Cheese Please, and My Answers to Other FAQs

So this post has been long overdue I think. Basically, I’m going to try and answer your most commonly asked questions so you stop asking me them!  Maybe next time you ask me something that I’m asked like every day I will direct you to my blog.

1. What do you miss about the United States?

There are quite a few things but this question has really begun to get on my nerves.  Hopefully this will be the last time I ever have to answer it 🙂  In all actuality I don’t MISS anything about the United States except the people.  I guess if I think really hard, yes, I wouldn’t mind having some regular cheese (Argentinean’s have developed a taste for this weird mushy slop they call cheese that they dubbed “cremoso” to make it sound appetizing. 

Queso-cremoso

…It’s only good, in my opinion, for melting on top of things and putting in omelets.  Don’t let the deli-sliced “cheddar” in the supermarket fool you.)  Other food products/restaurants that I occasionally crave include (but are not limited to): ranch dressing, Subway (it’s not real Subway if you have the option to put carrots on your sandwich), Noodles & Company, Qdoba burritos and just beans in general…and Qdoba Queso Sauce much more not in general (sigh), Bragg (that weird healthy amino acid stuff I rolled my eyes at the first time my Dad suggested it), grapefruit juice, and good beer.

Bragg

Other than that I sometimes find myself wishing I could quickly get through the line at the grocery store.  Sometimes I would like to make a round of my favorite (almost free) bars.  So I don’t MISS anything.  Actually that’s a lie.  I miss my bed.  Mmmm olympic queen-sized mattress with 4″ memory foam and 700 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.  Sigh.

The people are the real kicker though.  My mommy, Clell, Dadalie, Nick Nick, Erin, Ra-ta-tum, Kyle, etc.  You guys are amazing, but I know that I won’t let you ignore me when I come back next year so I’m not too worried. 

The stupidity of this question is that no one ever asks me what I DON’T miss about the United States.  I don’t miss having to drive everywhere (the bus system here is amazing.)  I don’t miss speaking English–I still speak a lot of English here…but I love being able to practice my Spanish with everyone without feeling like a dork.  I love the deep conversations I can have with people I’ve just recently met; people (at least the people I’ve met) seem super intellectual.  This could be just because I am starting to think more than ever before, but I have a feeling it’s the culture too.  I love the music.  I don’t miss the greetings (in the States a hug or maybe a handshake, here a kiss on the cheek.)  I think I’m going to feel like everyone’s being absurdly cold when I come back to the US.  I don’t miss worrying about always being on time or having to be uptight about appointments.  I don’t miss grinding in dance clubs (boliches). I don’t miss worrying about being 21 to drink (¡Qué paja, en serio!) I don’t miss routine (every day is interesting and different here.)  I don’t miss the snow and the cold. 

Dsc01043

^^Me and Awesome Erin enjoying some American-sized portions of Papa John’s in our apartment.

It’s you guys that I miss.  But I’m gradually making good friends here.  When I was going through some really hard times this last month and a half I asked Clell how he got through a 15-month tour in Iraq (yes, I know, a little different from a 12-month party study abroad in South America, but still kind of relevant.)  He told me without hesitation: good friends.  Well I finally have a good group of people I wouldn’t feel awkward calling on a moment’s notice to help me out of a bind or just cure my boredom.  I can’t tell you guys how much better that makes things.  Things are just starting to get really good and I’m so excited for the next 9 months; I can’t imagine having to leave now and just the thought makes me a little sad. (Seriously, can you believe I’ve been here three months already?!  I’m already 25% done!!!)  Even though Clell is one of the people I miss the most, he gave me some of the most valuable advice.

Dio

^^Can’t find a surrogate for Dio though…

2. What’s your favorite thing about Argentina?

Ok, I think there is such a thing as a stupid question, but you guys have good intentions at least.  This is just way too broad; I don’t even know where to begin.  I guess the best thing about being here is that I’m changing so much and learning so much about myself.  That’s not necessarily my favorite thing right now (because it is a difficult process this “discovering yourself” mumbo jumbo) but I know it will be my favorite thing about Argentina when I look back on this experience.  I feel like, if I were an organization I would be based in the United States but “founded” in Argentina.  I’m not an organization and maybe that was a stupid metaphor, but I cannot expound upon this enough.  I feel like I’m waking up from a really long dream or I’m just leaving the theater after seeing a monotonous film.  Don’t get me wrong, I had a great life back in the United States, but I had just fallen into a rut. 

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^^Beautiful day on the terrace

I think I’ve touched on this a little bit in the answer to the first question and maybe in a different post but I feel like I had grown accustomed to getting by with thinking very little, challenging myself almost never, and just going through the necessary motions to maintain status quo.  In Argentina, I have discovered a new passion for learning (one that I forgot about when I was repeatedly put in a lower math class throughout junior high when my family moved there in seventh grade.)  I didn’t realize how bored I was with school and how unstimulated I had been.  Igual, I’m not learning much of anything in my clas
ses here–most everything that has stoked the fire in my mind has come from the culture I’m in and the people who I’ve gotten the privilege of sharing it with: my host family, my new friends, and people I meet when I go out.  You guys don’t know how much you’ve really done for me and I can’t thank you enough, really.  People here are so interesting to talk to and I absolutely adore their witty sense of humor.  There’s always a reason to smile here, so I’ve begun to frown a little less.

Other things I love about Argentina that are a little less deep and besides the things I’ve already mentioned include (but are not limited to):

–Dulce de leche, alfajores, milanesa de soja, yerba mate, tarta de papas, the tomatoes, the chocolate, and all of those things again. 

Milanesa_de_soja

^^Mmmmm milanesa de soja ❤

–The accent.  Calle is pronounced “cazhshay” instead of “ka-yay”

–The nightlife.

–Cafe culture

–The interest everyone seems to have with what’s going on in the world around them

–The fashion (ok this is love/hate because I also have a stroooonnng desire to spend a lot of money on upkeep of this)

–The little things that make me smile.

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^^This awesome homeless guy is actually famous in Buenos Aires for watching TV, eating cereal, and hanging out with his dogs on the street.

3. How come you chose to stay for a year (¿¡Hasta Julio?! ¡Es un montón!)?

Ok, so yes, a year is daunting.  Thinking back on my last two years of college, it’s just hard to imagine missing out on a year’s worth of stuff back home.  But I could also look at it the way I did when I first boarded the plane–am I “going to Argentina” or “leaving the United States”?  I think it’s going to be just as hard leaving Argentina in nine months.  I have already created a separate life down here and unfortunately, I will never be able to maintain both at the same time (without exorbitant amounts of money, and even then, I couldn’t deal with the 24 hour flights…I know, first world problems…) 

6000_miles

^^It’s over 6,000 miles from Fort Collins to Buenos Aires!

I think that I also wrote about this in my “Goals” during my first few weeks here, but I wanted to stay for a year to get the full experience.  I think that it’s impossible to really immerse oneself in a culture and truly get the most out of living in another country if you only stay for three and a half months.  Three and a half months still gives you the feeling of a vacation.  I don’t think it would have been as hard to leave home if I had just gone for three and a half months; when I came I thought of it as “I’m moving to Argentina.”  If I had only been planning on the semester it would have been much less than that.  I want to truly feel like a part of the country–to learn the language, gestures, and customs–but more than that I want to make lifelong friends and become a better person.  Something that you can only really nibble at if you stay for three+ months.

Right now, things are just starting to get good.  I can’t imagine leaving on the 10th of November.

4. What have you learned so far?

Besides un montonaso de castellano (a whole lot of spanish) and, like I’ve mentioned a billion times, a bunch of self-understanding, I’ve tremendously improved my navigation skills (not only can I tell left from right without looking down at my thumb and first finger now, but I seriously know how to get around the city!!!  I even know cardinal directions…like seriously, you don’t believe me now but you just wait)**, become really self-dependent, self-reliant, and self-motivated, learned how to say no to guys who want my number (Ra-Ta-Tum will definitely benefit from this when I get back 😉 ), and even talk to my intimidating professors! I’ve yet to learn the Imperial System (Celsius, meters, liters, grams, etc.) but I’m getting a better handle on that.  I am learning how to adapt to different climates and living styles.  I mean, there’s so many things that I’ve learned so far that it’s impossible to make this answer short.   

**It totally rocked the other day: I was coming home in a car with some Argentine friends from a different barrio and I knew the street names better than they did.  Or at least I was quicker about it.  Granted, we were closer to where I live, but still–so pro 🙂  It’s funny because memories of my first few weeks here have a strange hazy quality to them.  The best way I can describe it is like when you wake up from a crazy night at the bars and you remember everything but it’s all kind of blurred together and out of order? Or maybe like memories from when you were a baby; just images and nonsense strung together. It’s like that.  I remember being totally disoriented and overwhelmed with happiness and excitement…I remember so much that I remember nothing at all.  It’s just very strange. 

5. Met any cute guys yet?

Ok, could you guys please please please stop asking me this???  I feel like I did when I would talk to my older brother on the phone when I was 13 and he would ask me if I had a boyfriend yet–slightly embarrassed and awkward and shy.  If I haven’t already volunteered you this information it’s probably because: a. It’s none of your business, b. the answer is no, or c. you are the cute guy (gasp!)  Well, that last one probably not so plausible 😉 

Bearing that in mind, I’ll answer the question and clear up any rumors (goodness y’all are gossipy.)  Yes, I’ve met many cute guys.  They all have a sexy accent and seem to think I’m interesting and pretty or something.  But none of them have particularly held my attention as more than friends.  Just nice eye candy I guess.  So could you all stop worrying that I’m going to enamorarme with some Latin lover and never come home?

6. Can you swipe me in?

Typical answer: Umm…well I would but I’m not going today either so…actually, if you find someone that is will you ask them to swipe for me too?  999915439 clave: 1234 

Typical response to that answer: Yeah don’t worry, I have your code memorized already 🙂

If you don’t understand this ^^ it’s probably for the better.

7. Do you like living in a city?

City

YES! I’m surprised by how much I love it.  I wouldn’t want to raise kids or grow old here…and I really miss the mountains, outdoorsy stuff, etc; but I think everyone should live in a city just for a month or two.  It really teaches you a lot, in my opinion.  There’s just so much to do in the city.  There are areas of the city that are really polluted (I went to Once during rush hour the other day and I think that’s why I have a sore throat now–I had the urge to cover my mouth or hold my breath) but the places that I usually go aren’t too bad. 

Every time I go outside of the city I kind of get a little homesick for the mountains and the countryside, but it passes.  I even saw a few stars the other night! 🙂

8. Usually from locals: Why in the world would you come to Argentina??? …I don’t get it.

It’s not really that weird guys. Argentina has so much to offer me! Most Spanish majors go to Spain, which is interesting and awesome and all that…but I wanted something more unique and different.  Argentina is growing in popularity, certainly, as a study abroad location, but I still didn’t know anyone who had studied abroad here.  I didn’t know much of anything about South America, and it seemed more exotic and interesting than Europe.  So, I guess I was trying to be a little hipster…but I’m really glad I came here instead of Spain.  I can always visit Spain.

I also didn’t really put too much effort into my search for a study abroad program, to be honest.  I needed something that allowed me to take more classes in my major and not just spanish classes.  In reality, it’s not hard to accomplish that on your own once you’re in your host country, but I am extremely glad I chose API. They have been totally awesome thus far and I love them.

9. How is school different there?

I think I’m going to do a whole post on this actually (I’m sorry I always say that 😦  My intentions are good, I promise…)  To be honest though, I really don’t like the university I’m currently at.  It’s very geared towards international students and I don’t feel like I’m learning much of anything.  I have one class where the professor seems to really know a lot and he’s funny and entertaining to listen to…but it’s still so easy that I never feel like going.  I’m going through a complicated search process trying to find a different school for next semester.  I actually want to learn something while I’m here; I don’t want to come back for my last year with all of my prerequisites done but knowing nothing of the actual subjects.  I would have to learn two subjects at the same time that way and although I’m sure I could manage, that just sounds like hell. 

So to get myself back on track to the original question, my particular university (Universidad de Belgrano) is not representative of Argentina and conducts classes in much the same manner as schools in the US do (although wayyyyy easier.)  I visited the public, free university here to help Dad with a project on Wednesday and I absolutely fell in love.  It was all of the differences in education I was looking for and had a personality all its own.  I can’t go there, unfortunately unless I do a year of ingreso (like a year of AUCC to prove that you’re serious about studying there, because it is a free university) and then start an actual major.  I could apply to be an exchange student, but even then I’d only be allowed to take three classes.  The private universities, in general, are just not as prestigious because to study at UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires) you have to be really independent and self-motivated.  The teachers don’t get paid much to teach, so they’re all there because they genuinely care about educating the next generation; they usually have other jobs too and only teach one or two classes on the side.  You don’t have advisors, office hours, syllabi, or any of that organization either; no one holds your hand and much of what you learn is based on how much you put into it; there are two exams usually (a parcial or midterm, and the final) and your entire grade is most likely based on only those.  Classes are often crowded and some people have to stand or sit on the floor; some of the classrooms I visited didn’t have formal desks so you had to take notes in your lap; there’s not much technology, although a few rooms did have a projector, most just had a small chalkboard in the front of a huge flat floored room (as in there’s no leveled seating so people in the back can see better) and sometimes a microphone so the teacher could be heard at the back.  There were posters, graffiti, and art rarely leaving a bare wall, which just contributed to the sense of a youth community who was truly passionate about learning.  Like I said, I loved it. 

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^^Students put these banners up

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^^One of the smaller classroom

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^^A plaza inside the school; kind of like Lory but inside. 

10. Can you talk in a Br itish accent?

No. 

11. Please?

I really can’t.

12. Awww, please?  Just try?

,,,,,(said as if Forrest Gump were Indian) I just can’t really speak in a Brit-ish ac-sent (and met by squeals of glee and delight and calls of “again, again!”

Indian_gump

13. What’s your daily life like?

Like I previously mentioned, there is a beautiful lack of routine here for me and I always vary from routine 🙂 But on a regular school day this is how my life goes:

Redalarm

6:15 AM–Hit the snooze button

6:25 AM–Hit the snooze button again

6:35 AM–Briefly calculate (not very accurately or liberally) how many minutes it would take me to get up and get ready; hit the snooze button again

6:45 AM–Contemplate ditching (50% of the time this is where I turn my alarm off and sleep for a couple more hours then feel guilty all day); set a timer for 5 more minutes, turn on my lamp to try and ease myself into getting up

6:50 AM–Turn off the timer

7:00 AM–Get up and commence panic of getting ready:  I make toast for breakfast sometimes spread with dulce de leche if I’m feeling skinny, butter and jam (the butter here is really yummy for some reason) if I’m feeling indulgent, and just jam usually.  The jam here is also divine. 

Nescafe-mixes-dolca

I also microwave some Nescafe…which isn’t grade-A coffee to say the least…but it gets the job done.  I have gotten the breakfast routine streamlined now. 

Toaster

Throw two pieces of bread in the mini toaster, secure the lever with the handle of a paintbrush (it’s broken and doesn’t stay down on its own anymore); fill a mug half full of water, add two scoops of Nescafe powder, put it in the microwave, secure the half a cork under the door (the microwave is also kind of broken and you have to trick the sensor to make it actually start…this sometimes takes several tries.)  Once my coffee is spinning in circles, I spend the next minute and 45 seconds getting the milk out of the fridge, removing the paintbrush, and spreading the chosen topping on my toast.  Then I take my coffee out, add a scoop of sugar, fill the rest of the way with milk, put everything back in the fridge and sit down to breakfast.  The whole preparation process takes me less than three minutes, I’m so proud 🙂 

7:30 AM–Panic begins in earnest.  I try and get all my books together, check my makeup and outfit (I don’t have a full size mirror in my room so I have to go use the living room mirror), make sure I have my Sube card and call the elevator (about 10% of the time someone else is using the elevator…so I start taking the stairs. When I hear the elevator I call it from whatever floor I’m on and then watch it pass by glumly as it goes back to the 10th floor where I originally called it…so I just continue down the stairs.)  I usually make it out my front door at the latest 7:45.

7:45 AM–Catch the 152 to school.  In order to get to school on time I need to catch the bus by 7:20 or 7:25…but that rarely happens, it just depends on how many snooze button presses occurred on the morning in question. 

Bus_stop_152

It’s hit or miss with the crowdedness of the bus in the morning.  Usually the earlier I am the better it is.  If it is crowded I squeeze to the back, go up the stairs and scope out the seated.  It’s definitely takes some strategy to ride the colectivo.  You have to analyze how comfortable the people look–are they reading a book?  are they falling asleep?  do they look like they’re paying attention to the street much?  are they rearranging their bag/putting their phone away? These questions all help determine who is most likely to get up next.  You have to strategically stand close to the passengers who look like they’re about to get off in order to get a seat, and it’s a mental game of chess.  On one side of the aisle the seats are in pairs, the other side has single seats, and the back of the bus has five or six seats against the wall.  My choice location is near the door in the corner on the paired-seat side.  This puts me in position to quickly steal seats from the back and it’s simple math.  Two seats=twice the likelihood that someone will leave. 

Interior_colectivo_linea_71_

^^I know you’re insanely jealous of my MS Paint skills, but stop drooling and let me explain.  The lightning bolt is my ideal location on the colectivo for stealing seats.  The red arrow I put in just as a sidenote–we don’t have to pull the cord here, we “tocar el timbre” which means push the button that makes noise. 

8:00 AM–8:20 AM–Walk the 7 or 8 blocks down Zabala to the university, catch the elevator to floor 16 and walk down three flights of stairs to floor 14 (yes I know the math doesn’t make sense); swipe my card and try to enter class as quietly as possible. 

8:00 AM–9:30 AM–Try not to fall asleep.  Common strategies for this have lately included drawing mazes in my notebook, playing Draw Something on my phone, scrolling through Facebook, counting down the minutes until the end of class (in many different creative ways), and daydreaming, although the last is usually very ineffective and ends up turning into real dreams. 

2012-10-20_18-24-55_546_2

^^Block method of counting the minutes that Christine tried to teach me.

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^^Mazes with notes…not notes with mazes

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^^random doodles 🙂

9:30 AM–Try to perk myself back up so I don’t fall asleep the second half of class.  The coffee is outrageously expensive at the university so I’ve only gotten it when I’m REALLY desperate.

9:45 AM–11:00 AM–Resume trying to not fall asleep.

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^^These, believe it or not, are actually cut outs in the paper that I made with my pen.  Gettin creative with the doodling.

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^^Other style of countdown…

11:00 AM–Decide whether it’s worth it to stay for my afternoon classes (it usually isn’t.)  If I do stay I try to spend a lot of time walking around Belgrano before deciding on a place to eat or buying some basic lunch things from a Chino and embarking on a search for a nice park or somewhere I can eat them.  I try and make this search last as long as possible so I don’t lose motivation and end up going home.  A couple of times I’ve returned to the university at 1:30 or so before my 2:30 class and taken a nap on a deserted looking floor of the tower…but I feel so awkward doing that and it usually isn’t worth it. 

1:00 PM/2:30 PM–Afternoon classes. I like my 2:30 class, but the break is longer so I tend to miss it more than the 1:00 one.  I really like both of the professors; just the professor for my 1:00 class has a soothing voice or something that puts me into a coma within fifteen minutes.  Seriously.  My eyes stop focusing and I sometimes have to go to the bathroom just to try and wake myself up.  This is why I hardly ever go to class anymore…and I seem to have been doing fine on the tests, which promotes lack of motivation (demotes motivation?)

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^^Unfinished hand maze

4:00 PM–Gladly head home and usually take a nap.  Sometimes I write on my blog.  Sometimes I go run errands.  Sometimes I go have tea with friends or explore some part of the city.  If I’ve survived to this part in my day then…hooray!

8:00 PM–Start feeling hungry.

8:15 PM–Make frequent trips to the kitchen to investigate which state of dinner making process we’re currently in.

8:30 PM–Try to distract myself with Facebook or my Kindle or something.

9:00 PM–Plant myself in the living room.  This way they won’t forget to invite me to eat FOOD. 

10:00 PM–The latest we usually eat dinner (it can be anytime between 9 and 10.)  Usually I look like a pig because I eat rapidly and greedily, but I’m too hungry to care. After dinner I attempt to do my dishes but am usually met with “No, no, dejá, dejá! Yo lo hago.”

10:30 PM–12:30 PM–Mess around on my computer, watch TV, or just chill out.  I stay up until at least midnight, but usually one or two.

2:00 AM–This is the net average time that my head hits the pillow on a weeknight (hence the snooze buttons in the morning.)  Luckily, Wednesdays I only have my 2:30 PM class (no morning classes! yay!) and Fridays we don’t have any class at all; I’ve begun to count Friday as a weekend.  It’s going to be weird having five day weeks again someday.

Cozy_bed

^^My dream factory in Argentina

Well, this post turned out to be much longer than intended.  If you guys have more questions please post them in the comments and I’ll answer them publicly on here so I don’t have to re-explain them a billion times. I’m also planning yet another post on Myths and Truths of Argentina/Studying Abroad so you can anticipate that.

❤  Have a lovely weekend my dears!  Besos!

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About Autumn Standing

I love words; my name is made up of real words, even. I am studying Global Tourism and Spanish with a minor in Business Administration at Colorado State University but this year I chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That's why this blog was born--to keep my beautiful family and friends informed of my whereabouts, thoughts, accomplishments, and mistakes.

Posted on October 20, 2012, in Fall Semester, Travel and Study and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. In a lot of ways, the US isn’t that great 😛 so I can see there are a lot of things you DON’T miss about home (besides the people n shit). Do you miss the Colorado sun at all? I know that’s something I’d miss on a daily basis. I also don’t know how movie theaters/music releases/shopping is down there, but do you miss any of that? Being able to go to the movies for (somewhat) cheap the day it comes out? Or am I assuming too much now, and that Argentina actually goes get movies/music right away? I could be wrong here, so please correct me if I am. Things I WOULDN’T miss about the U.S. right now:-Goddamn political ads/Republican vs. Democratic tension-Having to drive everywhere. It’ll be nice to move to a big city where I won’t have a car–won’t have to pay for gas, won’t have to transport my ass lazily across town. I’ll walk, ride the bus, take the subway, get a taxi, or some other mode of transportation. I know, first world problems.-some old scene in Old Town every weekend-Stupid hillbilly hicks from Wyoming comin down to the big Fort only to make racist jokes about the only 2 Arabs in line to Bondi-LGBT hatred–no, really, it’s gotten a lot worse ever since I became AWARE of it. There’s some acceptance, but the U.S. really has some prejudice and hatred towards this group, too-Never seeing anybody racially different from myself. Never MEETING anybody culturally different, either. Stupid vanilla-valley poshy Fort Collins….-Hearing "Good Times" over and over again on the radio. Gotta be kidding me, it’s as bad as Call Me Maybe but I hate Owl City and Good Times is just the most annoying song I could possibly imagine playing over and over again (not to mention a handful of other songs on the top of iTunes right now. I will NOT miss the U.S.’s horrible taste in music)-seeing an intense concentration of trucks and Hondas. Not to hate on my truck, I love my truck :), but I rarely see a nice/foreign car like a Porsche, Ferrari, or BMW.-I really will NOT miss the intense Colorado wind. It’s been bad this season, like a hurricane out my window :(Love you Autumn! ❤ miss you all the time.

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