The time is flying by in my new home. Already, I have shed my winter coat and pulled out my shorts. Spring has sprung, and I am crazy lucky to live in this gorgeous city as it blooms to life for the summer. My “summer vacation” has officially ended, (although it is truly just beginning) and my classes have started. Before my agenda fills with readings and exams, I would like to share how my last 10 days in the city have been.
10 Days in Buenos Aires (Part 2)
Last Sunday, I spent the day in bed as it poured rain. I ignored my daily goal to do one new cultural activity each day, because on rainy days, it is definitely okay to stay in bed and hide away. I spent the morning and afternoon working on putting together my blog. In the evening, I FaceTimed with my family and caught up with all the paperwork and emails (UNL bureaucracy) that come along with a semester abroad. I am very grateful for peaceful and productive rainy days!
On Monday morning, the THIRD week of orientation commenced. When selecting a program with such an early start, I had no idea that classes would not begin until the fourth and fifth weeks. Overall, the orientation has helped me to feel so much more comfortable in the city of Buenos Aires. From the Subte to the different neighborhoods, I can get around just about anywhere on my own. Also, I now have a strong network of friends after spending everyday in orientation together. Already, I am familiar with nearly all sixty students in the CIEE Liberal Arts program.
In class on Monday, during the final Intercultural Workshop, we focused on the slang of Buenos Aires; the session can be summed up as the whole class playing Cards Against Humanity with raunchy spanish flashcards. Following the orientation session, I went to El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a gorgeous old theatre turned into a bookstore and coffee shop. This is a sight to see in the city and sufficed as my cultural activity of the day.
As I become more comfortable living in Buenos Aires, I am beginning to love lunch-ing alone and searching for the hippest street art and bakeries. Although many parts of my day are touristy, I am here to live not just visit. Slowing down and enjoying the mundane aspects (like the 45 minute Subte ride) is so important!
Tuesday morning was supposed to be filled with class orientation and internship searching, but what’s the point of studying abroad if you follow all the rules? Instead, I headed to one of Buenos Aires’ most famous neighborhoods: La Boca. I met my friends, who all happen to attend Elon University, Megan, Erin, and Matt, at the Plaza de Mayo Subte stop, and we headed south on the collectivo (bus).
La Boca is one of the most touristy neighborhoods in the city and a place to watch your purse closely. The main tourist attraction is the Caminito. It is one street, only a few blocks long, with brightly painted buildings and loads of souvenir shops. Following the short walk, we found a restaurant tucked in-between the buildings that served traditional asado. We all ate Choripán, a big sandwich stuffed with Chorizo. While eating, we were surrounded by stray cats and dogs because Erin fed the animals!! The sun was shinning on us the whole meal, and it was one of the first times the Argentine winter lightened up. We sat bare shouldered for hours chatting, eating, and soaking in the sun. Before leaving the barrio, we stopped by La Bombonera the soccer stadium to get a peak. We plan to return to La Boca to attend at game at some point this semester!
In the evening, I met up with a group of students at midnight in a park in Palermo Soho. Honestly, it was just as sketchy as it sounds (sorry mom!!). We stood in the cold for what felt like an hour waiting for everyone to arrive. Finally, we headed a few blocks over to Chupitos. This bar serves drinks of every sort. Many flaming, ones with a marshmallow roasting over the drink included, and others called Jon Snow, Jack Sparrow, Black Magic, etc. The night ended a few hours later, and we all headed home around 2 or 3 a.m., which is early for Argentines!
In the morning on Wednesday, I met with the coordinator Favio to choose my classes. I will be taking six classes at FLACSO and UNA, all taught in Spanish of course. My class selections will change after the shopping period; however, at FLACSO, I am currently taking 1. Grammatical Workshop 2. Writing Workshop 3. Speaking Workshop 4. Volunteer and Service Learning 5. Bodies, Gender, and Sexuality in Argentina & 6. Human Rights in Argentina. I have also signed up to take one class at the public art school La Universidad Nacional de Artes (UNA): 7. Digitalization of Images. I will drop one of these seven classes during the shopping period, but for the next week, I am able to explore and test my comprehension skills.
Following registration, I rushed to the Subte with a few friends and we took the green line to Congreso de Tucúman, the last stop in Belgrano. Megan, Erin, Grace, Rosa, and I were on our way to pay for a trip to Iguazu Falls, one of the 7 Wonders of the World!! After paying the extremely unorganized business and requesting that they write a personal letter to me confirming that I had paid (I really didn’t trust the company), we headed to a traditional Argentine restaurant. We filled the table with bread, toasted sandwiches, supremas, and dulce de leche crepes. A few sweet day spent with sweeter friends!
Thursday morning bright and early, I met at FLACSO to go on a tour of volunteer opportunities around the city. In the morning, I visited an elementary school, La Fundación Sagrada Familia, during recess time before heading to La Fundación Zedeká which was very similar to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. The whole group took a quick break for lunch, and at one long table, about 50 students sat eating giant steak sandwiches and bottomless french fries. We began the afternoon by visiting a Community Centre in El Barrio Mitre which is on the outskirts of the city. The center focuses on programming for women and girls, one program dedicated to allowing girls to play soccer in a society that rallies mainly around men’s soccer. Finally, we visited al Centro de Apoyo Escolar in Recoleta, where we would have an opportunity to tutor students after school. I am still unsure of where I will volunteer for the semester, but I will be choosing one specific place for my volunteer service learning class.
Friday was one of the most picture perfect days of the last month in Argentina. At 9:30 a.m., I boarded a charter bus headed to the Argentine country side. I claimed three seats for myself and laid down to sleep for the two and a half hour bus ride. The group arrived at a traditional Estancia outside of the city before lunch time, and we all flocked to the edge of a foggy gray lake. Moments later the servers brought out trays and trays of beef empanadas, wine, and beer. The whole group was nearly crying out of sheer joy. Shortly after, we began riding horses, playing soccer, hayrack rides, and relaxing in the fresh country air.
Right before lunch, a small group roamed to the edge of the property where we found two llamas! There were selfies and a looming fear that the llamas would spit or become violent. We then moved inside to a large banquet hall and all sat down. We began with salads, continued with chorizo, blood sausage, and traditional asado beef. The servers constantly brought out more wine and steak. We finished the meal with a dulce de leche crepe.
The day concluded with more soccer, horse rides, and the long bus ride back into the city of Buenos Aires. I returned home exhausted and slept for ten hours that night. It was truly a spectacular day with really great friends in a wonderful place!
On Saturday morning, I woke up determined to go to China Town for the afternoon. I texted my friend Grace and she agreed to tag along. I took the subte to Juramento to meet her. We then walked together through Belgrano; we passed a fair of local goods, museums, and landmarks before arriving at the China Town gate. China Town in Buenos Aires is really only one street, about three blocks long, filled with supermarkets, restaurants, and souvenir shops. We headed straight to Lai Lai a restaurant from Grace’s guide book. Upon entering the restaurant, we felt at home due to the similar decorations as the Chinese restaurants we frequent at home and a menu of familiar items. Grace and I shared dumplings, chicken chow mien, and the veggie delight. We cleaned our plates and then headed to a supermarket in search of peanut butter. We found peanut butter, dried fruits, and many other products we are used to seeing in the states. We bought the necessities, and then roamed around the rest of China Town.
On the way back to the Subte, we stopped at Volta, a gelato shop with about 50 flavors. I ordered myself a cone of chocolate and dulce de leche. Even the chain gelato shops blow every ice cream shop in Nebraska out of the water. Grace and I slowly walked back to the Subte stuffed full of Chinese food and gelato, and we parted ways when the subte got to my stop. I decided to try a new way home, and I ended up lost on the wrong side of the train tracks. I nearly bought a taxi home, but instead I stuck it out and walked a mile back in the correct direction (thanks to Google Maps for saving me always)!
On Saturday night, I met some friends at midnight (I am really looking forwarding to being back in Lincoln where people go out earlier!). We headed to Caracas, a bar just a few blocks from my apartment. The bar was full of thirty year olds and really packed, so we quickly left and headed to Palermo Soho’s Jah Bar a few blocks away. This bar was very chill and hosted a younger crowd. At Jah Bar, we met about 15 students from the study abroad program before heading to Niceto, a boliche (nightclub) down the street. Megan and I left the boliche about 20 minutes after arriving when we realized it was just like a middle school dance. We were home in bed by 3 a.m. when the rest of the city was just headed out.
I waited for Sunday morning to come all week long because BRUNCH! I met Grace, Hannah, and Theo at Magdelena’s Party in Palermo Soho. I had a California Omelet and my friends ate pancakes, french toast, and eggs benedict. After our fill of the United States, we headed to a market a few blocks away in Palermo to look at the goods being sold. There were many colored blankets, shirts, and trinkets to buy. I may have to buy another suitcase so I have room to take things back!
On Sunday evening, my host sister Antonia (Tony) finally came home! She had spent the last two weeks over winter break with her father in Lima, Peru. Because she spent her birthday in Lima, she came back with two suitcases of new things to show her mother and me. One suitcase was filled with clothes and shoes, and the other was filled with joys and candy. After a long day of traveling, and a few tears, we sat down and shared a pizza, because pizza makes everything better!
On Monday morning, I decided that after after two weeks, it was time to get back to my normal schedule. I woke up and made myself eggs over medium (two whites, one yoke like always), toast, and a banana. I then walked four blocks to the OMNI fitness center and joined the gym for the next four months. I chose this gym because it has ellipticals, a daily necessity for me at home. After my workout, I explored Palermo Hollywood in search of more street art and for the best lunch place close to my house. I found a hip, organic, salad bar where I was able to sample everything and then pay for the weight of my meal. It was truly the most colorful meal I have had so far in Argentina: think Whole Foods salad bar. Following a late lunch, I returned home and watched Sex and the City the movie 1 & 2. Once again, thankful for the mundane days when I feel at home in Buenos Aires.
On my twentieth day in Buenos Aires, I began classes. First, I had my Volunteer and Service Learning Seminar. The class is taught by a man and woman who are very sweet. I will be expected to create a project with a NGO in the city. I am still very unsure of what this will entail, but I am excited for the opportunity to volunteer while studying here. After a quick lunch at a vegetarian all you can eat buffet and a large helping of dulce de leche, I headed to my second class: Bodies, Gender, and Sexuality in Argentina. The class is extremely interesting and taught by a lively profesora from UBA, the large public university. The class will focus on a wide range of topics including breast feeding, abortion laws, gay marriage, and perspectives of sex and sexuality all through the lens of Argentine society.
After my final class, I walked home through Recoleta with Haley before hopping on the Subte to return to Palermo. After a quick workout at the gym, I shared empanadas with Alexia and Tony. Before bed, I watched the US Women’s Gymnastic team and the US Men’s 4×200 freestyle relay take gold.
My time in Buenos Aires is flying by! Somehow 20 days have already passed, out of the total 150. I am still so overwhelmed with happiness to be in this city that I haven’t felt homesick at all. I’m sure the day is probably coming when I will miss home, but with all the love and support I am receiving from the US of A, I feel that in no time at all, I will be back home with my family, friends, and pups. Love you all! Thanks for reading!