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  • Writer's pictureAl G

Welcome to Argentina

Updated: Nov 19, 2022

tldr: adjusting to Argentina, meeting the girls in my program + host mom, exploring on my own, micro-aggressions

TLDR: too long didn't read. I will include this at the top of my blog entry every week! I understand. We are all busy. I appreciate you all taking the time to even read just a couple entries of my blog! Scroll down for the quick links mentioned in my blog.

 

The clouds still have not yet cleared, but the jubilant birds are chirping in the background as I sit here in my host mom's living room, looking out at the beautiful garden. It's been less than a week since I have arrived in Argentina, but it's felt like almost two weeks considering how much I've packed in throughout every....single....moment....here in this NEW continent (but for those who know me, are you surprised?).

The view on a sunny day from my host family's house! She has a garden and a painting studio in the back left!

Before I get into it, let me run it back.....all the way back to August 24th when I arrived in the EZE airport. Oh so long ago!!!


After taking a 10 hour red-eye that was surprisingly smooth, very easy, AND comfortable (I slept almost the entire time and customs were a breeze!), I collected my luggage and met the group of 16 girls for the first time! It was all quite the whirlwind meeting so many people at once and sharing our life stories while also talking in Spanish and being on a whole new continent! We took a very nice bus (about 45 minutes) to the hotel in Recoleta (a very nice neighborhood in the city) and checked our bags.





We all were assigned roommates for the first two nights/three days in the hotel, because the program wanted us to settle in and adjust. At first, I was skeptical, but in retrospect, I actually really enjoyed this part of the orientation. Adjusting to a new city let alone a new country in general with 16 new people is enough on its own! My roommate Cece and I were assigned to a room that had a balcony looking out into the famous Recoleta Cemetery where Eva Perón along with other notable Argentine presidents and noble peace prize winners are buried! We went to lunch at this very quaint restaurant called Pani Bistro. I was feeling adventurous and in full tourist mode and made the rookie mistake of eating 3 different kinds of meat in one meal....let's just say that from that moment on, I have continued to try to remain as vegetarian as possible (except I do need to try the churripan - chorizo and bread sandwich, as everyone is telling me that I need to try it to get the full Argentine experience). We finished off the night by having a lovely celebratory dinner at Buller that has a rooftop that overlooks the entire city!

Over the next two days we had orientation where we talked about group standards, our classes, and we had individual check-in's with the academic directors. I'm extremely excited to hopefully pursue an internship in the barrio china (Chinatown) in Buenos Aires, because I really want to continue to explore this intersection as a personal and academic discovery: what is the lived experience of being Chinese in Buenos Aires? Although I have only been in Buenos Aires for less than a week, I have definitely experienced many micro-aggressions thus far. I am not surprised; however, that does not change how I feel in the moment when they happen. Many people speak to me in English or doubt my Spanish abilities, since I am Chinese. At times, it is very frustrating and makes me doubt my own Spanish fluency, but I understand that unfortunately no matter how hard I try, I can not change other's perception of me. Therefore, I am choosing to focus my energy in other places, such as meeting new people, getting to know those in my SIT group, and my host family!

 

Speaking of host family....on Friday, I met my host mom and her daughter (my host sister!) I played with my host sister's dog--Pipoca--and had a wonderful dinner with the family. My host mom is an artist and has a huge backyard with so many trees and plants, which makes me so happy because I love spending time in nature. I find it so grounding to wake up and come downstairs to such a beautiful view!! I feel so grateful - I really like my host family and I'm in such a convenient location. I am right next to a gym, supermarket, laundry mat and a vegetarian restaurant!

Pipoca, my host sister's dog!

Over the weekend, I adjusted to living with my host family and spent most of the day unpacking and settling in. Then, the entire group went to an aerial dance class! If you know me, you know I absolutely love to dance and learn new styles of dance. Although I don't dance with a team or competitively, I consider dancing to be an incredibly meditative experience for me. I always feel most in touch with my mind body spirit when I dance on my own or with others. Dancing allows me to drop into an intimate vulnerable space of my own where I can really express myself authentically! The next day, I went to a "Bar Notable" in Buenos Aires with my host mom! Bar Notables are famous cafes in the city that have extreme cultural and historical importance to the city! I chose to go to Montecarlo in the neighborhood of Palermo. We had a coffee or in Spanish nosotros tomamos un cafe. In Argentina, "to have a coffee" at a café like Montecarlo is extremely different than the United States. For Argentinians, if you ask someone to "tomar un cafe," it is more than just a coffee and work session or a quick stop along the road. Many have a coffee after work at 5 or 6 pm in the afternoon and "merendar" (have a snack), as Argentinians don't eat until 9 or 10pm (similar to the eating schedule in Spain). While having coffee, Argentinians make sure to take their time and truly enjoy the time spent with one another!

A quick history lesson about Montecarlo! Montecarlo was founded in 1922 and is known for having the biggest cups of coffee in the city! In addition, the political activist and historical figure Che Guevara went there every afternoon to tomar un cafe and read! Montecarlo used to be a general store before 1922 and then it turned into a cafe. However, only men were allowed in the restaurant/bar! Montecarlo closed during the pandemic, but then it was re-opened by a famous chef (Paula Comparatore).
Cortado outside of Montecarlo

After taking time to enjoy Montecarlo, I went to BADA, a famous art festival and exhibition of local artists in Buenos Aires (and from also other locations as well!). I spent 5 hours, passing through over 180 exhibits and talking with the artists as well!


The next day I had my first day of classes (#FDOC!). I went to my university that I'm studying at with the program and we had a "Week in review," where we go through our agenda for the week. I'm extremely excited about the emphasis in experiential learning, as I believe this is an incredibly important part of truly immersing yourself into a new culture! Finally, I had my intensive Spanish class (we are split into 3 groups based on skill and our past experience with Spanish classes) at the University of San Martin. For this class, we will have a professor directly from the University teach us (for the other classes, we have teachers directly from our SIT program).

Art from BADA

All in all, I have loved my time thus far in Argentina. Although there are some challenges, such as being the only Chinese/Asian person in my group and navigating the city as a Chinese woman, I have truly really enjoyed exploring! I already figured out the public transportation system (I have to take the bus or in Argentinian Spanish colectivo every day to class!) Finally, it's been so nice to connect with my dear friend Luis Cordero from Davidson College, who is traveling for the Watson Fellowship for one year. He just happens to be in Argentina at the same time, so we have been able to hang out, so it's been so nice to explore the city and spend time with him as well! I am looking forward to what this next week brings. Settling in and creating routine is always the hardest part I believe, but I have faith that in a couple of weeks, I'll have my routine down! I'm super excited to continue to embark upon this chapter with you all. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and until the next time!! ¡Hasta pronto! <3



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genagarner
Sep 03, 2022

Hi, Alice! knowing you as I do, I’m sure you are jamming in every last thing to do there! Full speed ahead!! I also know how much you love, love to dance and that appeared to be swing dancing! 😃 Enjoying your posts! Thank you for taking us along!

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