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Why have I not written here in ages?

Because it will somehow force me to face the fact that I’m leaving very very soon and decide how I feel about that.  I don’t want to.  So there.  It’s like an essay I have to write for class or something and I just don’t wanna do it.

I’ve had a headache for like three days straight and I know it’s because I don’t want to think.  All those thoughts are buzzing around and breeding more thoughts and more thoughts and they want attention.  When I refuse to give it to them they bite me.  It’s quite vicious.  I’m only trying to protect myself from feeling.  Not fair.  Anyhow, I’m still planning on ignoring them for a while. So instead of writing my typical novel of a blog, I’m going to make Autumn-of-the-past write this blog and share a silly little questionnaire I filled out before leaving the United States of America for the very first (and only) time.  Sort of nerdy but very interesting to look back at 🙂 Then I’ll pick a picture from each month (July through July) to share with you all.  So, without further ado:  Oh and don’t forget to listen to the song below while you’re reading/looking at pictures so that you get the full nostalgia intended:

What are the five things that you are most looking forward to about studying abroad?

  1. I want the newness and the excitement of seeing a different culture—fun and something different!
  2. Traveling, since I’ve never been out of the US I wanna get cool stories about visiting other places and pictures!
  3. Friends—making some awesome new Argentinean and international friends, starting over with a fresh slate
  4. Dancing and going out.  The night life.
  5. Learning Spanish super well—duh.

What are the five things that currently worry you most about going overseas?

  1.  For some reason this list seems easier to make 😦 Missing my friends and family
  2.  The seeming superficialness of the country and being perceived as fat ugly and gross J
  3.  Money
  4. Money
  5. K that last one was cheap so I’ll write six but personal safety when I’m traveling perhaps over the summer
  6. Being able to keep up with classes

 What are the five things you believe you will miss most from home when you are abroad?

  1. My mommy
  2. Family and Friends
  3. Sanchez and Dio
  4. Having my own living space—living with a host family is gonna be a big change…
  5. Internet Connection speeds here
  6. My stuff lol like I’ve accumulated things I really like and enjoy that make me happy that I can’t take with me.
  7. The mountains and dry climate
  8. Maybe I’ll learn how to count in Argentina too…

What are the five things (people, places, activities, etc.) you believe you will miss least  from home when you are abroad?

  1. High prices! (lol I hope)
  2. Drinking laws
  3. Time scheduling shit—the “mañana syndrome” as the culture book called it I think I will like that better actually
  4. My evil Spanish professor and having a history.  It’s gonna be nice to start fresh (sorta)
  5. My smartphone:?  This could go either way…I am gonna miss it but will it be a good thing to not have such a sturdy leash?  Yeah 🙂  I hope that I’m gonna gain a lot of independence through this trip.

My greatest single challenge overseas will be:

I think it’ll be missing my family and friends—my support network.  I’ve always had a problem with missing out on stuff and I’m really worried about that.  I think it will probably be the hardest thing I go through.  I’m comfortable with Spanish, making new friends, being open-minded, etc but not with not being able to see people.

And there you have it.  That was how I felt about a week before leaving the US.  Not really earth shatteringly different than the truth of the situation but it will provide some healthy reflection for me whenever I decide to actually acknowledge the fact that a year has passed and this wasn’t a dream.  I shall follow with pictures:
July 2012:

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Dork, you’re wearing snow boots…

August 2012:
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September 2012:
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Argentines are weird…

October 2012:2012-10-17_17-50-54_411

–At Ciudad Universitaria, Universidad de Buenos Aires

November 2012:
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December 2012:

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Move.  NO don’t move.  No, move!

January 2013:

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With Cicada in Coroico, Bolivia

February 2013:IMG_3190

Still always going to be my favorite picture from carnaval

March 2013:

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April 2013:

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Yes, this is a photoshopped picture for my journalism class, but both of the pictures are mine.  Taken in Iruya, Argentina.

May 2013:

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With Nacho in Pinamar, Argentina

June 2013:

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July 2013:

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Sorry I know it’s a crappy phone picture, but I love it 🙂

Till next time, y’all 🙂
Autumn

Palta Rice

So I’m sitting here at the computer trying to think of how I am going to summarize my New Year’s in San Marcos Sierras, Cordoba.  Do I just tell it like a timeline of events?  Just share a few highlights of those two days?  Only pictures?  I feel like the 31st of December and the 1st of January were some of the most eventful days of my trip over the summer, although every day brought new and wonderful (or, in some cases, difficult) experiences.  I really don’t know how to write about them.  Yes, part of that es porque tomé mucho alcohol…but you know…

I may leave some of the good parts out, but here is my attempt to summarize my time in San Marcos through words and pictures, which hardly do it justice.  Upon arrival, we followed Roci and Oli down the dirt road around the cute plaza and up a quaint hill to the “camping,” or camp ground, where we’d be staying.  We saw no one except the people who got off the bus with us (who were few), and the town was in a state of peaceful quiet that I felt like I hadn’t heard at this time of day since Colorado.  It really was a beautiful day, the sunlight pooling and rippling throughout the plaza.

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It was a toasty climb up the dirt hill to the campground, about 10 blocks from the bus station (which was about the width of the entire town, if that), but totally worth it when we arrived at the adorable campground.  I feel like a nerd saying this, but it reminded me of some place in the woods where fairies would live.  A glen, I suppose.  There was a little gurgling creek with overly sized bridges connecting the resilient tufts of  grass on its banks.  Large trees canopied the lots, which were only at about half capacity with tents.  In the middle, there was a large house painted with swirling designs and illustrations in vibrant colors.  An old man greeted us and introduced himself.  Roci and Oli pretty much handled the entire conversation, asking about prices and where we could pitch tents.  They told Maxi and I that we could borrow their extra tent for the time being, but Maxi still set up his hammock anyways. He preferred it.  We found a spot behind the house by the teeny little bathroom and a pile of rusty-looking junk.  My dumpster-diver curiosity getting the best of me, I went and checked it out but there wasn’t much to salvage—the chipped top to an old washer, a shoe that looked right out of a storybook fisherman’s lake, some scrap metal, an empty bag of chips crumpled in a ball, some empty bottles of Quilmes, etc.

Clearly if I continue to be this detailed I’m never going to finish, so here are some pictures of the campground, courtesy of Maxi:

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We didn’t get any pictures of the little creek or the main part of the campground, but you can get the idea 🙂  I think my favorite part were the showers, simply because it had been nearly a week since I’d washed properly.

Anyways, after we set up the tent, I scraped off a week of sweat and dirt in the shower then went with the girls to get some food for dinner while Maxi took his turn.  Oli studies medicine at Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA, the free public university)  and Roci was double majoring in acting and directing/cinema.  They both lived mere blocks from me back home in Buenos Aires!  It was nice to talk to some other females for once and take a break from Max.  We actually got along quite well but he was beginning to get on my nerves as it had pretty much just been us two for the entire first week.  I’m sure I wasn’t the most pleasant company after that long either.

It was looking like it would rain when we got back to camp, so we moved everything important inside the tents and I moved on to enjoy the next luxury I had missed in the last week—electricity!  I charged my camera, my phone, Maxi’s laptop, everything.  Then we uploaded pictures to Facebook and let everyone know that we’d yet to be slain by an axe murderer.  Afterwards, I went down to the plaza with Roci and Oli to drink te re re (cold mate with orange juice) and we ran into the whole group from last night.  It was about 4 PM but they’d already emptied a healthy number of cartons of wine.  It was New Year’s Eve after all!

Their group seemed to have grown yet bigger, now including a couple of men in their late 30s/early 40s who seemed like maybe they’d gotten a bit too early of a start on the day’s drinking and kept trying to speak Portuguese to me (Practicamos para carnaval!)  Someone had hollowed out a cantaloupe, written 2013 on it and presented it as the community flagon for the wine.  It did feel a bit classier than drinking straight from the carton.  I passed on the first few rounds though and stuck with mate.  The last few days had worn me out!

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We spent most of the time talking with Nico about his time in Japan trying to get dual citizenship and the cultural difficulties of growing up as a Japanese-Argentine with Japanese parents.  By some crazy coincidence Roci’s ex-boyfriend turned out to be in town, so she and Oli went to say hi.  Eventually, we all got kicked out of the plaza by the police (at 5 PM.)  We weren’t being rowdy and the cops were nice about it, we were just a big group of youngsters pre-celebrating the New Year and they saw it as a volatile situation.  We retreated to the river and continued the festivities.  I texted Maxi, but I guess his phone was in airplane mode so I couldn’t get a hold of him 😦

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^^The group at the river

At the river I talked with John for a really long time about how traveling changes you.  Some of the kids in the group with us had been on the road since before they turned fourteen and had seen things some people wouldn’t even dream to see and some things no one should ever have to see.  It was the first conversation of many that I would have about the monumental changes that I was going through—that we were all going through.  Through the conversation with John I began to really understand myself and my own morphing philosophies about the world.

I am not going to explain the entire conversation, because it was long and I can’t do it justice online, but we spoke much of the innate connection among all of us despite language, cultural, and physical barriers.  A smile is universal.  Bancame un toque (bear with me a second) and then I’ll put fortune-cookie Autumn away, promise.

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^^Cool face we made while chilling by the river

I became infected with a certain magic during my trip that still sloshes through my bloodstream, pumps through my four chambers and races all the way to my fingertips every second.  It influences my ideas, actions, words, everything.  If you read my last post, then you know about Maxi and I’s phrase: We are always lucky.  It was through this cycle of positive thinking that good things kept happening, that we stayed safe, and that we met amazing people.  If there’s anything I learned from my trip, it is that, despite life’s challenges, perseverance and optimism will always make things ok in the end.  Life is much bigger than the hardships we face and we will always struggle to grasp just how massive the bigger picture is.

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^^John and I by the river

The second major theme of my trip that John and I discussed, and that I’m still astounded at daily is nearly impossible to explain as well.  To try and properly explain this I have to tell you about a super cliché graduation speech I heard in 2009.  It was the graduation of my boyfriend at the time.  High school sweetheart.  First love.  All that fun stuff.  Anyways, I’d arrived late and was trying really hard not to be awkward with his entire extended family who I was convinced didn’t like me.  Needless to say I was a little distracted from the ceremony…

If I remember right, the teacher was my ex-boyfriend’s track coach or something and he really admired him so I made my best effort to listen at least to that part.  The speech was cliché in almost every way—the cheesy anecdote intro paired with the loaded question about which fish you want to be in the pond followed by a brief inspirational biography and an attempt to wrap it all up on both a witty and uplifting note.  I vaguely remember being much more concerned about reapplying my lip gloss for the pictures and whether or not he would like the sappy picture collage I’d framed for his graduation gift.  Never would I have realized how much I’d identify with that speech in later years.  The speaker spoke about a concept he had come to find as the main propeller in his life—a concept he’d termed “coincidance.” “Coincidance” was his explanation of how little coincidences occurred in life almost like they were planned in a sort of choreographed dance.  To my 16-year-old self, that was just cheesy and extra fluff to the rest of the graduation speech, but the more time I spend here in Argentina, and especially as I traveled, the more I recognized these “coincidances.”  Some of the things that have happened to me still seem so surreal.  You’ll see as I continue the memoir of my summer.

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^^Bryan and I by the river

Anyways, it started to drizzle a little and we all decided we better cook something before nightfall, so we headed back to camp.  For dinner, Maxi and I made “palta rice”, which soon became our favorite meal of the trip.  Palta is Spanish for avocado and while I wasn’t a huge fan of avocadoes, I certainly became one.  Max shared his love of avocadoes with me and I’m totally hooked now.  We’d mix two or three soft avocadoes with tomato in a pot of rice and add some soy sauce.  It sounds like an awkward mix but it was delightful.  We paired it with some bread and mutually agreed that the meal was a success—YUMMMM x UH-FFINITY.

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^^Cool metal T-rex in San Marcos Sierras

Going to continue this later, I’m hungry now 😉

Chau chauBesos!

101 Things About Argentina: Part IV The Last Part!!!!

So…I am supposed to be at Migraciones right now freezing my ass off and waiting in line to get my visa.  I even woke up at 6:30 AM after 5 hours of poor sleep to go and renounce my illegal immigrant status (which is how I currently roll…) but of course, TIA.  Argentina is still not quite sure if I’m a criminal and they have yet to tell me their final decision on that.  They promised me they’d decide in 5 days (which should have been 4 days ago…) but apparently I’m still being reviewed and I should check back later.  Maybe I shouldn’t have jaywalked that one time.

It’s wildly unfair because the caffeine of my morning Nescafe has already began to block adenosine receptors in my brain and organs, slowing down my cellular activity and stimulating my nerve cells to release epinephrine.  This hormone, better known as adrenaline, is now increasing my heart rate, my blood pressure, and blood flow to my muscles, which control my fingers as I type.   These symptoms are contradictory to sleep.  If you’re experiencing something similar this morning I’ll  leave you this dandy final addition to my mini-series of little things that remind me I’m not in the USA to enjoy 🙂 Don’t forget to check out the first, second, and third parts first.

76.  Open any girl’s purse in the USA (if you dare) and you’re 80% guaranteed to find at least one tube of lip gloss.  I’m not sure many of my Argentine girl friends have even heard of the stuff and I’ve yet to see anything but lipstick or chap stick on the shelves in Farmacity here.  I’ve concluded that, while it can probably be found somewhere in china town, along with bacon flavored jam and soy whale liver, Argentina’s lips remain largely unglossed.

77.  Argentine ice cream was churned and cooled (or whatever magic they do to make ice cream) in heaven.

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78.  There is a shortage of change here so everyone is stingy with their monedas.  Stores usually round up a few cents when handing you your change back, so that’s nice, but they’ll almost always ask you, “¿Tenés cincuenta centavos?”  (Do you have fifty cents?) and grumble when you apologize for being coinless.  Olvidate if you only carry around cien pesos.

79.  This kind of goes with the last one but because the stores try and hoard coins they’ll ask you if you want to donate 17 centavos, or however much is easy to round off your bill to, to the Starving Fireman’s International Ice Cream Fund.   Or the like.

80.  If you’ve never heard of the things before, you might think that Argentines go to the bathroom in pairs.  It’s a myth.  There’s just this crazy-weird butt-rinsing machine next to the toilet that they copy-catted from France.  It’s called a bidet.

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81.  Books are really expensive here because of import taxes and other factors (see #64)–text books included.  Apparently copyright laws are only suggestions though because you’ll get most of your university texts as photocopies in a bookstore.  They’ve found cute little loopholes through the copyright laws but what’s the big deal if they blatantly disregard them too?  Shhh…don’t tell.

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^^My management textbook, which is a compilation of select chapters and articles from other books (loophole)

82.  I am often shocked by the influence of English here.  Everyone says it’s the “universal language” (maybe that’s why we don’t seem too interested in teaching other languages in the USA) and many prioritize the teaching and learning of it.  Many English words have made their way into everyday Argentine speak as well.  For example, when I used to say that I was studying Business Marketing here, I would simply say “marketing.”  I took a class called “Fundamentos de Marketing” and we talked all about what “marketing” was, etc.  To market something would often be referred to as “hacer marketing de un producto“–literally, to do marketing of a product….

83. Water and plastic utensils are not free: let me diverge for a moment to tell you my spoon story.

So I bought a bunch of food from a chino for lunch one day–some chips, the makings for a sandwich, and a yogurt–and brought it back to the university to eat in peace and pretend to catch up on my reading for Social Movements (we already know how that worked out…)  I sat down outside the cafeteria (you aren’t allowed to go in unless you buy something…bah humbug…) and set everything out in front of me like I used to in Elementary school all proud and excited at the prospect of filling my tummy, when I realized I didn’t have a spoon with which to eat my yogurt.  In Elementary school that wouldn’t have mattered.  I’d eaten my fair share of liquidy substances with the foil tops of their containers to the awe and admiration of my tablemates.  Having no spoon couldn’t stop me back in the day!!!   But, realizing that a woman of 20 years should probably be a bit more sophisticated and use utensils, I entered the treacherous environment that is the cafeteria and tip-toed to the line where they sometimes buy things.  After I spent a sufficient enough time looking like I’d bought something, I went over to a different counter to ask for a spoon.

–“¿Tenés una cuchara, por favor?” Do you have a spoon please?

–“¿Emmm…compraste algo?”  Did you buy something?  You could see the suspicion in the cook´s eyes right away, like a dog who thinks he’s heard his master’s car in the driveway, instantly on alert.

–“Uhh…¿qué?…¿tenés una cucharita?”  Umm…huh?…do you have a little spoon?

–“¿Compraste algo? ¿Qué compraste?” Did you buy something? What did you buy?

–(Realizing he would not part with his plastic spoons without my buying something and not really wanting to have to use my foil spoon method, I spoke in my most beautifulest yankee-est accent): “YO-guuur, sí, compro YO-guuuurrrr.  ¿Tenés coochawwruh?”  YO-gurt, yes, I buy YO-gurt.  Do you have spoon? For emphasis I make a shoveling motion into my mouth.

–“Y lo compraste acá?” And you bought it here?

–Tilting my head sideways slightly like a little baby bird, “¿Coochawruh?” Spoon? More shoveling motions, this time more desperately and faster—if there were real yogurt on my imaginary spoon it would be all over the stingy cook’s floor.

There is a pregnant pause as the cook gives me a judgmental, unsure look.  Then he tentatively grabs the blessed plastic spoon from a tray full of them.  He starts handing it to me but snatches it back and gives me another doubtful inspection.  I return his gaze with my best feigned innocence and puppy eyes—it’s more effective because technically I didn’t lie about anything.  I did buy yogurt, just not from his overpriced, monopolistic university cafe.  And I do want a spoon.

After a little more language volleying in which I expertly imitated a stupid gringa, he eventually parts with it.  I slide out of the cafeteria with my new plastic spoon clutched tight against my chest like Gollum and the ring, hop away to my stash outside the door of the cafeteria, gather my reserves in the chino plastic bag, and take the stairs two at a time to settle two floors up and eat in peace with my stolen spoon.  Nothing is free, and I swear he gave me a dirty look the next time I went in the cafeteria that same week with a friend and had magically-improved Spanish ten levels.  I keep the spoon in my purse now, just in case I am left without one again.

84.  Most people here seem to think that we curse like sailors in the USA.  Personally, I think they curse like sailors.  Probably, sailors don’t even curse that much.

85.  As if to prove the last point, I constantly see clothing, as I am forced to window shop daily walking down my street, that cracks me up.  I highly doubt that these types of displays would last anywhere in Fort Collins, or even bigger cities in the USA.  Besides the picture below, I have quite recently seen a flowy tank top bejeweled with the F-word, and a Black T-shirt proclaiming that “God is the new black”…whatever that means.

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86.  If you watched my first video way back in August, you will have seen my elevator here.  Most elevators are like that one, tiny little things with two doors that you have to pull shut.  I loved them then and still do now.  I’m not meaning to be demeaning when I say that they make me feel like I’m in the 20’s.  They actually are pretty sweet, I’m serious.

87.  Probably just a city thing but you have to buzz up to someone’s apartment here.  I had a buzzer back in Fort Collins but only because my apartments were seriously weird.  I know it’s not that common, at least in Foco, but here EVERYONE has them, even if they live in a house.  It’s like a doorbell but it makes an delightfully awful buzzing noise.  Then the people in the apartment pick up a little telephone and talk to you downstairs.

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88.  Security is a major concern here.  Upon hearing your voice through the telephone in the above point, it is very unlikely that your friend’s will just buzz you up (press the button that unlocks the door.)  They will instead make a point of coming down to get you just to make sure you aren’t a thief in disguise or something, I don’t know.  Video cameras are also common, as is changing the locks when you lose your keys (which I have done twice 😦 )  I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, I’m just not used to it coming from a place where it’s not a big deal if you forget to lock your doors.

89.  This picture:

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90.  This is hard to explain but the idea of what types of foods make you fat is different here.  In the USA, when we diet, the first thing that we commonly “unfriend” is sugar.  Here, the idea that “sugar doesn’t make you fat” is quite common.  Instead, greasy and salty foods do (although they eat both regularly 🙂 )

91.  Portion sizes at restaurants.  I mean, where do I even begin?!  My first week I was constantly starving, partly because I was burning so many more calories than usual with all the newness and lack of sleep, but also because Statians just eat HUGE portions and Argentines don’t.  I think if I got a Qdoba burrito today I wouldn’t know what to do with it.  I would be so excited that I’d dive right in but feel full to the brim after half of it.  I could eat a burrito the size of my head back in the day before I came to Argentina.  Now I’ve learned that humans really don’t need all that much at once…

92.  I am going to miss the Fourth of July this year but it’s ok because we got fireworks on Christmas 😛  With the seasons being switched, Christmas is during the summer, which is just plain strange…

93.  Coupled with mayonnaise obsession is the mysterious salsa golf.  It’s basically just mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together.  At first, I was revolted but now I won’t dip my french fries in anything else.

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94.  Clothes dryers and dishwashers are rare, but garbage disposals are non-existent.  I have yet to see one in my eleven months here in Argentina.  I am now sure that garbage disposals were one of the greatest inventions of all time and I just don’t understand whyyyyy they aren’t in all Argentine sinks?  I get so grossed out pulling all of the nasty food chunks from the bottom of the sink after washing the dishes and transferring them to the garbage, and then you have to take out the garbage because it gets all stinky and nasty.  Garbage disposals are beautiful pieces of art to me now and luxuries one can only dream of.  APPRECIATE THEM!

95.  It is common to weigh your produce separately at a grocery store and get a sticker on it before checking out.

96.  When you walk into a party you are typically expected to greet everyone with a kiss on the cheek.  When you leave, you go through the same routine.  When you see a friend on the street, in the hallway, or are meeting them for coffee, another kiss.  When you meet someone for the first time, etc.  I love it though, I think I’m going to feel like everyone thinks I smell when I go back to the USA and people don’t kiss me hello and goodbye.

97.  Inflation is so bad in Argentina that it is one of the only countries that will sell a 2013 car for more pesos at the end of the year than at the beginning.  This phenomenon has led to the “blue” market value of the US dollar, which keeps me from going over budget here.

98.  In Tigre, a community just outside of Buenos Aires where the roads are made of water, there are lancha (boat) colectivos, taxis, and even police and trash services!

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99.  While the toilet water doesn’t flush the other way, there are weird looking flushers here.  Usually, there’s a little button on the side of the toilet, but sometimes you have to pull a string.  The standard Statian type of flushers are rare.

100.  [Insert something about tango or psychology (read my post Psychoanalyze This) here]

ANDDDD 101.  When people think of South America, they generally conjure images of tropical rainforests, tribes of natives playing the drums, and maybe Machu Picchu.  Argentina does have some tropical areas, but it is, in reality, a huge country that spans mountains, jungle, desert, and even arctic cold temperatures and glaciers.

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Not to be continued because I’m getting bored of these posts :P…

101 Things About Argentina: Part III

This is the third (of four) parts of my list of 101 things about Argentina.  Read the first and second parts before if you want.  There’s not much of an order to them but anyhow… Enjoy 🙂

51.  Fall (Autumn ❤ ) lasts for months here!!!  It’s incredible when compared to the couple of blissful weeks we get in Colorado before the harsh winter sets in.  I love it.

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52.  It’s uncommon for a 20-year-old student to be living on their own.  Kids live with their parents for many years after colegio (high school) usually.

53.  No Thanksgiving 😦  Sometimes I forget that’s a strictly Statian holiday… Click here to read about my Thanksgiving in Argentina.

54.  Feriados (Argentine days off) are more common than owls at Hogwarts.  I remember reading an article in the local newspaper last semester that claimed that government workers in Argentina technically only work 4 days a week because of the profound amount of feriados and their two weeks of mandatory paid vacation.  Read this for a better understanding of just how many holidays there are.

55.  If you didn’t know, I have a severe addiction to greasy, buttery, slimy, good ol’ ‘Murican movie popcorn.  You know, the kind where you leave the movie theater feeling like your throat has been lined with plasticwrap?  Mmmm irresistible.  Well, that doesn’t exist here.  The most popular option at the movie theater is kettle corn.  Kettle corn.  KETTLE.  CORN.  Don’t ask me how I I find the strength to wake up in the morning in a country that prefers kettle corn.  I may not if they didn’t have dulce de leche.

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56.  Apparently there’s a whole different kind of deck of cards that I didn’t even know existed–Spanish cards.  Our “regular” version of cards here are called “poker cards” but they’re actually less common than the other kind which are used to play truco among other games.  I’m still struggling to get an idea of which suits are which and their values and such.  My whole world shattered pretty much once people told me the suits were coins, cups, clubs (as in the type of weapon, clubs, not the clover-looking ones), and swords.

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57.  Music in English is apparently a single genre of music–at least according to some radio stations here.  One station playing at a party I went to with my host brother sounded like I threw my mom’s, brother’s, six-year-old niece’s, and philosophy teacher’s music libraries onto my hard drive and threw it on shuffle.  Rap=rock=pop=classical=reggae=metal=>English ( => means “if” in math…)

58.  30° conjures up images of icicles and snow in below freezing temperatures to me, but to an Argentine it’s the peak of summer. (Farenheit4Life!)

59.  There’s this incredible invention of a fourth meal in between lunch and dinner–called merienda, or tea time.  I’m waiting for them to come out with an after midnight one.

60.  The Simpsons.  Everyone here is enthralled.  I don’t know if they’ve ever been so popular in the states.  Ever.  Argentines love them.

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61.  It’s actually very uncommon to shave here, everyone waxes.  It’s much much cheaper to do so than in the states, so I can understand the appeal, especially with the warmer weather and more time to expose legs and so on.  I’m a fan, but there’s no way I could afford to keep it up in the USA.  It’s more expensive to shave here though, plus the razor options are limited to crappy disposable gas station equipment…nothing like Intuition or Schick Quattro with replaceable heads and all that fancy dance.

62.  It’s not so bad in the capital of Buenos Aires, but the more rural areas of Argentina are full of street dogs.  Some are clearly diseased or have bugs and are “hecho de mierda” as they say here; some are adorable and cuddle-able and sweet; all of them I want to adopt and love and care for. 😦

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^^Ciruela spent the night keeping me warm in Maxi’s hammock  in Simoca, Tucuman, Argentina and shared breakfast with us in the morning.  I seriously considered taking her with us.

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^^Me getting a hug on New Year’s from the most adorable attendee.  I miss my dogs.

63.  A regular Argentine “horario“:  8 AM–Breakfast/wake up, 9 AM–Start of workday, 1 PM–Lunch time, 5-6 PM–Tea time, 6 PM–Post Office and official-seeming businesses close, 8 PM–Closing for most shops and stores, 9 or 10 PM–Din din, 11 PM–After dinner coffee/postre/tea, 12 AM–Think about pre-gaming/going out, 3 AM–Go to the club, 7 AM–Get early McDonald’s/Get home from club.  Sleep?  What’s that?

64.  Libraries here are primarily academic.  Not every little kid can get excited about getting a library card (Pagemaster nostalgia) because you can’t usually check things out either.  It’s not like back in the US where you can check out The Hulk on DVD, Dirty Dancing on VHS, Ke$ha’s new album, a couple of audio books and a paperback sappy romance novel.  Those things cost money, which is why Argentina is world-famous for it’s second-hand book fairs and markets.  After working in Interlibrary Loan for two years though, I realize that not even a badass book fair beats free.

65.  In general, people here are much more aware of politics and their role in government.  Maybe it’s because of their recent tumultuous past, maybe it’s because voting is obligatory (not voting is punishable with fines and such), but either way people  seem to take much more of an interest in what’s going on around them.  Again, this is just my opinion based on observations.

^^I took this video of the cacerolazo (cacerola means pan and people flood the streets banging on pans and marching to the Casa Rosada to protest the government, hence, cacerolazo) on the 8th of November of last year.

66.  Grades are not given as A, B, C, D. and F.  Instead you get a number 1-10.  Four or above is passing and 10 is really really hard to achieve (theoretically), probably the equivalent of AAA+++, at least in my experience.  Grading practices and philosophies are much different altogether.

67.  Naturally, being on the opposite hemisphere switches the seasons.  This means that it’s summer in November and my name makes no sense.  Why would I be named Autumn if I were born in summer???  Nada que ver

68.  The majority of  broadcasted television is originally in English and can either be dubbed or subtitled.  It’s kind of adorable when you hear the names of Statian shows in a Spanish accent.  It does hinder my Spanish language learning though when I can watch TV in English all the time.

^^La beeg bangh theeeuhrreee.  Somos…Warner!

69.  If you understand much Spanish you may have noticed in that last clip that they use military time here for most things.  If you wonder why, read #63 and think about what it would mean if you said to a friend you wanted to meet at “three”…

70.  People speak Spanish.  Alright.  That is kind of a dumb and obvious difference, but it still surprises me to this day–especially little kids speaking Spanish.  It’s so adorable and strange and boggles my mind to think about growing up speaking something other than what I grew up speaking.  This is very difficult to explain.  I give up.

71.  Most everything you buy here, from your groceries to a new computer can be paid for through a series of cuotas, or quotes.  It’s actually really cool and I would so use it all the time except you have to use a credit card to do so.  In the end I would never end up saving money because of extravagant international card usage fees.

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72.    When I first printed a paper for class here it looked like I was trying to cheat by setting my margins to 2 or 3 inches. I wasn’t though.  It’s because they use a different paper size here.  It’s bigger, so a five page paper here is actually 5 3/4on regular-size letter paper.

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^^It doesn’t look like much but it adds up.

73.  For Girls:  There’s no applicators on tampons here.  In fact, tampons are really not that popular.  I was/am shocked.  Weird.

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^^Really not a very tasteful tampon-brand name….

74.  Deodorant is also weird and different.  It doesn’t usually come in the traditional stick you rub on.  There are some that are like liquid roll-on but the most popular are the sprays.  It’s hard for me to understand how this is effective but people here smell nice in general so I guess it is…

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75.  Coca-Cola is incredibly popular.  I call it Argentine water simply because they drink it like I would drink water.  If you’re in a restaurant asking for water is very rare.  This may be because there’s no such thing as free water–see spoon story in my next post (#83)–but I still find it incredibly strange.  They even give this magical Coca-Cola to little kids who drink it like Kool-Aid.

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To be continued (one last time…)

101 Things About Argentina: Part II

This is a continuation of Part I of my list of things about Argentina.  Start there if you haven’t read it yet by clicking on the link 🙂 So, without further ado:

26.  You put your picture, gender, race, age, and marital status on your resume (curriculum); if you don’t, employers might think you’re hiding something.

27.  Shoe store right next to a fruit/veggie stand right next to an apartment complex—not weird.

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28.  Someone casually lights a cigarette in the school cafeteria, right next to the “Prohibido Fumar” sign; no one casts a second glance.

29.  You panic about a big group project the teacher assigned.  No one starts talking about it until the night before it’s due, and nobody does a single bit of work until the morning of.  The presentation is bound to crash and burn, but the teacher forgets there was any homework at all.  Two weeks later, he remembers, but forgets again the next class period.  If you’re interested for future reference, this is a potential method you should consider if you’d like me to die of a heart attack someday. <–This might just be Universidad Belgrano…still investigating.

30.  Pigeons are more common than ants on a spilled Slurpee. They’re impossibly uglier too.

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32.  You think you must have something in your teeth if you get through the day  all the way to the bus stop in the morning without at least six or seven comments of “princesa“, “linda chica“, or “Te acampaño o te persigo?

Actually, my favorite piropo (these types of comments/pick-up lines) happened to me a couple of weekends ago while I was standing at a bus stop with my friend Marianita outside the city center in Olivos.  A little truck with three or four guys, all in their mid-twenties or thirties pulled across the road and into the wrong lane and rolled down their window.  “Perdón chicas, pero estoy media perdido,” said the driver (Sorry girls but I’m a little lost), “Me pueden decir como llegar a tus corazónes?” Could you tell me how to get to your hearts?  Then he drove away with a wink.  I was left a little bit confused, my naive mind calculating how to get to the center of the city exactly from where we were.  It clicked within a matter of seconds though and both Marianita and I coughed a little from the cheesiness of it all.  I don’t necessarily like the piropos, though.

Most are harmless enough and the guys in the truck made me smile at least, but sometimes they’re just gross and disgusting.  I don’t think it’s common to have this happen to you, but last Tuesday I was walking by myself on Santa Fe coming back from the gym at around 10 PM (still dinner-time-ish) and a young guy around my age followed me for about a block asking for a kiss and actually grabbed me. I whirled around telling him to go away in more explicit language and raised my arm when he got close to me again…  The streets were strangely empty but a watching doorman pulled him away from me, made sure I was ok and told me to continue before I got a chance to slap the jerk harassing me.  I shouldn’t have spoken English to tell him to go away, but the words that come out of my mouth in those situations aren’t necessarily well thought out.  He’d effectively pissed me off though.  Anyhow, I don’t think it’s a really common experience to have and the guy seemed drugged or drunk :/

33.  You’re a shark and seats on the bus are the minnows.

34.  You have a separate bag for your mate supplies and a mental map of refill stations throughout the day so you don’t run out of hot water (or at least for some Argentines.)

35.  By the end of the day your purse is full of ads for learning English, painting your baby’s bedroom, pizza delivery, and various other promos you were too polite to refuse on your five block walk home.

36.  Empanadas, dulce de leche, and medialunas all have their own food groups, here’s my personal food pyramid:

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37.  Two pieces of bread with jam and a single half mug of Nescafe fills you up like a regular meal used to in the United States.

38.  A little girl comes up to you in a restaurant where you and your amigos are morfando una pizza and asks you for a slice.  She won’t leave until you oblige, and then she goes outside and eats it in front of the window.  She’s not homeless or anything (she’s wearing a private school uniform…), only craving pizza and feeling bold.

39.  Pizza is delicious (as proved the little girl in #38), but delicious in Argentina for a more gourmet reason than the United States (still miss my Papa John’s Special Garlic Dipping Sauce: aka butter mixed with a bit of cream and powdered garlic for use on already artery-hostile pizza.)

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40.  Someone puts a pair of socks on your lap on the colectivo with tape across them spelling out “ADDIDAS.”  He follows with a presentation involving tying the socks to the bus seats and comically stretching them as far as possible to prove that they are sturdy before emphatically announcing that they are offered for a limited time and ONLY FIFTEEN PESOS FOR NOT ONE, BUT TWO, that’s TWO durable pairs!!!

41.  Red lights outside of the city center are just suggestions.

42.  Almost all of the cars are manuals.  For this reason the lights go from green–yellow–red–yellow–green.

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43.  It no longer surprises me  when my bus driver gets road rage, slamming on the brakes and calling a fellow driver an “hijo de puta” with a characteristically Italian shake of the fist.

44.  Mayonnaise obsession.  Seriously, a whole aisle in the grocery store is devoted to mayonnaise.  Since ranch dressing is virtually nonexistant, guess what the choice topping for salads here is?  Not kidding.  I used to think this was weird and gross.  Now I don’t know what a meal is like without mayonnaise.

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45.  I may have mentioned this before but milk is usually purchased in bags like the ones below.  Yes, they do have cartons (although they’re square and weird), but I’ve yet to see a typical plastic bottle or translucent jug like the ones so common to the USA.

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46.  When I order a whiskey/7Up I don’t get 7Up with whiskey, I get whiskey with a couple shots of 7Up.  Sometimes they give me the can too just in case I want to dilute my drink after the first shocking sips.

47.  You have to light the oven and the stove with matches, a task which took me many fortnights to master.  I still fear lighting the pilot light on the oven, actually….

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^^Our box of matches next to the oven/stove

48.  The doormen water the sidewalks early in the morning  just in case the grass decides to peek through the cement surface one day.  These porteros will be there to tenderly care for such growth when it comes, I’m sure.  Maybe it’s a city thing, or maybe it’s a preemptive strike against the dog poop that is seeming to invade the city, qué sé yo

49.  Everyday one plays a life-size version of Minesweeper walking along the streets of Buenos Aires.  Ironically, the parks seem to be eerily clear of feces, but the same cannot be said of the sidewalks.  Walking in heels is quite the feat among the cracked, uneven tiles with the occasional sneaky bomb of dog poo that make up Buenos Aires’ sidewalks.    I guess when you’re a dog walker with 20 dogs in tow you might find it a bit tedious to bag it ALLLLLL (see #5.)

50.  Electronics are insanely expensive because of import taxes.  I bought my Droid Razr (which got stolen a few weeks ago 😦 ) in February of 2012.  It came out sometime in 2011 I think.  Right now in the US, you can get one brand new without a contract for about $200 (free with a contract.)  This one pictured here is the equivalent of $520 WITH a new or renewed contract.  I hate to think of what it would be unlocked!

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To be continued…

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…

Felines, Fernet, and Feriados: Part I

I had a really epic weekend (truly a WEEK-end because it was five days of crazy fun.)  I am thinking about making a video slideshow of pictures because there’s just too many to post on here 🙂  But here’s a run-down of my weekend:

Thursday:

I had my last final, and the most difficult by far at 8 AM.  I felt hopeless so I didn’t study too much.  This class is one of the biggest boludeces of all time.  The professor really never teaches us anything.  We watch movies sometimes.  (These are particularly pointless for me.  We watch them on this little 20″ TV set up at the front of the lecture hall, which I have to be right in front of to squint to see.  And then they are often in French with Spanish subtitles that I can hardly make out.  Fail.) Sometimes he tells us to read.  There’s no syllabus or anything so I’ve been following everyone like a lemming and just waiting for something to happen.  It’s ridiculous.  Thankfully though, the kids in my class made a study guide (34 page “summary” of all of the books that we were supposed to maybe read but no one really knows;  they just summarized everything just in case) and I half skimmed it before the test.  I’m also terrified of the professor, and so is everyone else.  They told me that he failed the two international girls that took the class last semester, and one time he handed me back one of the in-class activities and told me he had no idea what I was trying to say.  He hadn’t even bothered to write anything on my paper…just told me he didn’t get it.  Constructive.  My other professors seem to be able to understand me more or less 😦  Well, either way, I did the best I could and I’ll find out how I did on Thursday.  It just felt good to be done!

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^^US Embassy (Such a divine day!)

Afterwards, I met up with some friends.  There was a party at the US Embassy for Americans to vote in this election.  Carmen (our awesome API director) had sent us emails about the party a few weeks ago with instructions on how to register to vote if we weren’t registered and request an absentee ballot.  Yeah, I totally wasn’t registered.  I’d thought about doing it a little before I left the states (more like it crossed my mind once or twice) but I never got my butt down to the courthouse to register.  In all actuality, I was just super apathetic to politics.  But people are much more proactive here, and I absolutely love it!!!  It has been one of the ways I’ve really changed since being down here.  I actually care what is going on in the world now.  I’m a bit ashamed that I was never registered to vote but better late than never, right?! It was actually really easy to register online–probably because Colorado is the best state, hands down–and they were incredibly fast with sending me everything!  I got my absentee ballot within two weeks and my voter registration/information card right after.  My ballot had Federal, State, County and even City elections on it.  Compared with what I saw of other people’s absentee ballots mine seemed the most straight forward and easy to fill out (again, because Colorado knows what’s up…either that or people there are so dense they have to make things really obvious and simple, but it’s gotta be the first one.) 

Anyways, the party had promised “American food” so we all went around 11:30 having eaten two pieces of toast for breakfast and expecting…well I’m not really sure what we were expecting but it isn’t what we got.  What is “American food” exactly (and by America I mean the States…I’m well aware that America consists of two (or one, whatver) ginormous continents)*?  We really just steal everyone elses ideas–Mexican food, Italian, Asian, Indian, Chinese, etc. I suppose we could sort of take credit for hamburgers and fast food but I wouldn’t be so proud of those, especially because the taste of a hamburger is as foreign to me as Buenos Aires was in July.  Well the biggest difference to me is that American food=a lot of food.  But we ended up going hungry because the embassy’s idea of “American Food” consisted of pound cake, cookies, and alfajores from McDonald’s/McCafe…there’s rumors that burritos were available before we got there but they remain unconfirmed. Eventually we got our voting all done and I got my cool sticker for the first time 🙂

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^^Definitely not my most flattering picture but it even looks like I purposely wore red, white, and blue! 🙂

Then we went in search of food.  After an hour of trying to decide where to go and walking around in search of an appetizing-looking cafe, I had a harsh lesson on the difference between torta and tarta.  I knew the difference…I just saw what I wanted to see on the menu because I was so hungry.  For my english speaking friends, tarta is a delicious scrambled egg pie-looking thing with some sort of filling usually, like potatoes (my personal favorite.)  Sometimes it has a pie crust and is filled with vegetables–not to be confused with a  pot pie, whose filling is soupy and disgusting (pure truth, not opinion.)  Torta is quite the opposite.  It’s cake.  And since I already had as much McDonald’s pound cake as any “American” could use to satisfy their supersized appetite, I was not in the mood for anything else sweet.  Oh well.  Ten pesos and a tummy ache was a hefty price for a lesson well learned, but I now know quite well the difference. 🙂

Thursday Night: wanted to go out and celebrate finishing my last midterm, but everyone was tired so I got all 8 hours and then 4 more 🙂

Thursday’s Firsts:

  1. Voting!
  2. Midterms in Argentina
  3. Pound Cake from McCafé/McDonald’s

Friday;

I slept in until 11:30 (gotta love weekends) and got up to get ready for an API cultural activity thing in La Boca, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires.  It was an attempt to be less touristy by taking us on a tour outside of the oversold “caminito”, visiting several local cooperatives (businesses born out of the 2001 economic crash here), and talking to the residents of the actual neighborhood. The tour was a bit too data-intensive but it was a beautiful sunny spring day and I absolutely adored the neighborhood.  It felt so much more genuine than Recoleta, where I live, and it smelled less like dog poop than Belgrano, where I go to school.  (Nothing against Belgrano OR Recoleta; Belgrano is more residential and has more real grass, but walking to school is like picking through a minefield and I’ve misstepped more than
a few times.  Some people say they wished we lived there instead but it’s like eau de poo every day for me…maybe I have a sensitive olfactory sense.)  I like Recoleta a lot, right near the shopping hubs, close to the nightlife of Palermo, and it requires me to take the colectivo to school every day (Which, let’s be honest, it would have taken me much longer to peek my head out of my shell into the great big city if I wasn’t required to travel across it for school everyday.  The city, once so huge, grows smaller everyday and surprisingly, I love it!!!  It feels a little claustrophobic at times because it takes two hours just to get outside of the skyscrapers, but there’s so much to see and do!), but La Boca was much more my personality.

Anyways, the tour was great and I actually saw something other than Bijon Frises and dogs that I feel have better use as footballs, which made me realllllly miss Dio and Sanchez (mainly Dio though.)  I want a puppy so badly!  Sigh.  Or a baby tiger.  Same thing really (see Monday in Part II)  Anyways, here is a gallery of good photos. It won’t let me caption them…so I´ll tell you a little bit: 

–The river/water stuff you see is Río Riachuelo, the most polluted river in the world.  You can smell it from a block away and it almost looked so full of…unidentified ‘stuff’ that you could walk on it. (Although I’m thinking your shoe soles would dissolve first, or a huge kraken would rise up and make a quick meal out of you before you got very far.**)  But seriously, the water was bubbling.  It’s really sad. 

–The little cookies are alfajores but they’re chiquitito and adorable, not to mention tasty.

–The blue and yellow giant thing is the Boca Juniors soccer stadium (it holds 50,000 people and that’s just a corner of it.)

–A lot of the colorful indoor pictures are of the conventillo.  What’s a conventillo?  It’s a type of collective urban living.  When there was a huge influx of immigrants to Buenos Aires in the beginning of the 20th century they converted big fancy houses into apartment buildings with a common living room of sorts.  So each room housed an entire family.  I’m sure the one we saw has been restored and painted and done up more than a screaming five year old on Toddler’s and Tiaras, but it was still really cute and interesting. (The toddlers notsomuch.) 

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Friday Night:

I convinced my friends to go out with me and I didn’t feel like drinking so I watched them take nasty tequila shots and we went to a sport’s bar that we went to last weekend called The Temple.  I spent most of the time avoiding the bartender (who is in the throes of puppy love) and listening to my friends have an in depth conversation about the difference between sex change surgeries and boob jobs.  It was a bit boring, but at least we tried to have a fun night.  On a side note (me??? side notes???), because it was such beautiful weather during the day no one thought to bring a coat to the bar–except me!  Colorado (did I mention we’re the best state?) effectively taught me never to go anywhere without a jacket and I was well rewarded when it started raining and I could rub how warm and dry I was in my friend’s faces (who were earlier making fun of me for hauling around a coat while it was so nice out.)

Friday’s Firsts:

  1. Ate a piece of ham on accident from the pizza we had for lunch
  2. Went to a conventillo
  3. Met a German girl named Svenya.  How cliché 🙂
  4. It was technically my second time being in La Boca (third if you count the time I got lost my first week) but it was my first time going outside of “caminito.”

 

*This brings up an issue that is st
arting to bug me more and more of late.  We quickly learned upon arriving in Argentina that calling ourselves “American” is correct, but very vague because technically all of South Americans and North Americans are “American.”  In fact, they don’t even teach South America and North America as separate continents anywhere like we learn in the grand ol’ USofA…a way to separate our superior selves from the mysterious southerners I suppose.  Those of you that have talked to me at all since I’ve been here might have noticed that I no longer call myself “American” or call the US “America”…that’s because I am not supposed to.  I understand the reasons why, and yes they are all quite valid.  I admit defeat–but what exactly are we supposed to call ourselves?!  I’ve found myself using the made up word “Statesian” which makes me sound like an idiot, and they say “yanqui” here but that makes me think of the civil war and for some reason I feel a bit of a negative connotation when I’m called a yanqui (although I’m probably imagining it.) So I sometimes feel like I’m tiptoeing around the term “America”, which is exhausting. Es una paja, enserio.  To quote a friend on Facebook:

I think the reason Americans are called Americans, is because America is the last word in the name of our country. Example: Canada = Canadian. Republica de Argentina = Argentine or Argentinian

Por eso, United States of America = American

Whatever it is, can we just all decide on a name?  And no, I’m not going to stay estadounidense every time. Me da fiaca.

**Because I have a severe problem with overuse of parentheses I’m now going to put these fancy looking asterisks all over my blogs.  It’s because my thought process is made up of more sidetracks than main roads; it’s easy to see how I’m so clumsy and lose things all the time when you read my writing haha.  But I was going to say–one of my favorite books of all time, Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.,  mentions a river so polluted that it actually encases one of the characters feet and legs in a plastic-like nuclear boot after he wades through it.  I get this image when I think of how polluted the Rio Riachuelo is.  And so on.

Psychoanalyze This

You may have recalled from an earlier post that I mentioned Buenos Aires had the most psychoanalysts per capita in the world.  Because I’d read a couple of semester’s worth of material on the city and it’s quirks before I came, I knew that Argentines were very comfortable with the fact that practically all of them see a psychologist on a regular basis.  They also don’t tend to censor themselves quite as much as we do–political correctness is literally a foreign concept here.  They’re all very polite and aware that I might have a much stronger filter than they do, but sometimes things slip through, leaving me a bit lost for words. (The other day my host brother asked me if I was on my period because I had cramps.  Just writing the fact that he asked me that on my blog makes me feel kind of uncomfortable haha.)

So, despite knowing that everyone would be acutely aware of their attraction to their mother here, it still sometimes catches me by surprise and squeezes a little smile out of me.  It happens more often than I thought that plans with an Argentine friend have to be rescheduled because they have to go to the therapist.  “I can’t reunion with you today, as I have to go to an appointment at my shrink. That’s how it’s said right?”  Yes, my dear friend, that’s pretty much how you say it and total gold star for the contraction!  Adorable.  ❤ 

To give you guys an idea of how concentrated the psychologists are here I have two photos from google maps both at the same scale.  One shows the results of psicólogo in Buenos Aires (the blue arrow is where I live now…please don’t stalk me) and the other is a search for psychologist in Fort Collins with where I used to live.  Obviously, I didn’t live in such a compacted city, but I still think you get the idea of how popular it is around here.  Argentina had 145 psychologists per 100,000 residents (that’s 1 for every 689!) in a 2008 study by researchers Modesto Alonso and Paula Gago. That’s far more than second-place Denmark, with 85, or ninth-place U.S. with 31 (1 for every 3,226 people…), in a 2005 study by the World Health Organization.

Ba_psychologists

^^Where I live now, in Buenos Aires.

Foco_psychologists

^^Mi departmento (my apartment) in Foco.

The 13th of October is really Día del Psicólogo, and although it’s not a national holiday, there is said to be quite the festival surrounding the occasion. 

With all of the stress of being in a new country, culture shock, and missing my family and friends back home I would never have considered going to see a psychologist.  Even as my level of self-discovery reaches new heights that I never anticipated upon coming here and I’m constantly trying to figure myself out, going to the shrink wouldn’t have even crossed my mind, but it’s so common here.  I don’t really feel like paying someone to tell me that the reason I sometimes chew absentmindedly on pen caps is because my mom didn’t stop nursing me soon enough.  Maybe it’s true though–how could my mom resist my cute little baby face?! 

I don’t think the reason that porteños have such a fascination with unearthing their subconscious desires is because they all have repressed childhood memories.  I think it’s because they want to sit in this badass chair:

Sweet_ass_divan

Well, at least I do.  And to their credit, Argentines seem to be really happy people that are in touch with their own personalities and motives.  They don’t seem to complain much (probably because they already vented to their therapist about how their id and superego just won’t call it quits and finally shake hands), and they have a crazy amount of energy (something I’ve mentioned before in several posts.)  Maybe their dreams really are filled with ponies and butterflies after all that therapy, I don’t know.

Psychoanalysis and psychology in general in Argentina, however, is certainly a concept that transcends social culture and diffuses into my classes.  I wrote another post (one of the one’s sitting in my draft box) about how interesting it is to study Marketing in another country because it is directly linked to culture in many ways.  We seriously covered the psychology concept exclusively for three hours as an essential part of market research in one of my classes; by that I don’t mean we talked about how people in general are motivated by certain types of advertisements (sex appeal, etc.).  No, I’m talking about recognizing the specific psychological issues a certain demographic may be dealing with and how that’s going to affect our marketing decisions.  That particular class period wasn’t even presenting the topic as a potential topic of discussion with reasons you should do market research by psychoanalyzing your markets use of ego defense mechanisms.  It was already assumed that a good “relacionista pública” would conduct market research in this field, so instead we spent the class disscussing the logistics of how to obtain accurate psychological statistics and data for your target market.  Rather interesting.  Really different. 🙂

Take from it what you will.  I don´t think it would hurt us conscientious Americans to pull a page from their book and lighten up a bit when we’re talking about “taboo” subjects.  It’s kind of relaxing (just kind of, it´s still really weird and awkward to a certain point for me) to just say what comes to your mind.  For example, and I have to disclaimer this because I don’t want to come across as racist and if you know me, you’ll know I’m very far from racist: The other day I came home from school with a banana and some of my favorite alfajorcitos.  Yum!  My host brother, to make conversation, asked me if I’d just gone out and bought them.  I replied:

“Sí fui al supermerc–un ‘minimercado’ en la esquina.”  (Yes, I went to a supermarke–‘minimarket’ just on the corner)

And he clarified: “Ah, un chino.” (I think that one is pretty obvious.)

I looked at him like he’d just pulled a pet rat out of his pocket to show me and told me he´d named it Nibbles–a little confused and unsure because I didn’t think I’d understood.   I mean, yes, there are little minimarkets on practically every block with your basic set of produce, toiletries, milk and eggs, bread, and the like, and I´ve yet to see one that’s not run by Asian people, but really…?

Mercado1

^^A little market here in Recoleta…I didn’t take this picture myself (camera tomorrow hopefully!) and it’s hard to find good ones on Google…

I guess
it’s like nail salons in the States (and my American sense of political correctness is prickling as I write this), how most of the nail artists are Vietnamese. But we don’t call nail salons “Vietnams”….that would be outrageously inappropriate!!!

After I’d digested this information thoroughly and assured that it wasn’t just him but EVERYONE calls the little markets “Chinos”, I asked him if he would really call it that in front of any Asian friends he has.  He assumed a pensive face and then gave a slight nod in affirmation before saying, “I’ve never talked to an Asian person outside of a ‘chino’.”

Don’t even know how to respond to that haha.

Anyways, I’ve got to go early to pick up my visa tomorrow and see about getting my camera fixed (I swear I’m actually going to finally go try and do it), so I’ll leave you guys with this humorous picture of a book I saw at El Ateneo (famous three story bookstore here) the other day:

Gatos_para_dummies

For just $89 pesos you will:

  • Learn to understand the feline language! (How many ways are there to say f*** you, really?)
  • Learn to take care of your cat in a caring manner and maybe even train it (also caringly)
  • Identify when your cat is well and when it is having problems

Don’t get me wrong, I think cats are cute and funny (Oh no!  I’m going to have “Can’t Hug Every Cat” stuck in my head for the rest of the night…), but I still thought you guys might get a kick out of it 😉

Hasta Luego!  Besos 🙂

 

Seriously, I have that song stuck in my head now 😦  I’m never going to fall asleep!

 

Maté-Maticas

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

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

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

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

2012-08-25_14-19-50_594

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

2012-08-25_14-58-56_853

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

Bombilla-short-straight_med
Bombilla_2

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

8_2

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

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