I miss my car

No pictures right now, because I’m going to take this opportunity to reflect on the things that aren’t totally fabulous about this fine city. This week we had a lot of places to be. I already mentioned that we had a project site that was a a 40 minute train ride from the city, in addition to that we had a meeting at a gallery in Recoleta, an event near Congresso, a lecture in Palermo, and a payment due at a travel agency near the obelisk. All of these events happened between Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon. Now none of these places are incredibly far from each other, but when accessed by foot and public transit they seem to be. I think I reached some sort of quota on jam packed sardine style subte rides. And when I say jam packed I really mean it. Imagine the most crowded Phoenix light rail ride on a First Friday when there is also a Suns game and some sort of convention downtown… Then multiply by about 4. That is a jam packed subte ride. Additionally I really wish I had brought more shoes. My indigo boots are taking quite a beating as are my converse, my toms don’t get out much as I’m often afraid it’s going to rain, overall I wish I could rotate more because my feet are in a constant state of ouch-ness.

In conclusion I am starting to miss my car… And bike… And other shoes…

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Since I’m taking advantage of a break in studio to make a post, what better to post about than the studio?  The studios here are a lot different from the ones at ASU.  Granted, I think the other students here are still getting used to the fact the the 2 rows of prime desks in the center are now occupied.  Here are a few pictures of the work space- plenty of natural light, and a nearby cafe.



Studio has started, which means even more adventures.  Our first little project is in Tigre, which is about a 40 minute train ride outside of Buenos Aires.  It’s known as a get away for the city dwellers, but its still more densely populated than your average American suburb.  On the first excursion there we visited 3 museums and our site.  Since we’ve traveled out there 3 times, we’ve become very acquainted with the train.  It’s a much longer ride than the subway, and even though the first time we rode it we talked about how much we wouldn’t want to have to ride it standing, guess what we’ve done on the last 2 trips over?  Stand nearly the whole way there.  Here are a few images from the town:

el Futbol

I’ll admit, I have quite a back log of posts I want to work on since I’ve been busy exploring everything Buenos Aires for the past two weeks AND taking 16 hours of Spanish classes per week.

One of the most exciting and interesting things I’ve done so far here is attend a futbol game.  We took the subway and the bus out to San Lorenzo’s stadium to see San Lorenzo play Lanus.   These are Argentinian futbol’s equivalent of minor league teams, with many player who may eventually play for the Argentinian National team or in Europe.

The game ended 1-0 with Lanus winning, which wasn’t all that exciting, though that didn’t seem to matter to the San Lorenzo fans.   The crowd was intense!   They sang and chanted and yelled for basically the entire 90 minutes and then some.  There was no alcohol sold at the game, but that didn’t matter to the incredibly passionate fans.

During the game we of course learned some new choice Spanish vocabulary for outside of the classroom, but the best part was a very sarcastic man behind us who kept saying “muy bien” and saying that the team should invite their mothers to play in their place.

The game was a lot of fun, and if the school schedule permits, I’d love to go to another one!  Now I just need to figure out which team’s jersey I want to buy before I go home.


(Thanks to Lauren for the group picture)

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.


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.

On letting go

In my little vacation between school ending and internship beginning I took about 3 hours to read Tina Fey’s book.  I can relate to her because I’m brunette and my name is Tina (sorta) as well!  I joke, but seriously there’s a part where she’s talking about writing sketch comedy.   She basically explains that sometimes she was really proud of what she wrote, but sometimes it just wasn’t there.  The thing was that when you’re working on a deadline, you get to a point where, good or bad, you just need to let go.

While I was reading this section, I thought about studio deadlines.   I always get to a point in a project where love it or hate it, I know it’s time to just stop.  That’s not saying that I’m not trying to make it perfect, I think that’s just to say that I hit a point where I have to accept that continuing to try to make it perfect will mean I lose the chance to make it look complete.  It really bothers me when something looks incomplete.

So I guess this bit of reflection is about to lead me to a graphics rant.   I think a lot of students (and maybe even professionals?) struggle with the part of design where you feel like it could always be better (because it probably could.) The thing is,  if it looks incomplete to a client or reviewer they’re never going to notice that beautifully detailed carefully constructed plan or rendering or whatever it is you’re so proud of.  At least not before they notice that you misspelled multi-purpose (mulit-purpose), the images look really dark, a person in one of your renderings has no hands, and objects on your crooked boards aren’t lining up.  If you’re assembling a presentation, graphics are important!

At our final reviews, one of my friends was looking at my groups boards and commented that it looked complete, and lamented that he never felt like his group’s was more than 80% done.  The funny part was, the entire semester I had felt like his group was way ahead of mine, right down to the very end.  The only thing that made my work seem any more complete was the fact that I came to a point where, love it or hate it, I stopped adding new work and just focused on making what I had done look good.

I’m not saying that this is the best way to do it, but it works for me, and I think it’s something that’s worth trying.   Of course 9 times out of 10 we feel like the project is only 80% complete, but the thing is, that last 20% tends to be more difficult than the first 80%, and can usually be made up for in the presentation.  It’s important to recognize the point where you need to let go.

Context actually is important

I toyed with the idea of just diving into posting, but after all these years in architecture school I’ve managed to learn something: context is actually important.  So I’ll give a little context beyond the little “What’s This?” blurb. I live in Arizona, where I like to think that the heat makes people say and do crazy things. I absorb a lot of media, movies, television, music, webcomics, I apparently have a large dictionary of reference and quotes stored in my brain and I’m not afraid to use them.  I don’t like to think of myself as the architecture student who eats, breaths, and lives design.   Well, maybe I do during the last few weeks of the semester, but the rest of the year I like to do other things like read books about things other than architecture, go to concerts, attempt to learn guitar (that’s actually a very very new project), and maybe even play video games.

This blog probably won’t be about any of those things, but this is all good context, and sometimes there will be overlap.