Things I would do more if I wasn’t afraid of being robbed (a fear that has been inflated by the fact that a classmate was robbed three times over the course of two weeks):
- Identify myself as a foreigner my unfurling at my expansive street map. Instead, I attempt to be as covert as possible by writing directions on my hand/drawing small maps on the backs on receipts, which has proven quite challenging for effective navigation.
- Take more pictures. Alas, I have been warned that people might steal my camera in many places as soon as I take it out. For instance, the subte at rush hour is like nothing I have ever seen before; I literally don’t think my feet touch the ground during some points because the people are so packed. I would like to take photos of this amazing phenomenon, but unfortunately identifying oneself as someone 1) probably foreign and 2) with an expensive camera right before boarding a crowded train filled with pick-pocketers is unwise.
- Use my phone from home for internet. Unfortunately, same problema as above.
- Carry everything I could possibly need when I go out at night. Instead, I have been instructed only to bring the money I’ll need that night, my health insurance card, and a phone. This was a problem when I WAS CARDED at a bar and not allowed in (?!?!) because I couldn’t prove I was 18. Still flabbergasted about this one.
Housing: Ok, so I haven’t moved into the roadhouse yet; I found out that the kid who was supposed to get my room wasn’t coming, so I had one extra week. So now this weekend I have to leave Belgrano 😦 Very sad.
- Carmen’s 3-year-old grandson is too cute and it is getting out of hand. Little kids who wear dinosaur slippers, have curly blond hair, and who speak foreign languages should not be allowed to also have cute little voices and wear cute little soccer jerseys. Completely overwhelming.
- The buses here are ridiculous. So at night, they have these blue lights on the inside rather than the typical yellow ones, and a lot have these long red curtains on all the windows, thus creating the sensation that the entire city is filled with those cool party buses people always got for school dances. Too BA.
- The people here are too attractive. Abnormal and distracting.
- Clothing/jewelry/shoes is/are beautiful and cheap (dollar = super strong here. Like nice leather boots for 50 USD kinda strong…), and therefore it’s entirely impossible to convince myself that it’s not in my best interest to purchase as much of it as possible. I’m holding out, but it is quite the exercise in self-control.
- Strange obsession with llama print by the female sector of the population. I.e. llama print leggings (I have termed them pantallamas) are all the rage. One person wearing llama leggings: ok, bold fashion statement. Ten spotted on the way to class: too much, BA.
Clases: This week, Arkansas girl left and we got this other student who’s also a Spanish teacher in the U.S. She’s quite intimidating. She’s Cuban and Puerto Rican, totally fluent, and graduated from Georgetown. I have no idea why she’s in my level of class, but it’s absurdly motivational. I think I made a bad first impression when she first arrived because after an all-night 4th of July celebration I did doze off in class for a good half hour (which, by the way, is not at all subtle in a class of 3), but now I’m trying extra hard to even come close to how good she sounds. But sometimes it is a little frustrating that both of my classmates come from Spanish-speaking households and can understand our teacher so much better than I can. Meh.
Fútbol: Argentina is playing just horrifically in the Copa América. They tied Colombia 0-0 last night, which was another bummer. Argentina is a country in mourning.
Last fin de semana:
- So best thing ever last weekend, but somehow one of the Irish housemate’s rugby friends knew some group of (intimidatingly) glamorous Swiss people who had this great get together in their schmancy apartment (apparently Swiss franc is even stronger than the dollar here, which basically means they’re spending 0 money for complete luxury) this weekend. The best part was that since the Swiss are apparently language prodigies, they all speak perfect Spanish and therefore had lots of Argentineans to invite! They took us to house party afterwards, where everyone I met either introduced themselves as a drummer, guitar player, singer, or — in one case — a graffiti artist. Probably the artsiest gathering I have ever attended, though I suspect they all have day jobs and just didn’t want to talk about it. Anyway, the best thing was that this porteña decided to take me under her wing and introduced me to all her friends, and I met tonsa people. Almost upon arrival in BA, I had been informed that porteñas were “frigid bitches” who, judging from the way porteño males treat American girls, would definitely only see me as annoying competition. So I was a little worried that I’d never make any girlfrands here. This totally changed my perception of them, though! I was pretty happy with how that all worked out, because as entertaining as it is to go out with these 5 Irish/British guys (and safe!), a girl group is definitely necessary for ze boliches (clubs).
- Also, porteños are all really into the fact that I’m going to study politics here. As in, multiple porteños have asked me at parties me to explain what Obama has accomplished (also, whether or not I voted for him), what I think of Argentine politicians, and my predictions about the US elections. One porteño even asked me if I could explain how Medicare worked. They’re just crazy politically active/interested, which is really cool to see.
- The hilarious thing about the city’s big 4th of July celebration was that they showed the big Chile-Mexico Copa game on the big screen in the same bar that night, so most of the people in the bar were rocking either Mexican or Chilean colors/flags. Not the vibe we were expecting. But overall delightful.