Mi querida Argentina. It’s week one for the Buenos Aires program. We arrived Tuesday morning, a little tired and jet lagged, trying to manage lifting our luggage onto the X-ray machines of airport security, and then out to the bus that would bring us to our new surroundings.
Casa Pepperdine is complete with a student library and computer center. Many of us have been spending quite a bit of time on the computer already, sending e-mail to our now far off family and friends. With the hot summer months ahead, the swimming pool will definitely be a major hangout.
Much of the city reminds me of Europe, and its public transportation reminds me of the East Coast. It is also a city that is known for walking. Quite a few of us take the bus or the subway to school. I have yet to conquer the skills of riding the bus, as I have only dared to ride the subway so far.
Last night while walking home, I got a little lost, which honestly was scary, especially since night was upon me. But with God’s grace, I found my casa.
It’s hard to be oriented in such a big city with so many people and so many cars. There is no need for consensus that you have to watch out for the Argentine drivers. Although there are painted lines in the street, there is no concept of lanes. Cars and buses drive wherever they choose. Everyone weaves in and out of the other vehicles.
Meeting our host families was a wonderful and nerve-wracking experience. The veteran Buenos Aires programmers told us that last semester they felt like puppies at the pound, waiting for someone to pick them up.
In only a few days, I have enjoyed every minute of being with my host mom. Some of our families speak English, while others of us have families that speak no or very little English.
We have shared experiences of not being able to understand our host parents to some degree, but laugh because most of the time we muster up a look of great confusion, while all we manage to say is, “Si.”
We are learning quite a bit. Our host parents and other contacts have shared with us their views on the economic crisis in Argentina. We are not allowed to go into the downtown area at all, until told otherwise. The uprisings here have been relatively peaceful, although there have been some riots.
On our first day of arrival, the lines at the banks were outside the buildings and around, which caused us to ask a lot of questions, but we are assured that we will still be able to access ATMs and use our credit cards.
With a few days under our belts, we are eager to travel and learn as much as we can about the Argentine culture. We are already learning to adapt to the Spanish of the porteños, which differs slightly from the Spanish we learn in school.
We have learned that the people don’t usually go out until 2 a.m., that dinner is served around 8 or 9 p.m., and to watch your step for the gifts left by the Argentine dogs.
January 24, 2002