It’s just the weirdest thing that this marks my third weekend here. I can’t believe how quickly it’s going and how much I still want to do. This weekend was full of small worlds, connections, and lots of fun. It’s one of the last ones I’ll have without schoolwork which is super important to appreciate!
I left off on friday morning. On friday, I finally joined a gym: Megatlon, the equinox of BA (it has the most locations). It’s about three blocks from me and classes are included. The locker room even has a free coat check type thing for your bag which seems like a waste to pay someone to stand there but okay, Megatlon. I had to take my id picture after a spin class and it’s super blurry and maybe the worst photo ever taken of me but hey, it’s worth it. I decided to do a class because I don’t have any way to listen to music without my iphone. The spin class totally made me miss soul cycle (they didn’t push you as much and even said the class would be easier because it was friday). The instructor also went to chat with different people while we were spinning which was so silly and different. After spin, I got lunch at the local vegetarian buffet (big salad for 13 pesos!!) and got ready to go to Menora for shabbat. Menora is a Jewish organization here that’s pretty orthodox. They run services and some educational stuff. They were having a dinner for young people and try to reach out to international students (someone who works there is friends with someone from Penn Hillel so they got in touch) and I went with Emily, another girl in the program. While the religious part of it was definitely not my favorite (i hate divided services), it offered a great opportunity to talk to some argentines! After the service, which was not that long, there was a dinner for just the young people (ages 17-30 I’d say) and it was really fun! There was free food and lots of interesting conversations. Some of the people were definitely orthodox and pursuing only Jewish education or getting married in a few years but some were studying at UBA and not that religious at all, just there to socialize. We also met an American girl who goes to Tufts who just finished a summer program here. She stayed for a few extra weeks and her boyfriend came to stay with her before he moves to Israel and she goes back to school. We all knew people in common and it was such a fun connection. They’re both vegans and have survived here which is crazy! After dinner we went upstairs for a party of sorts with snacks and drinks and talked more to the girls. It was really interesting to explain the american university system to them because the notion of moving out of your house is really foreign here and the cost is outrageous since their colleges are free! My favorite quip was this girl Carla who is 17 and so smart asked why we chose to study in Argentina of all places. She said she loves American culture and the main thing she loved was that you can walk around in pajamas and no one judges you. Keep in mind this was a very stylish 17 year old, wearing pretty tall wedges. It was so funny! Other people asked me if I shopped all the time in New York which is a pretty common question. We left around midnight and went to a boliche (club) that had free entry for exchange students at UCA. I’m not taking classes there but whatever. There were a bunch of IFSA people there. Just as in the US, clubs are not my favorite but with the right people it can be a fun time.
On Saturday, I slept in and then took a walk around my neighborhood/Palermo Soho. I’ve been obsessed with this food blog (the girl did IFSA and then moves to BA) and she mentioned a ton of cafes nearby so I set out to explore. I’m not used to exploring completely on my own and it’s something to get used to. I wind up walking past a lot of cute spots, peeking at menus in the window, judging the vibe, looking for other people sitting alone and often chickening out before I open the door. It’s really silly and something I’m trying to work on. All of the places have newspapers or magazines and I can always bring a book or a journal but it’s just not what I’m used to. I do see friends on the weekends but it’s usually more of a concrete plan and it seems silly to travel 40 minutes just to stroll around a neighborhood and find coffee. I’m excited for the fam to come so we can try a bunch of places. I settled on a place I had been to before because it was already dark and I didn’t want a long walk home. I read an Argentine women’s magazine and drank grapefruit juice. The magazine was actually a really interesting cultural experience. For one, the cover star who is an actress? who just broke up with someone very rich and starting a shoe line and lost weight (a triple threat!) said she goes to the gym for one hour twice a week! Can you imagine an American female celebrity with such a gym routine? She’d be called lazy! The women here are very skinny though and most of them don’t seem to eat so much. My host mom eats but I’ve heard of some students whose moms don’t eat dinner, they just make it for them. That must be highly uncomfortable. Another funny thing was an article on travel that mentioned Brooklyn as a great spot to explore during a trip to New York (only 5 stops from Manhattan’s center and in the process of becoming the next Soho, they say). Trés Brooklyn is back.
After my little outing, I went to meet Nora at a picada, Argentina’s version of a tapas restaurant. It wasn’t that far from me so I walked which I regret now. I had to cross these train tracks that divide the two parts of Palermo and it was a little bit sketch but it was at the point where I had walked too far to call a cab and couldn’t find somewhere to wait for one. That’s the worst part of being a girl here and it getting dark early: every little walk feels risky. The Picada was super cute and tiny! We got a mix of cheeses and little pickled things and a corn empanada and it was really good and lighter than a huge hot dinner. Because the elections were today (sunday), no alcohol could be sold after 6pm on Saturday so there was no wine, but wine would have been lovely! All the bars and clubs were closed last night because of that rule so the city was extra quiet. After dinner, we went to a party at someone’s apartment. This someone is a girl named Alyssa who I went to high school with! She was a grade above me but we overlapped in AP spanish and a few afterschool activities. I saw on facebook that she was in BA working at the state department and messaged her to say hi. She’s actually leaving on tuesday but invited me to her goodbye party! We got to see her little apartment which was a nice studio and met a really interesting mix of people, mostly other interns from the embassy. They described the work there as mostly paperwork and it’s unpaid and you have to find your own housing. All interesting things to know. I met one girl who’s doing her masters degree here and another girl who is a fall intern and arrived a week ago. It was such a strange feeling to have been somewhere for longer than her; I still feel like I just got here. The party was lots of fun and we brought wine that we managed to buy before 6 pm (I thought it ended at 5 and sprinted out of my apartment at 4:52 for the nearest grocery store!). Another girl from my high school was also in BA taking spanish classes and she dropped by too! I would have never guessed we would all be together in Argentina but it was really nice and proof that making connections is way easier here.
This morning, I went to brunch, which I love with three other girls. One of them is the girlfriend of the nephew of my former next door neighbors (talk about 6 degrees of separation) and I’d been told to meet her but didn’t until this week! She’s super cool and it’s so funny to have that connection. The four of us got brunch and wandered around Palermo. Lots of things were closed because of the election but we found a craft market and a wonderful bookstore that had lots of english books and a great cafe. English books are also pretty expensive so we agreed to have book swaps to spread the wealth. All of us are loathe to bring ipods out with us (2/4 of us have been robbed) so books will be great for our commutes. Then I had dinner with Rita, who claims she’s got my eating down and knows I love vegetables (it’s true) and we talked about how long I’ve been here for and her grandkids, who are coming back this week for dinner!
This week is going to be really busy because all of the universities start classes so I have a lot of running around to do. I’m hoping to fit in some more spinning classes, some more coffee shop visits, and more adventures!