Think of this as a bunch of mini blogs of all of the things I’ve been meaning to tell you guys about:
Cafes: Cafes are amazing, omni-present, and fairly cheap. Some of the best pastries I’ve ever had come from cafes. Also some of my moments of greatest contentment and greatest serenity.
Plazas: The city center of Mendoza is set up with the huge Plaza Independencia in it’s center and four smaller plazas (Italia, España, Chile, and San Martín) off of each corner. People meet in plazas, chill in plazas, do homework in plazas, every weekend there is an artisan fair in Plaza Independencia. They are beautiful places
Cat Calls: When you are walking along minding your own business and an idiot boy cat calls you. When I first got here I couldn’t understand what they said. Now I do and I wish I still couldn’t. You do not respond. You do not make eye contact. You walk faster and look at the ground. I hate cat calls.
Pollution: Outside of the city (and in the plazas or park) the air is fine, normal, even clean. Inside the city, depending on the day, the air can be fairly polluted. It’s gross.
Smoking: While we are on the topic of air quality, lots of people in this country smoke. They have very little consideration for people who don’t smoke. If they want to kill themselves slowly, fine, but do it away from me.
Micro: The bus system in Mendoza is called the Micro (Me-crow). They are an experience, as is all public transportation. The Micro is the great equalizer. I was talking to a friend here the other day about Micro-economics. I pronounced it Me-crow not my-crow. I’ve been here for two long.
Boxed Milk: So apparently a lot of the rest of the world doesn’t drink milk from jugs like we do in The States. They drink it from boxes or bags. I’m not talking a carton, I mean a box- like what chicken broth comes in, except without the pour spout thing. My host mom buys about 10 Liters of milk at a time and it is so pasteurized that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated until it has been opened. It also tastes sweeter than milk in the US. I have it with my cereal and I don’t mind it, but I’m still not sure how comfortable I am with the whole thing. Yogurt also comes in bags.
Walking and eating: They don’t do it. They don’t drink coffee and walk, they don’t eat and walk, they don’t eat on the Micro, they will barely sip from a bottle (almost always using a straw) on the Micro. They sit down and take time for things, which is nice, but it’s also irritating because sometimes you are busy and need to eat on the go.
The Argentines: Are extremely nice people! They are generally very willing and happy to help you. They are also, however, the most laid-back people ever, which like walking and eating has it’s advantages and disadvantages. I do love how giving these people are though and how much they like to share things. It’s something we’ve picked up while we’ve been here.
Weirdness: It will be weird to go back to the states (T-48 hours) for a lot of reasons but one thing that will be really weird is not seeing the people that I’ve seen, at times constantly, for the past semester. Particularly Janelle, with whom I have shared so many of my adventures. I knew none of these people 4 months ago and now some of them are very important to me, but I will probably never see some of them again.
Finals: Finals have been interesting. For the most part no problems and respectable grades, but never have I seen the disorganization of this country more than during exams. Also at Gettysburg Professors don’t proctor exams, something I didn’t realized I loved so much until I took exams here and the profs were in the room staring at you the whole time.
Time: Before I left one of my friends, Anna, and I jokes that I should call my blog The Life of a Punctual Girl in Argentina. That sums things up pretty well. It bothered me more at first, now I’ve gotten used to just going with the flow and to be honest, I’m not sure I’m going to like waiters coming up to my table every 10 minutes in restaurants or not being able to just sit and sobremesa (after dinner conversation) for an hour or two after every meal.
Politics: The good people of argentina love their politics and unlike in the US it is not taboo to talk about them. In fact they do talk about them with any and everyone. I have had people I just met tell me about their politics and who they usually vote for. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. To make matters more interesting it’s an election year.
Knitting: I’ve knit before, but small things like scarves or hats (on a loom) but this semester a bunch of us knit blankets for charity. I had some extra yarn at the end so I also decided to knit a hat for my host mom (because she is always freezing) and a baby hat to go with the blanket! It was fun! Right now I’m trying mittens, I have no doubt I will post them on Facebook if I ever finish them.
Health Center: We went to a Centro de Salud with one of my Professors, a physician, in a very poor, but clean, neighborhood a few weeks ago. It was amazing, they have a general practitioner, a pediatrician, a nutritionist, a dentist, three nurses, a physiatrist, a pharmacist, a OB/GYN, and a cardiologist that came a few days a week. The building was slightly small and older, but like the neighborhood it was clean and generally sufficient. By the way, it’s all free. They might have to get up before dawn to get an appointment but they receive good medical care, that otherwise they would have absolutely no access to as many of them must stretch every peso to afford food, and they don’t pay for it beyond paying their taxes.
Introspection: in the last few weeks we have all been pretty introspective. I love this. Reflecting on how privileged we have been to study in the place with such great people, processing our experiences and how they have changed us, promising that we will see each other again on day, trying to process our crazy bittersweet emotional roller coaster, and about a million other things.
Reverse Culture Shock: Is a thing that happens when you’ve been abroad and you come home and things are different than they were abroad. It’s like when you go to a new place and experience culture shock, but reversed. I’ll let you know if this happens to me once I’m home.