The Calm Before the Family

Hey everyone,

These last few days have been crazy busy but I know everything is about to get crazier. My family lands in Buenos Aires TOMORROW and I’m so excited that english doesn’t even cover it. I’ve dreamed about my family visiting me abroad in the abstract sense but they’re boarding the plane soon and I can’t wait. I’m also in the last day of my teen years so that’s kind of a big deal.


On thursday, I went to aerobics where we used these heavy bars that totally reminded me of Townsend gym class. Traumatizing but good for us. Then I had my class at UBA which I still really like. Student government elections are coming up in a few weeks so the class was interrupted so many times by parties. There are actual organized political parties within the different branches of the UBA and they have very far reaching goals. One slogan: “Organizarnos para luchar! Luchar para estudiar! Estudiar para transformar!” (Organize to fight, fight to study, study to transform). At one point someone complained about the visits interrupting class and the professors were very adamant that they can’t let some people come and not others. Then the professor asked if other people had ideas for dealing with the visitors and made sure that we all agreed with shorter visits before continuing. One of the things she said was that the space didn’t belong to them (the professors) so they couldn’t really stop the visitors. Such a different attitude.

We also looked at real social work reports from two different families, one from 2002 and one from 1940 as part of our study of children and their rights. It was really interesting to pore over those documents and a really hands on way to address the topic and form conclusions, even though I’m unlikely to understand the Argentine social services system anytime soon. I also tried an alfajore at break from a woman who makes them and sells them. My Argentine friend told me they’re the best of the many sold in the building and they were really good. The class is still four hours long but it gets easier to sit through every time.

Friday, I went to spinning class and then changed some dollar to pesos (the exchange rate is going loco, in America’s favor) before getting ready for shabbat dinner. Rita told me on friday morning that she was going away for the weekend, to a friend’s house in the country. After that announcement, I checked facebook and found a message inviting me to shabbat dinner through menora. Emily, the girl I went with last time and she was also invited. I honestly wasn’t going to say yes until Rita’s announcement but I didn’t want to be alone friday night so we met up and headed to services. We got there late and were introduced to the family who was hosting us for dinner. They live a short walk away from the Menora center. It was a family of four with a 22 year old daughter and a son who’s around 26, I’m guessing. The son lives on his own about three blocks away. We had the best time at dinner with them and did not leave until after 1 am. It was so nice to be with a big family of four and the conversations were so interesting (and all in spanish). We talked about travel and the prison systems of the US and Argentina and the different people they’ve hosted for shabbat over the years. Emily is from a really small town in New Hampshire (2000 people) and I’m from a huge city so it was really interesting to see how different our backgrounds are even though we’re both Jewish students at really good schools studying abroad in the same place. The overwhelming generosity of the gesture was so humbling. These people literally had no idea who we were and invited us into  their home, fed us so much food, and let us share in this special family time. Even just singing shalom alechem and having a bite of challah was really comforting and we all got along so well. The night ended with some other friends dropping by, the daughter singing (she’s really good), and Emily, Julian (the son), and I playing jenga! It was great and I hope we can see them again. I would never have expected this kind of generosity and it’s made me want to make my home, wherever it may be, open for travelers. It makes such a difference.

On Saturday, Tim, a friend from Penn (we were in the same freshmen seminar and have stayed in touch) and I decided to go on an adventure to the Japanese gardens. The Japanese gardens are pretty far north and they were a gift from Japan. They’re really beautiful and we had even more fun because Tim had a photo assignment for class. Sometimes you can just walk by something really pretty and be like oh cool I like it. Trying to take cool pictures of it made us look at all the bridges and views slightly differently, which was really fun. Then we walked back to Palermo Soho and ate a late brunch at Magdalena’s party, a place run by Canadians that has an American style breakfast. Seeing the words breakfast burrito on a menu almost made me cry and my salad had actual black beans and spicy salsa on it. We also had bottomless mimosas, because it was a far more economical decision. Duh! We had a really nice time and I walked home after to prepare for the closest thing I’ll have to a dinner party in this country. With Rita’s permission, I invited four girls over to cook dinner last night. After weeks out of the kitchen, we were so excited (I came home from brunch to 20 emails about what we were going to make). Everyone brought some different ingredients and we managed to make quinoa with veggie stirfry, salad, beets and goat cheese and fruit salad for dessert. We didn’t make wine but we had some nonetheless. The girls didn’t leave until three am (minus an emergency chocolate run to the kiosk around the corner, fruit salad can only get you so far) and it was really special to have the space to cook and chat freely without waiters and host moms and restrictions. I’m so glad we could make it happen and I hope we can find other spaces for these kinds of meals during the semester. They’re just so lovely.

Today, I’m getting brunch (again) with Olivia, a girl from UNC who has the same birthday as me!! We’ve decided to start with brunch, do some homework and bask in the twilight glow of the teen years. Happy sunday!

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