Primeras Impresiones

2 Mar

Hola Everyone!
Buenos Aires, Argentina. BUENOS AIRES. I’m finally here. After three years of wishing, working, worrying, and waiting, I’ve made it, and I can’t believe it! Honestly, each of these last four days I have woken up, sat out on our patio (overlooking a huge portion of my barrio), and just marveled at that fact alone. I guess this is what it would feel like to wake up to Christmas Day over and over again…
Ok, well enough of that. I know I went a little overboard there, but with a paragraph at least you get some idea of how excited I am haha. Like I implied above, I am living on the 9th floor of an apartment building in Barrio Norte. However, like I just learned yesterday, the official name of my barrio is actually Recoleta; Barrio Norte is just the common name people give to this specific region of the neighborhood because it’s a big business hot-spot. If that weren’t confusing enough, Barrio Norte actually spans the northern part of both Recoleta and Palermo (another official neighborhood to the left). So, depending on how you put it, I’m simultaneously part of two neighborhoods, while technically a part of neither, and all along officially recognized by the government as being in just one- oh ambiguities lol. Anyway, as I predicted, I am in a small, but quaint apartment. The way it is set up, I have a tiny room off to one side behind the kitchen with just enough space for a twin bed and a mini-desk. It’s nice though because I feel like I’m almost separate from the rest of the unit, and I’m very satisfied! My in-house family consists of my mom ( ~60), her daughter (27), her niece (23), and her German Sheppard (15). They’re all very kind but not the extremely warm, affectionate type everyone describes Latin Americans as (especially not the dog, who barks at me constantly for no reason…). However, to their defense, they’ve had many students before, so I bet they have been a bit jaded and are starting off on more the defensive side. In any case, I have really gotten to know my mother, and each day I feel I become a little more integrated into the family. Aside from those in the apartment, three other siblings live outside the nest: an older sister and two older brothers. I’ve met all of them over dinner one night but still know very little. All in all, I think this will be a perfect family. If I want to go out with my brothers, I’m welcome to, and if I want to go hang with American friends, it’s just the same- a potentially amazing balance. Of course, in both cases, I won’t be back before 8 a.m., but then again, as every Argentine has told me, that’s just the way of life.

Now let’s move on to the academic/program side of things. As of right now, IFSA and its crew of professors and advisors have greatly surpassed all of my expectations. Speaking of good impressions, at the airport all the main directors met us and helped us tug luggage off of the carousels, exchange money, and call taxis to take us to our host families. During this time, the 65-70 year old head-honcho Mario greeted each of us individually, all names memorized from one passport picture (and we’re talking 150 students). Additionally, almost all names were pronounced perfectly, mine included-you can imagine my surprise! These first few days we’ve spent almost the entire time in orientation. The days are long, but the material is essential and everything well-organized. Class scheduling follows next week, and I’m a little worried because the system here couldn’t be more complicated. However, we each get our own personal advisor, so I’m sure it will all work out. Nothing really more to say about school right now. Regarding the other students though, I’m pleased. There are people from all backgrounds, but most are friendly and pretty open-minded. My only complaint is that at the moment Spanish seems to be secondary to meeting each other (God-forbid our first impression of someone are his or her errors in Spanish) . We all speak it within our orientation stuff (it’s mandatory). However, the moment we take our first steps outside the building, I feel right back in the USA. I do realize this is not a “total immersion” program, and many have never had to speak Spanish outside the classroom. Additionally, it IS very difficult communicating solely in a foreign language: constant translation is exhausting, sarcasm is nonexistent, etc. But guess what? We’re here for a semester, and unless you don’t really want to make progress with your Spanish, you’re delaying the inevitable. Also, I promise you that the transition into the culture will be so much easier only speaking the language. Anyway, it is only week one, and I’m sure many will switch over soon. And if they don’t, I guess I’ll just be spending a lot more time with my family and native Argentines. I know I sound a bit harsh, but I didn’t spend thousands of dollars to make only minute improvements in my Spanish.

That’s really all I have at this point. Well actually, I could comment on a million other things I’ve already noticed, but then I feel the rest of my blogs would turn into me just listing my daily activities, and I would lose readers lol. Instead, my goal is to give a brief weekly update on how I am doing, and then focus more on some original or interesting aspect of the culture. I assure you that there are plenty! With that, I hope you are all well and somehow managing to survive without me 😉

Hasta pronto.

P.S. I ask that everyone that reads my blogs lists some comment, even if only a few words. I’m curious to hear what you all think- Muchas gracias!

P.P.S The earthquake that hit Chile was hardly felt here.  I actually just remember being woken up by a slight movement and thinking it was a dream.  However, my prayers do go out to the country and the families affected.


4 Responses to “Primeras Impresiones”

  1. Jill Churchill March 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    Sounds like you are starting out well! I understand what you mean about the constant translating. It is very exhausting. When I was in France, I felt like I had run a marathon each day. Living with a host family can be challenging at times, but I have great memories that I still laugh about 25 years later. Enjoy! Can’t wait to hear more.


  2. Erin Linedecker March 3, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    Hey Remy!
    I know this is totally random, but I was thinking about the earthquake in Chile today and then I remembered you said you were in Argentina, (or someone told me, I can’t remember). Just now I am doing some spanish homework and I saw that argentina and chile are right next to each other (my geography skills suuuck haha) and I thought oh no! So I checked your fb and saw this blog and sat here and read through the whole thing to make sure you were alright. I’m glad you’re okay though! And have a great trip, I’m so incredibly jealous of all the opportunities you have taken!!
    Oh! And I totally agree with you on the speaking Spanish all the time, you are wasting your money if you don’t immerse yourself in the culture. SO I totally understand your point on that one.
    Have a good trip!
    P.S. Let me know how being gone a whole semester is, I’ve been seriously thinking about that.

  3. Joe March 12, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Hey R,

    I am behind in catching up with your blog! Way to go with making progress with your family. And I think it’s important to be as completely Argentine as possible on the trip – clubs, timetables, and language! =)

  4. Don & Angie May 14, 2010 at 3:57 am #

    It’s great to hear about your experience. We hope you’re having a great time.

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