I have reached the one week mark in Buenos Aires. It has been already been a learning experience and to be truthful I haven't even 'experienced' that much yet. Which tells me one thing: these six weeks are going to raise the bar as far as my culture shock meter is concerned. I think I became a little 'numb' to culture shock while in Spain, even when changing cities in comparison with Buenos Aires.
I knew going in to this summer (or winter) that my Spanish would alter and possibly cause me a bit more vergüenza, embarrassment than normal. Although that prediction has at times come to fruition, I have found that people's reactions to my blunders have encouraged me to keep trying! For example, there is a Starbucks in the center of the university (yes you read that right, IN the university) and I couldn't even say skim milk correctly! The difference isn't that big, but still...you would think someone getting their master's in Spanish would be able to say skim milk regardless of what Spanish speaking country they are in. The barista kindly corrected me and I haven't said it wrong again, yet. I also overcame my tiny fear of using vos for the first time the other day, I was pretty excited that I didn't screw that up. :)
This is a big city. I haven't even seen it all and I can say with absolute certainty I have never been in such a large city before (apart from New York of course). Glancing at a map can seem a bit overwhelming at times. Thankfully, Middlebury helped us out and took us on a historic tour of Buenos Aires on Saturday. We had a bus and everything. Small down side however....it rained all day....and the rain was pretty cold. The tour guide was excellent and rolled with the punches as far as the rain was concerned pretty well. There were times we couldn't get off the bus because we were just so soaked through from the previous stop that even the director of our program told the bus driver to drive on. Luckily, our reward for sticking it out through the rain was a lovely lunch at Il Gatto. We watched Argentina defeat Belgium during lunch and everyone was cheering. It truly is something special to be here while Argentina is doing so well in the World Cup. *Knock on wood*.
Back to our director, she is without a doubt one of the sweetest ladies ever. She, like other Argentines, 'sings' while she speaks. It sounds exactly like an Italian speaking Spanish, I love listening to her. She is also teaching my Political Violence class. I haven't even had a full week of classes and I leave her class with my mind BLOWN. I never knew anything about Argentina's history and it is so intense to learn about. I think part of the reason the class is so moving is because this professor LIVED through those tough times. I cannot wait to learn more. I think I picked some winners as far as my classes go. Besides the Political Violence class I am also learning about Tango, which also means at some point in these 6 weeks I have to actually dance it. YIKES. I am the prime example of a person who possesses no rhythm whatsoever. My last class is Spanish in the World which I think I'm really going to like, I already had to do a oral presentation that is worth 40% of my grade in that class. I believe it went well, it was about a topic I'm familiar with: the different languages in Spain.
There are things that still take getting used to...like pesos. I have to constantly remind myself the number I actually see will not be the same number subtracted my bank account. Divide by eight! The food here is pretty excellent, of course I have always loved pizza and empanadas are always fantastic. I still have yet to try the ever-famous mate... a type of tea that is unique to Argentina and from what I understand, quite strong. Another shocking thing to see, at least to me, is that along the super short walk from our apartments to the university on the wall along the sidewalk there is a huge statue of Jesus carrying the cross located in a large indent in the wall. That was the worst description I could possibly give, it's hard to explain...but it's interesting to see people walking casually...stop... turn and genuflect and make the sign of the cross while cars are buzzing by. I accidentally ran into someone that way because at first I didn't realize it was there. Even having been in Spain, a very catholic country, I never saw anything like that.
Let's see...what else? A few of the Middlebury girls and I have gone out and experienced some nightlife. After making some new amigos, we were introduced to a boliche which is a discoteca. It was really cool and very fun, one negative part is that smoking is permitted inside and I smelled like an ashtray afterwards. Third time's a charm when shampooing smoke out of your hair ladies, in case you were wondering. Because Argentina is in the World Cup (I'm assuming) the music in the boliche stopped and the Argentine national anthem started playing and everyone was jumping up and down. On the tour, the guide told us something about how the jumping had to do with the war over the Falkland Islands and that if you jump it means you aren't English...I didn't really understand why, but it was interesting to learn that and then to see it. Watch the Argentina match tomorrow and you'll see the fans jumping up and down too!
This post is a bit too long for my liking and probably yours, so I am going to try to update this more than once a week so I won't write a book every time! I must remind myself to bring my camera with me when I go places so I have pics to upload here. Tomorrow is Argentina's Independence Day and their game against the Netherlands...so it'll be a big day! More soon!