10 Weeks In!

COOL! Great things that occurred this week:

  • Finally found BA’s hit music radio station! This immediately made Monday the BEST DAY EVER.
  • Discovered pilates, which are magical. I get all spacey and smiley for a full two hours after each class; my family has no idea what to do with me.
  • Happened upon the greatest bar game when stuck talking to boring people: pretend you’re from a random Nordic/Eastern European country! Way more fun than telling people you’re from America, especially since as soon as the word “norteamericana” (this means USA; no one cares about Canada) has left your lips, people also assume that you’re (to be indelicate) slutty and not smart. It’s fun also to pretend to speak chosen dialect — for instance, Icelandic, which requires speaking English with a fake heavy German accent and adding in lots of weird noises and “floofens” and “flofens” — in front of porteños. Also important to tell them that you learned Spanish while on a cultural exchange because telling them you learned Spanish in high school in Latvia will suriously damage your credibility.
  • I started my immigration project by interviewing my building’s Paraguayan doorman. Very interesting.
  • My friend and I freaked out when we realized that we’d bought non-refundable airplane tickets to Brazil to see the Iguazu Falls in October. Imma say that again: we accidentally bought non-refundable airplane tickets to Brazil. Ruh-roh.

BUT, we have decided to make the best of our unexpected travel arrangements and appreciate the fact that we’re hitting up a new country. Maybe the visit to the Brazilian consulate to obtain an expensive and complicated visa will be exciting and interesting? We’ll see.

(While I’m on the topic of Brazil: at clubs where it’s pretty difficult for Americans to enter, people assume you’re Brazilian since American accents sort sound of like Portuguese from afar. I love this for one reason: Brazilians are schmexy. So when people go, “Are you Brazilian?” what I actually hear is, “You look like Gisele — you must be Brazilian!” I mean, if you say so!)

MEH. Class: 

So remember how I said that class was great and I could totally understand the professor? Unfortunately, the other 50% of my academic career here in BA is completely unintelligible. The professor is great — reminds me of Professor Morrison, who is one of my all-time favorites, in addition to most of my other profs at Middlebury — and apparently really funny, but my comprehension in class is: 0. I was about to lie and say that the following is a “sample” of my notes from the entire 4-hour class this week, but let’s be honest: this is everything I got.

  • Illegitimate because of the war (the dictatorship)
  • The key is civil society
  • 1983 Sept: amnesty for those who had participated in the Dirty War
  • Alfonsín signed something (literally just “Alfonsín firmó… algo.”)
  • [list of acronyms]

I also can’t read his handwriting on the board, so it’s like a fun game of Pictionary where the answers are all just more words and names I don’t know. It’s ok, though; at least I’m learning a lot from the readings.

COOL? Here’s a funny thing I forgot to write about: the fact that my strategy at the beginning of this trip (still…) was to just say “yes!” confidently when people asked me a question that I had no hope of understanding. This strategy usually worked, unless the question was 1) not a yes or no question, or 2) I clearly should not have been answering in the affirmative. Some examples:

  • Clerk: Do you have a frequent shopper card? (or whatever words they used)
  • Me: Yes!
  • (Awkward 5 seconds of silent eye contact during which I make no effort to produce said card, confirming to both of that I have no idea what is going on. Clerk is no help and continues to stare me down.)
  • Me: Umm… No?
  • (I know this is the correct answer because the clerk nods and continued ringing me up. Phew.)
  • Clerk: Would you like to pay in 4 payments or in one payment?
  • Me: Yes!
  • Clerk: Which one?
  • (Completely confused as to why clerk is inquiring as to if I’d like to charge my $8 pair of earrings in payments and assume I don’t understand the question.)
  • Me: Can I just… pay? For the earrings?
  • (Clerk takes pity and rings me up.) 

MEH: I am having some trouble with my homestay. 

COOL! Now I’m going to brag on the Middlebury program a little bit. Might sound betchy. But. The more I encounter other programs, the more I realize that the Middlebury program is the best. Reasons why:

  • Most of the time, we all speak Spanish within our group outside of class. None of the other groups do this, which is understandable but really bad for their Spanish immersion.
  • Our level of Spanish is the highest of all the groups I’ve met, and our coordinators even told us it’s the highest they’ve ever had in this program!
  • We don’t wear backpacks proclaiming the name of our study abroad program. @ NYU kid on the bus the other day: you didn’t blend in.
  • We know more about the culture. For instance, at least 5 kids in the program already consistently carry around mates and their thermoses, whereas the kids from other programs don’t even know the rules about drinking it (they’re very specific). They also don’t do the cheek kiss thing, which I don’t relate to at all because this is easily one of my top 5 favorite new cultural acquisitions.
  • We have to get good grades in our classes, unlike other students who do a pass/fail option or just have to show up. This means that Midd program kids actually study, pay attention, and do work.

COOL! Internship rocks.

I’m working at this think tank called “Generación Política Sur,” which is a progressive group of young professionals associated with the government. I’m doing all of my work in English, which means that I’m actually a valuable asset (as opposed to internships in Spanish friends did in my last program, which are usually pretty low-level because, frankly, you don’t have anything to contribute if you’re still learning the language). So we’ve been charged with finding other think tanks or university programs in the U.S. that are either progressive or are doing research in similar policy areas, and then are trying to get them to partner with GPS for fellowships, exchanges, seminars, or whatever. The best part is talking to the people who work here and picking their brains about Argentina and politics. Oh, and they have weekly seminars and bi-weekly “chats” with Congresspeople who want to learn about specific research areas, both of which I can attend. Bonus is that every once in a while, I have the office to myself for the entire day, which means that I turn my music up as high as I want (which anyone who has ever lived on my hall knows is… quite loud), get my mate and thermos out, put my feet up, and chill out by myself. All while doing interesting research that doubles as a summer internship search. It is idyllic.

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