Just 5 more weeks, please

Good news: I pulled an A+, A, and B+ on my final exams this week. Bad news: Today was my last day in Rosario.

The time crept up on me so fast. Surely six-ish weeks is a long time, and looking back on my first day in Argentina feels like some time ago; but I can’t help but feel it’s not enough. I can’t help but feel like I’m only beginning to get the hang of things. No longer do I struggle for words when that random dude on the street asks me a question that I only vaguely understand, nor do I fear the unruly taxi drivers while crossing the streets. I’ve got every road in downtown memorized and can officially bargain a price with street vendors. Empanadas? I can make those! Maté? A new beverage of choice. I have practically made a life here, how can I leave now?

Well, I don’t know. For the past week or so, I’ve been caught between never wanting to leave this city and feeling a bit homesick — or, maybe just Lilly-sick and Cafe Yumm-sick. I’m blessed to have so much to look forward to at home, but even moreso that I will get to arrive home with such fond memories of the first half of my summer 2015. While I’m not the type of person to excessively dwell over my experiences, it might be hard to shut me up about study abroad for…like… a while.

And so now… I begin the long list of thank-yous. And it will be long.

First and foremost, I send my thanks to AHA International/GEO Study Abroad, whatever they want to be called. Your seemingly perfect program in Rosario is obviously a result of very hard work and organization.

I send thanks to those who donated to my GoFundMe. Yes, all of those donations mattered! I had the relief of knowing when my scary billing statement arrived that it would be paid with much more ease. Your donations were more than monetary, they also acted as mental support for me…that yeah, I actually COULD do this!

Special thanks to my unforgettable professors and hard, hard-working staff. Maríe, a big-deal lawyer who taught our Human Rights class, showed us some special gems of the city, and took the time to know (all) of us! Lucía, my grammar professor who I will continue to say is the only person that can make grammar bearable, even during our 3-hour Friday classes. Stella, my Conversation instructor, who both challenged and loved us. For someone who spoke no English, it’s amazing how well she could connect with all of us and became our friend.
Beba, Rosario’s site-director who very obviously cares deeply about all of her students and is really the one to thank for…everything! And Fernanda, the first Rosarina we met on that intimidating first day, who wrangled all of us around Buenos Aires and coordinated the UO-UNR Law partners that later became some very good friends. Hola Fer, estoy seguro que estás leyendo! Additionally Estella and everyone else around every day.

To all the Rosarinos who let the Americans clash your style and took us under your wing, you all are what made this trip. You made us feel like locals instead of awkward exchange students. You made Rosario feel like home! Agustín for being my best friend while down here. Julieta for always taking us awesome places and always showing us incredible kindness. Matías, Zaira, Manu, Noe…the list could go on.

My host mom for being exactly like my real mom back home, feeding me the best meals of 2K15, and for caring for me like one of her own. The homestay experience creates something special; a bond that even a language barrier can’t break. This will be the hardest goodbye.

Finally, the nine other American students who kept each other alive and also drove each other crazy during these past weeks. So, so, so many hours have passed with these fellows. Let’s thank Brittney for being my (third) mom. Alexi for letting me cling to her the first handful of days since I only knew her. Joel for the excessive chirping. Brett for constantly forcing me to reevaluate my thoughts and opinions. Jacquelyn for understanding and validating my poli sci jokes. Brandon for turning a familiar face into a friendship. Hannah for keeping our group grounded. Quin for his quoteable, Ed Sheeran-like antics that kept us all laughing. And Taylor for his beard. It was so fun having a group small enough like this which allowed us to all grow very close. For those at UO, I’ll see y’all soon. For those at Ball State over in Indiana, chirp chirp.

Today was hard. I didn’t expect the goodbyes to affect me as much as they have. I know it sounds lame because I was only here for 6 weeks, but then again… these were my people for a month and a half! How will I not miss the crap out of them?

Tomorrow the bus picks me up at 10:30am outside my apartment, and we will arrive at Buenos Aires to catch my flight by 8pm.

Tuesday I will be home. Chau, Rosario. I will be back soon.

Alex

alexi & agu
alexi & agu
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Just 5 more weeks, please

Argentines probably love you, and definitely love Frozen

… unless you’re from Chile.

No, I’m sure there are some inter-Argentina-Chile friendships. BUT, Argentines really love people, especially their friends. They love their friends so much that they have a whole day dedicated to friendship: “Día del amigo” -> day of the friend.

And it’s not like one of those dumb “national donut day” holidays like we have in the US where nobody even eats donuts.

Día del amigo is a big deal, and I got to see it firsthand this past Monday. Signs started going up around restaurants the Friday beforehand urging people to make their dinner reservations now because space would fill quickly. Kiosks began selling friendship trinkets and matching shirts for people to get for their friends. And then when the night Monday July 20th arrived, tables across town were filled with groups of friends laughing (and probably drinking) until their sides hurt. A big group of our friends, American & Argentine, all went out and it was grand. And yeah, we had to make reservations a week in advance! All of my professors that day wished us a feliz día del amigo and I got texts from all the friends I’ve made down here wishing me the same. It felt kind of like National Best Friend Day in the US, but you actually hang out with your friends instead of just post pictures of yourself with them on Instagram… 😉

And then Frozen. Sometime last week, a group of us decided to go see the musical “Rapunzel”, but clearly it was just a rendition of Tangled. It was fun, especially since it was in Spanish and despite that they spoke way too fast on stage, I kind of hung on since I knew the plot. Well, I thought I did… until towards the end, Olaf the snowman from Frozen came out on stage for no good reason. I honestly thought the producers got the two mixed up, or that they threw him in there just for fun. But then, Elsa from Frozen came out too and started singing Let It Go with Rapunzel for no real reason (or maybe there was and I didn’t understand it). The crowd of 7-year-old girls screamed louder and ever and sang along to every word. Of all the confusing moments I’ve had here, and trust me there have been plenty…I think this one takes the #1 spot. I still don’t know why Elsa showed up at Rapunzel’s tower with Olaf.

Anyway, finals are in full swing. I took my Human Rights final today, and have Conversation and Grammar finals tomorrow. 10 minute presenation about Gabirel García Márquez (if you’re into Spanish you have to know him), 10-ish minute dialogue conversation, and two written tests might kill me, but if I survive, I’ll be sure to post something. While I can’t wait for exams to be over, I find myself trying to savor every moment I have left…this is the last week! I have less than five days left here in Rosario and it hasn’t quite hit me, but I’m afriad when it does, it’s gonna hit hard and fast. Maybe I’ll survive…

chau for now,

alex.

PS – it took me 5 weeks to learn the way they spell chau in Argentina is not the way they spell ciao in Italy

día del amigo celebrating w/ Brittney & Ed Sheeran
día del amigo celebrating w/ Brittney & Ed Sheeran
ELSA APPEARS ON STAGE, w/ Olaf and Rapunzel crying in the corner
ELSA APPEARS ON STAGE, w/ Olaf and Rapunzel crying in the corner
Quillmes - the PBR of Argentina, its hotter older brother
Quillmes – the PBR of Argentina, its hotter older brother
100% sober @ Fenicia
100% sober @ Fenicia w/ the fam
Julieta's dance show!
Julieta’s dance show!
Argentines probably love you, and definitely love Frozen

Community dogs & too many apologies

How have I not spent any amount of time writing about the great dogs that roam around Rosario? Here in the city, there’s a bit of a wild dog problem. But not the kind of wild dog problem most people imagine… these dogs are friendly, rabies-free, and happy to be where they are. When they’re not wandering the streets at random or playing with other dogs, you’ll find them basking in the sun taking a quick nap. The greater majority of them look like a mix between a german shepard and some other breed that makes them a bit smaller. And while calling them “community dogs” may not be the best description of them, there are certainly efforts to find these dogs some homes. But I love them. The dog poop on the sidewalks kind of sucks, but I’m nearly positive there is a team who constantly cleans up after the strays since there theoretically would be much more crap than I’ve seen. I wanna take one home.

On another note, it’s been pretty clear after about four weeks that… Americans are very apologetic and, frankly, over-polite. I mean, of course we are, as kids our parents teach us to say please and thank you to just about everything. That doesn’t exactly transfer over as much down here. While it’s certainly polite to say “por favor” and “gracias” when talking to people, it’s super unnecessary and it might cause for a couple weird looks. When ordering food, there’s no need to say please and then thank you after you pay. I guess the idea is that…it’s their job, why all the thank you’s? This is more appropriate for when your mom makes you dinner or cleans up after you; a moment where someone went out of their way for you and you actually feel thankful. The waiters do really seem to like how polite we are, though. Also…Americans apologize for everything. Sneezing in class, bumping into someone, stuttering…why do we apologize so much? Here, a geniune “I’m sorry” is reserved for something you actually feel sorry for, rather than just a filler phrase you’re socially obliged to say…which I can dig.

I haven’t spent much time writing about homestay here, which is a freakin shame because it rocks. Living with a host mom is perhaps what I have taken for granted the most here (kind of like how we take for granted living with our real parents at home 🙂 ). Eugenia is my rock. Every night we enjoy a practically five-star meal made by her. Just to give an image or two of what that entails, last night we had creamy garlic pasta with mozarella cheese-filled meatballs, and the night before she made us savory crepes of tomato and cheese sauce. So yeah, life is good. She even squeezes me fresh orange juice in the mornings, that’s how great she is.

As this week wraps up on Friday, next week is Week 5 of classes – also known as Finals week, but also known as my last full week here. Time is flying by and I want it to slow down. Thanks for reading!

ciao,

alex

Community dog:)
Community dog:)
Community dogs & too many apologies

A super BA weekend

BA?? Get it?? Buenos Aires..badass… k..

This weekend we took our group trip to Buenos Aires and it was a very, very good time. About a month ago I spent about a day and a half in BA with an amiga, and it was a bit underwhelming. Maybe because it was a Sunday so everything was closed, along with the exhaustion/jetlag setting in from the flight –on top of some very high hopes for our first day in ARG. This weekend fulfilled these high hopes. Visit this city.

Yesterday we started our day exploring an area of town called La Boca. This translates to ‘the mouth’ and I never learned why it’s called that. BUT, it’s one of those places that when you Google Image ‘Argentina’, you’ll get pictures of it. It looks like a Crayola box melted in the hot sun then exploded all over the streets, because all of the buildings are super colorful. The people are happy, there is tango everywhere, and it’s certainly a tourist-y area, but with good reason. For lunch we ate a giant hunk of meat and some fries. A pretty typical meal.

Later in the day we got to walk through La Recocleta Cemetery, where essentially very important/rich people are buried. Well, so I thought they were buried. This cemetery was unlike any cemetary I had imagined or even knew could exist. The gravesites were not just stones with some words on it — they were a work of art. In the form of small buildings, each was unique from one another and its architecture reflected the timeperiod of that person’s death. It felt like a village, with blocks and blocks of buildings. Some had windows where you could peer inside and view the casket, others had internal staircases that led downstairs to where the casket would be held. La Recocleta cought me off guard with how fascinating it was.

That evening we ate like kings and queens (thanks GEO), a three course meal at a tango show. I had sushi, then some bomb ravioli and an ice cream/brownie for dessert. Also wine. The tango show followed the evolution of tango, performing pieces from pre-1900 up until the modern era. Additionally, the live band performed the music and often a singer would tag along to create a very well-done piece. The people here are very, very, very into tango which was evident in their performing.

This morning we woke up bright and early to get a fairly basic tour of the city. We spent some good time inside la Catedral Metropoliana, the main Cathedral church in Buenos Aires. It houses the body of Jose de San Martín, a very very instrumental figure in Argentina gaining their independence (among other countries…if you don’t know this guy seriously Google him). The rest of the afternoon was spent at what felt a bit like the Eugene Saturday Market but much, much bigger and much less dreads (but there were still dreads). I got a fresh squeezed orange juice and it was heaven.

Anyway, yeah. This weekend ignited a newfound appreciation for BA, ARG and I recommend a visit. Every now and again people would come up to us and say “I thought I heard American accents!” –some from Utah, others from Washington. American voices are oddly relieving when in another country.

Big thanks to those who have been following this blog. Your views help make for a successful scholarship multimedia project and also just make me feel happy that people support what I’m doing down here. I return home in about two weeks and I know just how quickly they will pass. Thanks for being there with me to enjoy them. 🙂

ciao,

alex

The casket of Jose de San Martín in the main cathedral of Buenos Aires
The casket of Jose de San Martín in the main cathedral of Buenos Aires
Obilesco, throwin O's in Buenos Aires
Obilesco, throwin O’s in Buenos Aires
FRESH SQUEEZED OJ!!!
FRESH SQUEEZED OJ!!!
:)
🙂
one of the coolest pieces at the modern art museum
one of the coolest pieces at the modern art museum
Dinner...yasss
Dinner…yasss
La Casa Rosada all lit up at night!
La Casa Rosada all lit up at night!
One of the colorful blocks at La Boca
One of the colorful blocks at La Boca
just one of the hundreds of amazing gravesites
just one of the hundreds of amazing gravesites
another gravesite
another gravesite
A super BA weekend

Bedside service

So I’ve spent the last four days downright sick and miserable, and it’s been a huge bummer. I won’t complain for too long but it needs to happen. It’s flu season here because of winter and stuff, but I figured among my five or six shots I had to get before coming here I would be safe! Wrong…. It’s okay, it could be worse. A pretty bad fever turned into some sort of stomach flu this morning in which I elected to skip class and sleep all day instead.

At about 1 or so I was awoken from my nap by my light flipping on and a woman whom I’ve never seen before entering my room. This obviously aught me off guard, and she told me she was a doctor. I remember vaguely hearing my host mom telling me she was calling a doctor, but I didn’t realize they came right to your house! So there I was in my bed while this doctor is doing her stethoscope stuff, meanwhile I’m incredibly confused about a doctor being in my bedroom doing doctor things to me while I’m in bed. A couple minutes later she says something to me I didn’t exactly understand (until after the fact) and has me turn over face down. I figure she was going to do something with my back… until she pulls down my SHORTS and STABS ME IN THE BUTT with a massive needle!!! All of this was startling to say the least… Later I learned what she was saying to me was that I needed a shot because if she gave me a pill it would probably just come back up, understandably. So that happened. After she had me sign something and she went on her way! When I asked her if she needed my insurance, she looked at me like I was an idiot… or just an American who doesn’t know what it’s like to have free health care.

Among things I didn’t expect to happen to me while here in Rosario, this was never even considered once… so I guess it goes to show you can never truly predict what will happen day to day. Did I mention my fever immediately subsided after I got the shot? This place is great!

Back to real life… I have three midterms this Wednesday. Huge bummer. But, that next day is Argentina’s Independence Day meaning there aren’t classes and that the night after midterms will be a lot of fun! Something to look forward to for sure. Last Saturday was the final game of la Copa América, and sadly Argentina didn’t pull through for the win. A very sad night down here. Regardless it was fun to see what kind of spirit they have down here for their country!

I would write more, but the past few days have been utterly uneventful since I’ve been pretty bedridden. Wish me luck on midterms! ( I need it real bad )

ciaoooo-

alex

café con leche w/ amigos :)
café con leche w/ amigos 🙂
Bedside service

It takes two to tango

Yah it does. And I got to learn first hand today! Our program organized a tango lesson for us tonight at a real, actual, old, fancy tango hall. I’m surprised to say it wasn’t so hard, and it was actually very fun! Maybe it was less intimidating because everyone in our program was equally terrible at it. It also might have been the most I have subscribed to gender roles in quite some time (usually I make Lilly carry me places and then after I’ll make her a sandwich if it was fun). At the end, our instructors showed us their own stab at what real tango looked like and…yeah…it was bomb.

Remember how I said fútbol is a huge thing here? I mean it. Enthusiasm around town is growing rapidly as the final game of la Copa América is coming up, and since Argentina beat Paraguay 6-1, they’ll be playing Chile in the finals on Saturday. And people are pumped. It’s like Eugene the night before the natty (that we lost..ouch), except at least ten times more intense. Every street corner has Argentina gear and people are stoked.

People are similarly stoked about the presidential elections coming up this October. Well, either they’re stoked, exhausted hearing about it, or just loud with their opinions. Kind of like in the US around election times. They seem to run a very similar election system here as the US does, but they have much more than just two prominent parties. There are at least four big contenders from different parties running, and it’s hard to miss them…their faces illuminate buildings at night, logos plaster 150 sq. ft billboards off the highways, and fliers cover the walls of the street corners. A much different method of campaigning than our dinky lawn signs and passive-agressive radio-sponsored smear campaigns!

Argentina is also under the power of a female president! They’ve had two in their history: Isabel Martínez (who was deposed by the rise of Videlan dictatorship), and Cristina Fernández-Kirchner who was democratically elected. In fact, Argentina, Chile, and Brazil all have female presidents! Maybe it’s just me who is interested in these kinds of things.

Being here for this long has pushed me to understand to what extent the United States is ahead, along with the extent that it is behind. The opinions people here have on our country directly reflect our place in history. Argentines and other people I’ve met here (Brazilians, Uruguayans) generally commend our economics //notably the value of our dollar//, appreciate our appearance of patroitism, and envy the transparency of our government (this is apparently a huge problem with Kirchner’s govt). However, they often critique our slow-paced social progression and have no time for our public education and health systems because here, both are free to all.

Anyway, yeah. its great here and I’ll say that over and over with no shame of sounding redundant. Also I’ll reiterate how cool the people here are. Personal shout outs (bc I know they’ll read this, also cause they rock) to Agostín and Julieta for making us feel welcome and being my translator when necessary.

To finish this post off, apparently it’s a superstitious, kind of tradition-y thing here to eat ñoquis on the 29th of every month. You make your bowl and then place like 10 pesos under your plate and it’s supposed to bring you good financial luck. Who knows, but I did it, and I’ll let you know if it pays off. Also, in February they do it on the 28th.. I asked.

Also everyone here thinks it’s so weird how all of us carry around our Camelback water bottles. The waitress at a restaurant examined at it for a solid two minutes. Little things you don’t expect!

bebidas y hamburguesas for the game vs. paraguay!
bebidas y hamburguesas for the game vs. paraguay!
el río!
el río!

ciao for now,

alex

It takes two to tango

Americans are loud

Like, really loud.

Adjusting to social cues and norms here has been adventurous. We feel so entitled to our American way of living that we tend to disregard that of other countries. Here are some examples I’ve noticed while here:

– All of us study abroad-ers consistently talk way too loud at restaurants/bars/in public… in English. While the locals claim this is not the end of the world for our reputations, it’s clear that it’s pretty abnormal to speak too loudly in public unless a fútbol game is on (which, is a big deal, especially as Argentina is entering the quarter-finals!

– In the US we tend to deny the assistance of others. Here in Argentina, this is actually rude. When someone asks to buy you lunch, let them! If a person offers you a bite of their candy bar, take it! Otherwise, you’re pretty much an entitled asshole.

– Let your mom clean everything for you. Cause she wants to! She’ll make the whole dinner, clean up after you, then make your bed and do your laundry… and the best part is, you don’t have to feel bad!

In general, the people here are one of a kind. They care about each other and especially seem to care about us Oregonians’ time here in Argentina. Last Thursday, each of us were assigned a “conversation partner” from the law university here. This has been super fun because it’s given us the chance to not only practice our Spanish, but also make real friends with the locals! Since then they have invited us out just about every night and seem to love hosting us… and every single one of them are incredibly friendly, fun people. I can’t talk highly enough of the locals.

That night, one of our law student buddies took us out to this tango club. They exist and they’re everywhere, and everyone dances it. It’s not uncommon to casually look over to your right in a public setting and find two people tango-ing!

Over the weekend our group went on both a walking tour of the city and a boat tour down the river that it borders. Rosario is not only incredibly beautiful, but also HUGE. One of my favorite places here in the city is the Monumento Nacional a la Bandera — a jawdropping monument where the Argentine flag was created. It overlooks the city and stands as one of the tallest establishments. Pics will be posted for sure. On our boat tour, we got the chance to check out the entire coastline. The river separates two provinces (like states) in Argentina: Santa Fe (where Rosario is) and Entre Ríos, a state mostly unpopulated and a stark contrast from Rosario. We learned the river was instrumental in the creation of the city as it is the only in the country wide enough to transport cargo and act as a port. Sweet stuff.

This part is for those Spanish geeks out here. If you haven’t taken more than 1 semester of Spanish, first go watch “one semester of Spanish love song” on YouTube, then come back. Argentina’s Spanish is pretty different. The double “LL” does not make a “ya” sound like I’ve learned for the past 6 years, but in fact a “sha” sound. Ella is esha, calle is cashe, llave is shave. With that, anything with a “y” is pronounced “sha” as well. Yo is sho, vaya is vasha. Kind of hard to pick up but pretty interesting. Additionally, instead of “tú”, they use “vos” — not to be confused with “vosotros.” For example, instead of “a ti, te gusta?” you would say “a vos, te gusta?”. kinda weird. Finally, the use of acá/allá instead of aquí/allí. As someone who studies Romance Languages..this has been fascinating to see how one language can vary so intensely from country to country.

I have some incredible instructors. My conversation teacher is a constant ray of energy, and my grammar instructor is one of the best I’ve had. Our Human Rights class is very, very cool. Our room is directly across the street from the Santa Fe province building that was used to hold detainees during the dictatorship who were abducted and tortured if they showed any opposition towards the de facto government. Look into the Dirty War of Argentina if you have time, because unfortunately it’s a topic glossed over. I had only heard very little of it before coming here.

Things are good. In fact, things are great. I have been missing home a bit and it’s been weird to see things happen back home while I’m gone. Would’ve loved to be home for the marriage equality ruling… so historic and important. Plus, the Argentines weren’t as excited or impressed since they’ve had marriage equality for years. Being away makes me realize how precious home is! Yet, I couldn’t be happier here in Rosario. Special thanks to those who donated or supported me in some way along the path of getting here, because I, very seriously, would not be here without it. Unforgettable memories have been and are being made daily.

nuestro grupo -- monumento nacional a la bandera
nuestro grupo — monumento nacional a la bandera
la calle córdoba
la calle córdoba
al lado de la memorial
al lado de la memorial
increíble
increíble

ciao —

alex

Americans are loud