October 22, 2013
Hello again, everyone!
I'm currently writing this blog post from my room in Buenos Aires, Argentina! I've been spending my fall semester here, which is already in the home stretch. I arrived here in June for a month-long intensive language program before starting the semester program. It has been an incredible experience so far, and even though it's coming to an end, there are still so many exciting adventures coming up. I've been here studying Spanish. In school, I'm only taking Spanish classes (one grammar class, an oral production class, and a tango dancing class - because I'm in Buenos Aires, it was a must-do).
If you want to check out my travel blog, you can do so here.
Since I've been here, I've travelled to Iguazu Falls (one of the seven natural wonders of the world); Tucuman, Argentina (where the country's independence was declared); Mendoza, Argentina (the wine capital of the country, and surrounded by mountains); and Santiago, Chile (surrounded by the Andes). This weekend, we are travelling south to see penguins, whales, sea lions, seals and dolphins, all in their natural habitat. It's called Puerto Madryn and it's about 20 hours south of Buenos Aires. All the travelling we do here is by bus - needless to say I've become a pro at sleeping in the world's most uncomfortable places.
Buenos Aires is a really interesting city. It's full of culture, from tango, to folklore music, to the abundance of art (museums, galleries and beautiful street art). Most big cities in the world have parts that resemble each other, which Buenos Aires definitely has, but it also has a lot of uniqueness to it, which I love.
There's a neighborhood of the city called Palermo which is full of cute, unique, little cafes every 5 feet. Tons of old antique books, music, and clothing stores. Lots of juice/organic cafes. Bars that double as street art galleries and bars that double as a market on Saturdays and Sundays during the day. Every Saturday and Sunday (in just about every neighborhood in the city, of which there are 44 I believe), there are these markets called "ferias." Ferias are markets full of handmade things, some have antiques, and some have clothes, too.
Some awesome things I've found are origami earrings, earrings of little people that you can move their bodies into any position, little gremlins that you can attach to anything and adjust their arms and legs, giant puppets of gremlins and trolls, beautiful handmade crocheted flowers to attach to a sweater or whatever you want, a lot of things with moustaches on them, and cats. The list could go on forever, but really you can find just about anything at these ferias, and they're always different. They're one of my favorite things to go to on the weekends, and we go just about everywhere.
What I love most about this city, though, are the cafes. Every single day, you can go to a different cafe and have a completely unique experience. Each one has a different feel, a different atmosphere and different food/drinks.
Going to cafes feels like going home. They're so cute, comfortable and welcoming. No matter how much time I've had in this city, I would never have enough time to make it to all the cafes that I want to. My favorite (and one of my housemate's favorites), is this tiny crepe cafe that can only hold about 10-15 people. The lady who makes the crepes is so sweet, and they always play really great American music from the 80s-90s, from tons of different genres. They have crepes with actual food in them, like ham, cheese and pineapple, and then they have fruit/sweet crepes, which you can fill with whatever you want and add Nutella, cream, or dulce de leche to. (Dulce de leche is the food of Argentina. It kind of has a caramel taste but it's less thick, and they put it on EVERYTHING here - bread, cakes, fruit...everything).
I live with a host family, but they have room for 10 students, and for each to have their own room. When I first got here, all the rooms were full, then a few left, a few came, and it was full again for about two-and-a-half months. A lot of the people who were here left about two months ago and now there are only five of us. Every night (including when there were 12 of us total, including my host parents), we eat dinner together around one table, at 9 p.m. (which is on the earlier end of when people eat dinner in this country). It's an amazing place to live because it's like no matter what, you always have this huge family to lean on. My host parents are truly amazing. My host mom is the sweetest woman, and so full of love. My host dad is probably one of the most hilarious people I've ever met, and he never stops making jokes, and picking on all of us.
My Spanish has greatly, greatly improved. I feel really comfortable in the language now, and rarely have problems understanding. My host parents don't speak English at all, so it's only Spanish with them, which has been really helpful. I love this language and the dialect and accent that they have here. It's very distinct. For those of you who are familiar with Spanish, the "ll" and the "y" here are pronounced like "sh," so, for example, the word "calle" (street) is pronounced "ca-sh-e." Also, they don't use the word "tu" here for "you," they use "vos." This "vos" has absolutely no connection to the "vosotros" that's used in Spain. Vos means you (singular) and has different conjugations than "tu." To make things more complicated, they use a ton of different words here than are used in "normal" Spanish. For example, skirt in normal Spanish is "falda," here it is "pollera" (pronounced "po-sh-era," used for any type of skirt). As odd as it is, I love it. I'm just nervous for what my professors are going to think when I come back to Spanish class at NU!
So I suppose that's an overall update of what I've been up too here. Oh, also, I've played polo, I'm on the soccer team at school, have been taking some guitar lessons so I can play better, and have reached the level of Spanish and knowledge of the city that I can actually give accurate directions! So with all that said, if you want to check out my trips (and lots of pictures from each of them), or read about the food here, or just my adventures in general, be sure to check out my travel blog!
The semester ends here in just a few weeks, on Nov. 7, and then I'm off to travel through Argentina, Peru and Ecuador for two weeks, and then back home! It truly has flown by!