A typically sunny street view of the corner of Av. Federico Lacroze and 11 de Septiembre 1888 in Buenos Aires.
Photos by Ashley Mowreader
Study abroad is often perceived as weekends of traveling, EFTs, exploring the city or discovering new places. But what does a day in the life of an abroad student look like?
8:30 a.m. – Morning Routine
Mornings in Buenos Aires are my favorite. My bed faces the door, which has a frosted glass pane window that frames a few rays of sunshine as I wake up.
None of my classes start before 9:30 a.m. and I’m only a couple of minutes from the Casa. Normally I’m dawdling as I get ready — checking Snapchat and Twitter, checking up on friends abroad in Europe and seeing if my family on the West Coast tried to reach me while I was asleep.
Getting ready doesn’t take very long anymore for a number of reasons. First, I only have the same 60 people to impress, and they’ve seen my entire wardrobe. Second, it has been incredibly hot in Buenos Aires with temperatures reaching anywhere from 85 to 90 degrees on a cooler day.
By the end of the day, I have no makeup on and my hair is in a ponytail, so in the mornings I try and keep it brief.
Counter space is limited in my room, but I’ll sacrifice a corner for my favorite stuffed manatee and my mate and bombilla (the little yellow cup and metal straw in the far left).
Closet space is also limited, leaving wardrobe choices focused more on necessity than aesthetics. However, I will say I have become completely enamored with thrift shopping here.
Most Argentines dress in neutral, muted or darker colors and wear black on black for going out. We Americans don’t blend in well with the local dress code, but thankfully Porteños are fashion-forward and generally accepting of whatever we pull out of our tiny closets.
An example of a normal look. Pepp T-shirt? Check. Hair down with a hair-tie on wrist just in case? Check. Camera? Double check.
I am a succulent enthusiast — the hardest part about BA has been the lack of a windowsill to grow and put cacti on. Thankfully, my madre doesn’t mind me keeping my jellybean plant on the counter next to the laundry room sink just outside my room. I got this little guy on Argentina’s Mother’s Day from Hillsong Church.
An outfit is never complete without functional shoes — tennis shoes especially. My poor Adidas have seen better days; on any given day I’m trekking over cobblestone streets, marching around day-old piles of dog poop and climbing several flights of stairs. Because, you know, Pepperdine.
I remember our BA abroad ambassador telling us to only bring a couple pairs of shoes, as you really don’t use more than that. I was astounded. How could you wear the same shoes so much? But I get it now. Sneakers go with everything: dresses, jeans, shorts, skirts. I’ve even worn my sneakers to dance tango. They’re just that functional.
Breakfast — the most important meal of the day. Or at least in America, it is. Porteños don’t really care for breakfast that much, normally settling for a medialuna (very similar to a croissant) and a coffee. It’s almost ironic that I eat more breakfast in BA than I would in the States.
When I first arrived in September, my madre would make breakfast. She’d set out an assortment of fruits and yogurts, but gradually I started making my own breakfast. Now, she’ll drink mate and chat with me while I eat.
My morning walk to school. I am the envy of most in the BA program because of my proximity to the Casa. On one hand, I’m extremely close, meaning my forgetfulness is not detrimental to my daily schedule. However, it also means I don’t have a unique piece of Belgrano to explore like everyone else does.
10 a.m. – Arrival at the Casa & Class
Casa Holden, our home away from home(stays). Casa Holden was donated to Pepperdine from the Holden family in 2002 and has since hosted dozens of visiting faculty and students. This is the grand entryway into the Pepp campus, just past our security booth and door from the street.
This, however, is one of my favorite views from the Casa — the library couch in Casa Olleros. Casa Olleros, named after the cross-street it lives on, holds all of the classrooms and faculty offices for Pepperdine. This couch is special, however, as it is the perfect napping length in the coldest room in the Casa. Plus, you can probably find a couple of blankets on it while everyone is in class, making it the best spot to power nap before lunch, dinner, class or going out.
This is Cuyo, our biggest classroom in the Casa, and normally where I spend most of my day. Though it may be the most-used classroom, don’t expect classes to be similar. The room has three whiteboards side by side on which Professor Provvidente, our Humanities teacher, loves to draw a sprawling timeline. Laura, one of our Spanish teachers, will create charts of verb conjugations or Professor Davis, our visiting Biology faculty, will bust out his thick black whiteboard marker to tell us about Argentine plants.
This is Pampa, one of the smaller classrooms. Pampa only holds a few classes throughout the week, namely Economics and Biology lab, meaning classes are a little more intimate. These pictures are from my Religion class first semester, as we waited for class to start. Argentines are many things, but punctual is not one of them. You never know what time a class will begin or if you’ll finish on time, but this creates a much more relaxed and welcoming class atmosphere.
Here are Hannah and Lauren (from left to right), some of my close friends in BA. Hannah and Lauren basically keep the Casa going, as Hannah is one of our SGA representatives and Lauren is one of the RAs. You can always find them event planning, coordinating logistics or budgeting receipts to see what fun things we can do next.
12:30 p.m. – Lunch
The best part of any week is asado. Argentina is famed for its meat and especially its steaks. But the favorite asado food this year has been the chorizo. Chorizo is similar to bratwurst and it’s most commonly served on bread like a sandwich with chimichurri, a sauce made up of different herbs and spices. Claudio, the man at the grill, is our infamous grill master. He makes the perfect meat every week. We couldn’t live without him and asado, and that’s the truth.
Fun fact! Argentina is one of the highest meat-eating countries in the world — number 10, in fact, according to The Telegraph. Most homestay dinners are not complete without a huge serving of meat, and the favorite restaurants around town are steakhouses like Kansas and La Colorada.
When we’re not eating Thursday asado, we’re either cooking in one of Casa Holden’s two kitchens, eating at one of the local cafes, or ordering take-out from Rappi — one of the many bicycle/motorcycle delivery services around the city. You have to be careful though, because before you know it you’re ordering everything from Rappi and never leaving the Casa.
4:30 p.m. – Post-class Studying
The most traditional place to study in BA is the library. You can find most students here between classes printing essays, cramming last-minute Spanish vocabulary or blatantly ignoring the ‘NO FOOD’ signs. While most books in the library are in English, we also have some novels and informational books about South America in Spanish.
I personally like to study outside on the terrace next to the pool. Here you can see some of my school essentials — laptop, phone, water bottle, jacket (for classes, as it gets really cold with the AC on) and backpack full of textbooks and snacks. Sometimes I have mate with me while I study.
It’s kind of an adventure finding your friends in the Casa throughout the day. This photo is of the music room, affectionately called the “Boom-Boom Room” by faculty and students. This is the highest floor in Casa Holden.
If you’re going up to the Boom-Boom Room, you’re probably going to be staying there a while. It takes four flights of spiral stairs to get there, leaving you often out of breath and wondering why you came up in the first place. But, on the plus side, the Boom-Boom Room is next to our second kitchen with a TV and, thanks to the generosity of our peers, a PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Aaron, in the top photo, is watching Netflix and Jack is deep in contemplation about music.
6:30 p.m. – Tuesday Night Convocation & Sunday House Church
The auditorium is where we host everything from convocation, to house church, from tango to yoga class. We also hold student events from Super Bowl Sunday to Bob Ross Painting Night and the ever-necessary impromptu jam sessions. It can be a bit of a tight fit on Tuesdays for convo, but it just makes it that much more intimate during worship or prayer.
9 p.m. – Homestay Dinner
This is the living room of my little homestay. In the evenings and especially on weekends, my padre sits in front of the orange ottoman and watches futbol [soccer] for hours, normally with a thermos and mate. Late at night, I’ll come home to Sofia, one of my homestay sisters, laying with her head on the far end of the couch scrolling through Instagram or texting on WhatsApp. Sometimes Roque, our tiny terrier dog, is occupying 75% of the couch. Or sometimes, around once a month, I might come home to find my abuelos [grandparents] watching the news. It’s always a fun surprise to see who will be waiting for me when I get home.
The kitchen, just like in the States, is a central room in our home. Here, my madre [mom] will start cooking an hour to two hours before dinner, or I can find my hermanitas [little sisters] baking cookies or chatting with their friends.
My madre will start cooking dinner around 7 p.m. We normally eat dinner at 8:45 p.m. at the earliest, 9:30 p.m. at the latest, and dinner goes on for at least an hour. The time after dinner we call “sobre mesa” or around the table where we just sit and talk. We talk about music, politics, movies, the city, the US and especially food. Sometimes, we talk for 30 minutes, sometimes for more than two hours. This is easily one of the best parts of my day and a true test of my Spanish.
11 p.m. – Bedtime
And just like that, it’s time for bed. On a typical weekend, we might be out until 2 or 3 a.m. exploring the city and meeting locals, but Casa Holden closes at 11 p.m. and you can find me fast asleep (or scrolling through Instagram) not long after that on weeknights. But the best part? That I get to do it all again tomorrow.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
Email Ashley Mowreader: email@example.com