Monthly Archives: November 2012
Ok guys, we’re goin to try something a little different this time: I’m going to try to post more often and with fewer words…but if these posts end up sounding like diary entries I’ll stop 🙂 Don’t want to bore you guys to death!
These past couple of weeks have been really weird just because school’s almost over (last final tomorrow!), I haven’t been in classes, and I’ve been trying to plan everything for next semester and sort out my life here. Right now, instead of studying and figuring out my living situation for next semester, I’m responsibly writing to you guys and catching up on crappy reality TV. Hooray for being a mature 20-year-old.
I got into the school that I wanted to go to next semester, so I have to work on all of the paperwork that CSU requires of students who choose to directly enroll in a university abroad. It’s even more of a pain than running around campus was when I was preparing to depart the US because I have to wait for people to answer to threads upon threads of emails, scan things, and I don’t know…the whole process me da fiaca (gives me laziness.) I feel like I’ve been in an eternal summer and on vacations because my classes were so easy that I didn’t even feel like I was in school, I haven’t been working, and the weather has yet to diverge significantly enough from “warm” to classify as a different season. So there’s that. It makes me even more unmotivated to get things done that I need to be working on.
^^Pictures I took hanging out at the park enjoying the sun yesterday.
On top of that: IT’S ALMOST DECEMBER. They put up a Christmas tree in the entrance to Alto Palermo, the big mall a few blocks from my house.
I feel like shaking Argentina and saying, “No.” It’s supposed to be sunny and in the high eighties for the first few days of the month that hosts Christmas. No, you’re supposed to snow. It’s supposed to be cold, isn’t it?
I mean, I guess that last year I was in Louisiana on Christmas (doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, does it?!) That was my first Christmas away from home, and it rained. Weird. This Christmas it’s going to be hot as a Texas summer and as humid as a greenhouse. To add to that strangeness, I just can’t believe I’ve been in Argentina a full four months. FOUR MONTHS. That means I’m over a third of the way done with my studying abroad…this time has flown faster than I could ever have imagined it. A lot has happened but it still feels like I only just said goodbye to everyone and went through a nightmare 24-hour flight process to arrive completely disoriented and with a slew of emotions in South America.
Four months does not seem like enough time to account for all of the changes I’ve gone through either. I not only feel different, but I think and act differently now. They’re positive changes for sure, but I think that at the end of the year I will be able to look back at how far I’ve come with only pride and shock at the journey. I already can. But enough of my silly nostalgia/excitement for the future.
I had my first real-(Belgrano)-Argentine final yesterday at the ripe hour of 8 AM. Since there haven’t been any classes these last two weeks I’ve grown accustomed to sleeping in till noon or later and I nearly didn’t wake up in time to catch the bus and get my butt over there. I was feeling particularly unmotivated towards studying on Tuesday so I casually decided to go to bed “early” at 11 PM and wake up at 3 AM to study. Because I still don’t have my cell phone, I didn’t have an alarm to wake me up so I attempted to use some website that supposedly will wake you up at the time you put in. Ha! Remember how the internet always decides to fail at the most opportune moments (whenever I need to turn in a scholarship or application)? Yeah….so I woke up at 6:30 in a tangle of sheets having had really strange dreams about Lauti entering me into competitions to race in a barrel around to all of the bars in Buenos Aires. Our fans were still screaming Spanish cheers in my ears when I noticed the time on my computer was wrong. It couldn’t be 6:30! I was supposed to study! …But when my mind finally cleared up a bit I dragged my butt to the kitchen to make some NesCafe and sat down eating my toast wondering if racing people in barrels was an actual sport, clearly extremely concerned about my final in an hour and a half. I should have been though. When I showed up at 8:30 to the university everyone was outside smoking. I went in and marked myself as present (you are supposed to be there at 8 but the exam doesn’t actually start until 9…hence my tardiness), then went and sat outside the classroom with everyone (returned from their smoke break.) They were studying pretty hard and seemed to be on the ball when they quizzed each other. I didn’t know much of anything, honestly, but I still felt strangely calm about it.
The exam was an oral exam, which meant that each student would go into the classroom individually between 9 and 12 to be quizzed by the teacher about Fundamentos de Marketing and whatever it was we learned over the semester. I spent the time cramming definitions and key terms, and tried to work up a little bit of healthy nervousness about the test. I have a special talent for written tests, which are all that we have in the states (at least I have never heard of someone having an oral exam at university; that doesn’t include defending a thesis) and that usually gives me a bit of confidence. I’m good at bulls***ting and using elevated diction to make it sound like I know what I’m talking about, but I had no idea as to what level of this skill I had in person. Apparently very little.
I went in at around 11:30 to take the test with the professor, who is super sweet and seems very accommodating. I knew that he’d take it easy on me because I have a language barrier to deal with, but I’m so ashamed of how poorly I did. The first question was simple enough: What is the definition of Marketing? My mind went blank. This class is called Fundamentals of Marketing and I didn’t even know the definition after an entire semester?! I kept starting, “Un proceso….emmm…un proceso que…” Even now I know the definition—but I just totally froze up and blanked. I tried to picture my notes. I remembered exactly where the definition was written…but when I’d been outside in the stairwell studying I remember laughing at something I’d written right next to it in a distraction during my first class: “My Marketing professor kind of looks like Franklin the Turtle haha It’s adorable.”
So as I was trying desperately to remember the definition I kept blankly staring at his face and seeing Franklin the Turtle. I nearly cried because the situation was just so hilarious and out of control. As the seconds ticked by I could taste the silence in the back of my throat, thick and heavy. Franklin smiled and tried to coax me into the right answer by asking more narrow, directed questions and telling me to relax. I imagined Franklin with his little shell-backpack going to school. I was doomed.
After twenty minutes of me rambling and dropping random unrelated key terms into my answers, he brought out the paper that he would write my final note on and sign. I deserved a 2, maybe, and only for knowing what the pilars of Marketing were and the elements of Marketing Táctico (because we learned them in little acronyms…) They grade you out of 10 here and a 4 means you passed the class. You wouldn’t even have known that I had actually taken the class with the performance I gave in there, but the turtle stretched his neck out, smiled kindly at me and asked what grade I needed for my home university to accept the credits. I honestly have no idea what CSU wants, but I’m pretty sure as long as I pass my classes (4) I will be fine. I had shut off my brain long before in the uncomfortable interview situation and I heard myself say that I needed an 8 or higher. Who do I think I am?! I heard the words, “Sí, me parece bien,” come out of his little turtle beak and watched him write an EIGHT on my paper.
I was in disbelief and shame as I said goodbye to him with some sort of weird awkward hug thing (I have no idea if you’re supposed to kiss professors on the cheek as you leave but I did and it felt totally strange…I kissed Franklin the Turtle on the cheek…) I tripped as I was going down the stairs to the door, of course, but I got up quickly with an English, “I’m fine!” and conspicuously stumbled the rest of the way out the door.
This is why I should go study for tomorrow. Talk to you guys later!
Although Argentines don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I still did this year, and I was more in the thankful spirit than ever. I mean, not only am I in the middle of one of the most incredible opportunities of my lifetime being here in Argentina, but I’ve also realized how much my friends and family in the US mean to me and I’ve met people in this amazing country that I have come to love just as much. The last few blogs you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been really happy, and I am. I still miss everyone, and I have my occasional low points here still, just as I would in the States, but I am just so grateful to be here. I love it so much. You guys were right to fear that I may never come back–although I will be back in the States before you know it and you’re only creating unnecessary wrinkles–but I don’t want to leave anytime soon. It’s weird because I think I would give anything just for a week back with all of you, but only a week. I want to be here right now, not there. I don’t know how to explain how this is; it makes me sound like I don’t want to be back with you guys, which is not the case at all! I just know that what I have to do here is not done and I am excited to wake up in the morning (which means noon or later now that classes are over) and continue this journey. I’ve even been saying “back in the states” just as much as I’ve been saying “back home” because my home is here now too. This isn’t just a vacation or four months living abroad, this is realmente a move and I’m starting to permanently adjust to and accept it.
So this year, the director (Carmen) of my study abroad program (Academic Programs International) invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with her and her family. Carmen and her family are Argentines, but they lived in the States for quite some time and really liked the idea of a holiday where you gorge yourself with mounds and mounds upon mounds of food in which you feel thankful for the magnificent thing that life is and everything you’ve been given/accomplished. While the US is kind of famous for its ridiculous holiday traditions (dressing up as scary monsters and going door to door asking for candy as a child to celebrate the beginning of winter and to honor the dead …nuff said…), and although it may be a mythical legend and nothing more that the barbarous pilgrims actually sat down with the Native Americans and shared a meal upon arriving and making peace, the holiday does have a very worthy meaning if you can manage to see past your stomach. Every day we should be thankful for what we have, but, at least in my opinion, Thanksgiving is an excellent way of regrouping and remembering to focus on the positive in our lives. It is one of the busiest times of the year for airlines in the US; no one wants to spend Thanksgiving without their family. I didn’t either, but as the day progressed I came to realize that I wasn’t spending Thanksgiving alone–far from it. I was surrounded by people who loved and cared about me.
When I told Carmen that I was staying for the entire year in Argentina (it wasn’t a secret or anything, but for some reason hardly anybody knew about it), she immediately invited me to her house for Thanksgiving. This was back in mid- or late-September I think. Even when I decided to drop the program she assured me that I’d be more than welcome, no hard feelings**. Emma, an API student who has been at Di Tella all semester and who is staying for the entire year also, and Camila, a girl who’s done with the program but is staying for the holidays and then travelling to Colombia, were also invited. I decided to get into the spirit and bring some sort of food item to contribute. Growing up as a vegetarian, I guess we always had a little bit of a different type of Thanksgiving. I’ve grown accustomed to the looks of shocked pity that people reveal to me as they bombard me with questions about what in the world I eat for Thanksgiving…but seriously guys, it’s not like we vegetarians live in underground tunnel communities scavenging for roots and hoarding our carrots in a secret tunnel. We eat everything you do, except the turkey. That means mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, salads, stuffing, yams, sweet potatoes, garlic bread (i make a mean garlic bread!), more mashed potatoes (because I seriously LOVEEEE them), green beans maybe, casseroles, the typical desserts (pumpkin pie, cherry pie, etc.)….and lasagna.
^^Remember: Torta not Tarta!
My parent’s let me enter the big, scary world thinking that it was totally normal to eat lasagna on Thanksgiving. Thanks mom and dad. Now I am teaching Argentines false traditions and being a poor ambassador for my country, but you know, no worries, they’ll just form crazy ideas that we all eat lasagna on Thanksgiving and be made fun of when they come to visit and proudly share their inside knowledge. NO BIG DEAL. Ok, maybe I’m just a little sore that I look like a dork now thinking that it’s totally normal to eat lasagna on Thanksgiving. We always eat it, every year. At least it’s our tradition (we also eat it for Christmas) and since Thanksgiving is a holiday to celebrate family, it is therefore allowed…but I still look like a dork because I offered to bring lasagna to the dinner. No one said anything because I’m supposed to be an expert, being from the country that created the holiday…but enough of my whining and feeling sorry for myself. I made the maldita (It’s a joke because on TV they always translate bad words into maldito/a and I’m explaining it because I can’t make jokes very well lately…no one laughs) lasagna. That was a fail at the joke, blah.
Anyways! I got the not-so-secret recipe from my mom over Skype, went shopping, and bought all of the ingredients–it took me like 4 hours to finally find everything in the COTO. It really wasn’t that hard but I had to find weird cheeses and walk around to the verdurerías in search of spinach because apparently everyone needed a Popeye kick that day and the first four I went to were sold out… I bought a whole lot of Mozzarella, some cheddar, mushrooms, garlic, onions, spinach, butter, noodles, pizza sauce, ricotta, and some other secret ingredients. I worked during the night so that my whole family wouldn’t have to suffer from the oven’s heat during the hot summer days that we’ve been having lately. Here are some pictures of the construction process of my very first lasagna by myself (I don’t know if I’d make a very successful 50’s wife…I’m not only slow at cooking, but I don’t seem to have much talent in the field either):
^^Don’t get false ideas about how clean my work station is haha I’m surprised it came out looking this orderly. In all actuality, I made a total kilombo of the entire kitchen.
^^Easy…well leave it up to Autumn to bring that word to a whole new level.
^^So, most olives here don’t come pitted. Instead of asking for an olive pitter (I woke up at 3 AM to start making this so…I was not functioning on all cylinders…), I meticulously cut the meat of each olive away from its pit with love and care. The olives didn’t even taste that good. Final opinion: not worth it…at all.
^^At least they look appetizing 🙂
So after I finally took them out of the oven at around 8:15 I figured it was time for a nap. I slept for 15 minutes because I had to go meet Sol that morning at 10 and I needed a shower after I’d been pacing the kitchen for a solid 4 hours in the heat (a mixture of the oven and the summer night.) The smaller one I let my host family eat. My host brother assured me that it was delicious…although I still have doubts that he was telling the truth. I made a grave error in the recipe (I’m also going to blame said error on the fact that I did this all in the middle of the night with limited brain functionality….but I probably am just tonta.) My mom said to put garlic in it. This is what I added to the mixture of onions and mushrooms that I sautéed, also with love and care:
This is what I think she meant by “garlic”:
That means I put about 10-12 times too much garlic in my lasagna… At least I’ve fortified my host family’s apartment against vampires. They won’t come near it as long as my lasagna is still in our fridge, I’m sure, and that’s going to be a long time because there’s A LOT of leftovers. Personally, I still think it tastes ok…but I may be the minority, and anyways, it’s surely starting to lose its marginal utility each day it sits on the fridge shelf….
I left it in the freezer overnight y listo. On Thanksgiving Day I woke up at 2:14 PM and trudged to the kitchen in search of caffeine. It was raining and kind of glum outside–perfect weather for a lazy Thanksgiving of nothingness 🙂 The only thing that was missing was the football, but since I understand football about as much as I understand some girls’ infatuation with Robert Pattinson (seriously chicas…I think we could all do better), I didn’t miss it too much. I told everyone in my host family Happy Thanksgiving which they said was weird; my host brother teased me that of course a nation known for having over a third of its population obese would have a holiday that is solely reserved for the consumption of food (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html). Of course, that’s not the reason for the holiday, but he was only teasing.
I was very content to do nothing all day though, just being relaxed and peaceful in my pajama pants that my mommy sent me with my new camera ❤ It felt weird that everything was open and the city was still going about its usual business. Shouldn’t everything have virtually stopped while families reunited and shared food and love? I guess there are other holidays for that but it felt strange still.
Anyways, at eight o’clock I headed over to Carmen’s house with my very frozen, very garlic and very-unThanksgiving lasagna. We put it in the oven, saludar-ed everyone, and gathered around the table. Carmen had decorated the house festively with Thanksgiving goodies she’d brought from the states. My family doesn’t even decorate until Christmas so it was adorable. She was so proud ❤
^^The soaps in the bathroom. I would probably keep them in my bathroom year round just because they’re my namesake 😉
^^Bathroom napkins, in English
^^The plates with perfect little turkey napkins!
^^The beautiful table setting
After Carmen and her husband Gabriel explained what the tradition of Thanksgiving was for their extended family in attendance and why they liked the idea and invited them over, we had the opportunity to go around the table to say what we were thankful for. A lot of people were getting teary eyed and I was surprised at how sentimental I was suddenly feeling. I was struggling to hold back my tears as they talked about how thankful they were for their families and being able to overcome the year’s obstacles. When it came my turn to talk I choked up a little, but I managed to keep the tears to a minimum, breathe, and express how
thankful I was for this opportunity of being in Argentina and for my family and friends in both hemispheres. Being in a big family setting on a holiday where family is the main focus just put things in perspective. I’ve been away from the people I’ve known all my life for longer than ever before, and I’m only a third of the way done. I missed Thanksgiving this year and I’m going to miss Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Day, my friends’ graduations and a year’s worth of memories with them. I wouldn’t trade this opportunity in for the world, but I love you all so very much and I really miss you guys. Although I’ve built an amazing support system here, I won’t be able to hug my mom or rock out in Dadalie’s truck for eight more months and if those months are anything like the four that have already passed, they’ll be fast but eventful. I know I’m going to continue to change and mature just as fast as I have been and I’m going to come back almost a completely different person.
I’m growing up so much here I can’t even explain it to you guys. I just put a down payment on the place that I’m going to live for the summer and next semester, I applied and registered for school on my own and I’m picking out classes now, financial aid back home, online classes with CSU, cell phone, medical insurance, everything that I’m doing right now–I feel so independent and grown up. I know that there’s a whole lot of people who helped me get here and are still helping me, for whom I’m really thankful, but I’m really proud of myself for being so…grown up. Of course, as I write this I’m lying in my bed in my pjs at 8:30 9:30 PM not even having cracked open a book to study for my Marketing final that’s at 8 AM tomorrow morning….but hey, you win some you lose some I suppose.
Well, that was a bit of a tangent, but I guess it explains why I got a little tearful at the Thanksgiving table for a moment. Things have just progressed so much and I’m so grateful for all the wonderful people in my life that I can share that growth with. Life is beautiful. But eh, now I’m getting sappy….maybe I should stop listening to The Fray right now haha they make me all cheesy and philosphical… Dinner was fantastic. All of the major dishes were there (except pumpkin pie for dessert but it’s ok because the pies there were amazing anyways), even though my lasagna was still kind of cold.
I’m just going to pretend that’s the reason why no one really was interested in it 😉 But oh well, more for me! (K…there’s still like 3 pieces in our fridge…and it’s been four days. I’m assuming maybe it’ll be gone tomorrow. I’m still enjoying it though so whatever.) The dinner was fantastic and it made me feel so happy that I still have a family-like support system here in BA. I waddled home a little past midnight carrying the plentiful remains of my lasagna and was so tired that I could hardly stay up long enough to brush my teeth and say goodnight to everyone. I went to bed full and happy and thankful for the direction my life has taken. Thanks so so much to Carmen and her family for inviting me to their Thanksgiving and thanks to everyone here who has been there for me when I’ve been going through so many changes! I don’t know what I’d do without you guys, I love you, and I’m so thankful that you’re in my life.
**I know I haven’t publicly posted on here before that I’d decided to drop my study abroad program and go solo. This is a great opportunity to tell you all, though–yes, I decided to drop the program and directly enroll at the university of my choice. I’m not going to stay at Universidad Belgrano because it bores me and I feel like I didn’t really do much of anything there, not even frivolous busy work. I applied and got accepted to Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, which was my original plan with the program to begin with; the only reason I dropped the study abroad program was for money reasons. I think I picked the best possible program ever and I would definitely recommend API to anyone who’s looking to study abroad. The program was small–only 19 or 20 students–and they were really accommodating and helpful. Carmen was always there for any questions we had, she had us over for dinner at her house all the time, they organized fantastic excursions, and the office back in the US was super prompt in responding to emails and helping us. I’ve talked to other students who went with different programs and although they were “good” they weren’t the amazingness that I found with API. When I’ve compared experiences with them I’ve been thankful time and time over that I chose API. The homestays were all great, like I said, everything. It’s just now that I’ve become more adjusted to living in Argentina through the support of API, I feel more comfortable going on my own and figuring out all the details by myself. My Spanish has dramatically improved, I know how to get my visa on my own, I’m staying with a school that API also has a program with and will securely transfer my transcripts, and I don’t need all the orientation activities that helped me when I first got to the city. I do not recommend coming here on your own really, as other students that I’ve talked to had to spend months adjusting without the support of the program, it’s just that I’ve been here for four months and, while I have much to learn, I feel more confident leaving the nest 🙂
I believe that most cultures are defined by outsiders. How do we know what our own culture is until we compare it with others? Other cultures that we’ve already judged, defined, and categorized? If English were the only language that existed, would it still be English? No…it wouldn’t need a name. It’s strange because I have different thoughts when I think in Spanish. Not only are there words in Spanish that don’t even exist in English (and vice versa), but the sentences are structured differently and spoken differently. All of these components incite a new way of thinking or at least compel me to think of a situation differently; language is the lens through which we interpret the world and I think that sometimes we don’t realize how much of an influence that lens has…but I’m getting off topic (sorry!).
Right now, living in a completely different culture than my own, I’m really starting to see the “iceberg” effect that professors and program directors went over and over and over drilling into our heads from orientation to orientation when we decided to study abroad. No one who’s ever spent a year or a semester abroad with a program will be able to truthfully say that they haven’t seen this picture defining culture, or at least something similar.
Discovering more than ten percent of the ice berg is hard to do in four months, which is why I’m once again grateful that I’m staying for the entire year. Recently, I’ve been wading through some of the shallower waters and getting to know the Argentina that lies under the tip of the iceberg and that’s exactly what I’m here for.
Today though, I’m not going to talk so much about ARGENTINE culture as my own. (I think most of my friends and I have reached a general consensus that I am a “Station” which I will spell “Statian” from here on out. This seems to be a nonoffensive yet appropriate identifier for people or concepts from the United States. It’s not as seemingly derogatory and negative as Yankee feels to me, nor is it as rude and egotistical as calling ourselves American. So yeah. Done.) Because I’m learning just as much about my own culture here as I am that of Argentina, I want to talk about a tendency that I have that’s been detrimental, or at least made things more difficult, in the long run to my forming strong relationships here in South America: my constant apologetic attitude. (The pictures are going to be totally random things from my new camera haha but don’t get too distracted…sorry…)
It’s like I’m constantly carrying around this guilt that I walk on the same planet as those around me. I say sorry for EVERYTHING and I drop words of apology left and right. This is at first very sweet and polite, maybe even cute and adorable (I’m not flattering myself, just true <3), but it quickly becomes pesado (direct translation for this word is “heavy” but it means annoying.) I think it sometimes frustrates my friends that I can’t just accept a favor or a kind word and let it be. I feel bad that I step on someone’s foot on the colectivo, I feel bad that I am 5-45 minutes late to meetings, I feel bad that my friend had a bad day, I feel bad that someone bought me a drink, I feel bad that a friend of a friend came to the club we were at and doesn’t look like he/she is having too much fun. I need to STOOOOPPP! But the problem is that I don’t know how because it’s a part of the way I grew up and the way that I’ve learned to conduct myselfl There’s a fine line, however, between being polite and being just plain irritating. I haven’t learned to walk it quite yet and I fear I fall on the side of irritating a bit too often (sorry!)
I think that this problem of mine gets on my friends nerves a lot, but my host mom’s even more. I know Guillo reads my blog a lot so I’m kind of self-conscious writing this next part but whatever. Bue, ya estááááá, no pasa naaaada, as they say. I am worried that my host mom doesn’t like me. This, I’m sure, has a lot to do with my remorseful habits…I mean, I can count the number of times I’ve done my laundry in South America on one hand because I just feel guilty asking her to do it and I didn’t feel comfortable trying to get her to teach me the machine either. Now, thankfully, I know how to use it because she’s been in Mexico for two weeks and I got my host brother to teach me. It’s seriously just put soap in and press go, but I didn’t know if there was a special way or anything and Carmen (my API Director) told us that we should just let them do it because it could be considered rude to try and do it yourself… My host mom just always tells me to leave it all there for her to do–and then she hangs it to dry and irons it and everything. I don’t like feeling like I don’t pull my own weight or being pampered–it’s been ground into me since my youth that I shouldn’t let other’s wait on me so sometimes I find myself hoarding my dirty laundry until she asks me. So stupid I know. It’s a combination of shyness and idiotic regret for existing. What am I gonna do with myself–blah. The other reason is that she is always saying that I’m really independent. There’s nothing negative about that, I know…but just something in the way she says it suggests that I’ve been TOO independent It’s so hard though.
I haven’t lived with a family for a long time now and I’m not used to it. I want to be a part of it…but I’m so worried about doing something wrong and so cautious about it that I don’t relax and let myself be. I’ve been improving a lot these last few weeks, but it’s been difficult because I have a lot of conflicting feelings about it. I’ve always tried to be humble and grateful (to an extent haha) and I think I sometimes take it a step too far. I just don’t want to be that one awful student who eats all their host family’s bread and milanesa de soja and takes abnormally long showers, etc. (I use these particular examples because I’m pretty sure I actually do do them =P)
Apparently it bugs Lauti too. I can tell when he’s annoyed with me because I keep saying sorry…which makes me feel bad that I’m being annoying so I continue to apologize and it’s a viscious cycle. The thing is I just can’t tell if this has something to do with Statian (oh dear…that word can easily be typo-ed as Satatian…) culture or if it’s just my personality. I know that I, me, myself, have a personal problem asking for help–like from professors and such. While other kids get huge breaks on their grades, I feel that I don’t have extenuating circumstances or any reason
s to truly deserve them, so I never go talk to my professors. From that point I begin to feel self-conscious and uncomfortable in class, reprimanding myself for not saying anything, and then I stop going to class and eventually start struggling in genuine. Throughout the entire process I never say anything to the professor and by the end I truly do deserve a bad grade. I’ve improved GREATLY here in Argentina because I am working on it, but I have such a long ways to go.
Anyways, maybe this apologetic thing is a mixture of both my personality and US culture. I have heard before that a stereotype of Statians is that we are super polite–saying sorry whenever we bump into people in the streets, cashiers wishing you a nice day after you pay for your groceries, etc. Now that I come to think of it, cashiers here usually just say thank you and skip the nice day thing, but it wasn’t a noticeable difference, and I can totally understand why they wouldn’t wish you a nice day…I mean look at the lines that they have to deal with. We are also stereotyped as being fat, loving fast food, being obnoxiously loud, having an insatiable thirst for alcohol, being ignorant of other cultures and fiercely proud of our own, wasteful and rich, and having insane parties (thank you very much to the movie Project X for forever ruining the world’s perception of us.) I break most of those stereotypes, but I am well aware that I’m obnoxiously loud.
^^I’m surprised that you’re allowed to curse like this in your business name…and post it on public streets. But cursing is much more acceptable (or at least used) here. This is a clothing store I passed in the colectivo the other day.
No matter what the stereotypes are and why I have a problem with being overly self-conscious I know it’s something that I need to work on. So as a final closing statement to this blog I’m going to allow myself one last sorry so that maybe I will say it more seldomly in the future:
^^that’s a link btw^^
*The title of this blog is kind of sarcastic because no one says “lo siento” here and my friends make fun of me for accidentally saying it instead of “discúlpame” or “perdón”; they say I sound like I’m from Mexico or something.
So, by now I’m sure I’ve drilled through your heads how much of a disaster my birthday party was but to our credit (actually probably just Lauti’s credit), it could have been a good deal worse. While I’m knocking on wood, I would like to thank everyone who saved me at my birthday party: Lau, Kevo, Seca, and probably some other people that I don’t remember saving me. I seriously don’t know how to thank you guys properly. I was like one of those obnoxious self-re-lighting birthday candles…when they get old and no longer funny. You put me out, everything’s over, and then I’m on fire thirty seconds later dripping wax on the cake again.
I’ve heard some great reviews of our party though too. This is either because these guests are lying through their crooked teeth or that they had firmly adjusted their drunk goggles. The biggest problem was that about half the expected number of guests actually came and we had twice the amount of party materials for said expected number. If you do the math, that’s four times too much alcohol. To top that, all of the girls must have been off having exclusive sleepovers and pillow fights because they weren’t at our party. It was a total sausage fest (or ensalada de huevos as my host brother kindly taught me that night.) I was totally acting in character with my usual panic: making the rounds to make sure everyone was happy. I do this thing at parties–ESPECIALLY ones that I throw–that I’ve termed “minnowing.” I dart around from group to group all night making sure everyone’s happy and engaging in quick deep conversations. The end result is that everyone sees me but no one really knows where I was all night or what I did. They just say that they hardly saw me. My goal of “minnowing” is to be everywhere at once and make sure everyone is having the time of their lives (Tata, if only you were there…xoxo.) What actually tends to happen is that I enigmatically end up disappearing. Ok, I don’t disappear, I just don’t stay in one place for long enough to make a secure enough impression that I was there. It’s difficult to explain but you guys probably know exactly what I’m talking about if you’ve ever had the, ehem, pleasure of being at a party with me.
^^Just watch it. It couldn’t be more perfect.
At midnight, it turned my actual birthday. Most people had recently arrived at this hour and so everyone congratulated me and successfully got me to cheers with them, take a shot with them, or poured me another drink. If I never hear “Fondo! Fondo! Fondo!” again it may be too soon. Thus was the fate of my first three drinks. You have to see my point of view. (I’m about to try and defend my getting wayyy too drunk and people having to take care of me right now. It’s going to be pathetic, but I am trying to preserve my last shreds of dignity so just be nice to me please.) I was stressed and panicked about so many things. This was my first birthday without a hug from my mommy, without Dad or another best friend to embarrass me by making waiters/waitresses sing to me in front of the entire restaurant, without someone showing me an embarrassing photo from my youth. I have to find an apartment and organize everything for next semester. I was worried about so many things. I just got overwhelmed and all of my friends could tell.
So they did what they could. They ambushed me at the door to the terrace, formed a circle around me jumping up and down loudly screaming “Fondo! Fondo! Fondo!” and shoving drinks in my face. I felt loved…I think… They also uncorked a bottle of champagne all over me and Lauti in the spirit of our birthday and made us take swigs from the bottle. I know I adamantly refused saying, “No, odio el champagne! En serio!“, but relenting eventually. So, I came down the stairs halfway through the night soaked in champagne and amor to jello shots and jager bombs (alright, I kind of initiated those…but I was proud of the adorable little plastic shot cups I found!) Then, my host brother asks me to try and make his friend drunk. Challenge accepted. Well, the only way I know how to successfully complete said challenge is to drink more myself. Everything was a recipe for disaster. Apparently I successfully inebriated him though. Small step forward I guess….
^^The party’s theme was “WTF.” That’s why I have a fish painted on my face and we all look very strange. Leslie did an excellent job on the fish. It was really really wtf the entire night. I wish I had better pictures of it!
^^It’s hard to explain how cool this fish was. It kept freaking Guillo The Host Brother out whenever I’d talk. And all night people kept staring at my lips because it was just so weird. Imagine the Annoying Orange but in fish form and on my face.
My night ended promptly when I fell in the bathroom and hit my head on the bide. Lauti took the bestest care of me and saved me from most of the humiliation that I would have accumulated had he not been an angel on earth. I am so lucky they were there for me. I know that I would have been safe if I had everyone from home there, most definitely, but it’s hard to make reliable friends in just a couple of months here and I am really grateful that I have been able to! It’s just strange to imagine that ALL of my friends here have only known me for four months or less. I hope they’re aware that I don’t give up easily on friendships and they’re pretty much stuck with me now. But anyways, I didn’t say goodbye to anyone at the party because I was being confined for the rest of the night. They took care of me and tried to give me the best possible chances at making it to my 21st birthday.
^^Owl (Nahuel), Lauti, Me, and Seca
I spent almost the entire next day just lounging around at Lau’s house recovering. I don’t know what magic he worked but I wasn’t hung over! I had a minor headache but there’s this beautiful disaster of a drug here that cured me right up. It’s basically just ibuprofen but they put caffeine in it. I think that is a really horrible idea–the last thing you need when you’re sick is to be jacked up–but it definitely made me feel better. I got home around seven o’clock and skyped with my family although I don’t think I was quite myself on the phone with them. I told them all the dirty details (and I mean all of the stupid, vulgar things I was saying and how
drunk I was; things I certainly won’t post on my public blog) of my night and didn’t seem to worry that my mom might not be able to sleep from worry about me. I guess it’s just another way Argentina has changed me–I don’t seem to worry so much about censoring myself so much anymore, especially to the people that I love.
Guillo, Tomi, Lucre, and her boyfriend Joaquin came home right as the conversation was dying down so I said goodbye and shut down my computer. They ordered me ice cream and made me these delicious raviolis in cream sauce; we even broke out the good china and ate formally in the living room. 🙂 I felt really special despite still being in workout shorts and Lauti’s oversized T-shirt with no makeup and messed up hair. Lucre creatively made a 20 out of a spoon and a 2 candle–which I think was more perfect than an actual 0– and I blew them out before they melted the ice cream.
^^Lucre’s beautiful candle creativity
I forgot to make a wish. I think that I was already just so happy to be in Argentina that I had nothing I truly wanted. When I was little I always used to wish for something superficial or specific…I’m pretty sure I wished for a puppy years 8 through 14 and I got Sanchez eventually. ❤ But this year I realized that I hadn’t made a wish right after I blew out the candles. I breifly considered making one anyways, but I couldn’t think of anything that was worthy of being a birthday wish. I am happy.
Even though I couldn’t spend my birthday with my family and friends from home this year, I still spent it with family and friends. I wouldn’t have wished it any other way. I’m beginning to feel like this is my home, my family, and my friends. No matter where I am in the world there’s always going to be someone on the otherside of it who I care about, but, as Clell reminded me, you can get anywhere on this planet within 24 hours if you have to.
Thank you to my host family, my friends here and from home, and my regular family for making this one of the best birthdays ever. I love you all very much.
Ok, so the title doesn’t make sense anymore because it’s now Wednesday the 14th Thursday the 15th. In my defense I started this post yesterday two days ago and, as per usual, didn’t keep my promise of posting it. The title is also very misleading because I actually talk about my birthday, which was Sunday the 11th. The only reason I couldn’t resist using this particular title was because I feel like Tuesday the 13th is a prime example of how the little things in my life lately have culminated into a weird crazy dream-like reality. In the States, Friday the 13th is famously an “unlucky” day that has been the subject of dull, repetitive horror movies for decades. Apparently in Argentina that day is Tuesday the 13th. It causes my eyebrows to bunch up a little, my lips to tentatively reach for my cheekbones, and a little involuntary exhale of breath while I shake my head in a ¡Qué es esto! amusement. Those of you Argentines who know me probably know the exact face I’m describing. Everything seems just enough different here to simultaneously confuse and amuse me. (And by the way my toilet, which I’ve affectionately named Teodoro because I take a shower with him every day and por eso, he deserves a name, does not actually flush in the opposite direction. He flushes straight down.)
Yet another quick disclaimer before I get started on the actual subject of this blog: my English and my Spanish are both in a terrible state of pandemonium. If at all possible I am regressing in both languages right now and am having great difficulty expressing myself. My hope is that this is just a pivotal stage in the language learning process and that maybe I’m supposed to get worse at both English and Spanish before I get better at my Spanish; my fear is that I hit my head one too many times this weekend at my birthday party and it’s finally caused permanent damage to my Broca’s and Wernicke’s area, resulting in a dual language aphasia (if I was able to construct that sentence in a way you could actually understand the message then…menos mal I guess.)
^^To help you better understand wtf I’m talking about.
The disclaimer is that you will probably notice really elementary grammar and spelling mistakes in this blog. I seriously proofread an email the other day and found that I’d spelled “bottle” as “boddle.” I clearly need to stay away from the things. This is not the same girl who proudly won every single second-grade spelling bee, so beware.
And now I’ll start. 🙂 My birthday was…so strange! The party was a failure (I think I’ve mentioned on here before that I should NEVER EVER plan my own parties because I just can’t relax when I feel like people are depending on me to have a good time.) The next day was my actual birthday. I spent it nursing my pride, recovering, and celebrating with my host family, who totally saved my birthday probably without knowing how much. Then I talked to my family over Skype. That was kind of funny and weird because my brother was on leave from the army for Veteran’s day and my Dad came up to see him–so they were all in the same house without me on my birthday. It easily gets out of hand when my whole family gathers under one roof so it was both entertaining and kind of a bummer to see them there without me. I then talked to my best friend, Dad for three and half hours over Skype after dinner (She’s not my father. This is always a huge difficulty for people who don’t know both of us to understand; if you are getting confused, know that you will always hear me say MY dad if I’m referring to my father and just “Dad” if I’m talking about Dadalie.) I couldn’t even really tell you what we talked about. The hours always fly by with her.
^^Totally spent way too much time photoshopping this together. I just got the program (CS6 Extended!) and it’s captivating so I’m wasting valuable time messing around with it lately. (I know it’s kind of obviously photoshopped but I got bored of perfecting all the little details halfway through.)
The week leading up to my birthday was extremely stressful. Not only was it my last week of school with two finals for classes that I’d shown up for very sporadically throughout the semester, but I was trying to plan a spectacular birthday party with my friend Lau, I was trying to apply to a different university and figure out what I wanted to do this coming semester/summer, AND everyone from the program was leaving on Saturday because technically it was the last day. It was just too much at once and I was a nervous wreck through the last minute of it. There’s still some lingering feelings of anxiety this week.
I somehow miraculously aced my last two finals. I don’t even know the names of the classes they were in, so don’t ask me. I sincerely don’t know how I did it. Everyone on facebook was complaining about their finals two weeks ago so I curiously checked my class schedule to see what we were doing an hour before I had to catch the colectivo to my econ class. As is typical of my luck, we had THE final (50%) of our grade that particular class period. Proceed with nervous breakdown. I hadn’t been to class in two weeks. I got an 86% on the exam. Yeah, I know, you say you hate me Dadalie (and maybe some of the rest of you), but as much as I’d like to say it’s pure genius talent that runs through my blood…it’s just the international classes I’m taking. They’re a joke. For the oral exam in my other class I was asked if I would change anything and what my favorite part of the class was. I’m not kidding. I didn’t have to know a single thing about Social Movements in Argentina and Latin America. I got a perfect 100% in the class and I know I missed more than 3 in 4 classes……
But, well, I stressed out about them until the last minute because clearly I had not put any effort into attending or studying and I thought I would get what I deserved. I still have two finals at the end of this month in my two Argentine classes but there are no more actual class sessions. Argentines have a two or three week break to “study” before taking their finals. What do you guys think? Am I going to actually study for them?
Well after my last day of classes and finding out that I wasn’t going to fail out of the easiest university of all time, I went over to my friend Lauti’s house with Sol. It was his birthday. We helped him make Skittles vodka as a birthday present for his OTHER friend (Although I prefer to avoid the image, all of our parents must have been happy couples around Valentine’s day or something…), pretended to plan our own birthday party, had dinner with his family and drank a bottle of champagne together on his terrace. It wasn’t much of a celebration but we were planning on doing all that celebrating on Saturday night at our birthday party.
riday I put the finishing touches on the slideshow that I made for our program goodbye dinner and started to really work on those ulcers I’d been forming in anticipation of my birthday party. I am still scatterbrained and a bit of a terror to be around despite the party being three days ago. I just have a lot of things going on and I can’t seem to relax.
^^Although this is actually a picture of me the day after the first time that I went to junior prom (I was too cool to only go once), it was how I felt for the whole weekend…and probably what I looked like for most of it.
The dinner was sad but there was a little bit of drama between group members that was unnecessary for our last night together. I was over that in high school and I certainly had no use for it now. There were people I was really sad to see leaving though 😦 I made this slideshow during the last week because I enjoy doing things like that, but I ended up getting lazy and I forgot a bunch of key memories. It wasn’t perfect like I’d wanted it to be, but it didn’t turn out awful either. In all earnestness it was an excellent device to distract me from studying for my finals (which turned out in my favor anyways! Cheers to negative reinforcement!) The slideshow I uploaded to youtube. It’s poor quality and really really long so I don’t recommend watching it, but if you’re really bored (or dedicated.)
We all went out one last time as a big group that night for “one beer.” It was a pretty successful night. I managed not to destroy my knees despite wearing heels and I accidentally kind of on purpose stole a bottle of queso flavored mayonnaise. It’s in our host family’s fridge. I thought it was funny…now I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. I got home at 7:30 AM. Only one beer, tranqui, as usual.
^^I don’t have my phone right now (long story…) and camera on FRIDAYYYYY so I had to take this picture for you with my webcam.
Well I got three hours of sleep Friday night because I was worried about the party. I woke up and got myself ready to go and messaged Lau at around noon. He was indisposed and was going to be ALL day. If I could freak out more than I already was this was it. I had to make the jello shots and put them in my host family’s fridge all by myself. They turned out terrible because I don’t think jello is the same strength here…either that or Peter’s is worse than Burnett’s (is that possible…???) but they looked beautiful in their little orange slices 🙂
Then I dragged Sol to the bar with me at around four to say goodbye to my friend Alex from the program because it was his last day. Warning: I’m about to make fun of you, Alex. I don’t know if you read this but prepare to be humiliated. Have you ever seen a giant black guy cry? Not only have I seen that, but I’ve had one sobbing into my shoulder and getting snot in my hair while the bartenders sheepishly pushed napkins across the bar at us with looks of understanding on their faces. Understanding for my plight, not for his. He was incredibly drunk. It gave me a good laugh at least. Sol went back to my apartment to wait for me while I walked him/guided him home. It was 5:30 in the afternoon, bright and sunny; imagine a big black bowling ball that I’ve thrown down the alley…that’s what he looked like barreling down the sidewalk. And I think he would have been in the gutter too if I weren’t there. 🙂 I think what his host mom said to him sums it up nicely, “Sos un terror!” You are a terror, and not like you are right now, but you ARE a terror. But she did say it in a loving tone so I’m sure she wasn’t angry, to his credit. We were both worried as he stumbled into the remis with big ol’ tears running down his cheeks and snuffling. But he seems to have arrived back in the states in one whole piece!
Then we prepared/went to the birthday party. I’m sleepy now. This post is yet again getting too long. I fail at blogging. Tomorrow I’ll write the second half. I’m not very reliable though, am I?
This was part of Lauti’s contribution to the playlist for our birthday. I love you haha. And I’m ashamed that I know all of the lyrics…
So this post is directed towards Dad’s comment on my last blog. I decided to make it a whole new blog though because it turned out long. Keep in mind I’m speaking to Natalie so I don’t use proper grammar sometimes and you might not get inside jokes. It’s also visually unstimulating (new camera on FRIDAY!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!) Sorry. I didn’t intend to make it a whole blog at first. Here is Dad’s original comment:
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.
1. Yes I miss the Colorado sun. But it’s almost summer here and I really love the sun right now. It rains a lot…but I don’t actually mind it. I think it’s really cool actually because we never get rain like this in Colorado. The humidity…not a big fan but it’s not miserable yet so I reserve the right to judge it later.
2. Argentina isn’t a third world country. Of course they have movie theaters and music. Hahaha I am sure I wondered the same thing back in the US but really it’s not like they haven’t discovered the wheel yet. I’m not chastising you 😛 But they have everything we have pretty much except milk cartons (milk comes in a bag…) and good cheese (had to mention that one again…seriously.) Movies are expensive though. I went to see Batman when I first got here and tickets are like twelve bucks…and you know what a cheapass I am so that’s the only movie I’ve been to see here. Sometimes they have two for one deals on like Wednesdays or something but eh. I’m not a huge movie buff and I download things illegally if I really want to so….yeah. The movie theater was four stories though 😛 Our movie was on the fourth floor haha It was kind of cool.
3. As to music—I download everything. So no different. The music that plays in clubs is different sometimes. Like they get all the top hits (most of the top hits I think, although I don’t really listen to the radio); my friends are a bit obsessed with LMFAO haha it’s kind of cute. Some clubs play Latin music. Some play the same type of stuff that Bondi does (although I haven’t found one that I enjoy as much as Miguel’s DJing…I’m actually not a huge fan of the boliches here.) It’s hit or miss with me really.
4. Shopping. Oh god. I have such a hard time walking down Santa Fe every day. And I’ve lost all sense of how much things cost. I’m starting to think in pesos instead of dividing everything by four to give me an idea of how much something costs…but things are much more expensive here (I think…I just honestly don’t know any more haha) But Santa Fe has divine window shopping. It killllllls me. I fight my consumerism every day and it’s a bloody battle let me tell you.
5. Political ads aren’t as intense down here, you’re right. But this isn’t an election year yet and they have strict rules regarding campaigning. That being said, I’ve mentioned several times before how much more politics there actually are—or at least how much people care. I don’t understand it that much though. There’s not two main parties…there’s several and they all have rich histories. They just had another “marcha” on the 8th of November; people seem to pay a lot more attention to politics and I do too now. But I actually like it. I’m enjoying actually giving a shit haha it’s strange.
6. And you say same old scene in old town. Well, I kind of miss being on first name basis with the bartenders. And knowing where to go that I’ll have a good time for really cheap. Too many options here…and everywhere charges cover. They have promos a lot that fool you into thinking you’re getting a good deal, but I miss the times when al
l I needed to get into the club was a good fake.
7. LGBT stuff. Yes. I know. It is bad in the states. We seriously need to get a grip.
8. Racially different and ignorance hahahaha yeah. Umm everyone here is pretty explicit about the race thing. No one is politically correct and they’re openly racist. I mean in some ways it’s kind of abrasive but in some ways it’s refreshing (not the open racist part but people are allowed to say what they think…and of course I fit right in 😉 ) It’s common to hear someone talk about how all the Chinese people hire immigrants from Bolivia to work at their fruit stands. It’s the truth though. Like I can’t explain it. But you should realize how many people you do see on a regular basis that are racially different. I didn’t until I came here and made friends with a black guy in our program (Alex.) He’s definitely a rarity here, and people notice. Despite being like 6 million people swarming the streets in the center of the city where I live and go to school every day, I hardly see anyone who’s black. The states, even Fort Collins, are more racially diverse (or at least we mix together…here there are many different races but they just don’t hang out together.) And that’s saying something. When my host brother said he’d never talked to anyone Asian outside of a chino we compared Facebook friends lists. Seriously. They all have like the sammmmeee names too, or at least it feels like it so I have the hardest time remembering them. Actually, I recently found out when my host sister had a baby that Argentina has a list of names that are preapproved and you can name your kid. You can’t legally name them something that’s not on the list. If you want, you can petition for another name…but it’s a long complicated process through embassies of other countries where that name comes from and such, AND on top of that everyone uses nicknames. For example, my host siblings are Tomás—Tomi, Guillermo—Guillo or Guille, Lucrecia—Lucre. My friends here all use them too (except for Sol because, well, you can’t make Sol much shorter J ) My friend Marianita has begun to call me Otoñito and Oto for short!
9. And I haven’t heard Good Times here, but I hear other things over and over again that I just don’t understand. I have poor taste in music sometimes too. L Lauti (Lautaro) makes fun of me because I have some Justin Bieber songs on my phone. And I don’t even want to talk about Selena Gomez or Tatu…. I hang my head in shame but they’re so catchyyyyy! (P.S. I’ve realized that I’ve been picking up some Leahismmmmm. A lot of people do it here over facebook chat and such, and it’s hard not tooooo! Hopefully you still love me though.)
10. The cars here are way different too. Most all of them are manuals, so the light system goes from yellow—red—yellow—green. That way the cars have time to switch gears in busy traffic. And I hardly ever see trucks. Lauti thinks he owns a truck. But poor dear doesn’t know it’s a makeshift jeep. I love him all the same but I know it would probably shatter his naiveté to see the jeeps of my brother’s friends. They all weld their own fancy parts and take them up in the mountains and such. I don’t know what he’d make of your truck (which is actually a truck.) I miss your truck though. So many great memories haha
11. Colorado wind is nothing compared to what I was subjected to when we pretended to go “trekking” in the Patagonian peaks of Ushuaia. It was incredible. Similar to Wyoming winds I suppose but even stronger.
I promise a new blog is coming soon too. I know it’s been like a month but I can’t even begin to make you all understand how busy I’ve been having too much fun and such. It’s about my birthday J