Monthly Archives: August 2012

Just Headin to Uruguay For the Day, No Big Deal…

I’m pretty sure I just slept for 22 hours straight.  I woke up for food twice and then about every four hours otherwise to a strange state of confusion about whether my dreams or real life was reality.  I had the STRANGEST dreams.  My host brother came down with a bad fever this weekend (38.5 degrees Celsius, whatever that means) and I really hope I’m not it’s next victim.  Maybe I slept so much because my weekend was full of wonderful adventures.  Either way, it was a colossal effort to drag my butt out of bed for class this morning.  I was 20 minutes late as it was, and after watching four classmates giving the most disorganized, pathetic attempt at a presentation I’ve seen since freshman year, we are just sitting here in silence doing nothing.  (I shouldn’t be teasing about the presentation..It’s ok because they’re all freshman still and it was rather entertaining watching them try and pull it together…plus, half my group wasn’t even there because no one was told we were presenting, so I didn’t even get the chance to look like an idiot in front of everyone.  I have zero room to talk, but whatever.)  We’ve been sitting here for the last 40 minutes reading the grafitti on the sides of our desks.  No one knows exactly what we are supposed to be doing.  The professor wrote the homework for Thursday on the board after the trainwreck of a presentation by the only group who had it’s members and all of the questions answered and then just sat down in the back of the classroom.  Nine people showed up to class today (out of 25 or so.)  Two people are doing the reading, a few in the corner are quietly discussing philosophy (from what I can understand from their quiet racing spanish) and I’m just trying to look like I’m doing something since I didn’t think to bring my book to class.

Even the professor keeps checking his watch probably more often than the Spice Girls check their make up.  It’s weird and I’m thoroughly confused…now the group is arguing whther Bon Jovi or The Strokes are a better rock band.  Now I understand why my dreams were seemingly more real than being awake haha.  Anyways, I had a wonderful, if a bit exhausting weekend.  Friday I went shopping with Christine, then worked on my budget and itinerary for my summer trip.  Saturday woke up early for a beautiful trip to Colonia, Uruguay ❤ Then went out Saturday night with my oldest host brother to some house parties, returned fairly early for Argentine standards at 5 AM and slept pretty much all day Sunday.

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About the day trip to Uruguay–Loved it loved it loved it 🙂  Getting out of the city was great and Colonia was a precious little gem of a town.  One thing though…I don’t know what romantic ideas I’d been harboring about riding a ferry…but they were ruthlessly drowned within 15 minutes on the boat.  I think I’d pictured a beautiful sunny day, hanging over the rails like Jack and Rose with a comfortable smile on my face and the light in my hair.  Nope.  I didn’t think I was the type to get seasick but I still feel a little dizzy recalling the trip over.  The ride was only an hour and I didn’t lose the contents of my stomach (thankfully)…only every last hint of color in my face.  Gaby, our program tour guide, went around offering seasickness medicine at the beginning of the trip and I all but contained my eyes from rolling out of my head at the idea of taking something for an hour boat ride in a giant passenger boat.  I’m an idiot.  In my defense though, people told me it was an unusually turbulent ride.  The bathrooms were occupied the whole time and a couple people threw up in the back of the boat because they couldn’t get in.  If I had been farther back and smelled/heard/seen that I would’ve probably involuntarily joined them but I made it.  And it was totally worth it.  The whole trip I felt like I was walking through a movie set.  Lounging by the water drinking mate was one of the first times I think I completely relaxed since I got here. Mmm so nice.  Since I didn’t want to post all the pictures on here or on Facebook I made a short video 🙂  I didn’t get the greatest pics and videos because my camera is broken still 😦 My phone died really quickly and it just doesn’t do as great of a job as my camera…

And yet again Posterous doesn’t seem to receptive to my video today.  Here it is again on YouTube, which always puts it in crappy quality but at least let’s me upload it.  Once again I came up with a corny, completely unrelated title.

 

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Maté-Maticas

Awww…it feels so nice to sit.  I’ve been running around since the crack of dawn this morning (9 AM haha) and doing errands and such so I’m feeling a bit cansada.  This post really doesn’t have a particular focus so if you decide to continue reading be prepared to try and follow my stream of consciousness.  It’s a chaotic atmosphere, my mind.

Anyways, today I had several goals, most of them which I met 🙂 I had to go with Christine to buy PotterCon tickets, then we were going to go to the maté store, then I had to go to my local cell phone company AGAIN to deal with yet another headache of a misunderstanding, and through it all I had my eye on this alpaca sweater that, for now, resides in a shop across the street that I have been trying not to splurge on.  It´s actually pretty cheap because it´s on sale (only 100 pesos, which is about $20) but I still should test my resolve and refrain from buying things that aren’t necessity.  Maybe if I successfully get a job or if I do well on my first project next Thursday or something I will reward myself.  But it’s hard. Humph! 

I’ll start by explaining PotterCon.  Yeah, it’s like ComicCon but with Harry Potter.  In my opinion it’s a therapy session for everyone, including myself, who still haven’t recieved their Hogwart’s letter (Do you think owls come all the way to Argentina?)  Throw out the boring muggle clothing, go to the park and find yourself a magical looking stick because for the next eight hours you will be challenged to duels, sorted into houses, and maybe even meet goblins and house elves.  I don’t have any Harry Potter stuff, and if I did I don’t think it would have made the cut and apparated to Argentina with me….but I’m still kind of excited in a nerdy sort of way to eat a chocolate frog.  We found out about it from this girl we met at the hostel in Córdoba.  She and her boyfriend, from Rosario which is about 4 hours outside of Buenos Aires, were there enjoying their first vacation together.  She’s very excited and keeps posting on my Facebook and liking everything.  It’s kind of adorable 😛  Anyways, tickets were sold out so we’re going to have to buy them at the door on Saturday. 

Then we went to the mate store recommended by a director from our program as not having crappy tourist quality tea supplies.  You may have seen a couple of pictures on my Facebook of the mate I bought and been worried that Argentina has turned me into a drug addict 🙂 

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In all actuality, the supplies to drink mate, the ritual, and the effects of mate are all similar haha but I can quit whenever I want I promise!!!  Haha, but no really.  Mate is like caffeine (matteine) but it just makes you feel soooo much better than coffee.  It doesn’t make your heart race uncontrollably, keep you up at night, or make you shake.  You just feel genuinly healthy and awake.  It’s amazing.  There’s an entire culture surrounding it and very specific customs.  It’s a social thing kind of like hookah would be (except you’re not destroying your lungs!) and it’s even more common in Uruguay.  You can tell a true Uruguayan from a tourist because of their third limb, the thermos of hot water they wouldn’t go anywhere without.  I bought one while I was in Uruguay.  It came with a car charger, a wall adapter, a shoulder strap, and a side strap if I wanted to carry it as a clutch..wouldn’t wanna be in a bind without my hot water! Below is a picture of my thermos, yerba (the tea), and mate/bombilla (the gourd you drink it out of):

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Water costs money at every restaurant you go to but they’ll fill your thermos with hot water for free.  It’s fantastic.  You drink mate out of a little gourd after a complicated preparation process.  It doesn’t taste very good (like bitter tea with an aftertaste of tobacco) but once you associate the taste with the feeling, you’re golden 🙂  Anyways, you drink it through a metal straw called a bombilla that looks better suited to cooking heroine. The tea looks like drugs too. 

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I think it’d be like the perfect way to quitting smoking actually (although I don’t smoke.)  It would give you something to go do for five or ten minutes every so often (like a smoking break) and then give you a little energy and relaxation several times a day.  I’d recommend it if you can figure out how to make it and find someplace that sells it there (drinking it from tea bags is really really not the same.)  Learning the social rules is a bit complicated without a guide though.  I think, though, that I’m going to be thoroughly addicted to maté and all of the customs that come with it by the time I head home.  Ready yourselves 😉

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Anyways, after the mate stuff, Christine went home to eat and I headed to the cell phone store to fix my phone.  Although it’s been sending texts and making calls just fine over the last month, it wouldn’t send them anymore…I ended up going to a little branch store like 5 blocks from my house, where they told me I’d have to go to a bigger store to try and get it fixed at the mall…which was like twelve blocks.  But before I went I talked to the guys working at the counter for about twenty minutes to a half hour about Argentina and studying here.  Everyone is just so friendly and interesting to talk to.  One man working there had never even been out of Buenos Aires and he was around 40 or 45 years old.  Apparently that’s not that uncommon.  He and his coworker were both completely perplexed as to why I WANTED to be here over the US.  They told me to come back anytime if I had any questions or if I just wanted to chat.  It’s interesting just to hear other people’s stories.  Anyways, I went to the cell phone store and got everything sorted out.  They’re always very helpful…but my service
is just mediocre and I have a hard time understanding my bill/getting things to work 

I was successful by the way in not buying the sweater!  It is still sitting in the window waiting for me to have a reason to reward myself. Anyways, gotta go to bed early for Uruguay tomorrow, I’ll talk to you all later!  (I wrote this on Friday and it is now Monday so I already went to Uruguay!  Sorry if it was really confusing because I was talking as if I’d already gone and such but I’ll post about that next…)

Recounting Córdoba: Part I

I have so many stories from Córdoba that I’d like to share with you guys but I am much too lazy to write that much.  I made another video! I’m hoping that posterous will let me put it up here… because it’s more than 100 mb I can’t directly upload it so I’m going to try to embed it from YouTube.  Here goes!

Hopefully that works 🙂 Love you all! 

Besitos,

Autumn

YAY it worked! So now I have to explain a few things 🙂
The crazy cool talented people (juggling, playing with fire, slacklining, and climbing trees) were just people we saw hanging out in the park on a Sunday a few weeks ago. 🙂 I don’t know if they were practicing street performances or just meeting up for some free entertainment and to hang out with friends.  Whatever it was it doubled as free entertainment on a nice sunny day in the park for us too 🙂
I did not go to a tango show.  I may not ever go, idk.  Those types of shows tend to be really expensive and only tourists go.  The video is from orientation at my university…there’s a tango class you can take and the guy dancing is the professor.  I was gonna take it but decided I didn’t want more than four classes because the ones Í’m taking are already going to be kind of time consuming.  I’m not a big fan of tango anyways.  It’s too…stiff and structured for me.
The elevator is the one at school (remember when I said they have weird connecting elevators and such), because my university campus consists of a single skyscraper.  There’s no plaza, oval, lakes or anything.  It is a smaller school but still pretty 🙂 At first the elevator was cool but now it makes me kind of sick everytime haha I have to face the other wall when I’m going up or down so I don’t stumble out at my destination like a stereotypical drunk American college student.  Breaking the mold, that’s me 😉
Also, I don’t think ALL of the highways are tollgated, but on our way to Córdoba we went through seven or eight of the dang things.  They seem about as common as weigh stations for trucks in the US.
The puppy was a stray.  Stray dogs are more common in Córdoba than junior high kids at the mall in Foco.  I thought they were all adorable and lovable (except the one at the end that looked posessed and probably had rabies and wanted to eat our faces off), but Christine “pupblocked” me if you will, and ordered me to stay away from them because they all seemed to have fleas and whatnot…it was hard for me to keep my urge to pet them under control…Anyways, we were asking this couple for directions (before I fell in the river) and they had found this funny stray dog who loved to play in the water.  It made me miss Sanchez and Dio so much (I know Dio’s not my dog but I still used to cuddle with him whenever I needed and now I can’t.)  Most of the dogs here are hideous (imo) but I’ll tell you about that later.
Oh and the title of the video is completely random…I was getting really bored and annoyed trying to get it to upload so I came up with something random and it saved before I could change it.  I just left it because I don’t really care 🙂

“Pasa todos los días acá”

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I saw someone die last night.  It happened so fast and suddenly that at first I didn’t know what had just happened.  It was about 5 in the morning and we were walking home from the bar.  I’d drank about 4 bottles of water and had one drink that tasted like sugar water so it was a pretty low key night.  Kaitlyn, Christine, and I were all joking with our new friend Miguel that we’d met at the hostel about something ingsignificant and trivial that I don’t even remember anymore.  There wasn’t much traffic.  I’m sure the boliches were at the climax of the night, but we had to wake up early to catch the bus back to Buenos Aires in the morning so we’d opted out of the the dance scene.  A motorcyclist was racing down the street about 80mph in a hurry to get somwhere.  I’m sure his destination wasn’t REALLY as important as he thought it was.  He was coming our direction, his hair flying wildly behind him as he hurtled down the empty street.  As he passed I caught his eyes, he looked about our age, in his 20s, full of life and future.

But he ran the red light.  Everything was red.  The dull glow of the street lamps, the car that clipped the back tire of his bike, the sparks of metal scraping on asphalt.  It’s all a muddled jumble of raw images out of sequence but clear and harsh.  I looked behind me just as it happened, on the verge of commenting about the kind of idiot that drives so carelessly without a helmet, but my breath caught with the blunt pop of the crash.  I saw his body fly through the air, plummet to the street and limply skid another 100 feet until it hit the curb in a lump of limbs.  At first, I registered the body as the bike because it had looked like a lifeless object–helpless.  I can’t get the image of him being tossed across the road, like dirty laundry flung carelessly into the corner of my bedroom.  I know he died.  Just seconds before I had been looking at another human being.  SomeONE with thoughts, feelings, ideas, dreams, relationships…a mother.  Someone just as complex and profound as I am. Tthen, I watched all of that vanish, cease, in an instant.  I can’t put into words the way that made me feel. HIs eyes.  I can still see them everytime I close my own.

The world stopped breathing.

But then it kept going.  The flashing lights of the police car that had been stationed at the other end of the block crawled by us towards the crash…and then casually turned the corner…The police had just witnessed what I had and completely ignored it.  The last wisps of his life were fading as we stared, motionless, frozen, and the police had shrugged their shoulders and gone off to partol a less eventful block.  The red car that had clipped the bike stayed still, some people slowly walked over out of curiosity and shock, but the rest of the cars continued through their green light. 

I’m ashamed, but I couldn’t go over there either.  Miguel broke the silence, “Pasa todos los días acá.”  That kind of thing happens everyday here.  If I could translate the feeling of the scene into words, those would be the best I could do.  .  If anyone, save me and Kaitlyn, had seen those eyes you wouldn’t have known.  His body was just lying there in the street, like a stray dog you don’t go near because it makes you feel uncomfortable.  Pasa todos los días acá.  We turned around too. I’m not proud, but I don’t know what I could’ve possibly done.  Miguel and Christine ushered us onward and seemed nonplussed.  Me and Kaitlyn were in silent tears of shock. Miguel, maybe a little bit tipsy, wouldn’t shut up about how common such things were here and how people should really wear helmets.  I don’t even know what to say.  I just wanted to be alone in that moment. 

I know those things happen everyday.  And not just here.  But I guess I’m still not desensitized to them.  I keep thinking of his hair, his eyes, the way his body was so…empty after he fell back to the ground–like a crushed soda can pitched out a car windown to settle in the  gutter until it’s either washed away or cleaned up by the city. inconsequential.

Living in a city with 15 million people doesn’t make me feel insignificant like I’ve heard it tends to do.  It just makes me feel overwhelmed.  I think about the 19 years I’ve been alive.  The complex, unique personality I have (not being egotistical, just trying to make a point), the lives I’ve affected (both negatively and positively), the thoughts that race through my mind nearly constantly.  I can’t imagine that many human beings.  I can’t wrap my head around how much life this world has.  It’s potential.  It’s capacity for emotion, thought, reason, love.  I’ts wisdom.  And here I am wondering which shoes to wear with my outfit tomorrow.  It’s uncomprehensible for me. 

Sorry this post is so depressing and philosophical.  I will write about the rest of my adventures in Córdoba tomorrow and the rest of this week, I just felt like I had to get this out of my head somehow.  Overall it was a really enlightening trip and it was really good see how the rest of Argentina was.  Granted, I have only been to two different cities so far, but I know that Buenos Aires could be a country all on it´s own and shares less than expected with the rest of the country or “the interior.” 

Scene Making 101

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Hey guys!  Sorry I haven’t posted in forever—a lot’s been going on but I have just been super lazy and didn’t wanna write.  I’m starting to get into a comfortable rhythm, but this weekend was the first weekend I started to really miss everyone back home.  I’ve missed you guys, don’t get me wrong!  But being surrounded by so many new things has distracted me quite successfully from the fact that I’ve been gone from my friends, family, and queen size mattress with 4 inch memory foam for almost an entire month!!! (I would like to take this moment to extend a special recognition to one of my best friends, Nick Nick, for suggestion of said memory foam, which tremendously improved my nightly sleep patterns back home.  He is the best!  And Nick, I was going to mention my memory foam anyways, it was just a perfect opportunity to comment on how awesome you are also 🙂 )   This last weekend was definitely the craziest yet.  I’m a little hesitant about posting this on my blog for all my friends and family to see, but in the words of my wonderful mother, “You don’t have to pretend to be a saint.” I’m not pretending by the way, mom 😉 But no, really, drinking is a part of the culture and it’s a funny story, so I’ll tell it to you.

I got invited to a house party by one of the guys in my Marketing class (with Argentines.)  He is actually from Colombia.  Apparently the carrera (major) of marketing is relatively new in South America, and it’s called public relations, so it still isn’t offered at many universities and he came to Argentina at the beginning of this year to study. (Don’t get your panties in a bunch if you’re a public relations major.  I know there’s a difference between marketing and public relations, but here marketing is kind of included in PR.  Actually the entire university system is really different but I can talk about that some other time.)  Anyways, it’s not common for someone my age to live by themselves, but since he has his own apartment, he can throw house parties.  Me, being the “rata” that I am (cheapass), jumped at his invite because it meant I wouldn’t have to go spend a fortune on covers at boliches (dance clubs) and bars.  I could get away with bringing a couple of bottles of cheap wine and make new friends. 

Now, he lives near the university but I live about a 30-45 minute colectivo ride away.  This meant that I’d have to travel all the way there and navigate my way to his house in the dark… And let’s just say, due to my recent “explorations” of other parts of the city, I wasn’t too eager to go alone.  I asked him if I could invite a girlfriend and he told me of course.  When I asked him what time everyone shows up he said around 12 or 12:30. 

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The thing is, people don’t even have dinner here until 9:30 or 10 PM so 12 wasn’t that bad.  The night of the party I got together with Christine, we went to see Batman with two other guys from our program, Alex and Pato, and then went home to get ready.

Party Foul #1: Don’t bring guys to a party.  The only two exceptions are given if you have more girls than guys or that the guys you bring were also directly invited to the party.

I ended up inviting both of the guys to the party.  It wasn’t like I was going to be rude and tell them they couldn’t come…or worse, build up a guilty conscience and even suspicion by telling them that I was going home to my cozy little cot to count sheep.  One of them didn’t show up at the bus stop anyways so we were three strong and now more guys than girls.  I still felt bad that I invited a guy but oh well.  We had a bottle of vodka and wine so we couldn’t be that unwelcome.  We ended up leaving Recoleta late—like 12:45 —and we didn’t get to Belgrano until 1:30 or so, so I was feeling pretty good about being fashionably late.   Which brings me to:

Party Foul #2: Don’t arrive too early to a house party unless you really know the hosts.

It was raining but we found the place alright and buzzed the apartment.  Confusion ensued as we waited for an answer, doubted ourselves, snuck in after someone else left the building, got in trouble with the doorman, and ended up back outside calling the host’s (Juan’s) phone repeatedly in embarrassing desperation to get out of the cold rain.  Juan rescued us eventually though and, after an awkward elevator ride, we walked into the party.

The hazy wall of cigarette smoke was the first thing that assaulted our senses, followed by beams of colored lights coming from all directions like a space mountain rollercoaster ride and loud bumping electronic music.  There was something missing though—the people.  Back home, it would be last call, but here, there sat eight guys hanging around a coffee table pretending not to be surprised that we’d showed up this early.   As if I didn’t already feel bad that I’d shown up too early, wet and with the wrong number of girls, each guy jumped up from his seat and practically tripped over each other to kiss me and Christine hello.  They didn’t completely ignore Alex…but I definitely felt a little uncomfortable about the circumstances of our arrival.

The last thing I wanted to do was drink and make a fool of myself, so I made a light drink and pretended to sip on it as we tried to make small talk over the din of the music.  To be honest, my classmate had done an excellent job of decking out his little apartment for a party.  If my mind had been on anything else but how much I felt like a ripe tomato in a bag of russet potatoes, then I’d have realized that it was the perfect environment for dancing, but I digress.  No one could hear each other over the thundering bass but we still made an effort to make small talk for about another half hour or so.  Somehow, my pretend sips were actually depleting my drink, but before I reached for more juice to dilute it further, a whole slew of people came in.  It was about 2:30 in the morning and the party seemed to come to life all at once.  Suddenly, I wasn’t trying so hard to think of intelligent things to say in Spanish (every solution to the awkward silence I had was completely lost on everyone else in the group anyways.)  All of the partiers coming in stopped by the coffee table to give us kisses and then began to start conversations, making me wonder how come I cou
ldn’t hear over the music before. 

I began to relax into the rhythm of the party, talking to people I didn’t know, trying out my Spanish and attempting to joke about the conversations…although my attempts were probably more humorous than the jokes I made.  I knew how to do this!  It may have been mi primer rodeo del América del Sur, but I’d certainly been to a rodeo before.   There was a kid from my Marketing class who was going around taking pictures of everyone.  We took a picture together.  He took a picture of me and four or five people I’d just met.  I finished my drink and went in search of new refreshment.  As I was electing a foreign bottle to mix with my grapefruit juice, two of Juan’s friends strutted up to me grinning with pride and carrying…a beer bong.  They were so proud that they knew how to party like Americans—they even had a double ended beer bong!!! …Umm…yeah.  A lot of fault with that logic.  It’s not to say that I’ve never ended up on the other side of a beer bong looking like a complete dumbass and having a sticky face for the rest of the night, but it’s really probably not as common in the states as they think.  Yes, we play beer pong.  Yes, I’ve seen beer bongs at a few big parties before.  We even have creative costume parties.  But sometimes I wonder if they think that our impressive creativity is only channeled into Apple products and new ways to ingest as much alcohol as possible, as quickly as possible.  I guess you can’t blame them.  I mean look at our movies:

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American Pie

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Project X

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10 things I hate about you

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Superbad

Multibong

And this is just a picture you get on google when you type in beer bong

 

Although I’m clearly not representative of everyone at my university, my parties are usually a little more chill:

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Dad’s 20th birthday party

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My Goodbye party

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A picture of Ryan’s friends playing beer pong (because I can’t find any in my pics for some reason)

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Me playing beer pong in my pjs with my dad 😛

If I have to admit it, though, there is an origin to the stereotypes:

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Ram’s Pointe Party last summer less than a mile from my house *I will not disclose if I was there or not*

But I’ve seriously done a beer bong once!  And it wasn’t a pleasurable experience.  They were presenting it to me like I was its honorable master.   Yeah, ew.  They begged me to do it with them and I declined, several times.  Finally the two of them decided to have a go.  They unnaturally tried to balance the top of it up with one hand each while twisting their bodies underneath it and craning their necks at odd angles trying to get a good position.  It made me smile.  Ok, I might not be an expert but I must know something because they just looked pathetic.  I tried to explain to them that they should kneel or stand on a table/chair but I couldn’t communicate what I wanted to say i
n Spanish.  Since I was less than eager to get on my knees in front of two guys, and I’m pretty well known for coming up with brilliant ideas like the following, I turned around and got on the coffee table with the beer bong to show them what I meant. 

 

Party Foul #3: Breaking things and making a mess.

 

So this charming little apartment for some reason had a ridiculous low hanging chandelier.  Who the a;dklgh;ahg puts a chandelier in a one bedroom apartment and drops it to neck height!? I’m guessing that Juan put the coffee table underneath it so people wouldn’t run into the chandelier because it was seriously in the middle of his living room hanging there like a grand piano outside a tenth story apartment building…just waiting for me.  Only it didn’t fall on me or anything.  No.  I stood up into it. In doing so I broke four of the four light bulbs on the bloody contraption (yes, I’m British now), lost my balance because I’m Autumn, slipped and flipped the table, and shattered two out of the two glasses that were atop it.  Beautiful.  The room shuddered quiet, but I’m pretty sure my mortification was audible, at least to me.  I think this moment was probably worse than when I was 11 and got a training bra stuck in my hair at the outlet malls and had to go out to get the shop assistant to help me take off the security button.  Yeah, I didn’t have my mom to laugh at me this time 😦  The lights went on and I frantically started trying to sweep up glass with my hands before Christine rescued me.  I saw flashes.  Someone was photographing me. Oh lord.  And then I looked down and my hands, which had blood dripping on them. All this happened in about the five crucial seconds before Christine was able to whisk me off to the bathroom.  I can’t express how much I wanted to just sink through the floor and turn into a puddle of putty in the apartment below.  I had one, yes ONE, drink, so I wasn’t drunk.  Those of you who know me will understand that these things seem to seek me out, even in the soberest of moments.  It’s like the ground is thirsty and greedily steals my blood when my attention wanders for the slightest moment.   Sigh.

The bathroom mirror was a tell all.  There was a lot of blood.  It soaked my bangs, ran down the sides of my cheeks in thick paths, and was smeared all over my arms.  The delightfully tasteful chandelier apparently had legitimate metal spikes on the ends.  We’d had a vicious battle and I was far from unscathed.  Christine held a napkin to my head putting pressure on the wound (an inch long deep cut near my part) while I babbled about how humiliated I was because I looked like the stereotypical drunk American out there when I’d had one, yes ONE, drink.  Eventually we just both started giggling uncontrollably as the hilarity of the situation caught up to us.  I still wanted to die, or at least spontaneously teleport to the Patagonian mountains where no one could ever find me.  No such luck.  After we had a good laugh and were about to check to see if the bleeding had stopped someone knocked on the door.  It was a girl from the party checking to see if I was ok.  I think she was a little tipsy, but she was sweet.  I told her I was fine and she got really excited about my accent, asking if I could say something in English, where I was from, and throwing questions left and right.  She even beckoned to about 15 (and that’s not an exaggeration) of her friends who seemed to be just as enthralled with the stupid, clumsy American girl. 

The bleeding had stopped and Christine and I both stood up to exit the bathroom.  Only we were literally stuck there for the next quarter of an hour as the girls inundated us with questions and hugs and kisses.  We seriously couldn’t even get out of the bathroom.  They were an impenetrable crowd.  Eventually Juan came down the hallway to make sure the fuss wasn’t because I’d passed out or something.  I expressed how terribly sorry I was for destroying his chandelier and disrupting the entire party but he was just glad I was ok and laughed a bunch.  When I finally got away from the groupies and out into the party, I really wanted a drink.  I didn’t want to take one though because it was clear I didn’t need any more to drink (except I was completely sober.)  To make things worse I went to assess the damage (which they’d already cleaned up) and proceeded to smack straight into the chandelier again.  Thankfully I didn’t have to worry about looking like a lush on my own because one of Juan’s friends shoved a glass in my hand and made me something (I think it was delicious but, at that point, it could’ve been Southern Comfort and Sunny D, and I would’ve loved it.) 

The rest of the party was really enjoyable.  Since I’d already pretty much destroyed any image I was trying to maintain I felt I didn’t have much to lose.  We ended up leaving at around 6 in the morning and I only made two phone calls that were a little hazy on the way home…according to my call history. 🙂  I did ask the photographer, Nico, never EVER to post any such pictures on any social media websites EVER.  I think I actually repeated my request more than thrice.  So it came as a bit of a shock when Clell told me he’d seen my pictures.  Yeah, nearly 200 pictures up on Facebook for everyone’s enjoyment not even 24 hours afterwards.  Thankfully he sorted through them and there were none of me on the floor amidst a sea of glass shards with blood running down my face.  Just the aftermath, but I still only kept myself tagged in four because I looked less than…professional in all of the ones he deemed acceptable to tag me in.  Even those four I’m less than fond of. 

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I shared this story with you because I can look back and laugh.  Everyone in the class seems to like me despite my poor partying comportment, my head seems to be healing quite nicely, and Christine was an angel the whole night.  She really had my back.

And now I’m thoroughly exhausted of writing so I’ll talk to you all later.  Besos! 🙂

Goals

I finalized my schedule today.  I stuck with the minimum of 4 classes just because I’m taking 2 directly at the Universidad Belgrano with Argentine students (most international students only take classes with other international students through a program at the university, offered in both English and Spanish) and I’m accepting a certain higher level of difficulty and work load by doing that.  The other 2 classes I’m taking are 400 level courses in Spanish with other international students too, so I think I’ll have my work cut out for me.  With Argentines, I have Public Relations and Marketing.  The other two are Argentina and the Global Economy and Argentine Societies: Movements Through History.  It’s pretty much the most I could have asked for in terms of classes, and they’re all really interesting 🙂

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Sorry for posting the above picture Christine, it’s the only good one I have of class…ok the only one I have of being in class.

Anyways, I’m really enjoying my classes with Argentines because it feels like I’m actually going to be integrated into the culture and make friends with people from Argentina.  Having talked to so many students who are just finishing their semester abroad here, the most common “biggest regrets” I have heard are that he/she didn’t didn’t make friends with the locals, didn’t connect with their host families enough, or didn’t speak enough Spanish.  It doesn’t really make sense to me the way study abroad programs are set up.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving everyone from the program!  They are already really awesome friends and fun to hang out with/go out with/talk to, etc.  But the way it’s set up, you meet your group, take tours and orientation sessions with your group for the first weeksor so, then take classes at the university with you group (and only other international students.)  You live within blocks of each other and get a chance to connect with them before you start school.  Because everyone has varying levels of Spanish and it’s exhausting getting to know someone when you can’t properly express yourself, you speak English when with your group as well…to me, it’s kind of like going to a different country, but in a bubble thats heated/air conditioned and comes with all the ammenities you’d need to survive, even enjoy yourself.

Although I’m sure that experience would be the time of my life, even life altering, it’s not what I want.  I want all the difficulty, stress, excitement and raw experience that comes with studying on the other side of the world.  I want to be thrown off the ship into the icy water without a life jacket…but ideally I’d know how to swim.  I’m more and more grateful each day that I came with API as I meet people who are still living in a hotel trying to find a place to live and spending loads of money, figuring out on their own how to get a visa or how to take the colectivo. These people have been thrown into the ocean without swimming lessons or a life jacket.  API has been excellent with placing me with a terrific host family, helping with the visa process and basically telling me which way’s south 😉  That being said (and sorry I’m kind of talking in circles here), I still came here with the major goal to actually feel uncomfortable, get to know the culture and the people, and learn how to get back to shore all on my own. That’s why I’m so happy to be able to take classes with Argentineans and not just with other people who are just as clueless as I am. 

I asked my host mom, who’s hosted 9 other students over the years, if most study abroad students leave with a set of Argentine friends or just those from their group. She told me that it’s rare for the American students to actually go out with Argentines, speak Spanish 24/7 and truly pop their bubble.  I’m determined to change that and to not let myself fall into familiar rhythms.  I really adore everyone from my group, they’ve already become much better friends than I originally thought, and I plan on developing those friendships for sure, but I don’t want to have any regrets that I didn’t completely immerse myself in Argentina 🙂

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So far I’m really loving the café culture though.  I wrote this whole thing in my notebook during a break (k more like a 3 hour gap between classes) with this delicious sandwich and cafe con leche (40 pesos!)  I sat there for an hour and a half just eating at my leisure not in a hurry at all.  It’s just so relaxing and enjoyable 🙂

Wall-Mart: The first parking lot I’ve seen in BA

**Disclaimer: As this story is told from my point of view, a few parts that highlight my strengths may be exaggerated and there’s a slight chance that it’s biased…maybe 😉

Despite my honest intentions to discover Argentinean culture and experience life as a South American, I ended up at Walmart on Thursday with two of my friends from the API program.  Alex wanted to bake a cake for his host family but couldn’t find graham crackers for the crust in any of the supermecados he had visited.  He searched the web for familiar American names and was elated to find that Buenos Aires was indeed home to a single Walmart.  If he expected to find graham crackers anywhere, he expected that they’d be in Walmart. 

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When he and Christine (who was hankering for a fix of the ever-elusive peanut butter) invited me to go with them after class I accepted. I had nothing better to do and I think my host family finds it strange that I haven’t been going out every night…I think they believe me to be very conservative, quiet and studious.  Ha! Anyhow, we stopped for tea time and I expertly navigated the bus (colectivo) guidebook (Guia T), wrote down which buses to take, to connect us, etc., and bravely took on the burden of my companion’s trust.

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We rode the first bus for almost 20 minutes before we got off (at the right stop!) next to the highway. It was sketchy as hell, but me and Christine only felt slightly terrified because Alex was with us.  Anyhow, crossing the highway looked daunting.  I dutifully followed the crowd, assuming they knew what they were doing and raced across a maze of crosswalks with blinding headlights seemingly pursuing us from all directions.  We crossed beneath the highway under a bridge and a creepy pedophile van was sitting on the side of the bridge, sort of hidden in the shadows looking the part of a Hollywood drug dealer.  Well, guess what?!  Totally was.  Three or four people broke off from the the crowd and exchanged wads of pesos with the driver for teeny bags of white unidentified powder.  If the cars didn’t make me uneasy enough, I was now thoroughly aware that I wasn’t in my cozy Fort Collins anymore.  After we got past the stereotypical kidnapper van, we set off for the next bus stop.

We walked along the frontage road, which was lined with dingy looking shops and houses.  Houses were a rare sight because most of the places I’ve been to so far and around where I’m living are too dense for anything but high rise apartment buildings.  We were pretty much alone walking there but, por suerte, we stumbled upon the bus stop right as our bus was arriving.  I felt a lot better after boarding the bus and getting off the streets, but the fact remained that we could get totally lost with one wrong move…and with my limited Spanish and lack of knowledge about the city, or pretty much cities altogether, we’d be totally screwed.  We were now kilometers from home in a much mor raw area of the city.  Luck continued to be on our side though.  As we drove on the highway for another 15 minutes or so at alarming speeds, we saw an exit for the street we needed and got ready to get off the bus.  All three of us hesitated though when the bus stopped.  We weren’t speaking just because it was probably an excellent way to target ourselves as foreigners (even if we tried to speak spanish our obvious accents wouldn’t have helped us to stay safe), but we all shared a look and didn’t get off.  The next stop we timidly deboarded and it turned out to be the right stop.  If we hadn’t gotten that intuition feeling not to get off we’d have been 2 or 3 kilometers away in a scary part of the city with no clue about where we were going.  But, after a 15 minute walk the yellow Walmart flower shown through the foggy streets and bloomed in our hearts. 

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A real Walmart so far from its origen was bordering on hilarity.  It looked totally out of place.  The characteristic South American equivalent of Home Depot (Easy!) situated in the adjacent parking lot made us giggle as the nervousness we’d accumulated over the course of the adventure began to dissipate.

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I seriously hadn’t seen a parking lot since arriving in Buenos Aires and there was just something so…awkward about it being there.  Anyways, we went through the front doors and were greeted with a familiar sight.  Everything seemed the same but with a foreign touch, like how most young people here speak near perfect english but with a thick accent.  They had turnstiles you had to go through to get in…which seemed odd to me…

We didn’t find graham crackers, and there were probably a grand total of 7 jars of peanut butter in the entire store.  Those seven we found on an obscure top shelf near the rows and rows of dulce de leche (my host brother would kill me if I compared dulce de leche with peanut butter so for the record, I am not comparing them.  Dulce de leche is a delectable caramel spread.  Peanut butter is not.)  and we did find a can of sweetened condensed milk (leche condensada y azucada en lata.) After that we just explored the store.  Going to Walmart made it so easy to observe the cultural differences here.  For example, they had a huge wine collection and liquor store in the very center of the store (like where the grocery sections and clothes sections meet.)

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And the electronics section was almost sad to see.  The prices were outrageous because they have exorbitant taxes on imports here.  F
or example, the TV that me and Erin had was 36″ I think.  It was $320…which is about 1440 pesos.  There was one about the same size, similar brand and quality for 5990 pesos, which is nearly $1300!!!  That TV was probably the biggest that the store even carried.  They also sold TVs that looked like they were from the 80s.  An 8″ boxy television was selling for about $50.  It was insane.  We also found quite the collection of scales, which probably has something to say about the way weight is perceived here.  They definitely boosted my self image though (see picture below 😉 )

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We had to buy school supplies too and we certainly didn’t find any Target 10 for a dollar cheapies here.  I haven’t even seen simple notebooks actually.  Most of them have hard covers and sell for $5 or $6.  Another difference I’ve noticed–which can be seen at the grocery stores too is that you don’t just put things in your cart and bring them to checkout.  I tried to buy a single banana for lunch from the grocery store the other day and ended up holding up the line for ten minutes while I went back to the fresh foods section to ask the employee to weigh it and price it for me.  They do that with things from the bakery too.  And they did that with the nail polish and makeup products at walmart…it was really strange for me. 

As we left the store, a dog about the size of Lipton came in carrying a three foot long stick just really excited to see everyone.  He easily hopped the turnstiles and was cheerily greeting customers and employees alike.  Made me laugh and remember once again that I’m on the other side of the world where it’s not really too far from normal for a dog to come into Walmart to play fetch. 

Anyhow, getting back home didn’t really go as planned.  Instead of going back with the same buses and connections that we had come by, Christine was pretty sure that the 111 would pick us up right on the other side of the street and bring us within a few blocks of our houses (by that I mean apartments.)  I readily trusted her and my confidence in her improved when we saw the names of streets we could recognize on the list of stops at the bus stop.  We boarded the 111 and found seats and sat down for the ride.  I was a bit nervous when we didn’t turn onto the highway and continued in the opposite direction from where we lived…when we started to go southwest (the complete opposite direction from where we lived) I knew we’d messed up somehow.  There wasn’t much we could do except get out our Guia T’s and try to read the occasional street sign and number to decipher our whereabouts.  The minutes passed and the passengers continued to get off until we were the only riders except for one lady who asked us if we were lost…I asked her if the bus would turn around and she said, yes, it would, but we’d have to get off first.  We had been riding for about 25 minutes by the time we got off in a really dark alley-looking street with only three or four thug-looking people hanging out by the bus sign.  Definitely not where we should be after dark but this night seemed determined to rob me of my small town innocence.  We ended up getting back on the bus and riding it for 45 minutes all the way home.  I got off totally dissoriented and walked seven blocks before figuring out I was going the wrong way.  I turned around and trudged the now 12 blocks home…I got there at 10:30 and my family had already eaten, but my host mom was really sweet about it (I had texted her on the ride home so they wouldn’t wait up for me) and she cooked me something on the spot.  My family here has been so terrific ❤ This is a bad picture of both of us but it’s the only one I’ve got.  The other girl is Ines, my host brother’s girlfriend. She’s a sweetheart too 🙂

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Great Views on a Cloudy Day

I actually tried to post this yesterday from my phone, but that epically failed.  Today, I was going to tell you all about last night´s adventures trying to find the ¨Wall-Mart¨ but I´ll do that when I get home from school 🙂  For now, I´ll try again to post the pictures I took yesterday.  The first five should be from the terrace at my host family´s house and the other´s from the 16th (technically seventeenth) floor of the university 🙂

*Again I didn’t end up posting this.  So I am posting it today but it’s actually from like 3 or 4 days ago.  The rain finally stopped 🙂 It’s still cloudy more or less but, being from Colorado, I’m used to the sun winning a quick victory over the clouds and that was probably the most consecutive rain I’ve seen in a very long time 🙂  I loved it!

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