Foto del Día 55+56: The start of our grand adventure! Reason why this picture is set for two days is because we literally sat on our a@@es for two days straight (more than that actually, 36 hours to be specific)(and a couple breaks between when the bus would stop. Here’s some Australians we met on the ride. Nice picture.
Three days since it happened. My worst nightmare: someone at home being in trouble, and me not being there to help. I thought about being in this situation earlier this semester and how dreadful it would be to feel so stuck and useless, and then it happened.
Someone awful happened to someone I really care about back in the United States, and I was on the other side of the hemisphere. There was nothing I could do but hope that everything will be okay. My stomach has been churning; my head filled with buzzing thoughts and pressure, especially from all the tears shed; I lost my appetite; I felt empty. Not to mention the accident I witnessed due to reckless driving by a taxi driver: the day after I received the news of what had happened at home, I was on the way to Kelly’s house for comfort, when I saw a taxi driving probably 50 mph on a local road hit a man on a bike. I stayed at the scene of the accident for a while, trying to hold any sign of contempt for the world inside of me. All I could think was, this is not what I needed.
I have been talking to a lot of friends from home, which has soothed my worries. Hours of ranting, crying, averting my thoughts and pretending to be cheerful, yelling, silence. I waited to hear more news from the people at home, although the news seemed to get worse and worse. I also had an RA interview on video chat. Thank goodness for Rachel who convinced me to take care of myself and not think about the situation for just the time being – I think the interview went really well.
However, at one point I remembered that this person would not want to see me like this. This person would especially not like to hear that I have refrained any of my activities that would normally occur being abroad. Toward the beginning of my trip, he told me:
"I realize that Argentina was and is your time to ‘get away from it all’ and just be on your own… I’m telling you to try to live out what seems to be so far a great experience the way you envisioned it… before I messed up your plans…"
He reminded me of this about a week ago, and now I am reminded of it again. I took this into consideration, and among baking scones with Kelly, playing Frisbee in the park and going to an art exhibition held by my fellow classmates in the art department, getting support from all my amazing friends, listening to “Fix You” by Coldplay (ehehehehh), I have been feeling a lot better. I am finally able to accept what happened and just hope for the best, but not constantly worry.
I am currently in a different country, a different continent, a different hemisphere. I am currently fulfilling my goals in life, literally crossing one off my bucket list (“
10. Go somewhere in Latin America”). However awful a situation may be, I have to remember that I am living my dream, and just stumbled upon a short nightmare. I have to remember that this is what I’m here to do:
EAT from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.
LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.
MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.
I support you in every way, Simon Van Neste. I just want you to know that I’m still living my life, just like you want me to.
Don’t get me wrong, my professor for my Literature of Spain is very good: she is very amiable, animated when she speaks, and clearly passionate about her work. Nonetheless, it is very difficult to pay attention to literary theories, author biographies and excerpts of the text (without the text in front of me) for two hours, three days a week. Personally, I think that a literature class needs the discussion aspect, which this class lacks. I am currently writing this post in class right now, because I can no longer pay attention. Sadly, this has been happening for the past three weeks.
“What did we do in class today?” my friend who did show up to class that day asks;
“I don’t know, I was drawing for most of the time.”
I came into this class knowing that it would be tough, but I thought it would be the content that would be difficult to grasp. However, the tough part is the class itself: it is just a tad monotonous. Okay maybe I don’t draw for the entire time (it would be a lie to say that I don’t draw at all). I do really try to pay attention. Plus, you can’t blame me since my drawing class, which I am absolutely in love with, is normally right after my literature class; I simply get a little bit eager to go to it. I kept on complaining to my mom about the class in the beginning about how it was so hard to understand the professor because she talked so fast; meanwhile, my mom would tell me I should probably drop the class before I am permanently in it. However, I knew that I would get over the language barrier as I did in Professor Valenzuela’s Spanish Art/Lyric/Verse class at Whitman. And I am glad I did not drop it because I still do think I am learning a lot in this class, especially more than the other IFSA students who enrolled in the other literature class offered. Apparently, in Colonial Argentine Literature (which I opted not to take because I knew that the colonial Argentine Spanish would be treacherous to read), the students did not know anything about what they were supposed to read and learn about in class, if the professors even showed up to teach them.
The thing is I love the content of my class. I just got finished reading a book called Doña Perfecta por Benito Pérez Galdos, and I definitely recommend it (it is available in English, and you can download it online for free!). The novel is a mix between any book criticizing the corruption of the Catholic religion and Lord of the Flies, depicting human insanity in its true form. However, as a Realistic author, Galdos wrote purely what he saw in his society without the intent to critique it. Galdos writes with a Voltaire-esque sarcasm, making it a light and humorous read. It is genius.
So yes, I am still learning a lot in this class. The content itself is not the hard part. The forms of evaluation are mildly easy: although I do have to study all the little bits of information like the movements of literature in which the books are written, or what the author’s definition of a protagonist is, I still get to express what I am thinking while taking my tests or writing my informes, the reports we write every other week. I also do like that we are learning about all these theories, because it helps justify and rationalize what the author may be conveying with his work. I also have a tutor through IFSA that keeps me up to par on what we are learning in class, making sure that the notes I take in class are coherent and accurate. I end up talking to her about my thoughts on the texts during our tutoring sessions.
Despite all of my grievances, as a Spanish major, I am learning very interesting bits of information, to my fortune. And I still am having a good time in the education world here. I am also taking other classes like Dibujo (drawing), Desarrollo Regional (Regional Development), and Tango (Tango). I found that I can actually draw and have made very good friends in mi clase de dibujo. In Desarrollo Regional, we are learning about the development of Argentina in comparison to the United States as a first world country, along with theories and trends behind development in the world. The class keeps me in tune with the knowledge of the social sciences, which I have lacked by not taking a social science class since high school. It also includes a break in the middle and surprisingly is more interactive than my literature class, even though it is straight facts. Lastly, I am enrolled in Tango. More on that later J.
I could just change one thing right now it would to be to include more discussion in this class. It has interfered with my experience here, so it would help if the class itself were more enjoyable. However, in no way do I regret taking the class, especially since I have other exciting diversions to relieve my worries. I am in Argentina after all.
I feel as though I have been quejandome mucho, complaining quite a bit. I promise that the next post will be happier.
Foto del Día 50: They love their pizza here. It’s especially surprising how much homemade pizza they made. That’s okay, I’m not complaining. Here’s our delicious pizza we made with Damian and his friends.
Foto del Día 49: There was a Feria del Libros held in la Plaza San Martín. There’s something about books that just make me feel so good about life, especially when I see ones I’ve read at school! I bought a book. There was also one book whose cover was of Kelly’s chest.
My mom is sending me a package in a couple days with things that I wish I had brought (luckily it’s my birthday so I have a good excuse for getting this package sent to me despite all the complications of the Argentine Customs :)). Luckily, I brought most of what I want here, even though I feel like I’m still lacking something.
Things that sound superfluous but that I am super duper glad I brought:
- MY HIKING BOOTS. I guess this one depends on the location, but living right next to the Andes Mountains calls for lots of hiking.
- I also brought running shoes, casual every day shoes (for me that’d be a pair of regular sandals and flats), and flip flops. But the best part about living in Argentina is that you can buy yourself a pair of alpargatas which are way cheaper than TOMS so you wouldn’t be afraid of ruining them (they’re also versatile and pretty durable), and for me, that covers my casual every day shoes.
- My Nalgene. Or any water bottle. Although it’s considered a yanqui item to carry around, it comes in handy on longer trips.
- My stuffed animals and pictures and any other small decorations. There is no doubt that once you’re in a different country, you will get homesick. These random knick-knacks help me get by, making my new home just that much more like my old home.
- Any stupid medicines like IBUPROFEN (Tylenol, Advil, etc.), Dayquil/Nyquil, itching cream, eye drops, Pepto Bismol (for traveler’s diarrhea), COUGH DROPS. Don’t take those for granted! You’ll never know if you need them. I’ve at least found them handy. They might sell it in the country you’re traveling to, but even they do, these might be expensive - and you’re not going to want to go to the store to buy some medicine when you’d rather be in bed. Or on the toilet. Just saying.
- Adapters. The US plug/outlet is not universal.
- Books and movies. Even though you’re in a different country, you’re gonna have those nights that you just want to cuddle up with a movie or a book. Like decorations, these also bring the home life a little bit closer.
- Travel guides, tips your program may have given you, all that paperwork stuff. You’re in a different country. You’re going to want to explore it. This will help cut down the research time.
- Phone numbers from people at home. Just in case.
- My guitar capo. So you play an instrument or you draw or you climb. Bringing a guitar or a canvas or a climbing wall might be too much, but you’ll probably find one of these where you are. Might as well bring the little things that you don’t want to pay for because you already have it at home: your capo, your pastels, your climbing shoes.
- My coats, a hat, and hiking/wool socks. I’m going to be in the southern hemisphere of the world where the weather is undoubtedly better than the Seattle weather in the summer, even though it is winter here. However, I live in the desert, so although it can be 70 degrees Fahrenheit (gotta make that distinction), it might be 20 at night. I guess this depends on the time of year and the place you’re at, but at least for me this also came in handy when I went skiing and hiking.
- Suitcase lock. With this you can leave your backpack at the hot springs, for example, without worrying about it being opened and getting rummaged through (of course they could steal the entire thing but if you’re on a bus, a pick pocketer is not going to fumble with a lock).
- Luggage scale. This sounds dumb, but being a girl that tends to pack a lot and hates to pay for something she doesn’t have to, this is good for knowing that my suitcase is exactly 47.8 lbs, and that I won’t have to pay extra.
- If you really want, space bags. I thought these As Seen On TV products were going to be a flub, but in reality, they’re fcking great. This helps for packing those big marshmallow coats (but this is where the scale might come in handy to make sure you didn’t pack more than you can).
- American food. I brought two medium sized bags of Chex Mix, two boxes of Mike n’ Ikes, and a Costco size pack of Nature Valley’s Oats n’ Honey Bars. I’m trying to eat them slowly, but only one month as passed and I almost finished off the Chex Mix and Mike n’ Ikes. The bars still stand. As amazing the food will be there, your appetite so used to the stuff from home that you will keep eating and eating and eating and eating because your appetite hasn’t found what it exactly wants yet.
Things I wish I had brought so now my mom has to send them to me:
- American food… actually, that’s about it. I’m having her send me an extra stock of chips and candy that I miss. And soy sauce. Because the soy sauce here sucks. And she’s sending me my Little Bear DVD because I forgot that and I love Little Bear because he calms me down.
Anyways, toward the end of writing this, I realized that I’m just really spoiled and can’t adapt to change on my own. I’m also just super stingy, so I don’t want to buy anything here since I want to spend my money on travel and cooler Argentine stuff than regular every day stuff. I guess this was more of a Kathy rants post than a hey-I’m-going-to-help-you-on-your-future-travels! post.
What my real advice is (of course it depends on the country, too. You can find a lot of every day products in Argentina although it may be pricey), is that when you pack to study abroad, pack as you go around your house/city for the last week and think about what you use. Don’t take anything for granted (unless you’re not as spoiled as me and think that you can live without it)! If you wear makeup when you go out but don’t wear it on a regular basis, don’t forget your makeup or else you’ll have to buy a new container of eyeshadow that is going to take forever for you to get through since you don’t use it anyways (and you could have just brought the half finished Clinique trial you got for free walking through Macy’s). Remember that you will be studying abroad. I only brought a couple pencils, one pen, a highlighter and a 5-subject-notebook, but I wish I had brought a planner, or sticky notes, or a USB drive (which cannot be sent through the mail and are too expensive here) - things to help me stay organized and on top of my studies. It took me forever to find a planner halfway through the year, and plus it cost more money. And remember to pack enough for the amount that you’re gone. You don’t want to leave the country and realize you are short of five tampons, and have to go to the store and buy o.b. because it’s the only brand that Argentina has and is so much more painful than it looks. Again. Just saying.
Also they don’t have peanut butter in Argentina (well they do but you have to pay like $10 for it). I don’t like peanut butter so I’m okay, but just fyi. Prepare yourself well.
Foto del día 48: Who knew that Argentina would have a Walmart? Actually, it has several. Liza, Mariah and I went there to see if we could get away with buying American junk food seeing as the Carrefour and Super Vea didn’t satisfy our needs.
They didn’t sell what we were looking for. Well, they did, but for a price that I was not willing to spend… plus, my mom’s sending me food. I’ll be fine. However, they sold ducks!!!
Foto del día 47: Due to my American food cravings, Kelly and I made chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip banana bread. Let me tell you, although we had to use azucar negro en vez de brown sugar (little did I know, they are not the same thing) and Kelly’s uncanny sense of measurement without proper measuring cups, they turned out delicious. Then Damian came over and we enjoyed listening to music, my first store-bought bottle of alcohol ever, and each other’s company :)
Foto del día 46: On the way home from the university today, I saw this adorable little puppy just hangin’ out in the grass. In Argentina, stray dogs are just as present as political posters. They’re everywhere. However, this little buddy is just chillin’ in his jumper in the grass… he seems pretty smug. And thug.