Living like a porteña
I could not be happier with my homestay. I am staying with a woman named Maruja in a comfortable apartment in La Recoleta, a very safe and central area in the city. It is just the two of us in the house, but she has two grandaughters (ages 21 and 22) who visit often with their adorable French Bulldog named Ramón, as well as a family friend (age 22) who stays at the house on occasion. Maruja is incredibly gracious, generous, and very chill. She encourages me to treat the house as my own and is an excellent cook. She speaks no English so our long dinner conversations have been incredibly helpful in developing my Spanish speaking and understanding. I could not have been luckier with my housing placement!
Speaking like a porteña
The Argentine form of castellano includes some new pronunciation and vocabulary words that I had not seen before. For example, they pronounce their “y” sounds as “sh”. Additionally, they use the form vos (the voseo) instead of tú and if there is an “s” before a consonant, they will aspirate it into an “h” (so instead of “esperar”, it’s pronounced “eh-perar”). They have a myriad of new slang words that I’m slowly trying to incorporate into my everyday speech without making a fool of myself. My current favorite is “que quilombo! (what a mess!)” Additionally, Argentines are very politically aware and enjoy entering discussions about current events and general social issues.
Going out like a porteña
Here in Buenos Aires, people eat dinner around 9:30 or 10pm and the nightlife doesn’t truly begin until around 2:30am. One morning, when Maruja asked me what time I got home the night before, I replied “4am” to which she said “Que temprano! (how early!)”. So that about sums up the Argentine mentality about that.
A normal night out will stretch until 5:30 or 6am and potentially even later. While I am now completely adjusted to having dinner around 9:15pm every night, the very late nature of the nightlife gets rather exhausting. I have become master of the siesta.
Taking classes like a porteña but scheduling them like a tourist
I have somehow managed to move my schedule around so that I will be taking four classes (16 credits) and will be satisfying a requirement for my major and another for my minor, while only having classes on Tuesday and Wednesday starting at 2pm both days. Don’t ask me how I did it, it was actually quite unintentional. I, like all the other students, was pretty adamant about not having Friday class, but the fact that I do not have class on Monday or Thursday was a happy accident. This means extra time to travel around Argentina and South America! Montevideo, Mendoza, Rio, Machu Pichu, Iguazú Falls, Patagonia, Jujuy, HERE I COME. I am taking a class on body, gender, and sexuality in Argentina as well as classes in Argentine economic policy, social analysis of genocide, and Argentine fiction.
Hanging like a tourist
I am here with the program CIEE, which is comprised of 70-80 students from different universities in the US. All of us have been in and out of various orientations and seminars held by CIEE for the past couple weeks and have, therefore, been spending most of our time solely with other foreigners. Those of us who have host siblings or friends with host siblings have begun making Argentine friends, but for the most part we have stuck with our American counterparts. Many of us have started classes but next Tuesday is when everyone will have their full class load and we will be able to meet more local students. A startling number of us are from Georgetown, a fact that many of us were unaware of until arriving here in Argentina. Pre-departure, I was rather cynical about the idea of spending time with only Georgetown students, saying to myself “pfft, I can hang out with Georgetown kids when I get back.” Now that I am here, meeting Hoyas that I did not know well before or had never even crossed paths with, I am thoroughly enjoying the camaraderie. Como se dice, “Hoya Saxa”?
Spending like a tourist
THIS EXCHANGE RATE IS OUT OF THIS WORLD. The official exchange rate hovers around 1USD to 8ARS but if you change US cash here at certain change houses, you can get rates around 1USD:12.6ARS. The choripán (grilled chorizo on bread with chimichurri and other toppings) down the street is just 16ARS. A dulce de leche soft serve ice cream is just 7ARS. A pint of beer at a bar is just 30ARS (13.50 for a full liter if you go to a grocery store). This is a definite advantage for us over our friends who are studying abroad in Europe.
This weekend, a group of us will be traveling to Mendoza to take a bike tour of the famous wineries, walk around the area, and hike the Andes. Yet another benefit of the exchange rate is that we are each paying $1370ARS (about $110USD equivalent at the blue rate) for round trip bus tickets (15 hours each way, helppp) and for three nights at the highest rated hostel in Mendoza (which includes breakfast). The busses are overnight so we will be reclining in our seats and letting the complimentary wine lull us to sleep.
In weird and amusing news, I went to a pub crawl last Wednesday and there was a photographer there for the event to put pictures up on their Facebook page. Usually, they use this as a tactic to show pictures of attractive girls being attractive and people having a great time so that other people will want to come. This week, they posted this:
I can’t take myself seriously when there’s a photographer around and I figured if I made one of my trademark weird faces, they wouldn’t put the picture up. I was clearly wrong, but this is now easily one of my favorite pictures of myself of all time. Grandma, what cavernous nostrils you have!
And finally, in random news, my friend Molly and I are registering for the Buenos Aires half marathon!
I’m off to take a nap (I had to wake up super early to go finish the visa process), I hope you all are having great summers!