Once again I am coming out of hiding, this time to close out the blog and there is a lot to say. I finished the semester, so I am officially a rising senior! My friends traveled home, and my family came to visit me over the past two weeks. I showed them around the city and revisited the sights that I have seen throughout these five months. To name a few, el Obelisco, la Boca, Tigre, and Puerto Madero. We also ate empanadas with my host mom at the apartment I have called my home.
The rest of my family welcomed me at the airport after our eleven-hour flight. As shocking as it is to hear so many people speaking English, I feel right at home. Being away for so long has made me appreciate things that I didn’t before. People say that study abroad changes your life, and it is true. This experience has encouraged me to take a major step outside of my comfort zone and I hope that my blog inspires you to do the same. Thank you for reading and an extra thank you to those who have been there for me through it all.
I am taking a break from my seemingly never-ending final assignments to come out of hiding. The past couple weeks here have been busy and uneventful at the same time. Although, at home my Dad celebrated his birthday and Father’s Day is right around the corner! We did go to an escape room which was an experience in itself. Moreover, I am currently getting ready to receive my visitors starting next week!
Happy June! We are coming off a long weekend for the national holiday, May 25, to commemorate the 1810 revolution. I took my last trip, a less than two hour flight north to one of the wonders of the world, the Iguazu falls. The triple border marks the meeting of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. We strolled through the Misiones jungle, spotting wild coatíes and monkeys, until we were met with the roar of the falls. The boat tour whipped us around the waters and even under one of the smaller waterfalls. We dried off just in time to brave a downpour the next day, while ziplining and rappelling.
Since returning to the city, I have felt the pressure of everything that this month will bring. I am making good progress on my final assignments and buckling down to continue doing so. As part of the research for one of my presentations we explored the ESMA Memory Site Museum. I have still been enjoying myself during this grind time, namely with church, a percussion show, and a friend’s birthday dinner.
As we are about to enter the last month of our time here, this week we checked a few items off the bucket list. First, rock climbing, with a friend from the university who represented team USA. She invited us into her world, we gave it our all, and happily watched her effortlessly jump up the wall. Next, I accompanied Mallory as she got a tattoo. I experienced the process for the first time and more so with the friendly Argentine artist. Lastly, we went to the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo (National Museum of Decorative Arts), a mansion full of sculptures, tapestries, and paintings.
This past weekend we had volunteer service for our course Urban Inequalities in Latin America. We worked with the nonprofit organization Módulo Sanitario to build bathrooms for families that need them. I got some much-needed practice drilling, hammering, sawing, and painting. It was such a beautiful experience, seeing a lovely family make the most of their situation and being able to make it better. As much as I am enjoying myself here, I am missing some monumental occasions at home. Congratulations to my sister Kaitlyn on graduating college and Happy 22nd Birthday Angel!
At the beginning of class my professor reminded us that we are entering the last month and a half of the semester, and I can’t believe it. With this comes the exams, essays, and presentations, but needless to say we are enjoying the calm before the storm. A friend traveling to Brazil and myself to Iguazu, out of an abundance of caution, received the yellow fever vaccine. We experienced the small clinic, kind medics, and free public healthcare. We also delivered snacks and toys to the families at the Ronald McDonald house, a nonprofit organization that supports families while their children receive medical care.
On the other hand, we celebrated my housemate’s birthday, shout-out to Mallory! We felt right at home in the movie theater once again, funky carpets and all, as we watched the new Guardians of the Galaxy. Then we enjoyed a pottery night, a party organized by our host mom, and some late-night festivities. Lastly, on Sunday, I celebrated Mother’s Day virtually with my mom at home as well as early with my host mom as Argentina’s is in October.
Happy May! And happy indeed because midterms have passed. The last week has consisted of unwinding and enjoying fall in the city under the color changing leaves. We watched La extorsión in theaters, an Argentine movie starring well known native actor Guillermo Francella, with a handful of pochoclo, our equivalent of kettle corn. I browsed the handmade goods at the Recoleta Fair and purchased some gifts to bring back home.
On May 1 we experienced Labor Day along with most countries, which also happened to be a friend’s birthday, so we joined locals in the bustling park for a picnic. Later in the week we rented EcoBicis, city bikes, and rode around the Ecological Reserve. Afterwards we wandered out of Puerto Madero, modern skyscrapers along the water, and stumbled into San Telmo, brick buildings and cobblestone streets. The more time I spend here the smaller the city feels.
This week has been all over the place. I have survived another semester of Holy Cross enrollment, and more so from thousands of miles away. Moreover, we spontaneously scored coveted tickets to a Boca Juniors soccer game. We bought jerseys outside of the stadium, known as la Bombonera as it looks like a box of chocolates, and joined the sea of blue and yellow. We claimed our standing room surrounded by avid fans who encouraged us to chant and jump throughout the entire game. The stadium erupted as Boca broke the tie during the last few minutes and the celebration spilled into the streets.
We continued taking advantage of the mild sixty-degree weather at the Ecoparque, a former zoo turned ecological park. The non-native species have been brought home and the rest are now enjoying better living conditions, including the free roaming maras which appear to be a cross between a guinea pig and a rabbit. We also celebrated a fellow Holy Cross friend’s birthday with delicious homemade empanadas and cake.
Throughout the week we took breaks from the festivities to study for our midterm exam and participate in volunteer work. I interviewed families, along with an organization that constructs bathrooms, to see if they qualify to receive one. As we traveled outside of the city to the villa, I found myself in a beautiful train station, a stark contrast to what I was about to see. Dirt roads, horses and carriages, stray dogs, and makeshift houses. The people welcomed us with open arms, kindness, and gratitude. This experience opened my eyes to another side of Argentina, humbling me and provoking a hunger to do more.
Settling back into routine after a long weekend is not easy, and much less after traveling. At times I think that having class on fewer days actually makes attending feel harder. With that being said, on Monday we got ready for the week, and on our relaxing walk we stumbled upon la Floralis Genérica. We had been meaning to visit this steel flower that opens, closes, and lights up at night. This speaks to the amount of beautiful views and green space in the city.
We also run at a nearby park as it is challenging to run on the streets with the traffic. One night after we finished and were headed home, a group of people dancing and cheering caught our attention. We made our way over and discovered a lively zumba class that we were quickly pulled into. The instructor was so kind, like just about everyone I have met here. We had a blast and will definitely be joining again.
In addition, we continue to experience marches that consist of chanting, singing, instruments, flags, signs, etc. In fact, they often become background noise and teaching opportunities for our lectures. My friends are sharing all of this and much more with their families as they visit the city. It has been really nice to have this sense of familiarity and makes me excited for my family to visit in June at the end of the semester. We are halfway there!
¡Felices Pascuas! We spent Semana Santa in Mendoza. After our less than two-hour flight we explored another Plaza Independencia, full of people, music, and fountains. Throughout the weekend we enjoyed a variety of foods like those in the capital. Moreover, what sets the city apart is the wine.
We toured two bodegas, both the vineyard and winery, and an olive farm. We learned about how the products are made and got to try them; the general consensus is that the wine was impressive. We soon escaped the ubiquitous bodegas and took a day-long tour of the Andes. The mendocino tour guide demonstrated the distinct accent and spoke to the arid climate, so much so that all of the trees have been planted by hand and the sidewalks are designed to catch rainwater.
We saw the tallest mountain in the Americas, Mount Aconcagua, and took a windy road to the top of another nearby. We were about twelve thousand feet above sea level, experiencing mild altitude sickness, and technically in Chile. On Easter Sunday morning we admired the painted egg exhibit before flying home. Upon our arrival I had a quick turnaround to church then family dinner. And what better way to wrap up a special week than by eating chocolate eggs.
Another week of classes has flown by and even more so leading up to our recent trip to Uruguay. We took an hour ferry to Colonia and then a three-hour bus ride to Montevideo. On the way we enjoyed the refreshing view of land and animals, cows, horses, and sheep. As it is the low season, the city offered the same tranquility and lots of the South American herbal drink maté. However, the Uruguayan peso, about 38 to 1 US dollar, cost our energy and our wallets.
Upon arrival, we explored the beautiful architecture of la Ciudad Vieja where we stayed. The next day we strolled along the boardwalk and cooked our very own asado. On our last full day, we traveled two hours to Punta del Este, a small resort town full of beaches and flora such as cacti and aloe. We ate the national dish chivito and visited Casapueblo, known as the “Greek island of Uruguay.” Before going home, we checked out the Montevideo Botanical Garden and then were on our way.