Sunday, February 2, 2014

La Marcha (The March)

        The revolution came to me muffled at first, sounding from five stories below outside a closed patio door. The rhythmic
BOOM! Boom! BOOM! Boom!

beckoned me out to the balcony. No sooner had I slid the screen aside than the drums, in honest and brutal clarity, attacked me entirely. Pounding in my ears, echoing in my brain, vibrating up my shins, their bursts scattered into every particle of frigid air and settled into every crevice of brick. I had emerged from the box of the apartment into a world of shouted symphony, of tribal roar.

        There must have been a thousand marching, clustered and organized, eyes on fire and voices projected in song. The masses, each led by a single amplified voice, were separated into distinct ballads of equality and great, shining banners:




        Forward they marched: a colony of whites and morochos, of mothers and children, of leaders, of pot-bangers, of tambourine-thumpers – the working Argentina – toward their lady Cristina along La Avenida de Mayo.

        Though the wintry August air drew my arms across my chest, I stayed rooted to the balcony’s edge and leaned out as far as the railing allowed. Transfixed, I watched, I absorbed, I dissolved into this union march.

        I snapped moments through a slim Nikon until I forfeited the effort to capture a magic elusive. I recorded a segment of blaring war cry that I later discovered rendered choppy and incoherent. I watched until my eyes pooled with tears in combat against the cold.

        It was one of many, this march; but be as it may a mere line in a book, I’ll exist behind the words. This march raged below me on this evening as I stood, melding into it outside an old apartment on that avenue. I am there in the part you will never read – in the part indescribable – leaning out over the rail of a balcony five stories up, eager not to miss a blink of history in the making.

Featured in Medium Weight Forks, a Northwest Missouri State University student publication, spring 2014.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On Assimilating in Argentina, Point 008.

1asado, asada
: roasted, grilled, broiled

Asado. Grilled meat. Couldn't miss it if you wanted to.
(And believe me, you wouldn't want to).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

BA Snapshot Series // 003

La Casa Rosada.

Hall of prominent figures...

Behind me: a map of Las Islas Malvinas
Sala (Room) de las Mujeres Argentinas del Bicentenario

Evita's room <3

Busts of los presidentes de los gobiernos constitucionales
(the presidents from constitutional governments - there have
been many coups d'état in the governing history of Argentina,
and it was decided not to represent those leaders.)

When the tour was over, I became president.
Sorry, Cristina.

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Si querés, podés"

So goes the slogan for la Universidad del Salvador (USAL) - where I am taking classes this semester.
[The phrase has become a personal favorite of mine, which any of my exchange amigas can attest to.]

USAL was founded by the Jesuits (see "The Feast Day of San Ignacio de Loyola"); is situated in downtown Buenos Aires; is a private institution; provides an education to about 20,000 students; and was the first university in Argentina to accept exchange students. But you can find all of that information through the Northwest Missouri State University Study Abroad site.

What you won't find written in the site description is:

001. The university is split into several different facultades - colleges - and each has its own location, separate from the others.

For example, wedged here in between shops and restaurants and variegated offices is the Facultad de Comunicación Social, where I spend my Tuesdays and Wednesdays:
Some facultades are not so clearly labeled, either.
002. You need to know well before you book your flights which classes (or at least which types of classes) you will want to take. Prepare an expansive list. The university will ask you to fill out a sheet of 5 or 6 prospective classes; add double that number to a list of your own.

003. "Ask and it shall be given unto you."
Don't take anything for granted. The thing is, for the most part, we are taken by the hand and led through most any given process in the States, and they just don't do things that way here. Ask questions.
This rule also applies to the classroom. Whereas in the U.S., you would receive the syllabus and all required reading either in printed form or online, you have to ask for all of that here. That also includes exam dates. Ask, ask! If you aren't answered straight away, keep the aforementioned in mind. And ask again for old Liberty's sake.

004. Have patience with los tramites.
If you're from the States, you're also used to getting things done fast. And while the city of Buenos Aires moves a lot faster than what I'm used to back in Missouri, when it comes to documentation/ registration/ (fill-in-the-blank)ation, it is much slower. A yanqui must have patience. The thing is, it's part of the culture. Argentines are more relaxed about certain things (another example is the very European custom of taking an hour or two out of the afternoon for a café with friends or spending hours chatting over supper; both of which are pretty well foreign to North Americans, generally speaking).
Also, when you arrive, you will receive a 30-day travel visa. So even if you're only staying for a semester, it will just barely not cover you. Keep in mind that you will have to make a couple visits to the Center for Migrations to obtain a student visa.
Bottom line: patience, yanqui-son.
P.S. - If all else fails, St. Francis de Sales.
Patron Saint of patience.
Given you're in a predominantly Catholic country, it couldn't hurt to shoot him a call for help.
005. When you start classes, it will be overwhelming at first. Depending on the profesor, you might have to work hard just to understand, let alone to complete all the required work for the course. I would recommend a tape recorder for those instances. More than likely, however, you'll have at least one professor who is completely accommodating, responds to your emails immediately, and goes out of his/her way to ask how you're getting along. Cherish them. Use them as motivation to maintain patience with the less-helpful ones.

General tips for la gran Buenos Aires...

006. The city is huge and full of life 25/7 - use every opportunity you can to take advantage of it! There are countless museums to meander in, plazas to drink mate at, and little tucked-in restaurants to try around every corner. Not to mention los boliches (night clubs).
Boliches are an essential part of the Buenos Aires experience; as a college student, it's considered essential. But be prepared; going out here is quite a bit different from going out at home. You might go to a previa (pre-game), stay there until about 1 AM, leave for the club, and stay out until 7 AM. (Girls, I would recommend you pack flats). Also, when you go out, you should always arrive and leave with a group. That is Rule #1. When you leave, you will probably take a taxi to get home - which leads to my next point...

007. Only take taxis with a "Radio Taxi" sign on the roof. These are the registered taxis and are the reliable ones (though you should always check to make sure you aren't short-changed when getting out). Which reminds me...

008. To make sure your money is not counterfeit, the test is the same for pesos as it is for American dollars: hold the bill up to the light and look for the watermark in the form of the person depicted on the bill.

There are a thousand other tips I could list here, but I'll stop with these for now (and maybe add another tip-filled post later).

Hasta la próxima -

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

On Assimilating in Argentina, Point 007.

La empanada is ubiquitous, delicious.
Succumb to the temptations of an essential element of Argentine cuisine.

Empanadas de jamon y queso, pollo, roquefort, capresse, y carne suave
Feria time with my all-time personal "Iowan Girl" favorite: a beef empanada
Beef empanadas and sugar-coated roasted peanuts
I will do my best to smuggle some with me on to the flight back home.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

On Assimilating in Argentina, Point 006.

006. When speaking to Argentines, use el voseo, not el tuteo.

What sets the people of Argentina apart, in a language context, from the rest of Latin America (save Uruguay and a few other South American countries) is el voseo - a verb conjugation unique to these select countries.

For a quick explanation:

Spanish (el tuteo)

Spanish (el voseo)

In basic Spanish courses in the States, we learn el tuteo - mostly because it is the most widely used.
EX: Where are you from?
     (el tuteo): ¿De dónde eres?
     (el voseo): ¿De dónde sos?

The difference between el tuteo and el voseo shows up every time you address someone directly, which is fairly confusing when first attempting to speak like the locals. Pero no pasa nada, te acostumbrás (Don't worry, you get used to it)! I'll keep this brief introduction as-is and leave it to you to visit Argentina to learn the rest! ;)

Finalmente, from my dear roommate, who has encouraging me from the beginning to use el voseo and drop my tuteo ways, a little song to go along with the lesson.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BA Snapshot Series // 002

From the 30th of June to the 16th of September, a polka-dotted craze exploded in the art scene of Buenos Aires. It all started here:
The MoMA of Suramerica
The exhibition that gave spectators a desire to affix polka-dot stickers to any and every conceivable place...

Yayoi Kusama, "Infinite Obsession"
The artist herself.
Kusama is a schizophrenic, and in the interview from which this shot was taken, she explains that her art provides her an outlet and helps her deal with - and work out - her condition.
At the forefront of the showcase were her latest works, the material that drew enormous crowds every day throughout the months-long exhibition.

Moving through the exhibition, her older works appear.

"Macaroni Suitcase"

And then a mirror-walled room filled with plush, polka-dotted pups, multiplied by a thousand from the reflections.
...And another room, pitch-black save for the slow pulsing of a billion multi-colored lights hanging from the ceiling. The lights were reflected in mirrors that lined the walls and also by pools of water that made an isthmus of the walkway.
Totally rad.

¡Hasta la próxima!