Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Return to My Two Motherlands!!!!


This past weekend I went back to Santiago Chile to see all my family and friends there one more time before I come back to the states. I´ll take it for it granted that you´re going to ask me how it went, so I´ll just save time and answer right now.


I landed in Santiago at 9pm and was picked up by my best friends Claudio and Ely. After lots of screaming and hugs, we went back to Ely´s house. They made fun of my accent because I was talking like an Argentinian instead of a Chilean....seriously, it´s really different. It took me the whole week to get my Chilean accent back. That night we had dinner and stayed up until midnight which was the beginning of Ely´s birthday.


Ely, Martina (Ely´s 5 yr old daughter) and I climbed to the top of Cerro Santa Lucia and saw the huge statue of the Virgen Mary. I bought a sticker and a patch of the mapuche (natives of chile).

Then, I surprised my host family with an unexpected visit and talked with them for a few hours. At night, a bunch of people from Ely´s family came over for her birthday dinner and afterwards we went dancing.


I woke up early and climbed Cerro Santa Lucia by myself and left something there for someone who means the absolute world to me. This person will study in Chile next semester and I miss this person so incredibly much. If you are reading this, and you know who you are, I want to tell you that you are an amazing person and can´t wait to see you again.

Then, I met up with Natacha who is a friend from my old philosophy and states classes in Chile. It was great to see her. After a whole bunch of stories, I gave her the argentinean jersey that she asked for and she gave my a hand-made statue of the Virgen Mary which she painted herself.

Then, I went to the house of my friend Cecy. I met her when I was in Chile because she studies english and will come to study at Loyola next fall. I talked to her mom and got the point across that Loyola is amazing and incredibly safe. Cecy is 20 yrs. old and has a boyfriend, from the US, who lives in Delaware. He´s 21. Big shock to me......she told me that they got engaged last Christmas! I know you have lots of questions, but I don´t know too much because I was just stunned and couldn´t think of any questions to ask her.

At night, I met up with Claudio, Ely and another good friend Pia. We went out dancing and had a good time.
These guys are my best best friends in Chile!!!!!!!!!

Claudio- (Right of me)I consider him a best friend/older brother. He´s 21 and is studying two majors at the same time in the communications department of Diego Portales...a great university in Santiago. I met him through Ely, his cousin. He took me twice to the house of his grandparents which you could compare to the "farm" without the river. He also went to Uruguay with me a few months ago.

Ely-(Second from right)I seriously consider her my older sister. She´s a goof ball just like me and is always good for a laugh. She has a beautiful 5 year old daughter named Martina who goes to Pre-K and everyday learns english. Ely is dating a guy who goes to Boston College and studied with me in Chile last semester. I met Ely because she was the host sister of Hanna who was a part of my program in Santiago.

Pia-(Furthest right)I would also consider her an older sister/good friend. She is Ely´s neighbor and studies design. She always comes out with us and even went to the chilean "farm" with us twice. She´s always laughing and is incredibly caring.


I was able to see my friend Valeria (studies english at my chilean university) for about an hour in the morning. She´s coming to the US (Wisconsin) on December 3rd and will work for a few months. She usually comes to the US once a year. Then, I went to mass with my host family and had lunch with them. It was like I never left the house. It was incredible.

Saying good-bye to everyone was extremely hard but I promised that I would return...when that will be, I don´t know....I will go back.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Shouldn't Play Baseball

Let's start with the first day of spring in Buenos Aires:
September 21:
I helped kids in the villa (Ciudad Oculta) with homework as part of the LIFE organization, but since it was the first day of spring, we also made butterflies, flowers, hearts, and many other things out of construction paper. I love being the coordinator of this site because I get to know all of the kids, and they all get to know me. Everytime a kid I recognize walks in the door of the soup kitchen, it puts a big smile on my face because they are usually happy to see me. This day I talked with one of the women who works at the soup kitchen. All of her kids come to work with us and she has been cooking for about 150 everyday for the past 4 years. She is an incredible woman with a heart of gold.
That night I bought the speedo of by Buenos Aires water polo team.

September 24:
I went to the Immigrations building in the morning to work out everything for my student visa (even though I don't need it...that's a whole other story). I give all of my papers to the guy at the window and he tells me that I'm missing a paper from the university. I show him my USAL id that I picked up a few days before, but he still told me that I missing a paper. A lady from the university was there and came over. She told me I was missing the paper also. I told her when I went the office a few days ago, the director did not give me any paper. Hearing this, the lady tells me that I didn't understand. I literally wanted to knock her out. Being told that I don't understand something in spanish, when I clearly do, gets me so fired up. So I stormed out of the building and went to the university. I ask my director, who gave me my id a few days before, for my paper and she looks at me like I've never come in the office before and that I'm irresponsable for not picking up the paper beforehand. I take the paper and skidaddle. Then back at immigrations, strike two is called. The worker tells me that one of my argentinean passport stamps is not recorded in the computer, so I have to talk to another worker. The lady from the university comes over and the worker tells her the problem. For some reason, this lady explains the problem to me for a second time. (I'm speaking spanish to these people, but they assume that I don't understand spanish). I go with the lady to another part of the building to talk to another worker, and I strike out looking. The worker tells me that the passport isn't in the computer so I have to come back in a week to see if the system has been updated and recognizes my stamp. So I'm sent to the dug-out without even taking the bat off my shoulder because I am told that I don't understand the game. I hate when people make me feel like I'm less than them.

That night, the jungle adventure began.

4 peeps from England, 2 from Australia, 2 from Canada, 2 from the US, and one argentine coordinator

Aw right mate, let's hit it!

So we were all super excited to get on the bus, but it decides to come two hours late. (Buses here are not like planes, you are not notified if your bus is late.) However, everyone in the group is awesome and when we do get on the bus, we discovery that we got the best class available! After a great night of sleep, we arrive in Monte Carlo Friday at 2pm. (Yes, it has a Monte Carlo casino, but trust me it's no Monte Carlo.) As everyone goes to drop off their bags at the hotel, I stay with all the equipment where the bus dropped us off. As I'm waiting, I meet a lady from the village that we'll be working at which is about a half hour away. Her name is Rosita and is a grandmother at the age of 28! After everything gets settled, we go to the town (Peruti). It's seriously my dream come true! We had to drive through a forest to get there, and the town is gorgeous. The roads are made of dirt (they only have roads for the people that come to help them), the houses are made of scraps of wood and metal sheeting, and there is greenery everywhere. We are greeted by a whole bunch of women and children that seemed to come out of nowhere. We played with the kids for the rest of the day and served them chocolate milk and cookies, but there's a catch! We need to boil the water and there's no stove. So we make a fire and boil a huge pot of water over it. I couldn't believe it! This has been the kind of place that I've wanted to work at for the past few years. Saturday and Sunday, we worked ourselves to the bone, getting to the village at 9:30am and leaving at 7:30pm. Saturday, we cooked rice and eggs for 200 people and also served milk and cookies again at night. Then Sunday, we cooked over 350 hamburgers in nearly 100 degree heat and again served milk and cookies at night. The other activities consisted of delicing the children, giving out clothes, soap and toothpaste, a quick tour of the village, cleaning thousands of cups and plates, and making 100 balloon swords for the kids. At the end of each day, we all were extremely exhausted, but the experience really brought us close together.

The last three days of the trip we went to Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian side and the Argentinean side and we also went to the black market in Paraguay. Everyone considered me the leader of group because I could speak pretty good spanish and...well I don't know why but I acted as the tour guide and made sure that no one got lost (PS Out of all of us, I was the youngest!)

On the way home on the bus, I got in a verbal to dispute with the workers on the bus because...well that's a story I'll tell in person.

Anywho, it was the best trip I've been on in Argentina and working in that village has definitely left it's mark.

Jump to October 11:
I ran in the Buenos Aires Marathon 42km/26.2 miles.
Ok, that's enough talking about that...painful memories.

Last weekend, I went to go see my host brother in a professional clown show. It was a bunch of little scenes down by modern clowns (not the ones in the circus). They are absolutely hilarious. My favorite scene was of two male nuns who when they made the sign of the cross they would play rock, papers, scissors with the people of the Holy Trinity. So instead of rock, paper, scissors it was Father, Son, Holy Spirit. I literally almost peed myself laughing.

So, I left a lot of things of done out of this post because obviously I don't feel like typing a lot and because I want to keep some stories to tell face to face. Everything is going well with school and I CAN'T WAIT TO COME HOME! Seriously, I want to come home right now!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What the heck is that?....That's our party bus!!!

Last Friday, I met up with my best Chilean friend, Claudio, at the airport in Buenos Aires to go to Uruguay. There are many ways to get to Montevideo, Uruguay from Buenos Aires, but obviously we picked the cheapest way....plane. Our flight lasted a grand total of 25 minutes....I don't think we even got up to full altitude. It felt like as soon as we took off...we landed. Once we got into Montevideo, we changed our money into Uruguayan pesos. ((I paid for Claudio's plane ticket with my debit card and Claudio paid me back in US dollars. It was the first time I've seen a dollar in nine months.............another crazy fact....I haven't spoken a full day of english in 9 months!!!)) Claudio and I took a cab from the airport to our hostel, and the #?*%$# taxi driver ripped us off. I was so confused by the conversion rate that I didn't notice at first. He charged us $50US, when it should cost half that. However, we stayed in a really incredible hostel....$12 for 3 nights/each. The ladies that worked there were incredibly helpful and understanding...definitely the best hostel that I've ever been too. Our first two days in Uruguay, we walked around Montevideo and the beaches. It seemed like I was in Europe....I've never been to Europe but that's the feeling I got...haha. The first day, we ate at an incredible place that cooked your food on a huge grill right in front of you...it was awesome.

Sunday, we went to Punta del Este, Uruguay with two Brazilians that we met the night before named Eriston and Juliano. Neither of them could speak spanish, but Eriston could speak English. I finally found out how similar are Portuguese and Spanish. I had a rough time understanding it, but Claudio could understand them. Reading Portuguese is a lot easier for me. At Punta del Este, we enjoyed the day walking along the beach and learning about Brazil from our Brazilian friends.

We got back Monday.

I've been studying all week, so I figured I needed a break....so I decided to go dancing with the people I work with at LIFE. The plan was to meet up at a bar and then we would be taken to club. On the ticket I had it said to be at the bar at 10:30pm....so what time do I get there? 10:15pm....No one I know got there until 11pm. I actually almost left because I didn't think they were going to come. Three of them will be going with me to Misiones on Thursday. So we go into the bar and wait until we are taken to the club....we all heard rumors about a train/bus thing, but none of us were sure. We just talked and got to know each other which was really cool, but everyone was getting tired at 1am and the bus thing hadn't come yet. The thing came at about 2am. The best way to describe it is a bus/train thing. It looked like the back of a school bus was put onto the front of a train and it was covered in lights with a picture of Spiderman on the front. We all got on the bus and reggaeton music started to play. It was really insane....we danced in the bus all the way to the club. I can't imagine what the people that saw us last night thought when they saw us go by......oh I know...."That's so cool!"...haha. After about an hour, we get to the club and the energy just continued. The music was great and we just had a blast. I went to bed at 6am.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nan Is Buying Me a Tattoo for Christmas

First of all, somehow I convinced Nan that she should pay for me to get a tattoo.....she caved pretty easily. I'm thinking about getting a water polo ball, but instead of it being yellow it'll look like a globe with North and South America to represent that I've played water polo in 2 continents (3 countries). I want to get it on my hip where the speedo simple is on a speedo.

Second of all...school. Nothing new really, I have to read a lot and for some reason one class was cancelled for three weeks in a row. I don't ask questions, I just listen to the Argentines.

Third of all....wopo. I had two games last week and my total playing time is a whopping 0 seconds. In the first game, when my coach told me to go in after a goal, I started to swim to the line and the ref kicked me out of the entire game......his explanation was that it wasn't a goal, so there was no stoppage in play. Apparently I entered the game incorrectly, and got kicked out of the game for it......that's what I call "Ref makin' up rules." In the second game, the coach never told me to go in. He looked at me a million times, but never said a word to me. I was the only one who didn't get to play. If they gave me just one chance, they would see how good I am, but they still haven't given me that chance.

Fourth of all...I joined an organization called LIFE....www.lifeargentina.org. Every Monday and Friday, I go to a really poor community and help a group of kids with homework, math, language, coloring and having fun. Yesterday, I taught Soledad how to divide, Alexander how to multiply two-digit numbers, and Cristo how to spell. I absolutely love the program.
With LIFE at the end of September, I will go to the Misiones region of Argentina to work with the Guarani (an indigenous tribe) for three days and then I will get to visit Brazil and Paraguay with the organization. Usually, US citizens need a visa which costs $150 just to enter these two countries, but since I'm with LIFE....I ENTER FO' FREE!!!!

Fifth of all....tango. I went to see a few competitions of tango and I'm pretty sure I would break my legs and my partner's legs if I tried to dance it....will that stop me? OF COURSE NOT!!!

I hope everyone is enjoying the end of summer as I hate...haha...the end of winter here....I can't wait 'til spring. Love you all and see you in 77 days!!! The countdown begins!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

3-Tooth Willy

First of all, my mom informed me that I should put up the times of my classes. PS I'm an hour ahead of the east coast right now.

Monday: 6pm-9:15pm Argentinean History (Yeah, sucks!!!)

Tuesday: 3:30pm-5:30pm Tango

Wednesday: 2:30pm-4:30pm Tango Outing (We go to a show or watch a movie)
6pm-8:15pm Spanish Language

Thursday: 10:25am-12noon Basic Processes IV
1:30pm-4:15pm Argentinean Literature

Friday: Nothin'

Just to let all of you know, I've found a club where I can play water polo. It's called Gym and Fencing of Buenos Aires. To become a member, I need to get a health certificate from an Argentinean clinic. We'll see how that goes...because Argentina has universal health care. I went there today and they told me to come back tomorrow.

Getting your books here for classes is way cheaper than in the US because there aren't any copyright laws. All the texts are photocopied for the students. This is awesome, but it's a pain in the butt to actually get the copies. First, you need to find the photocopy place that the teacher uses and then wait until they have time to copy the materials. The first month of class is usually hectic because sometimes it takes awhile to get them.

Walking in Buenos Aires is like going through an obstacle course. First of all, there are 15 million people in Bs As. Second of all, there are the dangerous obstacles....the old ladies with broad shoulders, the millions of windowshoppers, the broken sidewalk, random construction, dog poop (seriously there's a lot), the people that hand out flyers (at almost every corner), the random liquid that drips from the apartments, the biggest pigeons I've ever seen in my life, the dogwalkers that are literally getting walked themselves, the runners, the bikers, the newsstands every 15 feet, and so on......I'm just saying that walking to school is at times interesting and frustrating.

So I guess you wanna know who's 3-Tooth Willy....well he's my history teacher. First of all, I'm going to say that he's incredibly smart and a great guy. Ok...so usually I can understand the majority of people that speak in spanish, but he's not in the majority. He's got three teeth and by the looks of it, at the end of the semester he won't have any. Remember....he's a great teacher...no joke! The way he talks and the sounds he makes with his mouth are just incomprehendable. I can get like 70% of what he's saying at times, but that's when he's talking clearly. Oh...I forgot....he has his doctorate for history, so he's Dr. 3-Tooth Willy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School

So I've tested out all the classes that I was interested in, and I've made my decision on the five classes that I'm going to take:

Argentine Literature (with 5 other foreigners)
Tango (with 10 other foreigners)
Spanish Language (with 2 other foreigners and 12 argentineans)
Argentine History (???)
Basic Processes IV (with 30 argentineans)

Basic processes is a psychology class for the second semester of the second year for psychology majors in Argentina. What am I doing taking the course? I have no idea...but seriously for my Global Studies major this class should be able to count for one of the requirements. At first it was a little overwhelming because I sat there surrounded by 30 argentine students, the professor and the auxillary teacher. However, everyone was really nice to me, even though it's hard for them to say my name.

I tried the class called International Negotiation but I didn't like it because it was pretty much a business class. I don't see myself as a businessman.

Everyone one of my classes meets once a week for about two hours and I have fridays off. Also, I don't have class on Mondays until 8pm, so I almost have a 4 day weekend every week. :)

I miss all of you so much!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Travelling in Argentina

The last few weeks I haven't been doing much. I was running almost everyday, but I developed shin splints so I've had to take some time off. A few of my classes have started and I love my class called Spanish Language because it is teaching me the little nuances of Spanish Grammar. It's a really difficult class, but it's great. I've also attended my Tango class and my Argentine Literature class. I will have started all of my classes by the end of next week. My classes seem really interesting now and I hope they stay that way. I'm really excited to go to my International Negotiation class tomorrow.

This past weekend I went to the waterfalls of Iguazu in the north of Argentina. I had an absolute blast. I went on a beautiful day and I took some great pics...they are all on facebook. I even went on a boat that went under the water falls and in the devil's throat (nickname for one part of the falls). I also went to the Jesuit ruins in San Ignacio. There, I was able to walk around a former village built by the indigenous people and the Jesuits. It was so incredible that I was left speechless. You really feel that you are standing in a holy place. A great movie about the Jesuits in South America is called "The Mission" starring Robert DeNiro.

To do list:
Open bank account to avoid all the fees from my bank in the US
Plan trip to Chile
Plan trip to Machu Picchu
Go to Montevideo, Uruguay with my Chilean friend
See a Tango show
Go to the theatre
Watch the Brazil vs Argentina World Cup Game on September 5th