Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Yesterday was the 58th anniversary of Eva Duarte de Perón (the famous First Lady to Juan Perón who is much loved by the masses for her support of the working classes). Following orientation a group of friends and I decided that we wanted to go to the parade in her honor. We walked and walked trying to figure out where the parade was, but no one in the city seemed to know. We went to a tourist information center and the attendant didn't know it was the anniversary of her death in spite of the fact that the anniversary was covered on the front page of each major argentine newspaper.

Because know one seemed to know where the parade was we figured we should go to the famous Recoleta Cemetery where Evita is buried. The parade had to pass by her tomb, right? Wrong. The closed the cemetery before the parade had even begun. The whole situation makes no sense to me, but things don't always make sense down here. After 3 hours of searching we gave up on our quest to find the parade and headed home.

The past few days have been busy learning about all of the different course options. We have the ability to take classes at as few or as many argentine universities as we want. Our choices are Di Tella (a very small and extremely prestigious university modeled on the American university system), la Universidad Católica de Argentina, la Universidad de San Salvador (another Catholic University, but one that is a little more secular), and, finally, la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Most consider UBA, a university of 300,000 students, the most prestigious university in Argentina in part because it is such an unorganized school and takes so much motivation and organization on the part of the student to graduate. Canceled classes as a result of teacher union strikes are not uncommon at UBA. I'll be shopping a number of classes for the next two weeks, but I'm thinking I'll probably end up taking two classes at UBA just because of how the exam schedule works (I originally wanted to take classes at Di Tella, but their exams are after our program ends and after I return to the United States). As someone whose gone to private school her whole life, I think UBA is going to be quite a shock for me. It should be an adventure, that's for sure!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Yesterday I spend a great deal time wandering around Palermo SoHo trying to get a feel for the neighborhood with Gaby. Around 8:00 we were starving (we had dinner plans with Pam at 10:00--gotta love the Argentinian eating habits), so we went to a smalllittle bar a block from my house. Gaby was brave and decided to order llama. I couldn't understand all of the menu because there were a number of strange words I'd never seen before, so I thought I'd be safe and order empanadas. It turns out I ordered albatross and alligator empanadas. Ooops. I guess that's what happens when you just order whatever. It certainly was an interesting appetizer. The llama was delicious; the albatross was actually pretty good; the alligator not half bad.

I continued to explore Palermo today. My homework for my Castellano class this weekend was to walk around an assigned neighborhood with two partners from class taking pictures for ten different categories that exemplified the neighborhood. Some of the words we had to use as inspiration were texture, panorama, tension, graffiti...

texture: a gorgeous sequined dress from one of Palermo's many boutiques.

panaroma: a view of the many different architectural styles Palermo has to offer. Note the recently built modern high rise, the small French-style home, and the stark apartment building from the military dictatorship.

tension: attempting to cross Avenida Santa Fe, the life line of Palermo.

graffiti: Palermo's got a lot of graffiti, but this colors in this one really stood out.

calor: we stopped at one of Palermo's many coffee shops to avoid the rain.

Hopefully these photos can present you with some sort of idea as to what my new neighborhood is like. They are all images I now see on a daily basis. Oh, and the photos aren' mine. I'm not nearly so talented. My friend Jimmy (and one of my partners for the project) took all of them :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010


So the past few days have been a whirlwind, so I apologize for not writing. Tuesday night I had my first day of orientation and learned that there are 147 of us IFSA kids studying here in Buenos Aires. A little overwhelming. I've had four days of orientation so far, and I still look into a crowd of new faces every time I walk into a classroom. But that's a good thing.

Orientation is a little crazy--it's not easy to orient 147 teenagers in a city of 13 million. My first failed attempt in orientation was trying to figure out the bus system. Buenos Aires doesn't have one government-owned bus system owned by the government. You get around by collectivos which are busses owned independently by different companies. They give you a little 100 page book called the Guia T (I've already lost mine, so I'm clearly off to a great start). It's got pictures of the city broken up into 30 different little maps and then page after page of bus routes, but it doesn't tell you where on each street the busses stop, you just have to guess. I've given up on the bus system. I'm sticking to the one bus I know (the 152), the subway and cabs (so insanely cheap here--I love it).

My apartment is located in Palmero SoHo, the best neighborhood in town (okay, well I guess I might be a little biased). Located about 30 minutes on bus from the city's most important street (and the widest street in the world) 9 de julio, Palermo SoHo is quite centrally locate. The neighborhood Palermo is the largest in the city and has been broken down into a number of smaller neighborhoods like Palermo SoHo, Palermo Hollywood, Palmero Queens, Palermo Chico, Palermo Botanico....each one has a personality of it's own. Palermo SoHo has all of the chic restaurants, bars and stores. It really is the ideal place to live. I went to lunch at the most adorable little restaurant today that was so Palermo SoHo called El Ultimo Beso. It was in an old house it had a beautiful tile floor and was decorated with tons and tons of little french nick backs. Each menu was decorated differently in paper mache and had quotes about love (mine had one from Gone with the Wind) and vintage pictures of couples kissing. I went to the bathroom which still had a tub in it from back when the building was a home. The tub was full with water and had roses floating it it--so adorable!

Oh, my host family. I have a host mom Maria Ines who is 41 and she has two kids Catalina (17) and Manu (13), but I haven't met them yet because they are in vacation in Punto del Este, Uruguay. I have, however, met Maria Ines' boy friend and his son who come over for dinner frequently. They are all perfectly nice, but it's had to live with a new family after my Spanish host mom Gema. Gema was just the best there's no other way to but it. She always referred to me as "mi hija americana" (my american daughter), and the two of us talked for hours on end. She'd wait up for me to come home from dinner/clubs every night and then the two of us would cuddle on her big white couch and talk for hours. I couldn't ask for a better host mother in Spain, and as a result I was a little nervous about having a new host family here in Argentina just because Gema set the bar so high.

Maria Ines is perfectly nice, but she's young, she works a lot and has a lot going on in her life. Host students just aren't her priority. It's only been five days, so I'm keeping an open mind, but I feel a lot more like a border than a part of the family. I'm not the only foreigner living here--Maria Ines also rents out a second room that has two bedrooms, so there are usually one or two other people living here as well. Right now there's only one--Pamela who is a student at the University of Kentucky. She's here for the summer working at and NGO. I love Pam. She's so awesome and has taken me out to a number of the hot spots in the neighborhood. She's really helped me feel at home here. I'm just a little worried for when Pam leaves and someone else moves it.

I'm not really in love with my host family, but I am most definitely in love with the neighborhood Palermo, and I definitely realize that I need to chill out and let everything settle down. These are just my initial reactions :)

Okay, well that's a good start on my new life here in BA. There's so much more to say, but there'll be plenty of time for that....

Sunday, July 18, 2010


When I think of big waterfalls I think of the Niagra Falls. Separating the United States and Canada, the Niagra Falls drop 167 feet. The Iguazu Falls drop 269 feet.

So I lied in my last post when I said they are the largest falls in the world, but still, they are nothing lest than amazing. There are somewhere between 150 and 300 different falls, depending on how high the water level is.
A portion of the falls. Our guide said that from this view you can see about 40% of the falls.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Yesterday we continued our exploration of Buenos Aires. In the morning we had a tour of the famous Recoleta Cemetary where many of Argentina´s elites are burried (including Eva Perón) followed by an afternoon of shopping in the Recoleta neighborhood where our hotel is located. We had dinner at a traditional Argentine steakhouse.

This morning we flew to Cordoba. Located in central Argentina about an hour and a half from Buenos Aires in plane, Cordoba is Argentina´s second largest city. Located closer to the Andes Mountains where Spanish power was concentrated, Cordoba was founded earlier than Buenos Aires, evidenced by many more colonial buildings that remain to this day.

Here is a map of Argentina--you can see the two largest cities, Buenos Aires and Cordoba.

Herbert, our guide for the afternoon, met us at the airport and gave us a tour of the city. We drove be the new university campus, a number of former palaces from the late 19th Century when the Argentinian elites attempted to emulate Paris, and a large beautiful park (the name is escaping me right now). We then had a walking tour of the oldest part of the city--Plaza San Martín, La Catedral (the prettiest church I´ve seen thus far in Argentina), and finally, La Manzana Jesuita (the Jesuit Block which was La Universidad de Cordoba´s origional building). Unfortunately we couldn´t actually enter the Jesuit Church because they are closed during the afternoon. It was supposed to re-open around 4:00 PM and althought we returned around 4:30, I guess that is just how things sometimes work here in Argentina.

Following our time in the city, we made our way by car out into the the countryside of Cordoba Province where we are staying at an estancía (a ranch) called el Colibri. I´ll talk more about it tomorrow or the following day.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Yesterday we visited two Southern Buenos Aires neighborhoods. We first stopped in La Boca which was once a primarily lower-class immigrant neighborhood, known best for the brightly painted neighborhood buildings. We then went to San Telmo where we walked around the market which happens each sunday. A bohemian neighborhood, San Telmo is perhaps best known as the birthplace of the Tango.

After visiting Southern Buenos Aires we headed over to Puerto Madero--BA's super-chic modern neighborhood. We stopped at the relatively new Faena Hotel to take a peek. It's pretty spectacular. Check out the pictures below:
The majority of the hotel has red accents. One of the most emblematic of which is the white dining room pictured to the right--note the unicorns on the walls. Pretty over-the-top, huh?

After watching the World Cup in the afternoon (thank goodness Spain won) we went out to dinner at a charming restaurant names Lola located just 8 blocks from our hotel. The only problem was that it took us 45 minutes to get there--the cab driver took us to Calle Ortiz instead of Calle Presidente Ortiz.

Today we woke up early for a trip to the Tigre Delta located about 30-45 minutes outside of the city. The delta, made up of a number of different small canals and islands is a popular getaway for the portenos (residents of Buenos Aires--that's where my blog's name comes from). We took an hour boat ride around the canals to a lovely lunch spot before returning to Tigre. One the way back into the city we stopped in the upscale suburb of San Isidro and walked around the main part of town and inside the cathedral. It was so charming (and I really liked getting to see a different part of the province. Our tour guide Clauido has done a great job showing us all of the different parts of Buenos Aires--the upper class neighborhoods of Recoleta and Puerto Madera, the lower class neighborhood La Boca and also the suburbs. I'm slowly beginning to get my bearings here in BA!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


My family and I arrived in Argentina yesterday, and the flight in an of itself was a bit of an adventure. We had a truly embarassing amount of luggage--each of us had tow suit cases (not including carry-ons). I was slightly mortified. Our physical appearance screamed "Americans" which is something I've always tried to avoid.

Claudio, our guide here in Buenos Aires, met us at the airport and brought us back to the hotel for a brief nap before we taking us around parts of Northern Buenos Aires in order to get our bearings. Among other things we visited what was a theater but has now been converted into a book store, a mall called Galerias Pacificas, la Catedral Metropolitana and the Casa Rosada.

In the evening my mom and I headed over to Rinconado Carlos Gardel--where my dad and brother would later join us for diner--for tango lessons. We thought it was a class, but ended up being just the two of us and our two teachers (Diego and Celia) on the stage in the middle of the restaurant. All of the waiters who were setting up for dinner were watching. A little intimidating to say the least. In the beginning I appeared to be a natural. Well that's a bit of a lie; I looked pretty good in comparison to my mother who has two left feet. I love her dearly but dancing is just not one of her strengths. However, my mother gave up on the tango about ten minutes into the class, leaving me on stage with the full attention of my two instructors. Suddenly I wasn't so skilled any more. Diego had very high expectations for my dancing abilities and was never pleased. He kept scolding me for trying to think. Woops. "You don't think. You feel the tango," he told me. He proceeded to make me dace around stage with my eyes closed so that I wouldn't think so hard. It must have been quite the site to see.

After my lesson in which I only barely picked up on the most basic steps we stayed for diner and a tango show at the restaurant. I was expecting the restaurant to be filled with Americans, but we were actually the only English-speakers there. The tango show itself was truly spectacular. I'd seen the tango on tv before, but nothing quite like this. I don't think the word 'sensula' begins to describe it. I felt like I was watching some very intimate scenes. Intimate scenes that were not intended for viewers.

This whole first day (and even my second day) have been rather surreal. It's quite strange to arrive in a country that I've never visited before and to think that I will be spending the next five months here. When I studied abroad in Zaragoza for a year I had already been to Spain. I was familiar with the country. I understood the lifestyle. I knew what the cities looked like, but here in Argentina everything is brand knew and waiting to be discovered. It's a little overwhelming but very exciting.

Everyone says that Buenos Aires is "the little Paris," but it reminds me a lot more of Madrid than Paris--the manner in which the streets are laid out, the types of shops, even the architecture. And that's a good thing. I LOVE Madrid. And I'm beginning to fall in love with Buenos Aires as well.

Friday, July 2, 2010


I felt like I needed to add a little color and start things off with a picture, so this is an image of the Avenida 9 de julio--the largest street in the world and one of the more famous symbols of Buenos Aires.

I've never really tried the blog thing before. Technology isn't really my friend, so in spite of promptings from friends I told myself I would stay well inside of my comfort zone and just communicate with my friends and family via e-mail. However, as a result of two pretty low key weeks in Houston (all of my friends have jobs, so I've been sleeping until 2:00 PM or 3:00 PM before migrating to the couch to watch trashy television), I decided to go ahead and take a shot at the blogging world.

I leave for Buenos Aires, Argentina a week from today and will be there for a little over five months. A month ago I was pretty apprehensive about leaving my comfortable life at Stanford and all of my close friends there, but as summer has progressed I couldn't be more ready to head south. This will be my second time to study abroad (I spend nine months living in Zaragoza, Spain four years ago), but this will be my first time to spend more than a week in a Latin American country. I am so looking forward to getting to know Argentina. Everything I know about it tells me I'm going to fall in love with the place. And who knows, maybe I'll love it so much that I find myself relocating to Buenos Aires post-graduating (shhhhh don't tell my parents).