Monthly Archives: July 2011

The First Week

I can’t believe we’ve already been here a week!  I won’t always do this, but since we packed so many interesting sites and events in this week I’m going to try to recall it day by day.  It’s pretty much flown by.   This week we spent a lot of time trying find all of the important places and get familiar with our neighborhoods and school.  Plus my roommate and I made it to our apartment!  It’s on the 7th floor, and pretty much what I expected, the appliances and furniture are old, but the view is great and the landlord is very nice and helpful.  The best part of the apartment: the balcony has sliding glass doors that make it both a balcony and part of the living room (i’ll post some pictures at the end)

Monday after moving in we went on a tour of the city with one of our instructors.  It included a lot of the important buildings and places as well as some points of interest/tourist traps like la boca.  We saw the University of Buenos Aires (where most of our instructors went to school), both soccer stadiums, The Catedral de San Martin, The “Pink House”, La Boca, and the cemetary where Evita’s grave is among other important Argentines.

After the tour we stopped in a cafe for Submarinos (hot milk with a chocolate bar dropped in).  That night we ended up going back to the boys apartment where Josh and I were able to mastermind and prepare a dinner for all 8 of us for about 40 USD.   It was a great start to the week!

Tuesday was the first day of spanish class, and orientation at school.  School is about a 30 minute walk (or 20 if we basically jog) from our apartment.  On the way we pass the house where 3 of the other girls on the trip are staying.  Spanish class is intense and while I think it’s helping me remember a lot of what I’ve forgotten, I still feel like I’m missing a lot of basic phrases that would help me in day to day life here.  On the bright side, at least I’ve learned how to hail a cab and ask for coins at the grocery store (which is a whole new unfamiliar territory!)

Wednesday night was special.   One of my classmate’s is married to the guitarist of Yellowcard, who just happened to be touring South America and stopping in Buenos Aires this week.   Our whole group was able to go to the concert and we had a blast!  Everyone met ay our apartment to walk to the venue that we thought was about a mile up the street, but we had the wrong address.   We ended up askind a shop owner for directions to the actual venue (thank goodness for our advanced/native spanish speakers!) and riding a bus deep into the city.  We finally made it to the fenix teatro around 8, just in time for to see some of the opening bands before Yellowcard came on.  The crowds at concerts down here are very intense and into it.  It was the most fun I’ve had at a concert in a really long time.  After the concert a few of us checked out this English dive bar downtown with the band.  Our concert adventure basically started at 5pm with people arriving at our apartment and ended at 5am.

Thursday was an early morning starting our immigration/student visa process before Spanish class.  Our criminal background check appointments were at 1030.  I have to say, the whole process was one of the most efficient government processes I’ve ever experienced.  We were done by 11.  DMV’s in the US or the City of Phoenix could probably take a few notes from this system with quick lines and numbers.  I took the Subte (subway) home with some others from the group and was pleased to find that there is a station on m street about 5 blocks from my apartment.  After class we discovered a small shop that sells precooked empanadas that need to be warmed for 5 minutes, and every kind of home made pasta you can think of.  Hopefully we’ll be going back there soon.

Today I navigated the Subte again by myself to meet Josh at the mall to run some errands.  Shopping and managing cell phones in Spanish isn’t exactly easy, buy it was a successful trip. The intensity on the streets and at the malls even during the day is pretty impressive.  I’m not sure what a typical Argentine work schedule is, but it definitely leaves time for errands and leisure.  We also started to notice some of the products of cheap labor here.  Most pants only come in one length at the stores in the mall, I’m sure because tailoring is cheap.Also, while we were eating we noticed that even in the food court where people are ordering fast food on trays, there are busboys to clean the tables.  There are a lot of small differences like this compared to an American city of a similar size

And now for the pictures…

*I am pretty awful at having my camera handy for picture of people, so some of these (mainly the group shots) are borrowed from facebook thanks to Hussam, Rachel, and Andrea

We’ve Arrived!

So yesterday morning after about 2 hours of waiting in various lines at the airport and a cab ride with a  very nice driver who spoke as much english as I speak spanish, we made it to our hotel for the weekend!  I’ll attach some pictures at the end.  We’ve been able to explore our neighborhood a little and a start learning the buses.  Our hotel is right around the corner from our apartment, so everything we’ve found so far will still apply 🙂

I’m really trying to adjust to picking up enough spanish to get by.  I’ve noticed a little that when people look at me or see my name they’re a little confused when I give them a blank stare and say “Mi español es muy malo por favor hable despacio”  I’m sure this will be remedied after our spanish classes and a little more time.

Last night we tried a pizza place and little bar in Palermo Soho.  It was fun, and interesting to enter a restaurant and then walk up stairs and be on an outside terrace again without passing through any doors. It was a good night, and I had some tastey pizza (it was similar to Classic Italian Pizza which I like to frequent in Tempe, but cheaper) and delicious lemonade, and of course beer.  We missed our bus on the way hope, which resulted in a long wait at the stop, but it was still fun.

We went to the Alto Palermo mall today to buy cell phones.  The mall was pretty much like any American mall, but the building looked very different from the outside.  I know that in bigger cities in the US it’s probably like this too, but it was strange to just walk right into a giant mall off the street without crossing through a giant parking lot.  Ordering in the food court was a little fast paced for me, but the cashier was nice and able to explain my choices slowly enough that I figured out how to order tricolor gnocci with red meat sauce and a sprite even though I really wanted to try pomelo. This lunch was far too much food for me, but pretty good for a mall food court in my estimate.

Apparently some of the guys from our group live right by the Mall, it’s good to know that we’ll be able to catch up with them really easily even though they’re not in walking distance of everyone else.

When we got back we explored our neighborhood a little and found another smaller mall and a lot of neat little cafes and store.  Hopefully later tonight we’ll be able to catch up with the rest of the group now that more of us are settled in.

Countdown

The countdown began a long time ago, but I think this morning when my roommate added hours to it, it got real.  I’m only going to be in the Phoenix for approximately 66 more hours, and only in the US for about 76 more hours.  Argentina is happening and I have 3 partially packed suitcases, a bill for 3 vaccinations that’s I’d never need in the US, and a to-do list about 8 miles long to prove it.  Right now though, I don’t really feel like talking about that.

I took a class this summer at ASU called meditations on making.   It was far more work than I ever thought it would be, but quite rewarding at the same time.  And I must say, I even surprised myself with the amount I was able to accomplish considering that I was also working 40 hours a week at an internship where I also needed to learn a few new things and take on responsibilities.  Granted I never could have done it if I hadn’t been working side by side with a good friend who was also in the class, I survived.  Here is the Documentation of that experience.