Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On Assimilating in Argentina, Point 008.

1asado, asada
: roasted, grilled, broiled

Asado. Grilled meat. Couldn't miss it if you wanted to.
(And believe me, you wouldn't want to).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

BA Snapshot Series // 003

La Casa Rosada.

Hall of prominent figures...

Behind me: a map of Las Islas Malvinas
Sala (Room) de las Mujeres Argentinas del Bicentenario

Evita's room <3

Busts of los presidentes de los gobiernos constitucionales
(the presidents from constitutional governments - there have
been many coups d'état in the governing history of Argentina,
and it was decided not to represent those leaders.)

When the tour was over, I became president.
Sorry, Cristina.

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Si querés, podés"

So goes the slogan for la Universidad del Salvador (USAL) - where I am taking classes this semester.
[The phrase has become a personal favorite of mine, which any of my exchange amigas can attest to.]

USAL was founded by the Jesuits (see "The Feast Day of San Ignacio de Loyola"); is situated in downtown Buenos Aires; is a private institution; provides an education to about 20,000 students; and was the first university in Argentina to accept exchange students. But you can find all of that information through the Northwest Missouri State University Study Abroad site.

What you won't find written in the site description is:

001. The university is split into several different facultades - colleges - and each has its own location, separate from the others.

For example, wedged here in between shops and restaurants and variegated offices is the Facultad de Comunicación Social, where I spend my Tuesdays and Wednesdays:
Some facultades are not so clearly labeled, either.
002. You need to know well before you book your flights which classes (or at least which types of classes) you will want to take. Prepare an expansive list. The university will ask you to fill out a sheet of 5 or 6 prospective classes; add double that number to a list of your own.

003. "Ask and it shall be given unto you."
Don't take anything for granted. The thing is, for the most part, we are taken by the hand and led through most any given process in the States, and they just don't do things that way here. Ask questions.
This rule also applies to the classroom. Whereas in the U.S., you would receive the syllabus and all required reading either in printed form or online, you have to ask for all of that here. That also includes exam dates. Ask, ask! If you aren't answered straight away, keep the aforementioned in mind. And ask again for old Liberty's sake.

004. Have patience with los tramites.
If you're from the States, you're also used to getting things done fast. And while the city of Buenos Aires moves a lot faster than what I'm used to back in Missouri, when it comes to documentation/ registration/ (fill-in-the-blank)ation, it is much slower. A yanqui must have patience. The thing is, it's part of the culture. Argentines are more relaxed about certain things (another example is the very European custom of taking an hour or two out of the afternoon for a café with friends or spending hours chatting over supper; both of which are pretty well foreign to North Americans, generally speaking).
Also, when you arrive, you will receive a 30-day travel visa. So even if you're only staying for a semester, it will just barely not cover you. Keep in mind that you will have to make a couple visits to the Center for Migrations to obtain a student visa.
Bottom line: patience, yanqui-son.
P.S. - If all else fails, St. Francis de Sales.
Patron Saint of patience.
Given you're in a predominantly Catholic country, it couldn't hurt to shoot him a call for help.
005. When you start classes, it will be overwhelming at first. Depending on the profesor, you might have to work hard just to understand, let alone to complete all the required work for the course. I would recommend a tape recorder for those instances. More than likely, however, you'll have at least one professor who is completely accommodating, responds to your emails immediately, and goes out of his/her way to ask how you're getting along. Cherish them. Use them as motivation to maintain patience with the less-helpful ones.

General tips for la gran Buenos Aires...

006. The city is huge and full of life 25/7 - use every opportunity you can to take advantage of it! There are countless museums to meander in, plazas to drink mate at, and little tucked-in restaurants to try around every corner. Not to mention los boliches (night clubs).
Boliches are an essential part of the Buenos Aires experience; as a college student, it's considered essential. But be prepared; going out here is quite a bit different from going out at home. You might go to a previa (pre-game), stay there until about 1 AM, leave for the club, and stay out until 7 AM. (Girls, I would recommend you pack flats). Also, when you go out, you should always arrive and leave with a group. That is Rule #1. When you leave, you will probably take a taxi to get home - which leads to my next point...

007. Only take taxis with a "Radio Taxi" sign on the roof. These are the registered taxis and are the reliable ones (though you should always check to make sure you aren't short-changed when getting out). Which reminds me...

008. To make sure your money is not counterfeit, the test is the same for pesos as it is for American dollars: hold the bill up to the light and look for the watermark in the form of the person depicted on the bill.

There are a thousand other tips I could list here, but I'll stop with these for now (and maybe add another tip-filled post later).

Hasta la próxima -

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

On Assimilating in Argentina, Point 007.

La empanada is ubiquitous, delicious.
Succumb to the temptations of an essential element of Argentine cuisine.

Empanadas de jamon y queso, pollo, roquefort, capresse, y carne suave
Feria time with my all-time personal "Iowan Girl" favorite: a beef empanada
Beef empanadas and sugar-coated roasted peanuts
I will do my best to smuggle some with me on to the flight back home.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

On Assimilating in Argentina, Point 006.

006. When speaking to Argentines, use el voseo, not el tuteo.

What sets the people of Argentina apart, in a language context, from the rest of Latin America (save Uruguay and a few other South American countries) is el voseo - a verb conjugation unique to these select countries.

For a quick explanation:

Spanish (el tuteo)

Spanish (el voseo)

In basic Spanish courses in the States, we learn el tuteo - mostly because it is the most widely used.
EX: Where are you from?
     (el tuteo): ¿De dónde eres?
     (el voseo): ¿De dónde sos?

The difference between el tuteo and el voseo shows up every time you address someone directly, which is fairly confusing when first attempting to speak like the locals. Pero no pasa nada, te acostumbrás (Don't worry, you get used to it)! I'll keep this brief introduction as-is and leave it to you to visit Argentina to learn the rest! ;)

Finalmente, from my dear roommate, who has encouraging me from the beginning to use el voseo and drop my tuteo ways, a little song to go along with the lesson.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BA Snapshot Series // 002

From the 30th of June to the 16th of September, a polka-dotted craze exploded in the art scene of Buenos Aires. It all started here:
The MoMA of Suramerica
The exhibition that gave spectators a desire to affix polka-dot stickers to any and every conceivable place...

Yayoi Kusama, "Infinite Obsession"
The artist herself.
Kusama is a schizophrenic, and in the interview from which this shot was taken, she explains that her art provides her an outlet and helps her deal with - and work out - her condition.
At the forefront of the showcase were her latest works, the material that drew enormous crowds every day throughout the months-long exhibition.

Moving through the exhibition, her older works appear.

"Macaroni Suitcase"

And then a mirror-walled room filled with plush, polka-dotted pups, multiplied by a thousand from the reflections.
...And another room, pitch-black save for the slow pulsing of a billion multi-colored lights hanging from the ceiling. The lights were reflected in mirrors that lined the walls and also by pools of water that made an isthmus of the walkway.
Totally rad.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

BA Snapshot Series // 001

A live tango (music) performance!
Snapped at TangoBA Festival Mundial del Tango

And for a taste of classic tango, "Por una Cabeza" by the great Carlos Gardel:

Which also appears, accompanied by dance, (albeit Hollywood-ized; real porteño tango looks quite a bit different *Source: culture of tango professor*), in a scene of Scent of a Woman (a can't-miss, movie, by the way; one of my all-time favorites, with Pacino):

¡Que disfruten!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Two Good Luck Ducks

My 22nd birthday came and went just about as fast as all the other whirlwind days here do, but brought with it a definite sense of change, a subtle hunch that some different inner gear has begun churning to bring some undiscovered bud to blossom. More than likely, these gears have been working all the time and the "one year older" marker drew my attention, encouraging a closer introspection and examination of how far I've come - not only in the time that I've been here in Buenos Aires, (a mere two months), but in these past four years that have made up my college career.

To anyone considering studying abroad,
be aware that the experience as a whole
is inevitably an intense exercise in
self-examination and forced progression.
That being said, that alone -
aside from any institutional education -
is reason for everyone to opt for it
if the opportunity presents itself.

My day was absolutely filled with love from the girls I live with in my residence. If you know anything about Latin American culture, you know they are an intimate bunch, sometimes overwhelmingly so - never a want for hugs and kisses on the cheek and "¿todo bien?" "How are you, have things been good?" An unfiltered intimacy. A warmth felt in the heart and not on the skin. For my birthday, "overwhelming" would be an apt description, but only in the most beautiful sense of the word. "Perfection" is truly what it was. And for all the perfection that was packed into yesterday, I am reminded of something one of my exchange amigas told me.

There is a little-known saying in Spain that the number 22 is symbolic for los dos patitos de la buena suerte - two good luck ducks - for the shape of the twos. 22. See the ducks?

I'm not one to believe in superstitions, but if the quality of my day yesterday has anything to do with the way this coming year is going to go, I might believe in the buena suerte of those two little patitos.

Or maybe I can take those two ducks and carry them with me for the rest of my life, through la buena suerte y la mala, and use them to change my viewpoint when I'm behind an immovable roadblock. Maybe the two little good luck ducks jumped into my boat on September 5th, 2013 to give me a way to steer around all the rocks and plow through all the algae of the river I'm voyaging.

I think so.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

May I Present You to... MAFALDA!

"...Will God have patented this idea of a round asylum?"

"Mommy, cars are beings that attack humans to defend themselves against what?"

[1] "Good morning. What kind of world do we have today: First, Second, or Third?"
[2] "No, wait..."
[3] "It's better if you go take a peek, and if there is liberty, justice, and those kinds of things,
wake me up, whatever kind of world it is!"

<3 Mafalda

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Elecciones Primarias de Argentina

Just last week, seated on the second floor of a Starbucks on Avenida Callao with a view of the street below, I witnessed my very first manifestación.
The march I saw was for this group in particular.

In the past few weeks, manifestaciones, political protests, have filled the streets of Buenos Aires with the aim to demonstrate against corruption, crime, and inflation just before Primary Election Day arrived.
Masses gather at Plaza de Mayo, in front of the presidential office,
to protest the government under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Source: The Sacramento Bee

Source: The Sacramento Bee
"Enough corruption!"
"¡Basta!" is a popular cacerolazo, a demonstration for which
protestors bang on pots and pans.
Source: The Sacramento Bee

That day is today, the Eleventh of August, in the year of our Lord, 2013.

Today, citizens across the country are returning to their pueblos to cast mandatory votes. It's difficult to say which way this election will go, though personally, I have heard a lot of anti-Kirchner sentiments in the time I've been here. Many say Cristina Fernández is responsible for the dramatic inflation the country has experienced in its recent past. High-profile corruption (including corruption within the police force, etc.) is also a huge concern for Argentinians.
Movie star? No. Incumbent Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. 

To read a bit about the election standing:

The thing about elections in Argentina is that with every new president, another page is turned - making a rather hefty book full of turbulent history:

Al final, we'll have to wait and see who will be added to that list of leaders... or, possibly, who will remain.