Category Archives: Fall Semester

101 Things About Argentina (or wherever it is): Part I

A lot of you often ask me about what’s different about living here in Buenos Aires from Fort Collins, CO, USA.   This blog is going to be the selective results of a cumulative list I’ve been making in my notebook.  (The length got out of hand so I’m going to publish them in 4 parts.) Some are things that give my dimples a reason to appear , some are just crazy things I’ve seen/heard, even more are little differences about my daily life, the rest are just a mezcla of all of these things 🙂  They all sum up to pure awesome though and reasons that the last 10+ months have raced by.  So here it is:

101 Things About Argentina/the city/plain old differences From a Yanqui Perspective (In a totally disorganized order) Part I:

1.  “Qué sé yo…”  Ok so I have several favorite phrases but this one is definitely top ten. (What do I know…) Argentines use it in place of a shrug or sometimes just as a filler phrase–kind of like the way we say “like.”  Kind of…qué sé yo…

2.  When you’re 20 minutes late to class but don’t have a single worry because you’ll probably still get there before the professor.

3.  Dogs are often better dressed than I am:dog shirt

4.   A dog wearing a rain jacket (Ok seriously, I wish I had time to snap a picture but I didn’t…I was too busy trying to get to shelter.  Stupid dog looked dry as a Colorado summer though.)Dograinjacket
<<Only the dog was impossibly uglier (no offense intended, but I’m still pretty bitter…)

5.  Twenty (that’s 20) dogs being walked by one talented person.  That’s the record that I’ve seen anyways.  It’s usually anywhere from 10-15.IMG_0813

6.  “Ojo, ojo, cuidado, cuidado

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7.  When random people on the streets hear me speaking English (shame on me!), they sometimes high five me.  I didn’t realize actually how often this has been happening to me until a couple of days ago when I was walking down Pueyrredon with Sol and she found it strange that a random man tried to high five me and I ignored him.  She gave me a weird look and asked if I knew him; she probably still thinks that we have some long complicated history and he’s gone into my non-existent pile of “your-dead-to-me”‘s.  If any of you know how much I love high fives, just beware that I’m still going to be slap happy when I come back, no matter how many random strangers sacrifice their hands to me in the spirit of Statian stereotypes.

8.  <– This is the number of grocery stores within three blocks of me. 🙂 Win.

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^^Disco gives you cool coupons that I will probably never use but make me feel like I’m saving money.  (My favorites are two kilos of ice cream for the price of one!)  It’s two blocks from my house 🙂

9.  Traffic on the city streets is almost entirely made up of colectivos y taxis.  This is on Santa Fe, a few blocks from my house.

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10.  Hailing the colectivo was particularly difficult to me at first.  Now, of course, it comes naturally but I felt like an ungrateful, rude b***h doing it ten months ago.

11.  Pedestrians don’t have the right of way.  You will get run over.  Do not pass the curb.  Do not collect $200 pesos.

12.  You can buy a nice bottle of wine cheaper than a less-than-quality beer.  I have nothing outright against Quilmes or any of the common cheap beers, I’ve just been spoiled by Fort Collins microbrews.

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^^Maxi, Lena, Pato, and Nico drinking the appropriately named “Norte” brand of beer during our trip through the north of Argentina

13.  Save your beer bottles!  Two prices are listed at the grocery store for beers–the cheaper is only attainable if you brought your old beer bottle back in 😉 Hooray for recycling!

14.  You buy some of your groceries at a Chino, some at the supermercado of your choice, some at a fruit/vegetable stand, and I suppose if you eat meat, the rest at the butcher shop.  Probably all of it is delivered to your doorstep.

15.  Although I don’t smoke marijuana nor am I in a cult, every time I drink mate with Argentine friends I feel like I’m a part of a ritualistic ceremony involving the complicated preparation and consumption of drugs.

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^^I look like a total dork in this picture but whatever.

16.  You might lose friends, offend family members of friends, or even potentially get shanked for wearing the wrong soccer jersey in the wrong place at the wrong time.

17.  You’re ushered to your seat at the movie theater and usually expected to tip him 50 centavos or so…that’s about 15 cents less than your grandmother used to stingily give you for mowing the lawn (a quarter…)

18.  I like the spanish version of this song better.  Plus Aladdin has an adorable Spanish accent, and I’m pretty darn proud of myself for being able to notice it.  I wouldn’t have been able to tell any different accents when I got here.  Now I have a good handle on Spanish, Argentine/Urugayan, Colombian, Mexican, and Chilean.  The others are coming.

19.  There are very few taboo subjects; everybody poops I guess.

20.  The club is dead before 2 AM

21.  Strangely named food products that make me laugh:

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22.  It’s uncommon to give birthday cards, but birthday letters…at least from what I’ve seen.

23.  Common terms of endearment include: gorda (fatty), negra or negrita (black or little black one), and flaca (skinny)

24.  It totally makes sense that flower stands also sell Oriental trinkets and incense.  You hardly ever see one without the other in the city.

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25.  A typical McDonald’s hamburger costs $10–and yes, that’s AFTER converting it from pesos to dollars.  The Big Mac is the only regularly, for Mickey D’s anyways, priced thing on the menu, but only because of the BMI (Big Mac Index dictates all Big Macs around the world should be equal in price, no matter the country or currency.)

To be continued…

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Birthmas Wishes From Argentina!

So I made you guys a video!  I tried to keep it short (and only sort of failed!)  but I had a lot of video clips and things to show you.  I wanted to use some music from here but I didn’t :(.  Just don’t make fun of me for using Ke$ha, she fit the video too perfectly and I’m actually really proud of it 🙂

Happy 22nd birthday to my brother!  I love you so much and I really miss you 😦  I will spend your next birthday with you, I promise.  Only one more birthday in the army–can you believe it!?  I’m so excited for you and hopefully I won’t have to miss you miserably as much after that, as long as I don’t do anything too crazy and go rogue traveling or some such nonsense 😉  I can’t really beat last year’s birthday wishes 😛  I was going to try to reminisce with photos but remember I couldn’t find my camera and I was using Clell’s old Droid so I didn’t have a reliable photo machine? (I am building up quite a record of cellphone neglect…) I only have the one picture of us from that trip taken at four in the morning in the airport after days of celebration and needless to say it’s not worthy of posting on here.  Hopefully we can keep a small tradition we began last year over Skype this year and neither of us gets too crazy 😛  P.S.  I think you look better with hair.

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So tomorrow is Christmas.  Well, actually Christmas will happen today because it’s very rare to go to sleep before midnight here and it’s not going to happen with this chickadee for sure.  Christmas.  Yep.  That means New Year’s is around the corner and I’m feeling incredibly introspective, sitting here dripping with sweat and wishing that NesCafe tasted good cold.  I’ve developed a strong addiction to caffeine over the past year.  Does that make me an adult?  Grownups drink coffee….not Autumn.  She’s always been the baby, the one who gets to draw first when playing Sorry!, the one who was allowed to go trick or treating until well past the acceptable age.  Surely just having a two in front of your age doesn’t make you an adult.  I mean, I still miss my mommy, I still can’t keep secrets, I still play dress up and get a thrill about staying up past bed time. 

But I’ve been feeling increasingly grown up lately.  My bank raised my credit card limit because apparently I’ve been financially responsible (cough cough.)  The fact that I even HAVE a credit card seems weird to me.  When people ask me how old I stutter and get the same urge that I had when I was seven to look up at my mom with scared puppy eyes wondering what age I am today.  Maybe I’m a special case–being 20/21/22/23–but I’m beginning to think that there’s no such thing as growing up–there’s only growing into yourself. 

That gives me the image of someone’s arm growing the wrong direction and turning itself inside out, nesting in his/her rib cage and leaving a strange looking skin covered tunnel where an arm would usually go.  That’s not what I meant.  I meant that I’m still the little girl that used to sleep with books instead of stuffed animals and wanted to be a Whale Trainer at Sea World (potential next major change?)  The only difference is that I’ve grown boobs (sort of), drink coffee, have a credit card, and have surrendered to eating apples with the peels still on them (you think I’m picky now…) 

I opened my email a while back to find a message from one of the most peculiar people I know–myself.  There’s this brilliant website I discovered five years ago that lets you compose emails to yourself and sends them down the road–like a sort of online time capsule.  Anyways, I will share the letter with you because I think it demonstrates my point quite nicely:

Dear Future Me,
So I guess I’ve always wanted to do this. I will make this one to send in like, ten years how bout and the next one in five and the next one in one 🙂  Maybe there should be one to send to me in one year too… i don’t know but it sounds good to me.

So here is a little about myself:
1.  My last name is Standing.  I know… it’s kind of a bummer last name.  I often tease myself about the fact that I am “Fall Standing”  HA         HA.
2.  I have two dogs.  Sanchez and Lipton.  Lipton will be going back to Guide Dog school soon.  He is eleven months.  We are looking for therapy work for Sanchez…unsuccessfully.  But we found out today that Christine, his mom, is gonna have more puppies!!!  I can’t wait to get one.
3.  I am in the tenth grade.  I’m just gonna say:  it pretty much sucks.  I have no friends that I count and I pretty much don’t talk all that much to people, even though I am quite a social person.
4.  I have brown hair.  All over my body pretty much.  I hope it doesn’t turn gray by the time you read this, but it’s pretty scary, I found a gray hair the other day, which means that I definitely need to worry about turning gray.
5.  I watch three shows on television.  American Idol- I hope that David Archuleta or David Cook wins,  House- It starts up again in ten days cuz of the stupid writer’s strike, and Biggest Loser- they just had the finale last Tuesday for the couples.
6.  I have a pretty busy schedule.
7.  I have a ridiculously large wardrobe of summer skirts and skanky shirts.
8.  My cellphone is ancient.
9.  I am quite a whiny person.
10. I like to write.  Journals, books, accounts of my escapades, etc.
11.  I don’t have a boyfriend.  I really have a tendency to get obsessed with the first boy who likes me and then he doesn’t really like me all THAT much.  Maybe I’m ugly.
12. I’ll talk to you later ok?
Love,
Autumn
PS Phone numbers and other important numbers are as follows:
home-206-4446
ryan’s cell-216-3616
dad’s cell-210-2194
mom’s cell-217-8223
my cell-556-1566
address-3125 gatlin st.
delia’s phone number-226-6901
anni’s phone (even though she’s not my friend)-377-0832
etc.
PSS. Happy Birthday!  It’s 11-11-11 haha

Here is how things have changed:

Dear Current Me,

I am in Argentina right now and when I am in a state of reverie I begin to think about how much my life has changed  since being born, is changing, and what all that means.  I still believe that my stuffed animals and dolls come alive when I close the door behind me.  I genuinely feel bad every time that I think about this because right now I think those dolls and animals are buried under feet of snow in freezing cold weather in my mother’s shed. 

So here is a little about myself:

1. My last name is still Standing.  That’s not going to change anytime soon because, unlike Married In A Year, I prefer an extended version of Patti Stanger’s 12-month action plan (Men respond to photos!  That’s why the real estate agents ALWAYS get the guys.)

2. I have one dog.  Sanchez, b
ut I miss him very much.  Dio, although he isn’t my dog I miss him just as much as if he were 😦

3. I am in the fifteenth grade.  I’m just gonna say: It pretty much rocks.  I have so many friends who I love very dearly and I wouldn’t be surprised if scientists found out that they’re the reason the sun comes up in the morning.  I’m super social.  Sometimes I talk too much…ok who am I kidding?  I always talk too much.  I also drink too much and party too much and stress too much.  I am a girl of excesses.

4. I have brown hair.  All over my body pretty much, but I try to keep most of it maintained using various sharp objects and syrups.  It’s turning gray and I don’t really care.  It’s kind of pretty 🙂

5.  I don’t have time to watch television really.  I am too busy enjoying real life.

6.  I have an incredibly busy schedule.  But it’s all things that I like usually so…menos mal.

7.  I have too many clothes. I don’t ever get rid of them because I’m convinced that even if they’re no longer usable I can cut them up and use them for something.  This is called the first stages of hoarding.

8. My cell phone is ancient.

9. I whine a lot. 

10.  I like to write.  EVERYTHING ❤

11. I don’t have a boyfriend.  I don’t think I’d know what to do with one if I did have one.  Make him buy me coffee? I think I’d sound full of myself if I said I’m pretty, so let’s just go with not ugly 😉

12. I’ll talk to you later, ok?

Besos,

OtoñitA

P.S.  I am not really sure that you need all of my phone numbers and other “important information” because I’m pretty sure that you have that stuff memorized still.  You’re awesome with numbers, congrats!

P.S.S.  Merry Christmas!  It’s freaking 99 degrees out (and that’s not exaggerating, it really is 99 right now), I’m going to the pool.  Hasta la vista, baby!

 

I Wish I Weren’t a Muggle

So, I really shouldn’t be on here talking to you guys.  I have SO much to do today; SO much to do this week.  We decided to leave for traveling on Sunday and I seriously don’t know how I’m going to get everything done.  I’m REALLY excited though, I can’t even tell you!!!  Last night, we outlined a tentative route and made a list of things we really wanted to see and it pumped me up so much I stayed up till 3 AM researching it. Baaaaad idea says the white sheep. 😦  This is how my day is planned….:

7:30 AM–Alarm rings

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Reason #1 I Wish I Weren’t a Muggle: I could totally stop time to sleep more and I think I’d be a much happier, less stressed person.

9:00 AM–After resetting various alarms, making timers, etc. I finally surrender to obligations of the day and go shower. 

9:20 AM–I’m irresponsibly talking to you

10:30 AM–Free Yellow Fever shot at this place my ingenious friend, Ike, told me about.  Isn’t this just the prospect you’d want to wake up to after four and half++ hours of sleep?! 🙂 Yay!

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Reason #2 I Wish I Weren’t a Muggle: I wouldn’t have to worry so much about petty mortal diseases.  I could just, you know, resist them with my awesome magic-ness.

11:00 AM–Hopefully I don’t have to wait too long for the Yellow Fever shot, but I do believe that I will be running late as usual…but I’m going to try and pester the Brazilian Consulate because it’s like 10 blocks from the Yellow Fever shot place. (Do you think yellow fever shots are actually yellow?  I would like it if they were; I’d feel a lot tougher getting injected with yellow goo…more like a superhero…less like…a muggle?)  If you didn’t know, the USA makes things insanely difficult for people coming into our country from elsewhere, even just to travel.  That means we get punished with exorbitant entry fees and complicated paperwork that sometimes takes months to complete when we only innocently want to spend some time on the beautiful Brazilian coast…sigh.  I want to buy a one-way ticket into Brazil which is a bit of a problem.  For some reason they think I’m going to fall in love with the crystal clear water and decide to never leave.  Although this doesn’t seem a legitimate fear to me, I’ve never been there and it may have some weight; either way, they’re making it difficult for me to get a visa.  Poops.

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Reason #3 I Wish I Weren’t a Muggle: I could use magic to convince them to just give me a visa.  Better yet, I could just fricken apparate to Brazil and listo–no visa, no flight, no expen$ive mumbo jumbo!

12:30 PM–Meet Sol to go to the depilación place; go to the depilación place.

Piernas-mujer-depilacion

Reason #4 I Wish I Weren’t a Muggle: First of all, witches are hot…well not the kind that eat children, but you know, the good kind 🙂  Glinda, in Wizard of Oz, was like super sexy.  I want her boobs. I forgive her for being a ginger.  I’m sure that witches don’t have to get waxed or worry about such trivial things.

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2:00 PM–Go say goodbye to Marianita for the summer 😦

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Reason #5 I Wish I Weren’t a Muggle: I’m sure that if I had magicalness running through my veins I’d figure out a way to make goodbyes be for less time and well…maybe I would just get rid of them all together.  I have made a lot of them this year, and even though I’ll see all my friends next year–everyone including you guys!!!–they still suck.  I want to stay here for the summer (I’ll still be back in March at the latest) just as much as I’m excited to go.  The people I’ve met here in BsAs (Buenos Aires) are so incredible and my heart has grown enough to swallow them up hole and suffocate them with warmth and love. 

6:30 PM–Partyyy far away.  Details confiscated 😉  But it includes more goodbyes 😦 See reason #5.  This will most likely be stressful trying to arrive at said party’s location but once there it will be ok.  Thing is that I will still have to be up early and tomorrow is looking just as yucky in terms of business.  Although most of these are happy things…it is still stressful trying to be super woman when I’m only a muggle.

Reason #6 I Wish I Weren’t a Muggle: Accio Breakfast!  Need I say more?

Growing Up is About Watching the Sunrise

Alright guys, I’m not going to waste a whole bunch of time apologizing for not writing lately because there’s so much to tell you!  Clearly the whole “shorter more often” thing isn’t really my style and that didn’t work.  It may be easier to read and maybe even more enjoyable, but I feel like I don’t tell you everything I want to with that.  (Ok so I didn’t give it that much of a chance but…whatever.)

It’s summer here, and I feel like a cat in so many ways.  I sleep all day, spend the waking hours of night chasing after various laser lights and continuing to expand my knowledge of the public transportation system, and drinking milk and feeling sick afterwards.  I don’t think cats use public transportation…but they seem to be able to get anywhere so maybe they have something similar.  It’s warming up quite unpleasantly lately, and I think the fan that I used to worry would tear out the ceiling and shooting star into the opposite wall seems to be losing power.  I no longer have dreams about being lost in a farm of windmills, anyways.  It feels so far away from Christmas that when I remember it’s that time of year on a few rare occasions it almost annoys me.  Not only have I not bought anything for anyone I love, but I haven’t said “Happy Holidays” to a single person, nor had anyone say such a thing to me.  In fact, I’ve kind of had an ingrained sense of excitement that fourth of July is coming soon.  Fireworks!  What???  This summer season thing is messing with my mind.  Lauti told me they actually have fireworks on Christmas usually anyways.  How exciting…but it doesn’t physically fit in my mind.  Neither do half of the images on cigarette cartons here, so I guess things are just strange.

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^^This one says that half of smokers die of tobacco…but there’s a picture of a bandaged foot.  I don’t get it.  (Ok, guys, I’m not dumb.  I know it’s a toe tag.  But I still think there should be two feet….or maybe a picture of a dead person would be a bit more effective.  Idk.  I was a Marketing major…so stop making fun of me for not understanding it! My blog’s been posted for like two minutes and I’ve already got three messages telling me it’s a foot with a toe tag. Tranquila!)

Ok so I’m being really random (don’t even try to figure out how my mind works; just go with it) and just making this post ages longer so I’ll start talking about something you actually care about:  School!

If you are one of my lucky friends on facebook you’ll have already read that I finally officially changed my major.  I’m no longer going to study Business Marketing. I still want to get my MBA but I figured that I don’t really need an undergrad in business to do that, even though it might be easier.  I am getting tired of the Business school’s stupid regulations on what I can transfer in and how hard they’ve been to work with in my double major from abroad, plus, I just find the major I switched to more interesting.  It actually reinvigorates me and makes me want to study. To be honest, I’ve been bored of school since the tenth grade, I didn’t really want to go to university but there wasn’t anything else productive I could have been doing…it was the next logical option.  That’s why I never go to class, I never study, and I get mediocre grades.  I’ve been thoroughly bored.  We’ll see if this new major helps!  It’s Natural Resources, Recreation and Tourism with a concentration in Global Tourism….so Global Tourism pretty much.  What is that?  Well a lot of work.  I will have to do an internship and an undergrad thesis (ewww) and it requires at least a semester abroad.  But it’s more tailored to what I think I want to do when I graduate and it has interesting classes that I think I’m more likely to attend.  I still have yet to find a true passion, but I’m getting closer. 

Major

^^RamWeb Official! 🙂

Another major decision I’ve made lately is that I want to go traveling.  The original reason that I cancelled my whole summer trip around South America was because I didn’t anticipate spending so much money on life here and extra costs of my program.  Now I think I can do it.  I met some people and found some websites and travel communities and I feel like it’s totally possible.  I’m not going to post all of the details here on my blog because I’ve already talked to most of you back home about it and you think I’m crazy.  Haven’t you learned yet that I AM crazy?  Plus, you worry about me too much already and I’m just fine. 🙂 So if you’re really curious then ask me about it, but be prepared and know that I have closed the application for advice… There may never be another opportunity for this in my lifetime and I know I will regret not going. 

It was a tough decision because I have such great friends here.  I don’t want to leave them one bit and I know my summer would be amazing if I stayed.  That means there’s a lot I’ll miss out on by going traveling, but then again I’d miss out a lot by not going–I just don’t know what I’d be missing out on.  It was the same with the decision to go to Argentina, and I went through a similar dilemma: leave my friends behind to go have adventure and new experiences or stay and feel comfortable and loved?  I promise to be safe though and I love you guys!

Talking about how great of friends I’m making here makes me think about things back in the States.  I’ve been really struggling with keeping up with everyone there lately and fighting a lot with my closest friends.  It’s like a secondary type of culture shock kind of.  I love everyone back home dearly but seeing things on facebook or hearing news from back home sometimes makes me feel left out and jealous.  Not only can I not share what’s going on in their lives so easily anymore, but it’s also impossible to describe my life down here well enough for them to understand it. I can tell them about all of my new friends but they still can’t really know what it’s like to go have the most delicious ice cream ever with Sol while she talks about how unlucky it would be to die by a dead person falling on you or to see Lau laugh at himself as he tells me to “get off” the “truck” so he can pull into his postage stamp garage. I have inside jokes with them now, and my friends back in Colorado have inside jokes without me.  The reason we are all friends isn’t because of the times we spend together, I know, but the fact that we can spend any time together and make it fun.  It’s still hard though.  I feel like I have two lives now and I can’t continue to try and maintain both of them; I have to let the weeds grow in my old one so that I can water the new plants here and that is extremely hard for me.  Stress :/

Img_1017^^Me hanging out with Max, a friend I’ve made here and that I’ll be going on my trip with

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^^Me dreaming about my friends coming to visit me in Buenos Aires and being excited about PhotoShop

By the way, just so you have an idea: this is Lauti’s “truck.”  Let me know your opinion on whether or not this constitutes as a truck, because he gets offended by the word jeep.  I’m thinking I should compromise and allow it to be a truck in Spanish (camioneta) but call it a jeep in English.  I’m no expert on cars but…truck seems a bit hefty don’t you think?

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A third huge decision I’ve made lately (first was changing my major, second was going traveling this summer) is to stay for the rest of the year with my host family instead of moving out.  There are so many pros and cons to this that it took a lot of energy to make that decision, but I’m happy I decided to stay.  It was really stressful because I really only had a single day to make the decision and it caught me by surprise.  I had always planned on moving out since I’d dropped API because I felt like it might cross too many lines to ask my host family directly to circumvent the program and work something out on our own.  I’d asked Carmen and she told me that no, technically I shouldn’t ask them…so I took that as a “don’t do it.” 

Plus, I’m still ridiculously shy and I wasn’t really sure they’d wanted me to stay.  There are a lot of things I took into consideration that I am not going to post all over my public blog (because my host family reads it sometimes too I think :P), but when my host mom told me that she’d love for me to stay (she just thought I didn’t want to…miscommunication) I had one day to either pay a down payment on the beautiful house with the pool or stay.  I talked to people and thought about it myself and realized that I’d probably get a more authentic experience by staying.  My goals align better with staying.  Too many dilemmas lately.  But I love my host family and I’m really glad I stayed, I’m excited for the next eight months!

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So with so much stress, my two friends invited me to Mar del Plata, a summer city on the Atlantic coast south of Buenos Aires to spend a weekend partying on the beach and relaxing in the sun.  Umm…how could I pass that up?!  On top of that we’d be going in Lau’s “camioneta” and staying at Kevo’s grandma’s house so it would be very very cheap (just food I would probably spend money on even if I stayed!)  It appears I’ve made the right kind of friends here–quinta’s (house’s with pools in the country side), summer houses in Tigre, and free trips to the beach…ok, I’ll take it. 😉

It was a six hour drive there, but totally worth it.  We left late on Friday night and we got back just yesterday (Sunday) at around midnight, so we didn’t really do much except drink, eat, and go to the beach (the Argentine English accent turns this word into “bitch” and I love hearing them say it.)  We got to the city at 4 AM, ate what was in the fridge like zombies and crashed.  I woke up around noon and we went straight to the beach.  We spent way too much time trying to find a parking spot, but made up for it with gourmet salads and non-gourmet beer at a beach side cafe relaxing and talking about our plans for the night.  Kevo and Lau showed me the port and we saw a bunch of sea lions (ocean wolves in Spanish.)

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Lauti and Kevo cooked a delicious dinner for us all of eggplant milanesa and potatoes au gratin with a salad that night and we discussed all sorts of things including (but not limited to) racism, reincarnation, and whether or not we should all nap before we went out that night.  No sleep till Brooklyn I guess…because right as I was climbing under my covers in my pjs Kevs rudely turned the lights on and told me to rally.  Blah.  You only live once though…might as well spend more of that lifetime awake!

So I lethargically dragged my fully nourished body out of bed and put on my swimsuit and clothes ready to party…not.  We were all exhausted as we climbed into Lau’s jeep and set off for a brewery they told me that I just had to go to.  I had the honey beer.  It was a taste of home to be in a brewery and I realized how much I missed good beer with good friends.  I was so happy to be there with them in that moment and I truly felt lucky and content with life.  I do that a lot lately. 

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^^Lauti y yo en Antares con Kevo

After one beer we took the jeep to the beach and drove it over the rocks barricading any vehicles entering the beach (cuz we’re just those kind of dangerous, pesky twenty-something-year-olds.)  We drank rum all night, danced to music from the “truck”, talked about life, attempted to do cartwheels, ran into the water and played in the waves (ok, that is a little bit of a lie–turns out I’m deathly terrified of the ocean at night…), and watched the sun rise over the ocean together.  It was as perfect a night as could be and I love those two as much as any of my friends back home. 

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I have a lot more pictures (Lauti just got a new camera so between the two of us there are more than 800 photos…) but I don’t have them all on my computer yet.  I will make a video maybe later with more 🙂

I miss you guys!  Hope Christmas break is going swell back home and not too cold or too much snow.

Happy Holidays!

Autumn

Ready, Set, Whine!

**Pre-disclaimer: Gonna add some random pictures that again have nothing to do with the actual contents of this post just to entertain you all 🙂   While I spend the majority of this short post complaining about my poor luck with electronics lately, I will say that I love love love love my new camera.  It has become nothing more than an extension of whichever arm is hosting the wrist strap (so that I don’t drop it….) and it takes beautiful pictures.  I think it’s becoming a part of my personality and more than once I’ve been told, “Otooo, dejá de sacar fotos sin sentido!”  (Autumn, stop taking senseless pictures!)  They’re not senseless though.  They are memories and I know that even with the mounds of random pictures I’m accumulating on my ungrateful computer (see below), I’ll still return home wishing I had taken more.

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^^Dulce de Leche Frappuccino.  Nuff said. 🙂

Hello everyone!  I´m now officially on summer break 🙂  Do I sound differently?  More carefree and relaxed? ….I didn’t think so.

It’s surely because I am a little sick, because everything I touch lately seems to develop defects or break, and because I have a lot of things that I need to do, or should be doing, but that I’m avoiding.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely happy and enjoying myself…but that’s because I’m trying not to think about how badly I need to acquire some form of paid labor.  I’d rather read my book.  It’s a murder mystery and it’s super difficult to put down right now, but I need a break. 

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^^Summer nights spent on the terrace discussing what the apocalypse of Dec. 21st will bring ❤

I’ve been thinking about where my life has been going lately.  What is my destiny?  Where am I going to be in 20 years?  Am I really studying what I want to study?  Where do I want to live?  What’s my favorite color?  (Green.)  Right now, my host brother and my host mom are sitting at the kitchen table, having long past picked their dessert oranges from their shells and devoured the fleshy fruit with their teeth, discussing what my youngest host brother wants to study.  Right now, he’s in his first year of Psychology.  I wanted to be a psychologist once.  I find it super interesting…but, then again, I think everybody does. That’s because it has to do with all of us and we’re all curious as to why we do the things we do.  Why do I feel like I need to brush my teeth twice every night before my head hits the pillow?  Why do I sometimes talk to myself when no one else is in the room?  How come the inner dialogue in my head uses the pronoun “we” instead of I?  I’m not crazy (probably debatable depending on which ex boyfriend you’re talking to….), but psychology can potentially answer all of those questions and, let’s face it, we’re all interested in ourselves.  I got a little off track, but basically, all of this raises the question of where I am going in my life. 

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^^The longest hot dog I’ve ever seen…I know I’m a vegetarian and I just walked into a lifetime’s worth of “That’s what she said…” jokes but I couldn’t resist showing you guys

So, while these questions of my life’s direction are colliding with the plot of my serial killer novel in the chaos that’s crowding my consciousness, I figured I would tell you all about what’s been going on in my life lately 🙂  Lucky you.

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^^Lau and his adorable little sister, Caro

I started this post about three days ago because I was going to whine about the curse I seem to have with electronic things lately.  I feel comfortable confirming on my word of honor that I have some aura around me that reacts with electronic equipment and causes it to malfunction.  Four weeks ago my phone decided that I was becoming too comfortable and thought it would spice things up a bit by repeatedly power cycling every three minutes.  It would stay on for three minutes, then restart.  Three minutes isn’t much time to nurse an unhappy cell phone back to healthy, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t want to be my cell phone anymore anyways.  Then, last week my laptop got the bug.  It began a deadly love affair with its power cord and now thinks that it cannot bear life without being plugged in.  Although nothing seems to be physically wrong with the battery, Calypso (my computer) has decided to make the power cord her immortal husband and, as a show of defiance, will immediately turn off without it.  The battery seems to be otherwise fully functional (we tested it at my computer geek friend’s house and it’s just fine.)  So, my friend let me borrow his iphone that’s connected with the same phone company here to use while I send mine back to my mom so she can claim the warranty.  The iphone was just fine until it was exposed to my noxious aura.  So, whatever, I’ve had to take the 20 block trip in the sticky heat these past few days numerous times to talk to the cell phone company to reach some sort of solution to no avail.  I’m done whining though.  Maybe I’m just destined to not communicate with the world around me…serves me right for being so attached to social networking and media. (Actually, this year I’ve become an expert at surviving without a cell phone and I would estimate that, in total, I’ve spent a quarter of the year without one.  Seriously.  My friends can attest to that.)

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^^Otto trying to fix the electronics I’ve cursed 😦 

I think I’ll do a video blog soon! 🙂  Look forward to that!

 

 

Eternal Summer

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. 

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^^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. 

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 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? 

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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.”  

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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. 

Franklin

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. 

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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! 

 

I’m Thankful for Garlic Lasagna

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. 

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^^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):

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^^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.

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^^Easy…well leave it up to Autumn to bring that word to a whole new level.

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^^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.

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^^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:

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This is what I think she meant by “garlic”:

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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).&nbsp; 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 ❤

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^^The soaps in the bathroom.  I would probably keep them in my bathroom year round just because they’re my namesake 😉

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^^Bathroom napkins, in English

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^^The plates with perfect little turkey napkins!

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^^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. 

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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 🙂

Lo Siento

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. 

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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…)

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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^^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:

SORRY

^^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.

I Can Cry If I Want To

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….

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^^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!

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^^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.

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^^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.

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^^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.

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Tuesday the 13th!

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.)

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^^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.

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^^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. 

F
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.

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^^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.

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^^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…