This week marked the official beginning of the “study” part of “study abroad,” and while it’s easy to feel like I’m constantly studying while I learn historia on tours of the city, practicar Spanish at dinner with Copete and Eugenia, or converse with locals en los bares, the University of Michigan unfortunately does not give credit for said activities, so classes it is!
My schedule is pretty great, with no Friday classes, some days to sleep in, and others where I finish relatively early. I’m taking 17 credits, 3 of which are for an internship that I will be starting some time next week (hopefully). 6 of those are for two different classes that I’m taking at IES: my advanced Spanish Course (Spanish 401), and The Making of Patagonia. The Spanish course is one of the upper level courses they offer, so there are only 7 of us in my section, which is awesome for discussion. The Making of Patagonia class explores the history and culture of the Patagonia region of Argentina and, awesomely, involves a four-day trip to Bariloche, one of the cities in Patagonia (Google “Patagonia” right now if you don’t already have an image in your head… I’ll wait………….. Beautiful huh?!)
My last siete créditos are two classes at La Universidad Cátolica Argentina. For a second, imagine with me this scene: think about a first day of school at a new place, whether that be high school or college or a time you moved. Now imaging that that new place is in another country with a completely different culture. Now imagine that everyone is speaking a language other than your own.
Not nerve-wracking or anything, right? Right…
So any way, I walk into the classroom, looking around at all the beautiful Argentines that clearly are all best friends and awkwardly sit alone. Asked someone if it was the correct room and BAM, they already know I’m not from here. But at least that gets us talking, because they ask where I’m from, why I chose Buenos Aires, what other classes I’m taking, etc, all of which are easy enough questions to answer in Spanish and make me feel a little more confidente. The first class I have is “La Introducción a Teología,” or “The Introduction to Theology.” Considering religion fascinates me and that I’m at a Catholic university, I figured I might as well since the Spanish credit at U of M counts for Spanish no matter what classes I choose. The priest/professor (priestfesor?) is super sweet and really funny. Half way into the class, he had us each go around the room and say our names. Again, imagine with me hearing name after name that sounds like “María López,” “Julia Gonzales,” “Pedro Diaz”, etc. The names are all beautiful and Spanish-y and then suddenly “Sam Whaley” with the nasally “aaah” sound with which the mid-west has so lovingly gifted me. Not missing a beat, Priestfesor said, in English, “Where are you from?” (imagine it in a cute, older-man Spanish accent). I replied in Spanish and made a joke that the class all laughed at, so basically the whole day was a success.
My otra clase a la UCA is “Periodismo Internacional” or, like we say in ‘murica, “International Journalism.” The name of the class seems off to me since in reality it’s much more of a international relations course where we focus on modern news. It’s incredibly interesting, and this class, unlike the other, has other foreign students in it including un de Francia, dos de España, una de Colombia, un de México, y tres otros de USA. I think it will be really interesting to study international relations from a different perspective than the US, and with so many other countries represented, I’m sure we’ll have some incredible discussions.
Outside of class, I’ve had an even more amazing time (hard to believe, I know). We went to a Tango show in the swanky part of town and ate delicious food, explored some other cool bars, and, last weekend, went to Mar del Plata (literally “Sea of Silver”).
I went with four friends (Caitlin, Vic, Gabi, and Julia) and chose to go there because it’s one of the most well-known beach in Argentina. We took a bus five hours south and the weekend of eating delicious food, drinking delicious drinks, and laying on the beach commenced! We stayed in a little hostel just outside of the really touristy area but still only two blocks from the beach. There weren’t many foreigners so we got to practice a lot of Spanish. The beach was so perfect and warm and the water was the perfect cold-but-not-too-cold that you want when you’re baking in the sun. Most surprising part of the weekend? I came home with minimal sun burn.
As this hopefully all shows, things are going swimmingly: challenging academically and personally but so much fun. I can’t believe almost three weeks have already passed and I couldn’t be more thankful that we have another 4-ish months to explore this beautiful country.
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Hasta luego, amigos!
Some pictures from the week:
At the Argentine Experience (lookin’ pretty fresh)
Puerto Madero, the neighborhood where la UCA is.
Part of la UCA