Argentina: Where Crazy Lives (aka Navigating Daily Life)

So… as it turns out, I am forgetful. I wrote all of this sometime last week and forgot to post (and finish) it:

I have a serious question: do companies actually think about the names they are giving to their products before they release them? For example, why would anyone want to buy something called a “Paper Bag Waist Dress“? Granted, the dress itself is not hideous, but if I were in marketing I would seriously consider the impact the name was having on the product. Especially in online sales, where you have to click on the name of the product to view it in more detail.

Anyway. Today I went to the Plaza de Mayo for the first time. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the plaza right in front of the Casa Rosada, or Argentina’s version of the White House. It’s called the Casa Rosado, though, because it’s pink! Hehe! Anyway, the Plaza de Mayo was also the site of a huge protest way back when by what is now called “Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo.” Basically– mini history lesson– the military government stole a bunch of people who were never seen again (los desaparecidos) and a bunch of their mothers and grandmothers went to protest in this plaza in front of the most important governmental building in the country. Don’t actually quote me on any of that; it’s been a while since I’ve studied this stuff. But a bunch of us heard that the Madres would be convening today in the Plaza so we went to go see it. No one showed up, though, so we’ll have to verify our information.

This afternoon I also successfully navigated the laundromat near me. The whole concept of laundromats is completely different here– for everyone I’ve talked to, the laundromat they use is full service. This means that instead of going and standing there while your clothes wash and dry, you drop off your  clothing and the lady behind the counter washes, dries, and presses everything. All for the price of around USD12. Weird, huh? It saves me the hassle of chillin’ there for two hours, but it also means that I might come out with blue laundry– I forgot to tell the lady that I had a new pair of (twice washed, but still shedding dye) blue jeans. I guess we’ll see!

Heh. So as some of you know, I’m allergic to a lot of scented detergents. So far, though, it appears that I’m not allergic to whatever detergent the laundromat uses! Whoo!

Today I added something else to my list of new experiences: I successfully navigated the grocery store for the first time. Our host families provide two meals a day except for Saturday, when we only get one, but honestly buying lunch every day is getting pretty expensive. Plus I like to have yogurt and milk and feel bad always using a lot of the milk in the fridge for my cereal every morning. I didn’t have classes today so I went to the grocery store and bought some yogurts, a loaf of bread, a jar of cherry jam, some salami, and mayonnaise… and it came out to almost 60 pesos, or USD15. WOWZA. I was so surprised!! I mean, I knew roughly what it was going to be because I was doing a tally in my head as I picked things up, but WOW. Seriously, the most expensive thing I bought was the loaf of bread at $15, or USD3.75. I could really get used to this.

I also started classes yesterday and that was a CRAZY experience. If the rest of my semester is going to be anything like this I actually might cry, or just stop going to classes altogether. Or just learn to go with it. Anyway. My first class of the day, Política Exterior Argentina, was at 11.00 at the Universidad de Salvador. I didn’t know how far away it was so I budgeted an hour to get there… and it ended up taking 15 minutes on the bus, haha. It’s definitely a good thing because it means I can walk to that school, but it’s a bit of a sketch neighborhood so it meant spending a few dollars for a coffee so I could sit in a cafe for a while.

When it was finally time for class I walked up to the aula and all of the students were already there. Classes here are not like in the US; each carrera, or major, only takes classes within that carrera. This means that kids taking political science only take political science classes. Even more than that, they have a set class schedule for each year and only maybe have some variety in their fourth year. This means that because this was an upper-level class, the kids all already knew each other and had formed tight bonds… which put me very obviously on the outside. I know I should be open and introduce myself to people, but when they are all standing in groups staring at you it is pretty damn intimidating. The professor ended up showing up nearly half an hour late and then spent another ten or so minutes getting herself a coffee from the staff lounge. And then, after all of that, the class wasn’t actually the class I thought it would be. It was in the same room, at the same time, and with the same professor as the schedule listed for this Argentine foreign policy class, but the class ended up being about world peace and the human condition and how we all need to understand each other. And I know I didn’t just read the schedule wrong because there was another girl there from my program who showed up looking for the same class. Seriously, WTF.

After that we had orientation for the program about how to apply for residency, and my friend told me he was going to a class about Argentine foreign policy that night. So, take two: I (and about 14 other kids from our program, haha) went with him and we invaded this would-be class of 7 fourth-year students. Another half an hour of sitting around later, some random guy appears and tells us that the first class is cancelled.

So as to not completely waste my day, another girl and I went to a History of Argentina class where neither of us understood about half of what either of the two professors were saying. Ooof. I am also worried because the school where I have classes tomorrow hasn’t, as far as I can tell, posted any classrooms yet. Basically this whole experience is the most hectic and ridiculous thing ever and I am just happy that there are 120 other lost Americans going through it with me.

I know people are starting classes at my home university in almost a month. Other than summer being over, how are things going stateside?


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