Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Falling in love...with Buenos Aires

Hey all,
Since the last time I've posted on here so much has happened. Mostly I've been a tourist and seen different parts of town such as Recoleta, San Telmo, China Town, and Canitas. Every time I turn a corner there is something to see or a building that takes my breath away. But my friend Rin and I were talking today about this city and how much it has really grown on us. I'm not sure if I LOVED this city right away the way I have other places I've been, but in this moment I really LOVE this city. The more I explore the more I realize how beautiful this place is. The more people I meet the more I realize how kind and nice the people here really are. Sometimes the people and place come across as sort of cold and unfriendly, but I think it has a lot to do with their safety.
Here's a good story for an example:
Two nights ago Rin and I went to a cafe near our houses to go through guide books and map out all the places within Buenos Aires we want to see and sort of just make sure we fit everything in during our time here (since this city is simply GINORMOUS). But during our talk a very drunk and creepy old man named Oscar decided to pull up his chair and talk to us. We ignored him but he just kept talking so we sorta just stopped and listened. He started talking about how he wanted to take our pictures to give to the police or something, how he was legal and we were legal so this would all be legal, and that we were all going to win in this situation. And to be honest I still am not sure what type of situation he was talking about. But the cafe that was really noisy became eerily quiet while this man was speaking to us. Eventually we got him to leave and the lady next to us in her best English goes, "Be careful you two. Pay attention." Immediately after this the guy behind the bar comes over and apologizes tremendously and confirms us that he is not typical for an Argentine and that they really aren't like that. We laughed with the bar man and two older ladies for a while talking in Spanish about what had happened and I realized in that moment that even though no one stepped in and helped us, they were all aware of what was happening.
They have to think of themselves first in this country and protect themselves. I was wondering why no one was helping us while this man was touching my friend and being inappropriate, but then I realized if it had escalated I know the people who got quiet and listened would have stepped in. They look out for themselves in this country and I get that! They aren't cold but in public they are cautious. I went to a local house party on Saturday night and girls in the bathroom were dying to try to speak English to me and Rin and asking so many questions and we laughed. Just like I would with my girl friends in the bathroom in the United States. And the guys are actually very sweet. My friends and I talked to a group of guys all night and have made friends. They want to know you just as much as you want to know them. It just has a lot to do with the situation you are in. I can honestly say in Spain I NEVER tried to make local friends and never really talked to local people unless I was in a bar or club, and those aren't the best situations to judge character. I bet if I had paid more attention in Spain and had not treated it like a giant party I would have seen much of the same things I see here. With all this said, I think I'm finally understanding this place and it's helping me to really see the beauty in everything around me. I'm so happy here and am making some amazing memories.
I also started school on Monday. First time I've ever been to school in a 20 story high rise where every classroom has the most insane view ever! One classroom I can see the Atlantic ocean and boats and in others I see the skyline of all of Buenos Aires. It's just simply incredible. I have great teachers and great classes, so my last semester of ungrad is going to be unforgettable and fabulous. I have a few pictures to share so I hope you enjoy them!

This would be me in the Recoleta Cemetary. We went back to it and spent a few hours walking around since the first time we only saw one row of mausoleums. This place is huge and houses some of the most famous people in Argentine history. Some of them are a little creepy though...

This is Luis Marie Campos, the man the street Rin and I live on is named after. Of course we have to take a picture with this.

This would be Eva Peron's mausoleum. Or better known as Evita. The anniversary of her death was two days before so there were tons of flowers and people rubbing her face and crying. It was cute.

This would be Lexie, Rin, Charlie, and I messing around on Saturday. Basically we were the annoying Americans the entire day. Will is missing from this picture because he was taking it, but the five of us had a great time exploring the city that day.

This is Floris Generica which is a giant metal flower that opens and closes at night and in the morning. It's a gift from the United States, and was pretty awesome to see in person actually.

This is just one of those really cool awesome buildings you see when you are walking around. Beautiful.

This is a view from one of my classrooms. Simply incredible.

Well, that's the end of this post. I hope you are all enjoying your summer and the warm weather since I'm stuck in winter AGAIN! If any of you are trying to reach me I have Facebook messenger on my phone, but otherwise contact is really limited. Take care, and of course I miss you all! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

It's already been a week!!!

I can't believe I've already been here for one week and only have 15 left. The first week was so amazing and has made me truly love this country. It's much different than what I had imagined a South American country would be like, but it has not fallen short of any expectations I had.
Before I start with a summary of what I have learned since being here about this country and showing more pictures of this beautiful country that I will never be able to express in my horrendous photo taking skills, I need to express the grief I have felt this week and show my gratitude for those I lost. This week my dog passed away. My baby boy Jack, for all who know me, was my everything. It was very tragic for me and made me realize how far away I truly was. Also, within a day of each other was the first year mark of losing my grandfather whom I lost tragically while I was in Spain last year. I have decided that this week in the future is cursed and I probably shouldn't leave the country. So this post is dedicated in loving memory of two of the most important people/dogs in my life. The dog who wished he could come and the man who always told me to chase my dreams. I love you both.

My love bug Jack
Michael Sebastian Cimino or Papa

Now, on to the stuff that I'm suppose to be talking about. I learned a lot this week about the culture and how the country works. Here are a few things that I have noticed:
  • First, the people don't smile at you, open doors for you, or help you in public. In fact, you should slam the doors on people trying to walk into your building with you in case they are just trying to follow you in. And if someone looks sick or hurt it's a scam so don't help them. This is because people believe that acts of kindness are a setup to be robbed.
  • Second, they eat hardly any food and the meals have so much time in between each other. I'm always starving. So I'll probably come back looking like a skeleton.
  • Third, just like in Spain staring is completely normal. Which I appreciate just as much as I did in Spain. I like to look at people! People watching is so fun and it's so rude in the United States to stare directly at someone. But people are sooo interesting so as long as I'm here I'm gonna stare.
  • Fourth, they are very passionate about their politics. Every night at dinner my host mom and I watch this political channel and she tells me what is going on and we discuss both sides of what is happening. 
  • Fifth, they love their soccer and I am SOOOOOO happy! I'm gonna make it to a game for sure! 
  • Sixth, most of their food is Italian which was a little shocking for me because I was expecting some sort of new and exciting food when I came to South America but it's just like being home and eating my Papa's food. 
  • Seventh, the people don't smell terrible here thank goodness. And they all dress very nicely. 
  • Eighth, the coffee is amazing. That's probably my favorite part...well a close second.
  • Ninth, in the clubs they don't "grind" or even touch each other. It's very interesting. To be honest, for a country where the guys are so bold with girls it's very shocking that it's inappropriate to touch each other when dancing.
  • And lastly, it's not as scary as people made it out to be. Granted you have to be careful and pay attention, it's not terrible. The problems here are due to poverty and crimes are usually theft. Yes, that's not the best crime (if you can say there is a good form of crime), but it's also not the worst. I'd take theft over kidnapping any day.
There is so much I could say about this country. That list would never end. Tomorrow will be the first time I do something terribly touristy by visiting historical places so I'll have plenty of pictures of a different part of the city after that. For now here are a few more that display my great ability at capturing the moment (that was sarcasm)!
I don't know where this is...we sorta just walked and found it.

A portrait of Evita on a building.

This would be ketchup, milk, jelly, and cheese. It took me a long time to find the milk in the fridge because I was NOT expecting that green plastic thing with a bag in it to be the milk. Then I couldn't figure out how to pour it, and when I did it went everywhere...such a struggle. 

My super duper awesome local phone.

Looks a lot like L.A. with the graffiti and buildings.

Some of my friends in my group.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer back in the states! Adios!

Monday, July 22, 2013

My time is very precious...

Today I sat in meetings for 7 hours. It was really terrible. I went to my new school and took a placement exam which, once again, was impossible. Why do they make those placement exams so hard? I'm pretty sure no one understands what they are asking. If you have taken Graman's Morphology and Syntax class and have taken his impossible fill in the blank tests that even the lady from the Dominican Republic struggled with, well then you have taken one of these impossible placement exams. Anyways after the exam we had a school orientation and they talked for hours. The only upside-I sat in between a guy from France and a guy from Switzerland who made me laugh extremely hard the entire time. I truly do enjoy international classes. People from different countries have such different senses of humor. It's quite entertaining.
Yesterday, however, we went on a city tour and took a bus for 5 hours around Buenos Aires. We walked around briefly but mainly it was to show us different places to return to when we have time. The city is beautiful and much different than I had expected it to be. I will finally include some pictures!
The Recoleta Cemetery (Where Evita is buried)

The Obelisk of Buenos Aires (Located on the widest avenue in the world)

The barrio of La Boca

The mouth of the river-La Boca del rio

Me in front of my school

Two of my friends- Miguel y Jorge

Well that's about all for now. Thought you all would love to see some pictures! Take care and hasta luego.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I Survived!

Well this trip didn't start out as glamorously as I had originally hoped. My plane to Buenos Aires got cancelled in New Jersey and I had to wait 14 hours over night until my next flight took off. They booked me a hotel room which I stayed in alone. First time alone in a hotel room. I thought I was scared then, but I had no clue what was to come once I arrived in Argentina. My flight landed at 1:00 in the morning and in customs I ran into some girl from Haiti who said, "Don't take a taxi alone this late at night that far or you will most likely be kidnapped." So what do I do? Panic. How am I suppose to get to my hostel without a taxi? And I am for sure not sleeping in these clothes for the third day. So, I get a personal driver. Problem solved. Well he gets super lost looking for Hostel Pampa (which looks nothing like the pictures on the internet) and I finally arrive around 3:00. The creepy ponytail man greets me and brings my stuff to my room which is the top bunk in a room with 4 bunk beds. Great, I have to climb all over these sleeping strangers and try to find pjs in the dark without making noise. The place was so scary and gross I slept with my purse around my neck all night. In the morning some older woman gets out of the bottom bunk and to my surprise it's not really a youth hostel. I wanted to get out of there so badly I kept my pajamas on and hoped in another personal car I called and arrived at my host moms house. Thank goodness! She's such a doll and I can tell I am going to have an amazing time living with her. I mean she's throwing a party tonight with 20 friends. Since it's Dia de los amigos here in Argentina she figured she'd welcome me with a party of her theater friends.
The area I am living in is very very nice. It's the barrio Belgrano. Upper middle class and very friendly. I went to the orientation meeting for ISA (my program) then started walking home by myself until I ran into another ISA student who was lost. She asked to go grab a cup of coffee with me. We talked for a few hours and walked around the city. We agreed it was a very beautiful place! She also studied abroad in Spain last year so we had a lot to talk about. So my first impression was a little rocky and I wondered what sort of adventure I had gotten myself into. But thankfully my impression has changed and I'm only more excited for what is in store for me. Hasta luego amigos y familia!
(Pictures to come)