The last few days have been crazy with a capital C but so much fun. I also have been planning to write this post for days but am suddenly ridiculously busy so here it is.
Last thursday, my afternoon class at UBA was canceled because the facultad (department/campus) was taken (tomado) by the students because they were unhappy with the selection of the latest director. She’s very supportive of Christina’s government and the student government is very leftist. They elected this new person during a holiday weekend and didn’t include the students so they sort of occupied the building. It was resolved at my campus (I had class today) but now the Social Sciences and hard sciences buildings have been tomado. The cancellation of said class meant my schedule was way better for thursday! I was able to get home not at 10 pm and go out. The night out was memorable for sure. My friend Emily and I met our friend from conversation club who is British and he invited us to go out with some of his argentine friends. The group grew to include an international crowd featuring a german, a dutch guy, two argentine architecture students, David (the one from London), and Gabriel, our host for the night who seems to know the argentine club scene like the back of his hand. We went to a club that plays hip hop on thursdays and were somehow VIPs and somehow stayed until 6 in the morning. It felt like an alternate universe but was so much fun! One funny moment happened after we left as it was getting light out and Gabriel started talking about where we would get breakfast. He said the intersection of some restaurant which is a huge intersection with a McDonalds on the corner. I said, “oh is it near mcdonalds” and everyone in their post club/hungry state thought I was suggesting a trip to McDonalds. They all started laughing because of course the american suggested mcdonalds (clearly these are new friends to think this of me) and then immediately hailed cabs to take us there. We had some morning french fries and I took the bus home with people going to work. #LOCO
The next day (if you can really call it that) was exhausting. I had to wake up at 9:30 after two hours of sleep to visit Migraciones to get my visa which is such a struggle even after a full night’s sleep. I met my friend Ruthie who had also been at the club the night before and we hauled ourselves over there (it’s like an hour away) only to discover that the specific table we needed had closed 2 hours early that friday, just because. Defeated but hungry we grabbed sandwiches and then I went home to take a nap. Then Nora and I took a night bus to Cordóba, west of Buenos Aires for a weekend trip. The bus took about 9 hours so we got in right in the morning and went straight to the hostel to begin the day.
Cordóba is the site of Argentina’s second largest university, la nacional de Cordoba which is very different than UBA because it’s all on one campus. Lots of the students live in Cordoba for school and there is a college town feel. In one neighborhood, the average age is 24 and there are bars and student deals everywhere. It’s so different than BA and looks like a spanish town because there are so many old churches built by the Jesuits. In the first morning there, we saw three huge churches, three museums (including a feminist art exhibit!) and lots of plazas. We had a really good mediterranean lunch, thanks to Lonely Planet and then took a break from the heat at the hostel. It was over 80 degrees and I actually wore shorts and felt safe! In the afternoon we sat in the main park and listened to this American Life with ice cream. Then we walked around the campus which actually has a quad and lots of common spaces. It could pass for Florida, I think. Cordoba also has a craft feria every weekend which has really high quality crafts. We wandered around there and then got dinner at this restaurant with a roof that looked out on the canal that runs through the city. It was really beautiful and felt so manageable and different. Nora and I are also seasoned travel buddies at this point. We always bring the same snacks for the bus: apples and these alfajores made with rice cakes instead of cookies that are “healthy” for Argentina.
The next day we took a bus to Cuestablanca, about an hour and a half from Cordoba. The town is like three shops and most were closed because it was sunday. We found a place to get a pizza, the only vegetarian item on the menu and then hiked on the river which is like a mini beach with sparkly sand. I even fell in it while crossing it which was refreshing/I skinned my knee a little. It was a really relaxing beautiful day in nature and so refreshing after so much time in BA.
So that was pretty wonderful. After we got back to Cordoba, we stopped at a grocery store to buy stuff for dinner. When we returned to the hostel, we found Love Actually on the TV! An american girl who just graduated law school was staying there and found it on the tv! We ate salad and watched Love Actually and drank wine and it was wonderful. Then I ran to see Kelsey, a friend of one of my best friends at Penn (hi Tilden) who is studying abroad in Cordoba. I met two of our friends and we hurridly compared experiences. Being on a campus in a real college town is definitely so different and she seems really happy.
Then Nora and I took a night bus home to Buenos Aires and got in around 9:30 in the morning. Then I had to go to migraciones for the millionth time (because it’s right near the bus terminal) so I didn’t actually get home until 1 pm but I’m officially a resident of Argentina with a real visa!! Only took three months… Monday was pretty quiet after Cordoba but I did some work in a cafe and made lots of to do lists.
Tuesday I had class and some café time before that. Real life penn commitments are creeping into my life here more and more which means I feel a lot busier/slightly more stressed. It’s obviously closer to the end of the semester but this week really feels like the beginning of a semi stressful period as I know what all of my final assignments are and have approximately 4 papers and three oral presentations to prepare.
Yesterday, I went to class after the gym and then had some café time with my friend. Then I went back to the conversation club at Hillel where we made chocotorta, a traditional argentine cake that’s their version of icebox cake. It’s layers of chocolate wafers and a dulce de leche/cream cheese combo that chills for a few hours until it softens. I met some more new people including two BBYO alumni which was so much fun. The hillel building is also so beautiful and has a pool so my plan is to finagle an event that involves chilling near that.
Today, I had class at IFSA and then at UBA. My UBA class was extra fun because Laura, the girl who was watching love actually at the hostel, is in BA right now and she came with me. She just graduated law school and wanted to see what a class was like. It was really fun to have her legal perspective in class and to be a bit of a tour guide pointing out all of my favorite features of UBA. There will never be toilet paper in that place but I love it so much. I’m home for the night and Rita’s staying with her grandparents so I have some much needed quiet time after a really busy week.
Other things happening:
It’s election week in BA! The elections are this sunday (midterm elections) and Christina is still recovering from her brain surgery and is apparently not supposed to know any news so as not to be stressed during her recovery. People are predicting her party will not do well so her final two years look to be a challenge in many ways. There are tons of ads, cars driving down the street with speakers, and fliers on every corner. On Saturday after 6 pm no alcohol can be sold so many restaurants and all bars/clubs close. It shall be interesting!