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Los EEUU

The good thing about having a blog is I can rant about whatever I want and no one can stop me. SO unless you want to hear me complain about how much I detest the U.S. sometimes I would advise you just ignore this post!

So today I had my favorite class, Drugs & Violence in Latin American Literature and Art. This is a three hour class that meets once a week, but I don’t mind spending my Monday nights at IES for this class. It is so interesting and every week continues to open my eyes to things I had no idea were going on in this world. Today we discussed las villas miserías which literally translates to misery villages. These are the slums of Buenos Aires and nearly half a million people live in these terribly unsanitary “villages.” Our homework last week was to discuss the villas with Buenos Aires natives, and so last night (yes, procrastinating…) I asked Nora about them. She gave me a good description of the villas and what caused them (many people in the middle to upper class will blame the Peron administration, but my teacher told us that is just a well-circulated opinion of the richer porteños and that not all of it is factual information). However, nothing she said helped me fully understand the importance of the slum problem in Buenos Aires until class tonight. 

We learned about neoliberal policies, something I never heard about before. Neoliberal policies are basically big international/political programs like the IMF that give funds to countries with failing/failed economic systems in order to help boost their economies. However, in return the countries have to adopt certain political policies that are in favor of these international organizations.  These policies include but are not limited to SAPs or Structural Adjustment Programs. These SAPs cause major cuts in public spending, like healthcare and education. The “reason” for the SAPs are to encourage cheaper labor which will create a more competitive economy in the world and encourage governments to only fund essential programs. The IMF, the neoliberalism ‘champion’ as my teacher called it, considers health and education unnecessary (pardon my language, what the eff???). In case you didn’t already know this, Argentina practically collapsed in 2001, and this is how. People literally lost all their lifetime savings because the peso inflated 200% because it attached itself to the U.S. dollar. Everything increased in price because government spending practically came to a halt all because a neoliberal movement in the government came to play. 

So for the weekend we also had to read an essay that this American named Mike Davis wrote, and he basically said that neoliberalism causes ecological and health crises which cause political conflicts which turn into war, and claims that the Pentagon is aware of this problem and is training soldiers to fight inside of slums in case of a possible uprise.

Call me an anarchist but I wouldn’t blame the impoverished if there was a “slum” uprising. It’s ridiculous that a government can cause so much damage just to get itself out of a kilombo while in turn forcing hundreds of thousands of its citizens to literally live in their own shit. 

One thing I love about Argentina is the free healthcare and free education. The neoliberal policies would have taken this away if it had stayed in the government. Students can get a supreme education at UBA for free, where I’m stuck in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt back in the States just to get a quality education. It pisses me off! And I know everyone is freaking out about the new healthcare system in the States, but honestly the U.S. is NOT POOR like everyone makes it sound like. In comparison to here, a TON of people can afford a quality healthcare. I just can’t believe how much Americans blow our problems out of proportion when there are countries that would literally kill to have a nation like ours. If I could change one thing about the U.S. is how much of a bubble we are in. I have never in my life learned about another country’s problems (with the exception of maybe a European country or Canada) without having to do extensive research. It pisses me off how ignorant our country is. (Not most of the people I know, but some citizens in general. Sorry if I offend anyone.)

I have had some built up anger with the U.S. prior to traveling here and getting an outside look of our country, but tonight was just the cherry to top it all of. I apologize if any of my information is inaccurate, I know some people get touchy over the small details but this is just what was on my mind.

On another note Tati and I touched noses today.

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Hola mi familia y mis amigos! I’ve got some spare time to blog before dinner because I have no idea where Nora is and I’m starving! Tonight we are having la berenjena (eggplant) for dinner, which our maid Cati made! The weather was AMAZING today, mid- to high-60s and sunny!

So I have recently been placed in Spanish 300, which is awesome now because my schedule gives me Fridays off and only one class on Tuesday and Thursday morning! Que buena. Now I will be taking SP 300, SP 491 which is a creative writing workshop in Spanish, and the same Poetry class as before taught in Spanish, Marketing in Latin America and Argentine Literature and Politics both taught in English. I am very happy with this, but I already bought my textbook for 290 which cost me 90 pesos. : ( I’m trying to sell it to a girl who just switched into that 290 class but she hasn’t gotten back to me yet.  

To recap the past few days…

Thursday I had class at 9 am, which was, once again, very easy but I really liked the people in my class. After class I brought my lunch to school (go me!) and ate that, got some sublease things settled at Penn State, registered for classes, bought my Spanish book and headed home with my friend, Hannah! It was a long day, so when I got home around 3 pm I napped for another three hours. After, we had an IES field trip to La Bisteca, a very fancy restaurant in Puerto Madero. QUE. DELICIOSO. The food was awesome. I had a bunch of cheeses and appetizers, and then I had some chicken and bread, and then I had ravioli with mushrooms and veggies (yes, Mom, I ate mushrooms and didn’t MIND them). After they served us dessert but I only had a bite of Chloe’s because estuve satisfecha. After the dinner, the IES assistants (people about our age who work at IES) took us out to a bar called La puerta roja, which I had found on the internet a couple of days ago and had been dying to see! It was so awesome inside and had una buena onda. A few of the IES kids were playing a card game called Truco (trick) which is famous throughout South America. It is kind of like poker but it is SO hard to understand. I’m going to learn how to play (I asked our maid Cati if she knew and she said she would teach me) but first I have to buy a deck of Truco cards. I also found a free app on my phone so I’ve been playing on there a bit but I still don’t really get it. I have a feeling I will be bringing it up to Maine next summer. : )

Today I woke up at 9 am because I knew Cati was coming and would have to make my bed. Even though I only got about five hours of sleep I felt great, so I had a cup of coffee and went on a run! It was only about a two and a half mile run, but it was so good. A lot of people looked at me funny or whistled at me because not a lot of people go running outside here, but the music drowned all of that out. I’m going to go more often since it is starting to get warmer here. After my run I showered, had breakfast, skyped with Kaity (finally) and then I watched the Pat’s preseason game on NFL Game Pack which is so awesome because it’s free. Eventually I took a nap and then went out for postres with Amanda and Julia. Now I’m here!

So, short post, but it’s so hard to remember what I did every day. Once I get into a normal schedule I probably won’t post as much, especially since classes start next week. So enjoy while you can!

Besos,

Sarah

Hola a todos!! FINALMENTE estoy en Buenos Aires! It is beautiful here… kind of reminds me of a European city but with its own style. There’s PALM TREES! But don’t let that fool you. It is frigid here. Sixty degrees isn’t as warm as I thought, but luckily it’s only going to get warmer. So up until now it has been pretty hectic, especially yesterday. My plane arrived at about 9:30 am on Saturday and my heart was practically beating out of my chest! I just wanted to find another IES student but for some reason I couldn’t even though there were four or five on my flight. So along with this being my first time in the southern hemisphere, I also had my first celebrity encounter! There were a bunch of band members on my plane in a group called the Pretty Reckless, but I had no idea that it was the band of child star Taylor Momsen… (Cindy Loo Who anyone?) They were in the customs line right behind me, too. I thought of you, Isabel. She is definitely a child star gone bad because she could hardly walk in a straight line. Very stylish though. So after I got through customs I searched everywhere for the IES people but could not for the life of me find them and even asked the information desk, but she had no idea what I was talking about. They ended up being in a different Terminal so I had to walk like half a mile but it was fine. Once I made it I felt so much better. There were a ton of students and my housemate, Julia, was even there! Her flight got delayed an hour so we arrived at the same time! I was so excited to finally meet her. She is such a sweet girl and I have a feeling we’re going to get along very well. Once I made it to the IES spot, I had to sign in and the girl who worked there, Kate, asked me where I was from… she’s from Nashua. Talk about coincidences. She’s only a year older than Melissa so if we had stayed in Nashua they probably would have known each other! Such a small world! Next, IES put Julia and me into a van cab with two other students and we were off to our new homes! So my apartment is in Recoleta barrio (kind of like the boroughs of New York) which is a very nice part of the city, and only a twenty minute walk to the IES Center, where I will be taking most of my classes. There are literally FIVE llaves (keys) to get into my apartment, and these llaves are LEGIT. They remind me of something you would see on Harry Potter. So I have one key to open the gate into the entrance way of the apartment building, one key to get into the apartment building, another key to open the elevator, and another two keys to get into the apartment. My apartment is situated on Ayacucho (un calle or street) y Avenida Marcelo D. Alvear. We are about two blocks from la Avenida Sante Fe which is FILLED with little boutiques (bad news) which are actually cheaper than I thought. So a nice pair of boots is about $200 peso which is like $40. Only a little cheaper than the US but I still thought it would be more expensive.

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My host mom Nora is SO sweet. She is pretty short and has white hair and is really tan. She will only speak Spanish to us, even though she knows a little bit of English which comes in handy when we’re stuck on a phrase. I can already see my Spanish improving in just two days; I can’t wait to see how far it’s come in four months! Nora wants to Skype with you, Mom, so she can meet you. She loved the peanut butter and the book that I brought for here. TATI is the little demon kitty. She is a feisty young broad but she is fun to play with. Julia brought cat juguetes (toys) and Tati loves them. See Mom, I told you I should have brought some!! Here are pictures of my apartamento y Tati y Julia! Que bueno!

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So yesterday Julia, Nora y yo walked to the Recoleta Cemetary after a cup of tea and coffee… look up pics on google. We didn’t go inside yet but it is so cool. On the weekends there are a lot of street vendors and it is probably where I’m going to get most of my gifts! When we got back we ate empanadas (MUYYYYYYYYYYY DELICIOSAS!!!!) and after unpacking and such we went to la farmacia to get toiletries and stuff (same prices as US) and then came home and I napped for THREE hours… only because it was siesta and I got about four hours of sleep on the plane. When I woke up we ate dinner a las 10 en la noche: la sopa de vegetables como carrots and cebolla and we actually ate pumpkin! It tastes like sweet potato. And some leftover empanadas. Nora loves to cook, mostly vegetables and everything is made with sweetener instead of sugar because her son has diabetes so she’s used to it (Grandma would be freakin).  For dessert Nora made a type of bread pudding cake with a caramel topping, and you spread dulce de leche which is very popular here. It is a caramel sugary thing that spreads like peanut butter almost. After dinner, Julia and I met a friend of Julia’s, Bonnie. Bonnie has been here for a week so she already has some porteño (argentine locals) friends. The porteños speak English so it was convenient but still super fun to converse in Spanish with them. They were all about my age to Melissa’s age. We went to the apartment of one of the porteños until about 2 and then to a club until 4… apparently people don’t really sleep here. No wonder siestas are popular. It was very fun. LO SIENTO MAMA PERO VOY A IR AL CLUB OTRA VEZ! Also the cabs are pretty safe as long as you take a Radio Taxi. And it is cheap.

Today (Sunday) we woke up around 9:30 and had a small breakfast (two little cookie things) and showered. I napped for about an hour, and then the three of us walked to a stop where the tour bus for IES was (we were a little late so the bus had to pull over and wait for us. Haha) We had a two hour tour on a topless double decker bus like the ones in New York with a stop at el Parque de Tres de Febrero. Es muy lindo y tranquil. There are so many roses. I remember reading a Jose Martí poem about it and it was cool to see it in real life. They also rent roller blades so I am totally doing that. After the tour Julia, six others from the program and I went for lunch/dinner/snack meal and all got empanadas and bebidas.  Later Nora, Julia y yo are going out to dinner and then Julia and I are meeting those six IES kids for drinks. Tomorrow begins “orientation” but no one really knows what we are doing. Whateva.

My future posts probably won’t be this in depth but I just wanted to share with y’all (as Julia says) how AWESOME it is here and how much fun I am having already. I LOVE IT HEREEEEEEEE.

Culture notes:

  1. There are so many dogs. Like everywhere. I’m in heaven.
  2. There is a Red Bull-type drink here called Speed, and when someone started talking about buying some I thought they were talking about heroin and got wicked freaked out. But it was just an energy drink. J
  3. The city is pretty safe so far, but sometimes Nora will tell me and Julia to like hold onto our purses when we are looking at the tall buildings and this morning a lady tried to get into our apartment edificio (building) entry way by asking if we could speak English with her or something and Nora was like NO GTFO. Not really but it was weird because she was just a normal looking 30-something woman.
  4. All the music I’ve heard here is American.
  5. Buenos Aires is amazing.
  6. There is a club right across the street from our building and Nora says sometimes I will hear it at night while I sleep. Haha

HASTA PRONTO MUCHACHOS.

xoxox

Sarah