Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Gaby and I made a deal a few weeks ago--we will do at least one cultural thing every week. We both decided that we didn't want to get to December and realize that we've accomplished very littler her in Buenos Aires. So far we've completed our task of doing at least one cultural thing a week, but this past weekend with my friend Ali in town I was inspired to exceed my weekly minimum. Ali and I explored my old neighborhood Palermo SoHo on foot (and by "explore" I really mean "shop"), we went to the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano Buenos Aires (MALBA), we walked down Recoleta's Avendia Alvear, we strolled down Nueve de Julio, and we had coffee at Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires' oldest cafe. I really enjoyed getting to share all I've learned about Buenos Aires with Ali, and her trip also gave me a great excuse to complete many of the touristy tasks that I can't possibly leave BA without doing.

Brightly colored perfume bottles from an exhibit at MALBA.

A bench at MALBA. The vine-like edge of the bench creeps over the wall and connects to a bench on another floor.

We walked down the beautiful mansion-lined Alvear Street. This is a former mansion that was recently converted into the Ralph Lauren store.

There was one thing that about Buenos Aires that we clearly couldn't leave out if we wanted to give Ali a proper tour of BA--the night life. Jenny, Gaby, Robyn and I did our best to show Ali a good time, so we took her to dinner in one of our favorite neighborhoods, Puerto Madero.

Don't know why, but for some reason we were inspired to have a dance party IN THE MIDDLE of the street. We sang the classic "Tell Me What Ya Want" by the Spice Girls. More than one car honked at us.

Second Dance Party of the Night: We didn't really want to go to a boliche (Argentine dance club) at first, so we started our own dance party at the our argentine friend's appartment. Always a solid idea.

Every year right at the very end of winter these crazy winds come to Buenos Aires signaling that spring is coming. You have to suffer though. There's no way around it. We tried to go clubbing, but after 30 minutes of waiting in the wind we gave up. The wind was exceedingly painful, but I can't say we didn't find ways to entertain ourselves.

Monday, August 30, 2010


So it's been a little while since I've posted, and that's mainly because of three things: I moved houses, I went to Brasil (no, that's not a type; I did mean to write it with an 's') to visit my good friend Ali, and then Ali came to Buenos Aires to visit me. All of this (plus school) happened within the past 10 days. It's been amazing albeit quite busy.

1. A while ago I wrote about my first host family, and how I wasn't very happy with them. I could go on and on about while living with them was miserable (and maybe I will at some point in time), but I suppose that it my reasons for moving don't matter so much anymore. I'm on to bigger and better things. It's so much better to focus on my new host family and how much better things are here. On Thursday, August 19 I moved to Recoleta. I'm now living with Clara, a 70-something widow, and Carolina, out maid who lives with us from Monday till Saturday morning. Clara is an absolute doll, and I have the best conversations with her. One thing that makes me feel particularly comfortable is that Clara made it apparent from Day 1 that she was in this not for the money but for the experience. Even though the program doesn't recompense her for it, she gives me lunch whenever I'm home and Carolina does my laundry for me. Last night I asked Clara if she knew of a shoe cobbler nearby (I've been wearing down my high heels. Haha), and she told me she couldn't remember the exact dress but that she'd take the shoes for me and then write down the address so I could go pick them up. After just one night in my new home, I left on my trip to Brasil. Upon my return four days later Clara told me that she'd turned down an invite from a friend to got to an art gallery opening that night because she wanted to have dinner with me and catch up. She is just the sweetest.

2. Last weekend, about 14 hours after moving into my new home, I left Buenos Aires to visit Ali in Sao Paulo. Other than my short stint across the border at the Iguazu Falls, this was my first real time in Brasil, I'm already dying to go back. I had a wonderful time getting to know Ali's sweet, sweet family; eating traditional Brazilian dishes; soaking up the sun; visiting a modern art museum; and, of course, catching up with Ali. My Spanish didn't get me nearly as far as I had hoped it would, but that hardly put a damper on the trip. One of the main things I took away from my weekend in Brasil was the sheer size of the city of Sao Paulo--11 million people live in the municipality alone (compare this to the 3 million in Buenos Aires, the 8 million in NYC, and the 2.2 million in Houston). Needless to say, SP is HUGE. Unfortunately I didn't have that much time in Brasil, but I loved what I saw of the country. Like Argentina, one of the most striking features was, once again, the hospitality (I might even say the Brasilians are even friendlier than the Argentines...is that even possible?). I've got to get back to Brasil. Soon.

3. On Wednesday, just two days after I left Brasil, Ali came to visit Buenos Aires. Because Jenny is down here for the next three weeks, we were able to have our on little mini-Pi Phi reunion here in Buenos Aires. That's three Stanford Pi Phis in Buenos Aires at the same time (not to mention my two closest friends here Gaby and Robyn who just so happen to also be Pi Phis). I swear being a Pi Phi is not a requirement for my friendship. I wouldn't say that I'm homesick or anything (I'm loving BA way too much), but but how can you not miss Stanford just a little? I loved getting to experience a little Stanford love here in BA. More to come later on my adventures with Ali and Jenny (and Gaby and Robyn) here in the lovely Buenos Aires.

I had to take Ali and Jenny to Muma's. It is the most adorable little cupcake place that recently opened in Buenos Aires. Thank goodness the cup cake craze hit BA before I got here!

Robyn, Ali, me, Jenny and Gaby in Puerto Madero. We are going to be the founding members of Argentina Alpha. Hahah.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


A few days ago one of my best friends Allison asked me what has been my favorite memory thus far....that's a tough question, but it got me thinking. I've seen a number of the sights here in Buenos Aires--the stately old Recoleta mansions, the cutting-edge and uber-trendy Hotel Faena in Puerto Madero, the brightly colored houses in La Boca--but those aren't the things that have made my experience. It's the people. It sounds cheesy, but it's true!

About two weeks ago my two IFSA girlfriends Gaby and Robyn joined Pam (my former house mate) and I in at the Teatro Colón. We had wanted to go inside the theater, but it was closed. Instead we spent a few hours on the steps behind the theater giggling and telling our favorite stories about our experiences here in Buenos Aires. It was one of those simple moments, and it was the people--and not the place--that made afternoon so special. So simple and pure that it's a memory that could be easily forgotten, but those very same qualities--the simplicity and purity--are what make it so special.

Tonterias on the steps of the Teatró Colon. Gotta love the classic prom pic!

There was some sort of artistic instillation, so we clearly had to play around.

Action shot, courtesy of the lovely Miss Gaby Jenn, on the steps of the Teatro Colón.

It just so happens that Robyn, Gaby and I are all Pi Phis. Robyn and Gaby joke about founding the Argentina Alpha chapter. I, however, take the matter quite seriously.

Teatro Colón as we left it that afternoon--at dusk.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


It's BAFWeek, and for 25 pesos (about $6) you can buy day-long access which allows you to see up to five fashion shows and endless access to all the many displays and small stands selling jewelry, clothing, handbags and shoes. A pretty good deal, no?

Here are some pictures from my two visits to BAFW:

The runway at the Juana de Arco show.

More from Juana de Arco.

Crapy photo but sexy male model.

Check out the old, hairy male models, but please don't ask me why.

Yet another photo where I don't really have a clue what is going on.

Show #3 was swimwear.

Posing in front of the BAFWeek sign with Victoria.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I was warned about the disorganization of the Argentine educational system on multiple occasions, but I didn't really have any idea what to expect. I had my first class last week at Di Tella, a small, prestigious, private university located in Buenos Aires. Di Tella is one of the best schools in Argentina and is said to be modeled after a school in the united states--unlike the professors many of the other schools in Argentina, most of the professors at Di Tella are full-time professors (at most schools professors teach classes but then have a second job to supplement their income) and most have doctorates.

My class last Monday at Di Tella (a class on Contemporary Issues in Argentina) was scheduled--scheduled is a key word here--to begin at 12:45, but as it was my first day I arrived early at 12:20 to ensure I could find the classroom and what not. Around 12:50, five minutes after the class was scheduled to begin, the first Argentine student arrived. Around 1:00 the second Argentine student arrived. We waited an hour and 15 minutes and still no sign of the professor, so one of the Argentine students went to look for him. The professor was sitting calmly in his office at his computer--he hadn't realized class started that day. An hour and twenty minutes late we finally began class and the professor told us that while we were schedule to meet on both Mondays and Thursdays he only thought we needed to meet once a week, so we wouldn't have a Thursday class. He also said that while the class started at 12:45 there was no need to come before 1:00. I listened to him, and this week I arrived at class right on time at 1:00 only to discover that the professor seemed to have forgotten what he had said earlier, starting his class promptly at 12:45.

That was my Di Tella experience--and Di Tella is quite organized considered to the Universidad de Buenos Aires. UBA as it's called here is a public university with a 300,000 person student body, and it's often considered Argentina's most prestigious university in part because of the skill it takes on the part of the student to navigate the logistical nightmare UBA creates in order to graduate. UBA has various sedes (department buildings) scattered all over BA and it can take up to an hour to travel from one sede to another. I'm shopping classes at Filosofia y Letras and Ciencias Sociales, continently located about 30 minutes from each other.

UBA is also known as a socialist hotbed. There are posters everywhere (there were even tiny little fliers taped to each step on the stairs) and you can even find graffiti supporting various causes on the classroom walls. For my first UBA class, a Political Science class about Argentine Foreign Policy, I arrived at the Social Science sede an hour early. After waiting in line for an hour in attempt to find out my classroom number I was informed that even though Political Science classes are offered by the Social Science Department the classes are usually held in the Communications building located about 45 minutes away if you use public transportation--whoops. As it was now time for my class to begin, I hopped in a taxi (after first having to stop at a cash machine in order to be able to pay for the taxi) and hurried over to the Communications building.

I arrived to class about 30 minutes late (but I was not the last to arrive), and I understood about 25% of what the professor said. It wasn't that he was speaking too fast; the problem was the acoustics of the room and the fact that he was speaking rather softly. After the class I approached the professor, and upon discovering that I was a foreign exchange student his attitude transformed completely. He told me that in the future he would make an concerted effort to speak more clearly. He also offered to hold tutorials just for the foreign exchange students--three of us in total--to make sure we understand everything. He then walked us down to the photo copy store where you go each week to pick up your readings. While walking there we made a connection, realizing just how small the world is. A friend of his is currently getting her Masters in Latin American Studies at Stanford--maybe I'll meet her this Spring in one of my Latin American Studies classes for my minor!

Oh, and one other funny thing about UBA--the professors frequently stop class to let visitors come in and make announcements or etc. In my first class the professor stopped for five minutes on two separate occasions. First to let some man lecture to us about leftist politics (he distributed a pamphlet titled "Bulletin of the Union of Young People for Socialism") and second to let a man speak to us about Down's Syndrome and then ask for money--and almost all of the students in the class gave him money! It was crazy. Haha. I'm clearly quite far away from Stanford.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I've been down here in Argentina for four weeks now, and I fall in love with the city a little more each day. It's hard not to fall in love--the people here are just so friendly. While we were staying at the estancia in Cordoba, the Brazilian family who was staying at the same estancia with us heard that I was going to Brazil. They invited me to not only stay with them in their house three hours outside of Sao Paulo, but they also said I was more than welcome to stay with their mother in Sao Paulo.

On our way Iguazu a family that I just randomly started chatting with in the airport gave me their phone number and e-mail address, telling me to call them or e-mail them if I needed anything. They also invited me to come bring some friends and spend the weekend with them at their home en Mar de Plata. The hospitality down here is truly incredible. In the United States we are so scared of others. I feel like we assume the worst, but the people here assume the best.

One of the most hospitable of families is the Place Family. Jenny Place is one of my closest friends from Stanford. She is from Buenos Aires, and while Jenny is currently back in California, I've been able to get to know her family. While my parents were here our family went to dinner with the Place Family, and then this weekend I spent the majority of my day on Saturday with the Places. They live in the suburbs to the north of Buenos Aires (it's between 30minutes to an hour away depending on traffic). On Saturday morning the drove into Buenos Aires to pick me up, and we drove out to their home in the north. We had a lovely lunch at a country club where they are members and then spent a some time at their home where they gave me a tour, and we chatted. Mr. Place knows that I'm a history major and lent me a number of books about Argentine history, and Jenny's younger sister Stephanie lent me some DVDs from their movie collection to keep myself entertained. The Place Family has really taken me under my wing and treats me as if I'm their daughter (Mr. Place e-mails me at least once a week to check in and make sure everything is going well). It's so nice to have such a loving family looking after me, especially since my host family is so cold.

It was so nice to get out of the city, to see homes with yards and swimming pools and to spend some time with a loving family. It was a lovely day and just reaffirmed what I've already noticed about South American Hospitality.