Monday, April 25, 2011

La Semana Santa

I decided to spend this past 4-day weekend (as opposed to my usual 3-day weekend) exploring Buenos Aires.

On Thursday, Sari (my friend from Michigan) and I went on a graffiti tour, which was SO cool/informative/interesting.  We actually learned a lot about the difference between street art and graffiti and also about how street art isn't perceived as deviant, criminal behavior here.  The street art movement of Buenos Aires started, not with the intention of getting attention or marking territory, but with the intention of just making the neighborhood look nicer and more cheerful.  We learned a lot about the different street artists and their different styles and got shown a lot of really awesome places around the city that I probably never would have found.  We also ended up in a really cool bar --Post Bar-- that I want to go back to/ become a regular at.  The inside is completely covered in stencils and drawings, and the rooftop terrace is a collaboration of all the different artists' styles.  WE CAN GO THERE IF YOU VISIT ME :)

Rooftop terrace of Post Bar

"Porque pintar es lindo" = Because painting is nice/pretty

one of the many stencils inside Post Bar -- SQUINTS!
Thursday night, Sari and I went to a Passover seder, Argentine asado style (read: BEST MEAL EVER) that was organized by my friend from high school, Maya, who is also down here.  There was wine, matzah, delicious stuff to dip matzah in, charoset, potatoes, and the most delicious meat and chorizo ever ever ever ever ever!  I have no pictures because I was too busy stuffing my face until I was past the point of being full.

On Friday, we went to La Feria del Libro (Book Festival), which is a ginormous festival with a bunch of different sections with books from different companies and/or regions of the world.  It was kind of like the book version of "It's a Small World."  We were only there for about an hour so I might go back again to see the rest of what I didn't get to.

That night, we went to the dwelling of a beautiful Frenchman where he and a Peruvian taught us how to make empanadas.  3 Americans + 1 French + 1 Peruvian = delicious empanadas!  No Argentines required.  I had to leave early though because I HAVE A PORTEÑA FRIEND (from one of my classes) and she and I had plans to go out.  It was her friend's birthday and a big group of her friends and I took a bus to what felt like the ends of the earth to wait in line outside of a boliche in the wind for 30 minutes only to have my CA driver's license rejected at the door for no good reason.  Entonces, mi amiga, her friend, and I took a cab back towards civilization and spent the rest of the night at a bar with some of her other friends.  I was suuuuper awkward at first (probably due to my sobriety and the fact that I knew no one besides her), but after a while/adrinkortwo I was fine and ended up having a pretty good conversation with one of her friends.

Nothing of importance happened Saturday.

Today, Sunday, I had lunch with my extended host family, where I watched the grandsons crack open a giant chocolate egg, devour said egg, and leave the toy inside to their father for assembling.  Then I went to the Teatro Colon to watch a ballet.  The theatre is huge and beautiful, and the ballet made us feel very cultured.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The best 29 pesos I have spent so far

On Tuesday, I purchased the book, ¡Che Boludo! A gringo's guide to understanding the Argentines, and it is, hands down, amazing.  Aside from the obvious appeal of the book [i.e. learning that "mojar la chaucha" means "to get laid" and "tirame la goma" means "suck my dick"], the best part was having every member of my host family hysterically laughing as I asked them about these various phrases.  The next night, our neighbors came over for dinner and my host mother asked me to show them the book; it was a big hit again.  About 20 minutes later, our neighbor runs back upstairs to her apartment to bring me a present: a keychain with five different buttons that shout five different obscenities, such as "¡No rompa los huevos!" (roughly: "Don't break my balls!") and the notorious "¡Sos boludo!" ("You're an idiot!")  ["Boludo" is an interesting word.  It can either be an insult, like idiot or asshole, or it can just be a casual, friendly greeting.  Either way, you hear it every day here.]  So yes, I am now well-equipped to handle these Argentines and their bocas sucias.

The book also has very informative drawings of some common hand gestures used by the Argentines...

la concha = vagina

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mis Clases

     I suppose I should probably talk a little bit about my classes (the reason I'm in this country to begin with).  I have one regular Spanish class at my program center and 4 classes in La Universidad de Ciencias Empresariales y Sociales (UCES).  It should be noted that this is a tad unusual and somewhat masochistic; most students in my program are taking only one, maybe two, classes at an Argentine university and the rest at our program center.  But if I wanted to get any credit towards my majors, this was my option --and I'm really not complaining.
     In my Econ class, I am one of 4 US students out of maybe 10 or 12 students total; in my Marketing class, I am one of 2 US students out of 15-20 students; and in my two Communications classes, I AM THE ONLY ESTADOUNIDENSE out of 15-25 students.  I don't mind too much; this can only increase my chances of making some porteño friends.  In fact, the most beautiful Argentine I've ever seen gave me her email address and told me to let her know if I ever have any questions about the class.  [Please be my best friend!!!!]
     I would say I understand about 85-90% of what's going on in the classes (more if I've avoided English all day).  Originally, I thought "Oh, well if I can't understand everything the teachers are saying, at least I'll be able to pick up the missing details from what they write on the board."  No es verdad.  The fact that every single one of my teachers has nearly illegible handwriting makes me question what they were doing in the third grade when we were all painfully learning how to perfect our cursive.  No judgement, just wondering.
     The biggest academic issues I'm having is 1) coercing myself to actually do all the assigned reading I have, and 2) upon reading, reading more than two pages in 30 minutes.  I do not yet have a large enough vocabulary to be able to skim in Spanish, not to mention my mind wanders --in English ... so it takes me a while.