Argentina: First Day

merienda primera, #teamcaffeine

Today I got to Buenos Aires after a ten hour flight through the night. The plane was huge so I had zero window views but I was able to sleep despite some cramped quarters. I’ve heard that the Buenos Aires airport can be really busy but we got through very quickly. The most shocking thing, upon arrival, was the cold! As we walked off the plane, I saw people in parkas working on the tarmac and they announced the local temperature as 3 degrees celsius (high 30s). It doesn’t feel that cold because it’s not windy but today was not so sunny and certainly a contrast from yesterday when I wore flip flops and shorts in New York. We were met at the gate by staff from IFSA, the program that is hosting 120 students from about 20 US schools. Penn, with 20 students, is the largest delegation. Since people arrived on lots of different flights (New York, Newark, and Miami were the main ones), I’ve only met a few people but everyone seems nice. We were all scattered immediately (they gave us taxi vouchers and sent us to our host family) so hopefully I can get a sense of where people live at orientation tomorrow and hopefully find a commuting buddy.

The cab ride was pretty long (about an hour) because the airport is outside of the city and I had to pee so I kept hoping we were almost there but not really because we were driving through the outskirts of the city where I didn’t want to live. My cab driver was pretty quiet but did go on a political rant when a street was closed (acc to him, Juan and Eva Peron ruined the country and the only way to fix things is to kill all of the politicians.) So election season here should be interesting. My neighborhood is Villa Crespo, which isn’t super central but my apartment is only three blocks from the subway which is 8 stops from the center of the city. It’s a pretty concrete area and it’s also cloudy today so I’m not getting the best view. Tomorrow, I’ll get to explore more. My host mom, Rita, says that’s about a half an hour plus a walk so that shouldn’t be a problem. I have my own room and bathroom which is great so I’m in the middle of unpacking. And by that I mean that I started and then took a nap. Airplane sleep is not real sleep. Rita is a widow with three sons and lots of grandkids who live in the area. There are pictures all over the apartment of them and they’re so cute! The oldest is 13 and the youngest is 3. She’s also Jewish and has hamsas hanging from the wall which was homey. She was born here but her mom came from Poland before the war. She also has WIFI #praise. We ate lunch, I napped/unpacked and then we took a walk around the neighborhood and stopped in for a coffee and snack. The pasty on the top right had burnt sugar which was really good. I’ve also seen dulce de leche stuffed pastries so that’s on the to do list. There’s drugstores and grocery stores right nearby (some are 24 hours, more than philly can say) so I’ll be able to get whatever I need.

Tomorrow is orientation at this big room and Rita’s going to drive me but I have to find my way back on my own! It’s a full day so we’ll have a lunch break and a chance to walk around a new neighborhood.

So glad to be here even though it feels really weird and I don’t know much about what’s going to happen. Rita told me to be patient and I’m going to try to follow that.

Lastly, apparently our upstairs neighbor is an opera singer so I’ve been listening to her practice for the past half hour. It’s not the tango, that’s for sure.

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