Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tigre, etc

So, blogging is harder then they make it seem.  To make up for the three week gap in entries, this entry will include PICTURES! A treat, I know. 

Since my last post, several things have happened.  First, I started school.  The system here is actually pretty similar to the system at New College, in other words, extremely confusing to everyone (except me!  Thanks, NCF!).  Registration actually takes place over the course of the first two weeks of classes.  In that time, you can add, drop, and attend however many classes you want.  At the end of the two weeks registration is closed and you must choose which ones you want to keep for the semester.  This system, though allowing for more flexibility and an opportunity to "test" which classes you're thinking of taking, causes extreme confusion when it comes to assigning and completing assignments, as well as the purchasing of books.  Interestingly enough, you do not buy textbooks here.  Since copyright laws are a little looser, you simply order photocopies of everything you need and the university compiles in into a nifty little spiral-bound notebook called a "cuadranillo" (which is very difficult to pronounced with an Argentine accent).  But I digress.  I was pretty lucky in that I was able to get all the courses I originally wanted, including a course called Advanced Oral Production (I know, the joke possibilities are endless) which was very difficult to get into given its limited class size.  Along with that, I'm also taking Latin American Literature and Latin American Film (both taught in Spanish) and Gender History (which is in English).  Gender history and literature are interesting in that the course material has begun to overlap - I was actually assigned to read the same poem for both classes!  But the approach they topics from different angles, and I love how complete a picture I am getting from having both courses.

Second, last weekend ISA took us to a neighboring town outside of Buenos Aires called Tigre.  Tigre is a compilation of several small islands connected by narrow inlets that people zip around on in their boats.  A little like Venice, but far more suburban.  The river, also called Tigre, appears to be severally polluted but merely contains the runoff of the red clay on the banks that are farther north than the town.  The result can be seen:

At least, that what I was told.  I did spot another dead fish floating, so I am a little skeptical as to whether that story is true or not.

More pictures of Tigre:

 When we first got there they took us on a boat tour through some of the canals and at one point turned of onto a more isolated inlet.  Breathing the fresh air there made me realize how gross city air is!
This was a historic building that they chose to protect by surrounding it with fiberglass.

 Also in Tigre is a fair with lots of things for sale.  They have clothes, jewelry, little knick-knacks, linens, anything!  And everything was much cheaper than in the city. 
A fancy claw machine with plenty of knock-off merchandise.
 After the boat tour and spending some time in the market, we took a bus to a restaurant next to a field on the bay.  There were lots of sailboats out on the water and the skyline was visible to the right of the field.  After enjoying submarinos (hot milk with chocolate bars melted in) and pastries, we were given some time to enjoy the weather and the view.

Buenos Aires skyline.

Local hooligans throwing rocks.  Who knows why?

Luckily for us it was a little warmer this day, so this was far more pleasant than originally expected!  All in all a lovely day.

More on local food, customs, and cultural differences in the next post!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

¡Hola, y bienvenidos a mi nuevo "blog" para recordar mis adventuras in Buenos Aires, Argenitna! Hello, and welcome to my new blog for sharing my adventures in Buenos Aires! It's the end of my second day here and, needless to say, I'm exhausted.  My flight arrived yesterday around 10:30 AM and after meeting up with ISA, the other students and I were taken to the University of Belgrano where our host families were instructed to pick us up.  After a brief car ride with my new host father José, we arrive at the house.  The description provided by ISA said the house was two stories, but in reality it's three.  The bottom floor has the laundry room, a small bathroom, and a in-home doctor's office for my host mother, Alicia.  The second floor, which for all intents and purpose is the first floor, has the living room, a library, the kitchen, a dining room, and another bathroom.  The third floor has the bedrooms, all of which are occupied with foreign exchange students from various programs.  My ISA roommate Georgia is across the hall, and another girl lives further back.  Across the backyard of the house is the guest house, which has two bedrooms, a kitchen, and three guys living in it.  On top of the guest house is a gorgeous terrace, but it's too cold now to make any good use of it.  The family also has an ADORABLE kitty named Mumi! Mumi is a friendly Siamese kitty who likes to sleep with all the different students each night  She is too cute!

After arriving at the house, I had to turn right back around again and go to the ISA office for the first part of orientation.  When I got back home, I had a chance to unpack and relax for the rest of the evening.  This morning, though, I had to go to another building owned building owned by ISA for a more thorough orientation.  After a lunch of empanadas, we all hopped on a bus for a four-hour city tour.  The European influence on the city is incredibly apparent, from architecture to street fashion to the goods sold in outdoor markets.  So far I've noticed some striking differences from the United States:
1) when driving, no one stays in their lane.  Or any lane for that matter.  There may as well not be white lines on the road at all
2) stoplights don't seem to matter
3) nor do crosswalks.  Do NOT expect cars to stop for you.  If you don't see them and are about to step in front of them, they still will only honk their horns.  Terrifying.
4) everyone lets their dog poop on the sidewalk and NO ONE picks up after them.
5) homeless can build little lean-to shelters with mattresses and stuff and the city doesn't seem to mind

And now I'm too tired to think of a good way to end this post.