Thursday, February 28, 2008

La dulce vida (y muerto)

Sorry for the lack of updates lately, we've been pretty busy soaking up the sites and sounds of Buenos Aires, and trying to register for classes. Not so sweet.

I registered for my first classes the other day at the Universidad Trocuato di Tella, which is a pretty good school for economics majors. I signed up for two classes, one of which had a 2 student limit from our program. I only got into one (a class on economic thought) but next week I'll be able to register for classes at the other universities. The program I'm in is called COPA (Cooperating Programs of the Americas) and is a coop. effort of UT, UNC, Butler University and the University of Indiana. Through the program I'm able to choose any combination of classes at any of four universities in Buenos Aires, those being Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), Universidad Catolica de Argentina (UCA), Universidad de San Salvador (USAL) and Universidad Torcuato di Tella (di Tella). I'll most likely be taking a class at di Tella and a couple at either UCA or USAL, I think I might try to avoid UBA just because of its sheer size. It boasts a student population of over 250,000 people. INSANE. Anyway, in terms of registering for classes, we have a trial period for classes until mid March at which point I'll have to finalize my courses and schedule, so I still have a little bit of time.

Anyway, I'll move on; I'm not really here for school anyway, just personal enjoyment (just kidding, Mom and Dad).

I'm starting to become a little more accustomed to living with a stranger, and the whole schedule of Argentina. I've been trying to get out as much as I can lately and just walk around soak it all up. I had to do laundry for the first time the other day and by do laundry I mean take my clothes to the lavanderia and pay 28 pesos (approx. US$9) to have my clothes washed, dried and folded. Quite a luxury.

My friend Esteban and I went to the infamous Recoleta cemetery this last Sunday to take pictures for a project we had for the Castellano class through the program. The cemetery is absolutely beautiful, but pretty weird too. All of the mausoleums are very ornate and made of presumably imported marble and other stones, some complete with busts, even statues, of those whose corpses now reside within their depths. Some of the tombs even have windows through which you can see the coffins. One window was broken out and if desired, you could touch the coffin. Creepy. We, of course, saw the famous Duarte family tomb, where Evita Peron is buried. Another creepy aspect of the cemetery is the sheer amount of feral cats that roam throughout. I think they even have women who take care of the cats and leave food for them near (if not in) the tombs. The cats are free to do as they please, entering through the gates without windows into the tombs. Anyway, definitely a very good experience overall. There's also a huge shopping center and movie theater right across the street from the theater. Interesting to see how the city has just built up around the area.

I finally figured out how to get pictures on here, professionalism in placement coming soon.

Today I had a free day and woke up to a torrential downpour. It only lasted for a few hours but definitely managed to flood a few parts of the city (as seen on the tele). I went with my friend to a little restaurant called el Caurtito that Dr. Ross (my Spanish professor from last year) recommended and had some really really good empanadas with meat and olives. We then went to el Museo de Armas in the Military Circle, and saw a ton of guns and weapons and knives and cannons. Pretty impressive, but a little boring after a while. After that we walked around and went to a huge shopping strip and to a shopping mall called the Galeria Pacifico, it was pretty much an American looking mall with huge paintings by famous Argentine painters on the arcing ceilings. After that we walked over to the Puerto Madero area of the city and looked at the hotel my parents will be staying at near the dikes. It's a really nice area with lots of shops and restaurants and a boardwalk, pretty cool but I haven't seen as many English speakers where I live as I did over in that area.

I've seen a lot lately and haven't had a camera, but I think I'll just try to steal my friends pictures at some point or another. The camera I had retails for about 300% more than it does in the US, but my dad just bought me a new camera and will bring it in a couple of weeks. Thanks dad! Tomorrow morning the COPA group is going to Bariloche which is a mountain resort in Argentina. The website for the hotel is if you're curious.

Thanks for the comments/e-mails/facebook messages, its nice that we can still communicate so easily!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Spenser's first setback!

So I left my camera at a coffee shop today and did not realize I had done it until five hours later, at which point I pretty much went into freak out mode. I ran back to the cafe but they couldn't find it and then I went to another cafe that I had been in earlier in the day and they had not seen it either. I went to the cafe around 1 today, with my friend Margo, and I had my computer and camera so I loaded pictures onto my computer to share with everyone, and I'm dead serious (this isn't one of those things you think you were thinking at the time) I had this really weird feeling that those were the only pictures that I would have of my own from BA. waddya know?? As a result of this mess it all kind of came back and bit me in the ass that I seriously am in Argentina and I won't be back for 5 months. It worries me a little that I'm already freaking out, but I think that's just the way I am. Anyhow, I loaded some of the pictures I've taken onto Facebook and can send the link by e-mail to anyone that does not have Facebook and would like to see them.
  • My week has been pretty hectic with just a whole lot of orientation stuff. Yesterday was my friend Kendra's 21st, so we went out last night to celebrate. It was a little bit of an adventure and definitely an experience. I left my house about 12 and we were at the 'boliche' (typical BA bar) around 1230, by Buenos Aires standard very early. We went to a few boliches and just kind of hung out and then took a taxi home. Everyone seems very nice (except the douchebag that didn't turn in my lost camera, but who can blame them honestly) and is willing to help us with our Spanish** but they are really picky about pronunciation, it seems like they intentionally ignore you if say something like seis in a normal, Mexican accent instead of the Argentine saiYs. Whatever though.
  • Yesterday we did the whole tourist thing and took a tour of Plaza Mayo (where the main catedral and presidential palace are) and the San Telmo and Montserrat barrios. It was a lot of fun and really interesting to see everything. Random little side note, we saw a TON of girls screaming and looking and someone hanging out a window from a hotel. Come to find out it was the extremely famous and world renowned band My Chemical Romance. They have good taste in music here, lemme tell ya.
  • I'm not entirely sure if I can even think of anything else to say just because SO much has happened in the last few days that I'm still in the process of absorbing it all. I feel like I've been here for almost a month now and it's only been 5 days! Anyway hope everyone is doing well!
  • Sorry about the bullets, it wouldn't seperate the paragraphs without them and it was really bothering me.
** for Aunt Blair: They call Spanish here 'Castellano' (pronounced caste-jahno) because of the minor differences in pronunciation and usages. Por ejemplo, for the familiar you, they use 'vos' instead of 'tu'. Like 'you buy' is not 'tu compras' but 'vos comprás.' I would try to explain that whole concept a little bit more, but I'm having a really hard time trying to figure it out for myself!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Second Day in Buenos Aires

I realize this is the second post in two days, but hey, whatever.

Today we met up with the group in the Circulo Italiano which is basically a club for the Italian residents of Buenos Aires to meet up and socialize I suppose. It's about a 5 minute walk from my apartment and from my first impressions, this part of the city is VERY nice. It reminds me a lot of Paris, with really nie buildings and shops everywhere. We did a short little orientation which involved a game where he pretty much asked where everyone was from and what not. There's about a hundred of us I'd say and most of them are from REALLY good schools from all over the country (i.e. Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brandeis, Tufts, Bryn Mawr, Pitt, Penn etc.) I feel a little bit like the dumb one, but they're all really nice. I've been hanging out with a couple girls from Scripp's College, one from Columbia, and a guy from Yale. After the orientation I went with the previously mentioned to get lunch at a little cafe not far from the Circulo Italiano. I had a sandwich and a Quilmes cerveza. Hahaha I loooove being able to just order a beer at lunch! After lunch we went back to the place and they did another little informational section about the safety and what places to avoid in the city as well as how to use the city map of busses and subways, called Guia T. Overall not too exciting of a day.

My Spanish is pretty weak right now and my host mother has not been afraid to correct my Mexican Spanish (calle (street) is cay-je not cay-ye). I've also noticed that the locals I've encountered are pretty blunt about everything, willing to point out that your eyes are blood-shot or as my host mother put it <<>>. She is also very adament that I eat as much as possible. Tonight for instance, we ate dinner which was rice with salsa and a ground beef patty (a little questionable, but it seems okay). I cleaned my plate and she INSISTED that I continue to eat and I had to explain to her thatI was very full, so she put the left-overs in the fridge so that I could eat them later. We eat dinner at like 9 every night I think which is going to be a little hard to get used to. The weather is very hot and humid and the apartment doesn't have airconditioning, but it could be worse. I do have a fan and a window in my room so its not unbearable at night.

I had better end it at that it's getting a bit late and yeah... I enabled anonymous commenting so now anyone can comment if they really want to. I'd at least like to know if anyone is reading this and or suggestions, the whole nine yards.


Monday, February 18, 2008

estoy aquí

so im here.

im using my host mothers computer and im not gunna lie this is already a very daunting experience. anyway just a quick update, i arrived this afternoon at 1 and met the study abroad people at the airport who helped us get taxis to our apartments. my host mother lives by herself with a maid that she has had for 30 years. she moved here from germany shortly after the war she said and the apartment is really nice. she has a really nice balcony complete with an 18 year old pet turtle.

thats about all i have for now, today i just have to sit around and wait and sleep, she was given instructions not to let me go out and i cant get a wireless connection on my computer so i guess ill just have to leave it at that. we start orientation in the morning at 11 and that will last pretty much the next week and half so hopefully by next time ill have plenty of pictures.