I heard several times before I left that going on a study-abroad program for only a month was a very disorienting thing to do to yourself and I am now beginning to really understand why. I've done a ton of fun things here and had a blast almost the whole time but I spent the first couple weeks feeling slightly homesick. Every now and then, I would think about how great it was going to feel when I finally went home. Now, after about 4 weeks, I feel like I live here and I haven't thought much about going home at all recently; Now I'm going home in a week. I've gotten very used the the rhythm of things hear (which, arguably, is not that different from what I do at home: go to class in the mornings on weekdays, go out, drink, go into the city, go to concerts on weekends) and now I've got to go change it all up again.
As usual, new, exciting things happen every day. I've managed to play quite a bit of piano here recently. First, I found an entire music store district (mostly just one street, Sarmiento) downtown and practiced on a nice Yamaha upright until the owner tactfully kicked me out when he discovered I wasn't really there to buy a piano. I also recently discovered Vale's family has a piano and played on that for a while one day. Most importantly, I discovered via the internet an organization called Jazz Club Olivos that meets every Thursday at a bar/restaurant in San Isidro. The 'shows' are mostly impromptu jam sessions and I've been able to sit in on them the past three weeks and play a few tunes. I've always rolled my eyes when mom has called music the "international language" but it's really been true here. I can play music by ear with these guys easier than I can talk to them. It's been a perfect "jam session" experience. With all the new things I've experience here, I've used piano as a personal link to the familiarity of home.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
A lot has happened recently. We took a ferry to Colonia in Uruguay this weekend which was a nice change of pace. Colonia is a very small relaxed town and we had a a 75-80 degree beach visit the second day we were there. Last night I went with Tomas and some of his friends to a concert with a big percussion group called La Bomba. It was a very Folklife/Seattle kinda thing - lots of hippieish dancing and fitting substance and was a pretty good time. Also met Simon, a friend of a friend or something of Tomas' from England - a nice guy. He just got here and doesn't speak much Spanish so he was glad to meet me. About to go out tonight to Palermo to celebrate Mark's birthday/Nate's birthday/Nuevo de Julio (independence day). Check out fotos at http://www.facebook.com/photos.php?id=10735000#/album.php?aid=2282326&id=10735000. Until next time...
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Agh! I need more vegetables and less meat! It's pretty hard to eat a balanced diet around here when their are so many good meat options (milanesa de pollo, carne asada, etc.). I'm pretty settled into the rhythm of things now. Three strait hours of Spanish class Monday-Thursday can get a bit tiring (I've had trouble keeping my eyes open once or twice) but the teachers are doing a good job of keeping the material interesting and it's nice to have a bit of a schedule. I went to a party with Tomas last Thursday at an apartment in Palermo that turned out to be mostly inhabited by French students studying in Buenos Aires (his ex-girlfriend is French). It was pretty tough to keep up with things, particularly when conversations went back and forth between French and Spanish, but it was a fun and memorable night all things considered. It really made me feel like part of an exciting new international body of students. Learning French has moved a ways up my list of things to do sometime in my life. I also started talking to a French guy named Rafael about French rap (MC Solaar, for example, who, according the Rafael, is pretty old and not so popular anymore in France). He also plays drums and has a friend with a piano and we might meet up sometime to play music. I'm getting a bit more comfortable with Spanish; I was actually able to have an intelligent conversation for 20 or 30 minutes last night with Tomas about different music genres. Other notable things: I've got a cold, my camera seems on the verge of breaking, and I STILL have not found anyone with a piano I can play. But, all-in-all the trip is going great so far; Buenos Aires is beautiful (usually), people are amiable and easy to talk to, and there's more to do here than I could ever touch in a month
Thursday, June 26, 2008
The week so far has been pretty non-stop. I catch a train every morning at 8:45 near my house that takes me to La Universidad. I'm living in a sort of townhouse (it's part of a long line of similar houses) with Matilde, my host mom, her son Tomas who's 22 and speaks English very well, and Alberto, another visiting student from south of Buenos Aires I haven't talked to much. Matilde is great, very relaxed. I talk to her almost entirely in Spanish and she's been very accommodating of my few needs. I spend more time with Tomas and speak some English and some Spanish (there is certainly PLENTY of Spanish for me to speak around here). My first night (Saturday), I went with Tomas to his 18-year-old niece's birthday party at her house. I spent several very draining and disheartening hours stumbling through little simple conversations in Spanish. Since then, It's gotten a lot better as I learn some of the differences between Mexican and Argentinian Spanish and get used to common phrases and listening to people talk. It also helps that I've been spending more time with other kids in the program (including 3 from Harvard) during the week so I can relax and speak some English. A bunch of us went to a tango class last night recommended by another student's family and it turned out it was taught by my host mom's daughter (small world around here). It was fun and a "cultural experience" I suppose but I think I'm just going to go back next week and take pictures of everyone else happily having no idea what they're doing. I have a few pictures, but nothing very good yet, so next time...
Monday, June 23, 2008
I've now been in Argentina for a few days. Actually, today was the first day at Universidad de San Andres, which is very nice, comfortable (probably because it seems very American; it reminds me of Lakeside and Seattle Prep) and I'm sure will be a great place to study Spanish. On another note, there's a nice running path two blocks from my house and I'm making a point of running at least once every other day. The weather's perfect for it, very fresh and usually clear (so far) and it's a great way to observe some things. Every time I go outside, I can't help feeling like I'm in Seattle in October or November and I get these nostalgic flashbacks of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Little League Soccer games, Husky football games, etc. Part of it is the weather (chilly and crisp) but I think most of it is the smells. There's a row of Maple trees outside my house and the smell of their falling, decaying leaves is very familiar (I actually had to pick one up and smell it to decide if that's what it really was). There's also a fair amount of mud and wet grass/foliage with has a certain Seattle-like smell. I find myself lost for words and unable to understand quick speaking more often than not but I'm getting adjusted. I'm sure things will come more naturally in a week or two.