone’s house instead of into a store.

My friends Zach, Aaron and I!

The Feria

Zach and I!

In other exciting news—LAST WEEK WAS MY BIRTHDAY! July 4th! It was the first birthday that I’ve ever had school on, and also a midterm. But the rest of the day was amazing. One of my brothers and I went to this café called Tea Connection and had deserts and tea with two girls who also live in the house.

After that he and I went to Palermo (which is a giant, possibly the biggest neighborhood in BA) and walked around for a while. We explored a ton and stumbled across two art galleries. Both of which invited us to showings, with wine! (Not that I like wine but it makes me sound refined.) In one of the galleries, the lady who runs in let us into the back room where they store all of the paintings the will or have been shown in the main gallery. It was full of beautiful artwork, and we spent a significant chunk of time exploring.

Since I’ve been here I’ve stumbled across so many little art galleries just by walking around, and each time we’ve rang the doorbell and everyone has been so welcoming in letting us see inside.

After the art galleries we found this really awesome, borderline vintage-looking bookstore. It was pretty big inside, and reminded me of Rustbelt bookstore in Allentown magnified by 5. They had some funky sections, and really interesting books that you wouldn’t find at a normal bookstore. There was a little café in the back, and some good indie music playing. We then went an explored this store that sells the most random, possibly useless, and quirky gadgets. They have these stores all around in the city, and they are just hilarious. For example, they sell watches that have the wrong time on them, with no numbers, and giant clips that clip to a table and serve as a cup holder. They’re so fun, and every time I see one I can’t stop myself from going in. After that we went and looked around this tiny music store for a bit before heading home.

After dinner that night my host parents both walked into the kitchen and without saying anything shut off all the lights and brought out a giant lemon pie with this pretty, fluffy frosting on top with two candles in it, and started singing happy birthday to me in Spanish. The whole family (all 10 of them) joined in and sang to me! It was seriously the highlight of my birthday, not only because it was the best pie I’ve ever eaten, but because they made it a point to do something special for me—something families do for each other.

After dinner my brothers and I went out, and danced and laughed non-stop all night long with a bunch of my other friends from school and such (well until 1:30 when Nico and I got tired and went home).

Zach, Manuel (one of my brothers), JJ, and I! (Don't fret all, I was 100% sober)

Birthday (: There's water in the cup!

In conclusion, my birthday was amazing.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, on July 9th (Argentina’s independence day) my friends and I went to play… POLO! Like the kind on horses! It was a day long extravaganza.

First, we had to take a shuttle about 45/50 minutes outside of the city of BA, to a polo club. When we got there we got a little background on the game of polo, while being fed endless empanadas and wine (of which I didn’t drink, but again, just mentioning it makes me feel refined). I must note, the empanadas were the absolute BEST empanadas I’ve had here, no doubt.

After that we got to watch a professional polo game, play around a bit with the mallets, and take pictures with the players and the horses. (While we were taking the pictures the horse I was standing next to keep putting his face on me, searching desperately for my attention.) After the game we had an asado (barbeque) lunch, which is so typical to Argentina. It’s also what we have every Sunday. They had tons and tons of meat, (of which I didn’t eat) lots of salad, fried vegetables, and my favorite, BREAD! The bread here is magical.

After lunch we hung out for a while and then suited up, and got on the horses! In typical Argentinean fashion, they just threw people on horses, who may never have ridden before, or have only ridden once or twice, and hoped that they figured it out. Of course, being the nervy mcgurvy that I am, I was terrified. They put me on the biggest horse there, Gaucho, and I haven’t ridden a horse in 10 years. I didn’t know how to control him, or anything. He just started walking and I was freaking out. Gaucho decided that he wasn’t going to stay inside the polo field, nope, he was going to do his own thing, walk out of the field into a giant path of mud. We were walking slowly but I was freaking out, yelling “AYUDAME, AYUDAME, SOMEBODY HELP MEEEE!” Neither language worked. FINALLY, after Gaucho decided to just stop in the mud, someone came over to me and explained how to turn him around. At that point, I was done, and almost in tears. I told one of the people who worked there that I wanted to get off, I was so scared. But the guy just grabbed Gaucho and led him around with me on him. That I was totally fine with because we were going at such a nice, crawling, speed.

Since it was pouring out, we couldn’t play polo, so they decided to take us riding through a lagoon instead! But, the guy wasn’t allowed to lead me over there, so I had to go on my own. Gaucho and I started to get along much better. I learned how to make him turn, stop, and even trot! We trotted a bit on the trail over to the lagoon, but after like five seconds of trotting I would get scared because it felt so fast. Once we got to the lagoon, all the horses (like 20 of them) all galloped together through the water. Because Gaucho was with all of his friends, he wasn’t about to listen to me, so gallop we did! Which was terrifying, but at the same time pretty awesome. The second time we ran through the lagoon I turned him around so he couldn’t see his friends and run with them, and once they were through, him and I turned around and trotted on through. 

My babe Gaucho and I!

Trying to warm up after riding!

By the end of riding, we were all completely soaked, head to toe. We huddle around a fire for maybe 30 minutes or so, drinking tea and trying to dry our clothes. It was such an amazing day. It was so much fun, slightly terrifying, but an experience I will absolutely never forget. Since it was raining (pouring) and we didn’t get to play polo, we get to go back for free and play when it’s better weather! 

I think my favorite thing about Buenos Aires are the cafes. There are SO MANY cafes, one every 20 feet it seems. We go to a different one everyday. They're so nice to just go hang out with friends in, study some Spanish, and drink some really good tea. Last week my brothers and I found this really cute, kind of fancy cafe with really good Lindt hot chocolate. Here:

Nico and I!

Okay, I think that's sufficient for now! I'll update in a few days about all the other things I've been up to, and how my Spanish is coming along! 

P.S. I don't have time to edit this because I have to get to a museum (for class) soon, so I'm sorry if there are tons of typos, or awkward sentences! 

Hugs to you all!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Updates after 1 week!

Where to begin?!

This has been one very long, very eventful, and very exhausting week. Tomorrow morning is the official 1 week mark, and I feel like I’ve been here for months. It’s been amazing, but also a bit overwhelming.

I started school this week, on Monday. We took our placement tests and to my surprise I was placed in intermediate 2, which is the class one level under advanced. I was expecting to be put in intermediate 1, but after just three days of classes I’m realizing that I really do know more than I realize.

The first actual day of classes was Tuesday, and that was pretty rough. It was just really overwhelming because our classes are 100% taught in Spanish, my entire house speaks Spanish, and even some of the American students speak Spanish to each other. It was overload. My brain was so exhausted and I got down on myself pretty quickly, which I tend to do. I was wondering if I was in the right class, and if I was ever going to be able to speak Spanish. At that moment I felt like I was in over my head, and that it was going to be a really difficult and possibly unfulfilling process. After school I really just wanted to sleep, but instead I forced myself to walk around Buenos Aires and find a music school where they offer guitar lessons. Two hours later, I found one. Naturally, the people there couldn’t speak a word of English, further adding to my frustration and exhaustion. I got home and passed out until one of my housemates woke me up to go to a tango class!

Tango was amazing! It was so much fun, and so captivating. Watching the teacher demonstrate the moves made me really want to pursue classes and be able to actually tango well. I can’t believe that people come to Argentina and don’t learn to tango; it’s so much fun and so much a part of the culture. It’s an absolute must. I’ll be going every week, possibly twice a week, so when I get back to America I’ll be a pro and can grace you all with tango lessons… or something like that!
Since Tuesday class has been getting so much better. Basically, we laugh the entire time, and the professor is constantly making fun of me (in the most loving way possible). Every time I say anything he just looks at me and bursts out laughing. Before coming to Argentina I wasn’t aware that I was a comical person, but evidently people here think that is so! Kudos to me! We play games every day in class, and chat a lot about tons of different subjects. We’ve been doing grammar mostly, but it’s all grammar that I already know so I’m glad that it’s something that I don’t have to struggle with. Vocabulary is my main issue with Spanish. I understand the grammar, sentence structure, and all that pretty well, but I’m just lacking the words to say what I want. Room for improvement!

The must-have-nightlife-blurb:

Nightlife here is QUITE the experience, to say the least. Basically Argentines don’t go out to the bars until 12:30/1:00AM, and don’t go to the clubs until 2:00/3:00AM, and don’t go home until 5:00AM ish. It is wild. The first night we went out we went with a huge group of like 15 of us. (All of the students here with AIFS, since the 2 boys who live here are with AIFS and I’m the only CCIS person so I stick with them). We had so much fun, and danced the whole night. We met two Argentine girls who were the sweetest and danced with us all night!
But last night was seriously memorable. Manuel (one of my housemates who, along with the other one, Nico, I call “mi hermano!”) and I went to this bar that was having an event that they hold each week. Basically you go in and get stickers with the flag of your home country on it, along with flags of the countries which languages you speak, or want to practice. So you go around and mingle and talk to people with flags that you want to speak the language or, or just ones that you find interesting. It was awesome! We talked to so many interesting people, and there were even Dutch people there! [Which as a side note, there are a ton of here anyways]. Afterwards we went to this club where people were all dancing tango, so Manuel and I, in our most obvious American fashion, sadly attempted the same. I’m sure it wasn’t pretty, but it was so much fun. We got home at like 4:30 and had to be at school this morning at 10:00. The life of study abroad.


Speaking of mis hermanos, they totally deserve a shout out here. Nico and Manuel are seriously like two big brothers here. We pretty much stick together and they’re protective of me when we go out and such just like brothers are. They’re seriously amazing, and I feel so lucky to have two people like them in my life here. It just furthermore adds to my feeling of home, and my love of this experience.

Dinner every night is something I seriously look forward to. With all of us sitting around our kitchen table, having a billion different conversations in Spanish with our host parents, it’s evident that this is home. My host dad is always telling mis hermanos to make sure that they take care of me and make sure that I’m okay when we go out—it’s pretty hilarious and adorable. My host dad is HILARIOUS. He is constantly making jokes, and although I can only understand 50% of them, I’m constantly laughing around him. A few days ago when I woke up and was walking to the bathroom I saw him by the stairs so I was like, “Hola!” and he stepped back like he was completely surprised, threw both of his hands in the air and said, “BUEN DIA!” so loud and enthusiastic you would have thought that I was the pope.

Everything about this house, and this family, is so homey and so comfortable, that after only a week I feel so at home and like I’ve already gained another family.
I love this country so much, and am so excited to explore and learn more about it. Last night, on the bus to the bar there were two street performers, one with a guitar, and one who sang. They were so good, but after they played I was unsure whether people were going to ignore them or acknowledge their presence. To my surprise, the whole bus started clapping, and in that moment I so much about the culture here became clear. If something is enjoyable, enjoy it, appreciate it, and just live your life. There’s no need to stress over little things, or become irritated over different lifestyles and different people. Embrace it, and relax.

That’s all for now! This weekend I’m going to a zoo, and to a Jesus amusement park—there’s no way that can’t be interesting. Oh and tomorrow I have my first soccer game! I seriously can't wait!

I’ll be sure to report back!
All of the love!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

I've Never Been so Happy to Wake Up Where I Am

This morning when I woke up I was so genuinely happy to be where I was. I was so comfortable, and I don’t mean physically comfortable because it’s winter here and there’s no heat, but mentally I suppose. I felt like this is where I’m supposed to be, exactly where. Feeling at home has always been a foreign concept to me, but here, I almost think that I finally feel at home.

So let me fill you in on what it’s like! First of all, it’s more than I could have ever imagined, expected, or hoped for. My host family has this huge, beautiful, classic Argentinean home. On one side, it’s their home, connected but on the other side, is the students’ space. I live with a ton of other international students! Our side of the house has about 15 rooms and 4 floors. In the middle of our house there is a giant, beautiful, dark green winding staircase that goes up all 4 floors that is open, as in no roof. The rooms basically circle the staircase on the first and fourth floors. The third floor is where our houses connect. It’s the kitchen and it’s so beautiful and classic. Covered in Argentine décor, and get this! DELFTS BLUE DUTCH DÉCOR! (Seriously, how can it be?! Loving it). On the roof there’s a roof terrace where we have asado (barbecue) every Sunday with the family! On the terrace as well, there is an enclosed space where you can go if it’s too cold or raining or something. (We spent all night in there last night playing Argentinean card games).  I’ll post pictures so you can get a visual!

Roof Terrace!

Our staircase looking down to one of the bedrooms.

The landing going into the kitchen.

Our staircase!

It’s winter here, and since our house is pretty much open, it is freezing and there is no heat. The temperature yesterday was somewhere around 40 degrees, with no heat in the house… just ponder that for a second. But you know what? It’s so cold and unchanging that I actually got used to it really fast and didn’t really even notice it after a while. I know, crazy because I’m the girl who never stops complaining about being cold, but I guess I just had to experience this, and get some thicker skin.

That’s the structure of the house, here’s the life: we eat breakfast in the family kitchen anytime from 8-12 in the morning, and dinner with the WHOLE family (ALL the students, and our host parents) at 9:00PM every night. Sundays we have asado on the roof! We have two full bathrooms on the first floor and I think the boys on the fourth have one. (The guys live on the fourth floor and all the girls on the first). We also have our own kitchens where we can go and cook and eat and such when it’s not breakfast or dinner.

Right now there are five students still living here from last semester. They all leave within the next week though. There are only three of us who have just arrived but there are five more coming (4 girls and 1 guy). It’s me, and two boys, one from Texas and one from Maryland. We basically just explored yesterday and ate too many empanadas. Right around the corner from our house is a little empanada shop, where you can get like 12 different kinds of empanadas. One of the housemates who has been here took us on a tour of the city yesterday and showed us how to get to school (which is only about a fifteen minute walk, and a beautifully scenic route at that) and we stopped to get some empanadas first. I had an Española—no idea what was in it but it was good. Later on, one of the boys and I were hungry, since dinner isn’t until 9:00, so we went over and got some more. They’re only 6 pesos, which is less than a dollar, meaning that I WILL be coming back to America 50 pounds heavier.

Let me just stick in a section here about the language. So EVERYONE in this house speaks fluent Spanish, yup even the two guys who just got here when I did. Also, my host parents don’t speak English. Has anyone heard my Spanish, yeah… NOT FLUENT. So I’ve been stumbling a bit, but it’s almost borderline hilarious. Dinner last night was quite the experience. Sitting around the table with 9 other people who are fluently having all these conversations with my host parents who speak a mile a minute and me just starring around trying to grasp the overall themes of the conversation was ridiculous. I didn’t speak more than two sentences, but after dinner I gave my host parents some gifts and I got to speak some more to them without the pressure of being around 9 other people, and I was pretty much able to communicate. So there’s that.

Last night after dinner, the guys and I decided to go out—problem being that we didn’t know where the bus stop was, but had all the directions for after we got to the bus stop. As I’m sure you can guess, we walked around Buenos Aires for about an hour, got ridiculously lost, and wound up right back at home. Don’t fret, the boys walked on each side of me and we, well they, spoke only Spanish, so we didn’t look like easy targets. We got back safe and sound, so apparently it worked. We decided to just stay in and play cards, listen to music, and chill instead. Probably more of what we needed after 15 hours of travel.
Right now I’m in a temporary bedroom that literally looks like Harry Potter’s under the stairs room, but it’s pretty cozy so I don’t mind. Once the girl leaves whose room I’m taking, I’ll move over there.

About my host parents: they are probably the cutest, warmest, Argentinean parents ever. And that’s that.

Lastly: the flight here. This I must brag about. So my mom and I decided it may be a clever idea to book my seat in the middle of an empty three seat row so that maybe no one would book next to me and I could have all three seats to myself to sprawl out and sleep. AND IT WORKED. Yup, had all three seats to myself and literally slept the ENTIRE 10 and a half hour flight. Best flight ever. I was slightly overwhelmed when I got off the plane, and majorly confused, but I figured it out and got to the taxi in one piece.

Basically, I just feel so at home here and am so happy that I came despite my anxiety. Thank you everyone who listened to me freak out all the time and told me that that was normal and things were going to be okay, and especially for not letting me back out—you know who you are, and I love you all! I start school Monday, and have my placement test then so once I get my classes and such I’ll report back!

If you have any questions, or I totally forgot to mention something just leave it in the comments and I’ll respond in a post ASAP.

Oh one more thing—we BARELY have wifi in the house. It’s ridiculously spotty and isn’t reliable so you realize really quick how dependent you are on technology and how awful that is. It’s crazy the amount of time we spend connected to the internet and to others through social media. It’s kind of nice though, having to actually be productive and creative. Leaves much more time for guitar playing, that’s for sure. But if you do want to message me, download Kik messenger on your phone, that works quite a bit so feel free!

I almost forgot! We have a beautiful, friendly kitty! And an awesome dog! Yayyyyy.

Alright, that’s all for now! Stay sweet all my beautiful people!