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Avi's Study Abroad Argentina

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Friday, 25 April 2008

Location: Colonia, Uruguay

Hola,

I am in beautiful Uruguay! we took a boat to Montevideo yesterday and spent the afternoon. It is by far the most relaxed capitol city i have ever been in! the old part of the city is beautiful with skinny streets and small hills and unlike everyone is BA, everyone is so relaxed. We are now in an incredible little town north called Punta del Diablo, but in fact it is heavenly (haha had to throw the cheese in there!) NO, but seriously, this is little town is quite the gem. Beyond tranquil, Punta del Diablo forces all to relax with dirt roads, rolling waves, delicious seafood, and no ATMs!! We stayed at a hostel called the diablo tranquilo, owned and operated by a young man from Wisconsin who came and never left. It is a surfers paradise and everywhere you go you are accompanied by one of the local tour guides (the dogs.) We stayed only a day and a half but relaxed by the beach, walked along the almost deserted streets, cooked fresh fish in the outdoor kitchen, read by a fire, sang and played guitar, and drank the famous caipirinha from Brazil...all in all it was your classic beach getaway!!
Saturday, we left at 5:40am for a 7 hr bus ride to meet up with the rest of the chicos in our program in the quaint town of Colonia del Sacramento. This historic site on the rio de la plata used to be a fort, I believe for a man named Manuel Lobo (someone double check me on that fact!) It was the cutest little town, and after a pleasant stroll through the historic district we passed the remainder of the afternoon at a little restaurant looking out on the harbor. Tough life!!!




Saturday, 12 April 2008

Location: sundays!, Argentina

Hey Guys!

Life is good today! Its sunday...my favorite day of the week here. On sundays all the families and their dogs go to the parks to ride bikes, run, play soccer, or just lay in the sun. Its funny to see everyone with their hot mate on a hot day. I still don't really understand dinking mate, but I guess I never will unless I become argentine.
Every sunday my roommate and I have breakfast together and then head to the park to go running for a couple miles. Afterwards we usually head home and do our separate things, but today was nice bc we ate lunch together and then headed back to the park to join the other 100's of argentines and did our homework and layed in the sun. It was such a relaxing day! Afterwards I came home and went to a new church with some of my friends. It was a tiny little church but the people were great!
And now Im sitting at my favorite coffee shop where I have become a regular. Everytime my roommate and I walk in the shop our waitress always gives us a kiss on the cheek. In argentina that is the way friends greet each other. It makes you feel special when you have finally reached that status. :P

Anyways I just finished another week and finally got my schedule worked out. I always feel life is so much easier when you have a schedule to work with. My classes are going well...I have been doing a lot of reading for them. I think its really funny that my spanish teacher asign so much reading everynight. I don't think I do think much reading in english much less spanish.

Anyways, I hope you guys have a great week!

xoxo Avi

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

I haven’t been doing a lot of trips lately…we are kind of taking a break from traveling for a while and are taking advantage of living in the city. City lifestyle is different from anything I am use to. I think it has to be one of the best experiences for me though. I feel like this is one of those places you could live for your whole life and still not know everything about it. Every day I am learning something new about life here. I feel that most city dwellers are always in a hustle and bustle to get somewhere in town and most people are only looking out for themselves and what they have to get done. The traffic here is crazy…the streets are lined with bright yellow taxis and buses zooming from place to place, and the streets are lined with tall buildings that seem to grow into the sky. But the transportation here is great. Every time I want to go somewhere I just hop on bus 152 and it will take me pretty much anywhere, and for those late night trips you just wave for a taxi and they are safe and cheap, but if you want to get somewhere fast the best thing to take is the subway. I ride the D-line to down town. It’s really fast but it gets so packed during rush hour and that is the most likely place to be pick pocketed. Every time I’m there during rush hour I feel like it’s a game of how many people you can fit in a subway car bc people just jam in. But I can’t complain bc it’s the cheapest way to travel here. The buses and Subways only cost 33cents each ride. I think that’s a pretty good deal…it beats paying the $40 to fill up my car.
After being here for 2 months I’m starting to pick up on a lot of the small cultural things in BsAs. I had to go to the grocery store the other day and while I was searching for some bread to make my pb&j sandwich I ran across an isle full of mayonnaise. I mean I realize that argentines like mayo but I had no idea that there were that many different brands and types of the mayonnaise. As I kept shopping in the store I realized argentines favor a lot of food that we don’t. I found another isle full of crackers but not the peanut butter or cheese crackers that you are probably thinking of…. they were just plain saltine cracker…..but it was a whole isle of them…who needs that many brands of saltine crackers, and the same things with the dulce de leche isle too. They really crack me up with the things they eat. I feel like a typical argentine is someone who eats empanadas with mayonnaise on the side and mate to go with it. I mean that’s not true for everyone but it’s an idea.
Since we haven’t been traveling lately I have been going out a lot at night. I have been to some really cool bars and places to hangout or go dancing. I feel like all the bars have such different themes to them and it’s so exciting when you discover a new one. In the past week my friends and I have been salsa, tango and hip-hop dancing. It’s been great…and it’s a great way to get exercise ha-ha. I love it when our ISA group gets together and goes out. Last night a group of us went to a place called Acabar. It’s a restaurant/ bar where people can go and play board games. They have a huge wall in the back where you can find any board game imaginable. You bring your group of friends and pick out a game and play at these big tables. We played operation, jinga, pictionaries and tried playing a couple more but we didn’t understand the game cards bc they were all in Spanish haha, but we had a great time. We got there around 12am and stayed till 4am…that sounds late but it’s typical for here. My friends and I usually don’t even go out till 12am and usually end up at home around 6am….I have finally adapted to this time change, but when I first got here I couldn’t even last till 2am.
Another fun thing we have been doing is going to taco Tuesdays at the California Burrito joint here. The restaurant was started by 3 guys from Cali after they graduated from college. They were traveling through Argentina and realized that Argentina doesn’t really have great Mexican food so they decided to open their own restaurant. For the past couple of years it has been a really big hit! The argentines have really come to enjoy the food and they always attract a lot of American who want a taste of home. They started this taco Tuesday promotion and it has been doing well. You get a taco for $1US. I usually buy 3 tacos and two margarita and that fills me up and then we all just chill and listen to the live band that comes to play on Tuesdays. Last Tuesday one of my friends Paul got up on the microphone and sang some of the songs they were playing…by the end of the night everyone was singing and dancing along. It’s really a great atmosphere to just hangout in…I really miss places that you can just chill at without going to a bar.
Anyways, this week should be pretty fun too. I have classes Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and then one of the days this week I think I’m going to see the musical Rent in Spanish. They also have a international film festival here this week and I think we are going to try and go to some of the showings. Tonight is my friends 21st so we are going to take her out to a club named Mint, and maybe tomorrow go to a fair that has some really cool Brazilian fight shows.
I hope I did not bore you guys with this blog…sorry I didn’t have a cool trip to tell you about, but I hope you enjoyed learning a little about BsAs itself.
Miss you guys! I hope you guys are getting pumped about summer!

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Location: Argentina

Hey Guys!
Sorry I have been such a slacker lately with writing in my blog…I just keep getting busier here. This blog is kind of a mix of everything. A little bit of all my happening in BsAs (Buenos Aires). It kinda jumps around so I hope you can follow.
Things have been really good. I finally feel like I am a local and not just visiting. Lately I have been trying to get involved in my community and for those of you who know me; you know that I like to be busy so it’s a good thing. The bible study that we started has really taken off. We started a facebook group to let girls know we were doing it and at our next meeting we had 10 new people show up…we ended up having to find a new place to hold it bc our old place wouldn’t allow the whole group to come in bc it was too big. But I think we are going to have to split the group into two different groups bc I think everyone will get a lot more out of it if it’s smaller.
I also joined the campus crusaders group here in Argentina. I went to my first meeting last Friday and it was great. It reminds me a lot of Camps our reach and how they work. The people who are on staff here are from North Carolina and are great to be around. It kind of gives me an Idea of how CO does their Thailand trips. Campus crusaders are supposed to be receiving a group of 15 students this summer to help grow their ministries in the universities close by. They invited my girlfriends I to come and participate with them so it should be a good experience, but it won’t take place till June so I will keep you guys up dated.
Ok on to the concert…Last week my friends and I went to a reggae concert that was in a really bad part of town, but we didn’t know that until later. It was about a 40 min bus ride from where I lived. We went with a group of 8 people but later splint into 2 groups of four. The concert was great and really chill. They had about 6 different groups play that day and had around 1000 people show up for the show. The show was held in front of an old hospital that had started to be built, but I guess the company ran out of money before it could be finished. It was kind of creepy but it added to the atmosphere. We stayed there for about two hours and ate some local food and chilled to good music. A lot of the local kids where around playing soccer and wresting in the grass. It was good to be in this type of atmosphere bc it reminded me a lot more of what I thought South America looked like. I feel that BsAs is very European looking but this area was more of what most people know Latin America to look like (more third world). After 2 hours we decided to head home and get ready to go that night. When we started to leave we were walking on the sidewalk by some of the rundown building and I suddenly got this uneasy feeling in my body and had the urge to get off the sidewalk. I told the girls that I thought we should walk on the road until we got to the bus stop, and the girls not thinking anything of it went along with it. That night we got home safely.
The next day we met up with our friends that we had split up with at the concert. They told us they had been robbed at gun point the night before at the concert. We were shocked to hear what happen. When we asked where they had been robbed the girls said they were robbed right on the sidewalk before the bus stop. It was the exact spot where I had my uneasy feeling and said that we should move to the road. They said four men came out of one of the doorways with guns and caught them by surprise. They took everything they had with them. Our friends said right after they got robbed they went to the police that were close by and the police said they couldn’t do anything about it, and at that same time they witnessed another group of foreigners being robbed at the same spot. My girl friends and I were really taken back at this…I mean that could have been us. I really think God was watching out for us there. Being here in Argentina it’s been interesting to see how he communicates with us.
On a more athletic side of things my friend Hayley and I just joined the University of Belgrano soccer team. When we first got to Argentina her and I would always gather groups of people to play soccer in the park and then someone mentioned playing for the school and we thought it would be a fun thing to do. Little did we know how serious it was going to be. We went to our first practice Wednesday and it started out really easy and laidback. About 30 min after warming up a coach got there and made us run laps around the field and do sprints and dills for 2 hours, and at the end of that we scrimmage for a little while. All in all it was pretty fun, and I got to meet a lot of natives and girls from Ecuador. They all seemed really sweet, hopefully we`ll make a good team and be able to hangout too. The team in itself is made up of mainly international students, and we are all at different levels of playing... so we will see how the actual season goes. Our first game is this Saturday against another university…ill let you know how it goes.
I was really excited bc I told my house mom about me joining the team and she really wants to come watch…I think this represents a step up in our relationship, the fact that she wants to support me in the game and things that I’m interested in. I have been lucky bc most students tell me that they can defiantly see that their host families just have them there for the money and don’t really enjoy having student in the house, but my mom is different. I think she sincerely enjoys the company and getting involved in her student’s lives. The other day I got sick ( some kind of stomach problem) and she took really good care of me and would cook a totally different meal for me to make sure that I got better.
I really feel like a family with her and her daughter and Jessie my roommate. Every night we sit down for dinner at 9pm and talk about our day and what’s been going on in Argentina and then we talk about boys and fun topics. My house sister Maria is 30, and she just broke up with her boyfriend of 5 years, so now she is back on the playing field and she has started dating a new guy. Every night we get updates about their relationship and sometimes he even comes over to eat with the family.
My house mom is also single her husband died about 5 year ago of cancer. So she has been seeing this guy for the past two years but I talked to her the other day about him and she said that there was only one man for her and that was her husband…I can see that she still really misses her husband.
They are always asking me about my love life, but I always tell them that they guys here are not for me. They are very aggressive and only have one thing on their mind. I always tell her they are nice from far away but up close they are not so great. I enjoy living with all girls though it is defiantly a different type of lifestyle.





Thursday, 27 March 2008

Location: Purto Madryn, Argentina

Hola mis amigos,
Como andan? Espero que todo esten buenisimos para todos!!
Well...I know that I have done a horrible job in the last month, and no i'm not going to write about it all tonight, but I will give you the parafrased version just to keep you interested!!

Towards the end of march 20th or so....I went to Puerto Madryn for the weekend. Puerto Madryn is along the patagonian coast (Atlantic) twenty hours (by bus) south of BsAs. It is surrounded by absolutly nothing! the landscape is completely barren and extrememly dry. It really isnt that interesting aside from the fact that all you can see for miles and miles is nothing. Dry desert, small shrubs, tons of rabbits (european hare), guanco, and the occasional dirt road that I can't imagine runs anywhere in particular. The only real reason, in my opinion, to come here is to go to the Peninsula Valdes. The peninsula is a protected area for sea lions, penguins, whales, birds, armadillos, dolphins, and seals. Although we weren't there in the right season for whales, the rest of the animals were beautiful. I even saw an Orca (which by the way is actually a dolphin.) The town of Puerto Madryn is simple, small, and cute. The view of the ocean is incredible and they had a great eco-center that had information on all of the marine life in the area. We spent a day in town at the museum, a day at peninsula valdes, a day south in Punto tombo with the penguins and, a quick visit to Gaiman one of the original welsh colonies in patagonia. Very cool!!
Overall, I spent the majority of my time in a car...around 50 hours...for a 4 day trip. BUT the penguins were totally worth it. They are such fascinating animals...they appear totally clueless of whats going on around them. When among them there is an erie calmness as they all seem to be patiently waiting for something to happen. It takes them a long time to do anything, and when they do finally move it is the cutest most awkward movement. I think thats how I would sum up everything about a penguin, awkward. Although the driving was a huge bummer our mere 45 with the penguins was totally worth it!


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