Ciao Buenos Aires

After an incredible month filled with adventure, new friendships, and learning experiences, it’s safe to say that saying goodbye to Argentina and all the wonderful people I met was a hard task. Lots of tears were shed as I said my goodbyes. All twelve of us, in my study abroad group, were thrown together not knowing each other and now it feels like we’ve been friends forever. We’ve laughed together, cried together, learned together, experienced a new culture together, and shared countless inside jokes. And although I don’t know when I’ll see anyone again, I do know that this experience has really taught me that no matter where you go, you will find people that you connect with. It’s just part of the human experience. And I think that’s a beautiful thing.

This month went by so quickly but it’s crazy to think how much I was able to experience and learn in a short amount of time. I know B.A. so well now. I can navigate my way around the city, no problem (and was even asked for directions a couple of times). I spoke with locals and learned so much from hearing their stories. I have a favorite spot for coffee. B.A. now feels like home making it all the harder to leave.

I experienced so many incredible things here. I think it’s safe to say that I lived to the absolute fullest this past month. I’ve seen and learned so much and am so thankful for this opportunity.

Ciao Argentina, I hope to be back soon!

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Tricks of the Trade

With just a couple days left here (tear) I thought I’d share some of things I’ve learned about living in Buenos Aires and share them for anyone who may come here in the future. I really wish I had known these things before I got here!

First, spanish is spoken a little differently here. Anything with the double “l” like “llamar” or anything with “y” like “yo” is pronounced as a “sh.” So “calle,” is usually pronounced ca-ye whereas here it’s pronounced ca-she and “ayer” is pronounced a-sher. Also they use vos here instead of tu. So people if someone asks you como estas? People here respond with “muy bien y vos” not “muy bien y tu.” Also they use the vos form instead of the tu form. For example with the verb querer, in the tu form it’s “quieres” and in vos it’s “queres.” So it’s just a little bit different. But I’ve definitely gotten used to it and have started to pronounced words with the “sh” (sorry mom).

Other words to know:
Colectivo: bus
Subte: subway
Supe: subway/bus card
Dale: (can mean many things) go, let’s go, okay, perfect, sounds good. It can be used in a lot of different contexts.
Chico/a: guys
Moro: waiter
Boliche: club
Calle: smaller, side roads
Avendia: the large main streets
Ciao: bye
Aca: here
Barabaro: great/awesome
Porteño: name for people who live in Buenos Aires
B.A. or Bs.As. is simply the abbreviation for Buenos Aires

Other things to know:
–You can change your money for a better rate here instead of exchanging it back home or at the airport.
–Only take Radio taxis
–Dog poop is everywhere on the sidewalks
–People are very touchy, you never give someone a handshake when you meet them, rather you kiss them on the cheek.
–Nobody goes out until about 1am
–Everyone discusses politics
–Pick pocketing is very common here. That’s why people here wear they backpacks in front of them..
–On the weekends there a lot of demonstrations, usually they’re not too dangerous though
–You can re-fill your phone at almost any Kiosco
–During the winter months here people only wear dark colors. So stick with blacks, grays, browns, dark blue, dark red. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you wear bright colors..

Food:
–Breakfast is very light here (porteños definitely don’t think it’s the most important meal of the day like we do)
–And dinner is very late (around 9 or 9:30)
–They eat a lot of meat here. And asados (serving after serving of different types of meat, chicken, etc.) are a very big deal.
Submarino: popular drink here; hot milk served with a chocolate bar that you mix in.
Dulce de leche: kinda like caramel but not even close because it’s so much better and it is literally stuffed into everything here
Alfajor: really popular dessert made with dulce de leche in between two cookies either chocolate or vanilla covered
–Empanadas are the go-to food. I literally have them everyday for lunch and they’re super cheap. They range from about five to eight pesos.

What’s with all the Mate?

If you come to Argentina one of the first things you’ll notice is that everybody, everywhere, drinks mate. Mate is made from yerba mate leaves and hot water which you pour in a small gourd and you use a bombilla (metal straw) to drink it. The taste is very “amargo” (bitter) and the very first time I tried I didn’t really like it but now I love it. It’s especially really good with a sweet snack, like dulce de leche, since mate is so bitter.

Drinking mate is usually done with a group of people. It is passed around and everyone shares the same bombilla. One person is the server, “cebador,” who fills the gourd with the hot water and passes the gourd to the next person to drink. The serving isn’t too big, since the gourd is rather small, it’s about two or three sips. After that person is done they pass it back to the cebador and then they fill it back up for the next person. The cebador is the last to drink the mate. And then the cycle begins again. If you’re talking while holding the mate and not drinking it, people will jokingly say “no es un micrófono,” (it’s not a microphone).

There are lots of rules when it comes to drinking mate which I quickly learned, such as:
1) never touch the bombilla when you drink mate, only hold it from the gourd
2) you drink it until it slurps, don’t hand it back until you’ve finished you’re serving
3) you don’t say “gracias” to the cebador after your serving because this means that you’re done and don’t want anymore servings (I struggle with this especially because I want to say thank you after every time that I’m served).
4) you don’t mix around the mate with the bombilla

I know, it sounds a little complicated, but it’s a very casual activity here and a big way to socialize. For example, every Tuesday in San Telmo, Mate Club, gets together at a small cafe. Mate Club is a chance for “extranjeros” or “gringos” (foreigners; white people) to practice their Spanish and for “porteños” (people who live in Buenos Aires) to practice their English over some good ‘ol mate. There are four to a table, two native English speakers and two native Spanish speakers. We take turns speaking fifteen minutes in English and fifteen minutes in Spanish, as the mate makes its way around the table. It’s really cool because you’re conversing with three random people and sharing life experiences. I think it’s so interesting how much one can learn from others’ stories and how many connections can be made.

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yerba mate leaves

yerba mate leaves

mate gourds and bombillas

mate gourds and bombillas

Iguazu Falls

This past weekend my group and I went to Iguazu Falls for the weekend. Let me just saw the following: coolest experience ever. If you’re ever in Argentina or Brazil, I recommend going. There’s nothing like it, it’s incredible. I really think that the falls are something that everyone should see.

We left Thursday night on a double decker bus, and although no one was looking forward to spending eighteen hours on a bus..it really wasn’t bad at all. The seats were huge and they played movies and all that jazz. And riding the bus was all so worth it (rather than taking the two hour plane) when we made a stop at a family ranch called La Chacra. This ranch was to cool. I know that’s probably a weird way to describe a ranch but it really was. It was all set up with hammocks, adirondack chairs, a pool, a little guest house, all this green area, and they had a huge outdoor dining area where they had an asado prepared for us. We also got a tour of their yerba farm. It was just so fun and relaxing

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The next day we spent the whole day at Iguazu. And wow it was just amazing. I really didn’t understand the whole excitement behind them and didn’t think that the waterfalls would be as spectacular as they were. I feel like my words can’t even do them justice so hopefully these pictures will to some degree. We got to see the waterfalls from so many different lookout points and at one point we got to stand directly beside them and got completely drenched. It was so cool. I’ve really never felt that alive before (as cheesy as that may sound). We also got to go on a boat ride and we went under a double rainbow and got see both ends of the rainbow which I thought was so crazy. The whole experience was just really great and super memorable definitely one of the best days ever!

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One Week in Buenos Aires

I cant believe week one is already over. And it really feels like I’ve been here much longer. I understand the transportation system, have a spot where I meet friends, and have acquired the taste for mate.

I absolutely love it here. It’s so beautiful and there is really so much to see and do in Buenos Aires. A boring day here just doesn’t exist. Since I’ve gotten here, each day has been jammed packed with activity which has been really awesome (and also kinda exhausting).

I’ve gotten to see so many of the different neighborhoods of the city which is really cool. Each neighborhood is so different and unique in its own way. So far I’ve seen the neighborhood of La Boca, San Telmo, Puerto Madero, Recoleta, Palermo, and Belgrano. I’ve seen the famous Recoleta cemetery where Eva Perron is buried. Attended a Tango class (which was challenging but pretty cool) and I’ve learned how to drink the famous mate.

Everyone in the group is really getting along and it feels like we’ve all known each other for a lot longer than a week which is great!

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La Boca

La Boca

And I’ve Landed!

After a two hour flight from Washington D.C. to Atlanta and then a 10 hour flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aires, I have finally arrived! After customs and all those other shenanigans I managed to get myself lost..for some reason I was convinced that terminal C is where I had to be to meet the Director of my program. So since I was in terminal A I made the long, and I mean long, walk over to terminal C, lugging my heaving luggage and all.  Once I got to terminal C it was completely empty with no one in sight. So back to terminal A I went..after some help from some Argentinian.  Safe to say I got to terminal A with numb hands from dragging all that luggage (shoulda packed lighter..), in a panic thinking I was never going to find my director, and then only to realize that my director was in A the entire time.. but hey! at least I got a really nice little tour of the airport, right?!

As we were waiting for the others to arrive, the two directors, Raul and Melissa, filled us in on certain Argentinian customs and lingo.  Like they call their black market, the “blue” market, which has a whole lot nicer of a sound than black market. The subway system is called the subterrraneo, in other words “underground,” or “el subte” for short.

After my roommate, Grace, and I were dropped off in a neighborhood of Buenos Aires, called Recoleta, where we will be staying with our host mom, Patricia. She lives on the eighth floor of an apartment building. And along with my roommate and I, there is also another girl named Corinne who is here with Yale. Our host mom took us to eat and we got to look around the city.

El Ateneo Bookstore

El Ateneo Bookstore


Apartment building off Avenida Santa Fe in Recoleta

Apartment building off Avenida Santa Fe in Recoleta

I really love it here and can’t wait for what this month has in store!

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