Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Today is a national holiday in Argentina—El Día del Censo Nacional. All businesses are required to close from 0:00 to 20:00 because everyone must be at home waiting for the censistas who come door to door in order to ensure accuracy.

Like in the states the census is typically conducted once every 10 years, but it’s been 20 years since a census was properly conducted because everyone forgot about the census in the wake of the 2001 financial crisis.

Because of the census today was supposed to be a historical day, but unfortunately, it’s going to be remembered for more than just the cenus. Early this morning former President Nestor Kirchner (president from 2003 to 2007) who was also a leading contender for the 2011 presidential elections and the wife of current president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner died of a heart attack.

If you’d like to read more the Wall Street Journal published a pretty good article this morning:

In spite of the huge loss, government officials insisted that the census go on. Tonight at 8 PM once the census is officially over, there will be a massive demonstration at the famous Plaza de Mayo in front of La Casa Rosada—Argentina’s version of the White House.

Fuerza Cristina--that's the phrase of the day.

Home page of the Argentine newspaper Página 12.

La Nación.


Monday, October 25, 2010


My apologies for disappearing for the past month. It's a result of what we down here in Argentina call "fiaca." It roughly translates to laziness. My fiaca was in relation to this blog, in part because my life has pretty much spun out of control over the past month (although it's slowly starting to normalize a bit). So, here we go, I'm going to try to summarize the past month in a few paragraphs so that I don't bore you too much (although I am one to ramble)...

UBA, UBA, UBA. Wow. What an experience. So I've already talked about the student strike a great deal, but the whole situation continued to get worse until things pretty much exploded in the sixth week of the strike when students stormed the ministry of education and tried to take over the building. Multiple students were arrested and three were injured. Basically, this act of violence gave the students the TV time they so badly desired (the government and the media had made an agreement to not avoid giving students media attention), so they finally, after 45 days, lifted the toma.

The only problem is that in a 14 week long semester you can't just miss 6 weeks of class and pretend nothing happened. The administration made the decision to lengthen the semester until the end of December (past Christmas and way past the date of the return flight to the U.S. that I booked months ago).

IFSA (my study abroad program) created a "Plan B" for us so that we will hopefully still be able to get credit from our home universities (although I'm still not 100% sure because Stanford is being difficult and won't give me concrete answers). Two make up for one UBA class you have two IFSA options: 1. Take two 3 unit classes that each meat for four hours a week (these classes cram 12 weeks worth of material down into two weeks) or 2. Do independent research and write a 20 page paper. For most students this wasn't choosing one of these options wasn't the biggest deal, but I was one of 8 students taking two UBA classes, so it totally and completely changed my schedule. I am now taking two of the new emergency "Plan B" IFSA classes (Historia Argentina and Historia Latinoamericana) and writing an independent research paper on the Social Geography of Latin America.

Because of now lengthened semester and the uncertainty of wether or not I would be able to receive credit for my UBA classes, I had to drop both of them. I know it wasn't failure or anything on my part because the whole situation was completely out of my control, but it sure felt like I was failing. I choose to deal with the whole logistical mess of doing a non-Stanford program so that I could take classes with local students, and now, after 4 weeks of class and 6 weeks of strike, I'm stuck taking classes with all Americans. Yes, I did get a few weeks of class with Argentines, but regardless, it's frustrating to have something I've wanted so badly for so long taken way from me. I'm kind of (I lie...really) Type A, and I don't deal very well with people messing with my plans (particularily when they are four years in the making).

Okay, so here goes my language, but I really think it's necessary: Yea, so I'm pissed off at Argentina and all of the strikes. I'm pissed off at the selfish minority of studente from the Patido Obrero who so selfishly took over the university and screwed up not only my semester but also the semesters of so many Argentine students who have a genuine desire to learn. They waisted SIX WEEKS of our lives. Yes, I get they were fighting for something they believe in, but is taking over the university buildings and preventing anyone from learning really the most effective way to achieve change? By preventing classes from occurring the only people they are really hurting are themselves! But, shit happens. Argentina happens. This is a reality here. Strikes happen all the time. Yea, this one did get a little out of hand--to historical proportions--but that's part of life here. It's something that very few foreigners really get to experience. In some ways I'm really quite fortunate to be able to experience Argentina--both the positive and the negative. So while I may not be able to complete one of my goals--taking classes with Argentines--at least I'm getting to complete another--getting to truly and completely know Argentina.