Posted by: Phoebe K | February 15, 2010

¡Bienvenidos a Buenos Aires! (Un repaso de mi primera semana)

(Forewarning for not being at all blog-like. I wrote this as a more personal-public journal. I’ll work on being witty and all later.)

My first entry. A week late. Haha, I’ll try to maintain this, moreso for myself than viewership. I can’t wait to see how much I grow–as a person, as a student, as a journalist, as a hispanoblante– over these next four months.

Day 1, 08/02/10

I am finally here. I’ve talked about this, dreamt about this, planned this for a year and a half, and…here I am. But all this nearly wasn’t, thanks to freaking American Airlines.

I got to DFW at 5:11PM on Sunday, and was all set to check in. My bags weighed just right (48 and 40 lbs… for now!), I had everything packed and with me (minus my favorite hairbrush). I even did self-check-in and got my little voucher thing. Then the lady asks, “Can I see your visa?” And I tell her NYU was going to take care of it once we arrived in Buenos Aires (BA from here on out). And she’s like, “Uhh…I’m afraid I can’t allow that.” I freak out, my mom freaks out, my dad and brother are looking all quizzical, so I show her my NYUBA stuff…and I forgot the acceptance letter, the only thing with my name actually typed on a school letterhead. So she calls over her supervisor, who calls his supervisor, and they talk on the phone, and he hangs up and gives me back my bags, saying they cannot let me fly today. I’m all WTF, I HAVE to be in BA tomorrow. He’s persistent in that I need a visa upon entry, not post-entry, and if it were the latter, I could be put in jail because I’m overstaying my welcome. And I freak out more, and we all plead and whatnot, and then I ask if I can change my return to a month early, within three months. He says it’s fine…with a $170 fee, and Ihavetodecideinthenextminuteorelsemybagscan’tbecheckedonthisflightsohurryhurryhurryDECIDE! UGH, pressure. So we do that, and after he gets our money and robs me of my happiness, Mr. Supervisor says we can call AA consumer relations to ask for the refund, once the visa junk is all sorted. Thanks.. So it’s now 6 something PM and I bid farewell to my family (no tears) and unpack all my carry-ons and repack them post-security check. Then I sit, wait, board, buckle up, jet. The flight was boring, and uncomfortable, as it is with any flight with American-freaking-Airlines.

So I arrive at 9AM (5AM Dallas time/ 6AM New York time), pass through customs and all easily, and NO ONE asks of a visa. Hm. I am flagged down by Pedro and Kate with an NYU…flag. And they take me over to our table of study abroaders. Turns out there were like 12 of us on my very flight, but none of us wore NYU insignia so we kinda stared at each other awkwardly before, on, and post-flight until we met at the table. Fun stuff. We sit in front of Le Madeleine forevvverrrrr for other people to show up. We get shuttled through BA to the Academic Center and crowd in and eat snacks, YAY! Whilst mingling, we got our packets, our NYU survival kits/mochilas, paid for housing (I paid the $2800 in full and got it over with), contemplated cell phones ($200USD for a phone and SIM card and 100 minutes/month plus free calling/texting among our network…for all four months!)—and I brought my Blackberry to see if I can use it, and I have to get it unlocked, which I might try to do—and then waited around like little orphaned pups for our future owners. Twas fun. Margarita came and we said our hellos, and my homestay-mate, Emma, arrived and checked-in, and we set off to her casita.

It is WAY far from the Academic Center, in Palermo I think, so I will likely/definitely not be walking to class everyday. Emma and I got to choose our rooms: hers is by the stairs and has a balcony (!!), and I got a super cute one that has teal-painted doors and a teal/lime green-theme to it, and is just cute in general! And we have another housestay-mate from London, Jessica, that had been here for a while and will be leaving at the end of the month, and my host-mom wants me to move to that room at that point, so Emma and I can have neighboring rooms. Oh, and Margarita has a cute little greyhound named Nieves, and I’m pretty sure she’s already in love with me because she’s lying underneath my desk as I currently type. Cute. So I unpacked and showered, then napped and ate la cena with Margarita, Emma, and Jessica. We talked in Spanglish for a long time about everything. Margarita asked what I thought of of Obama…and me not caring about politics, I said I didn’t care. Likely a bad answer. But it’s honest! Anyway, Emma wanted to meet up with some friends so we got dressed up and got in a radio taxi to wherever. Walked around in a huge group of girls and got hollered at by every male. It was really obnoxious, since it seemed so derogatory. We sat down at an outdoor bar, had a few bottles of cerveza, and called it a night. YAY!

Day 2, 09/02/10

My iPhone apparently isn’t having fun with this whole time-zone thing. I woke up at 8:30AM, got all ready, and wondered why no one else was up. Turned out my clock was an hour early, so I went back to bed briefly. Margarita walked Emma and me to the bus stop and rode with us to the Loft to make sure we’d be okay. Los autobuses son confundidos. Anyway, we sat in for the introductions and overview of BA, which was straight from the handbook they gave to us and which I had read the night before. So it was repetitive and monotonous and I couldn’t help dozing off the entire time—plus I think my jetlag is still in gear—so I only heard bits and pieces of the session. They served us salad and pizza para almuerzo! Que linda. Anna and Erin and I went to look for una casa de cambio and had some success with making change and finding a cajero automatico (ATM). Then we got back for the BA tour, which was very enlightening. The buses took us to El Plaza de Mayo (San Telmo), La Boca, and the famous cemetery (Recoleta). The city and its history are so breathtaking! And they drove us through many barrios of BA, which was cool, except I was super exhausted and fell asleep many a time during the tour. After it ended, we walked along Santa Fe (yo creo..) and found a restaurant for merienda. We all got empanadas, which were really good, even without fruit stuffing (as I’m used to from Taco Bell). Then Emma and I walked to a few supermercados and got some things as we made our way home. Not a bad walk, but it was comforting to have a companion. We had dinner and then went to meet Ben and others at a bar called Buller that served really good “honey beer” apparently. That was a white lie, because it tasted mediocre—even Stella was better—but I had a few sips, along with my “apple” martini (in which they forgot the apple part..or chose to ignore it). Ben’s fellow housemate, Robin (from London!) came as well, and we all had fun conversation. Emma’s friends joined us later on and we drank some more, then decided tipsily to find a dance club, Basement Bar, from the BA guidebook. But when we arrived, we discovered it’s only open on Thursdays and Fridays—bummer. So Emma and I took a taxi back home and called it a night.

Day 3, 10/2/10

We stayed at the Loft for the majority of the day, then left to the Center. Just boring orientation stuff. I don’t remember the rest, but we went to a bar called Sugar muy cerca de nuestra homestay. Apparently they had cheap/free drinks until midnight–YAY! Tons of NYU kids showed up, and we had pleasant views of the porteños :). Emma and I met two, mine was Pablo and hers was Jesse. Que liiiiindos! We all stumbled to a club called Madagascar later on, but Emma and I left before they got in.

Day 4, 11/2/10

More orientation stuff. No me recuerdo. Oh, I went shopping on my own in Palermo Viejo–my neighborhood– and it’s a great area! So very Soho-esque, with expensive flair here and there. Bought a few tanks because I was in desperate need for some. But later, Emma and I went out for a little on our own in Palermo Viejo, which is around the block from where we live, and is coincidentally the most happenin’ area in BA. Que suerte para nosotras! Anyway, we sat at a bar and talked for a few hours, and people-watched. This city is so astounding. You think you know cities, and you think you’ve fallen in love with one, or committed to one…then you come here. Los porteños eat dinner at 9:30 or 10pm at the EARLIEST, then go out and stay out until 6am. ES LO NORMAL! My kind of place? Hell yes. And it’s something to understand and appreciate that they don’t party hard like us Americans when they “go out”; rather, they gather for drinks and spend hours and hours yelling and laughing and enjoying each others’ company (likely also making fun of los turistos). They don’t drink to get drunk, it’s truly social-drinking here. Am I rationalizing? Not at all. Just trying to understand and fit in in a culture of which I’ll be a part for the next four months.

Day 5, 12/2/10

EL TIGRE! Emma and I walked sweatily to the Academic Center and we all boarded a bus to El Tigre, a sort of resort along the river, an hour outside of BA. We then took a huge longboat to a resort-y place just for us NYU-ers. And we canoed, played in the river, sunbathed, had some volleyball games and futbol games (of which I was obviously not a part) and then we had…*drumroll* ASADA! Pretty much it’s barbecue, Argentine-styled. AY DIOS MIO so tasty. So good. So delicious. Layla and I couldn’t have enough, haha. They served us sodas and juices, then salads, then papas fritas, then chorizos (sausages), then la carne asada. The pictures say it all, really. After getting uber-tan, we boated to another resort–more of a campy place. And funny thing: We had to stand in lines to get brief medical “exams”. Us 69 girls and 19 guys had our mouths, armpits, hands, and between-the-toes checked for fungus and athlete’s foot. WTF. Hahaha que extraño. But we played in the pool and whatnot..not as fun as the other place, especially since all the Argentines flocked to the other side of the pool whenever we moved to one side! Really. Shouldn’t segregation be dead by now? So we stayed until 6, went home, and got ready for a Friday night. We met up at a bar in Palermo Viejo, and pretty much bar-hopped all night. Made it to some club, parted ways, went home around 5am. But it was a craaaazzyyy great night! 🙂

Day 6, 13/2/10

Woke up at 2:30pm, hahaha. Went to Plaza Serrano (around the block from my place in Palermo Viejo) and there was a market going on. I LOVE MARKETS! Very a la- Thailand! So I bought alguna ropa, and met up with Layla, Ben, and Robin. We eventually dwindled and split, but I had some great company for the rest of the day. Que relajado. Ben met up with us for dinner, and we accidentally chose an expensive, ritzy place (not hard to do here..Palermo is Upper-East-Side-esque in my book). Our meals were about 50 Pesos average each, plus 10 Peso service fee! I mean, that’s like $20USD but still…Erin met up with us, and we went to Sugar, then went to a club called Liquid. Except Ben couldn’t come in because he was wearing shorts! Que lastima! So we didn’t go in. Erin and I went to her mutual friend’s apartment nearby and we jetted off to a gay club. Since he’s big into the gay scene, we were on the list and saved 50 Pesos and got in por gratis! YAY. It was super fun too. I’ve never been to a gay club really, but I’m pretty sure this would top any of the ones back in the States. It helped that they were celebrating Carnaval. But yeah, Erin and I left around 4:30am.

Day 7, 14/2/10 (Dia de los Enamorados..blech)

One week here! Watched the sun rise as I uploaded pictures on Facebook. Woke up around  2pm again! But I took the Subte (the subway here) to Layla’s place– it’s 1.10 Pesos each ride…which is 30 cents basically!– and we rode in a taxi to San Telmo, which has an infamous antiques market on Sundays at Plaza Dorrego. We kept blowing our money away–not good–but everything is SO amazing. Tango dancers here, street bands there…ay dios mio, me encanta Buenos Aires. Layla left, so I walked down la calle Defensa to meet up with Emma, Kaarin, and Arielle. Along the way, I bought three pairs of TOMS (they apparently originated here in Argentina–TOMS are copycats of their shoes!) for $25 Pesos/each. That’s basically $8USD for a pair. EEEK! (Let me know if you want some! EVERYONE wears them here!) And some bracelets, anklets, a ring, and whatnot. Seriously, I’m going to stop spending money…at some point. I walked to La Plaza del Mayo, then the Obelisco, then we walked down Santa Fe and rode the Subte home.  Pretty much walked 5+ miles today, no lie. In flat sandals. I gotta get me some Dr. Scholl’s or Rainbow sandals.. Anyway. Craving fruit for some reason, we also ventured out along Uriarte and Santa Fe after dinner. To no avail. But it was a good walk!

So this is a VERY overwhelming post. But it’s just an overview of the crazy, fun-filled “Welcome Week” I’ve had here :)More in-depth thoughts later. SCHOOL TOMORROW. Ay dios mio, I haven’t had school in literally two months. It’s a weird, uneasy feeling? I mean, I basically had another summer break–not that I’m complaining.

Goals for this semester abroad:

-Become fluent in castellano (BA dialect)

-Explore, discover, fall in love with Buenos Aires and all that entails

-Reevaluate myself and my aspirations

-Get AWESOME legs (it’s going to happen, with a 40+ minute walk to school and back–which is about 3 1/2 miles!)

-Travel to at LEAST three other countries in South America

-Take 2000+ pictures, yet appreciate the actual locations and objects in person

-Appreciate the little and big things in my life.

Hasta manana/pronto!


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