Are you there readers?
It’s me Abigail, phoneless and coming at you live from Buenos Aires.
Before I talk about what’s up, you should read this article about Bill Clinton becoming a vegan. Who would have ever thought one of our most popular presidents would be a vegan (also totally agree that cheese and yogurt would be the hardest things to give up).
Yesterday, I met up with some friends to discuss a potential trip to Iguazu! We have a three day weekend next week (one of three this semester) so it seems silly not to travel. I’ll share more details about it as they emerge but I’m excited!! I also managed to wake myself up with the alarm clock on my Argentine phone so very happy about that. I also found a place with good salads close to the IFSA office which is a great find/will very much come in handy.
Since yesterday was primary day, there were all these marches scheduled at various busy points throughout the city, one of which is the obelisk. They didn’t start till 8 pm so I didn’t see anything during the day but there were lots of people giving out posters and leaflets and my host mom told me to come home after class. I did come home, for about 30 minutes, before I left to try a class at UBA Filosofia y Letras. The class was called Infancia, Control Social y Derechos Humanós and is cross listed with history and the human rights degree program (derechos here is sort of like a law school career but also a very characteristically argentine thing to study). I took a bus that goes pretty much right in front of UBA but I got off too early and had to walk about two subway stops worth. At this point, I don’t really expect to arrive anywhere in the way/at the time I expect to (this extends to being early too, I’m really bad at gauging how long the subte takes at different times of the day). UBA was a really cool experience. We visited last week but it was completely empty. This time it was full (even from 5-9 which is when the class was) of students with such passion. They were hanging up posters, selling books, dvds, coffee, mate, magazines, tickets to their play. The students are so diverse compared to American university, many are older and already working and anyone in Buenos Aires can audit a class at UBA for free. The class is taught by three female professors and it sounds awesome. We have a bunch of reading about the history of how childhood is viewed, discussions on the human rights of children, how the penal code sees children and a look at social programs directed at children and opportunities to work with the school’s community branch which has set up a literacy program at school in a bad neighborhood (get me in). Most of the students have worked with kids in various capacities. We also could have the chance to attend a trial for someone from the dictatorship which apparently is something that happens all the time and people go to? There was one other IFSA student there and tons of other exchange students, from Colombia, Switzerland, Germany, Korea etc. The one from Germany did a year in Texas while she was in high school and she has the funniest accent when she speaks english (very Dirk!). Spanish was also the 3rd foreign language she learned because Europe is just way better at that stuff. The rough parts about the class (why I may not take it) are the timing and the schedule. Thursday from 5-9 is a really rough time to pay attention for 4 hours and I’m not usually required to pay attention for 4 hours, ever. In addition, for traveling weekends a class that late is far from ideal and it’s hard to justify skipping a once a week class. I’m going to sample a few other classes and see if this is my favorite but it felt like a really pure version of the university. People were debating on the first day and having three professors makes it less like a lecture and they seem very organized which is something I was worried about (I already got an email with the syllabus). By the end however, I was looking at my watch a lot.
The bus to get home took forever because of the marches apparently so it took me almost an hour to get home. People are also really upset here about a building collapse in Rosario, a city to the south of BA. A bunch of people died and Christina flew there to be with them. It was caused by a gas issue. There’s also a lot of construction going on sponsored by the city which everyone says is just for show because of the election. Rita was at a baby shower and got home around the same time as me so we got to eat a late dinner together. She’s been giving me salad now which is super great!
Another random observation: The subway panhandlers (and people trying to sell their alternative magazines in UBA) do the craziest thing: they walk through the subway putting the merchandise (usually gum or a pack of tissues) on people’s laps with the price tag on it. They take a few laps and then come collect everything. If you want to keep it, you have to pay. I haven’t seen people buy on the subway but those items are certainly useful if you’re out for the day. It’s also crazy as a marketing strategy how much they bank on the experience of possessing the object as crucial to the sale. The first time it happened I thought they were free samples!