Saturday, April 19, 2014

Vive en mi amor, comparte en mi alegría!

I've tried nearly 6 times now to write an introduction to this blog that sums up everything that I'm feeling right now, but it's hard. Nearly 8 months has passed by here in Argentina and it's starting to dawn on me that I have very little time left. With so many things planned it's really saddening to talk with friends and say 'We NEED to do this before I leave!' and realize that I probably won't be able to. With only 70 something odd days left, 15 of those will be spent travelling with Rotary and I still have to go to school. I have an exchange bucket list with both my host family and my friend Leonie, and my classmates are always telling me they have things they want to do with me before I leave, too. It's all so hard because I don't know when I'll be able to visit again.

While all of the exchange students will be leaving not knowing when they'll be able to come back to Argentina, the majority of the other exchange students live in Europe and they already have plans to get together given that they can hop on a train and be in the same city within hours. They always say "Micah, you can come too!" but unless they're willing to pay for my plane ticket, that's probably not going to happen. While I have become close to some great Argentine people, the people who always understand what I'm going through and are always open to new things are the other exchange students, and I am truly am going to miss them.

But I've had some fun adventures lately! This is going to be a long post...

On March 24th was the Argentine Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice, commemorating those who were killed in the Dirty War. There were large marches in the capital, but my host family and I picnicked in a park near my house.
Día Nacional de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia

Some amazing skaters! 
He's gotten so big!
Jugando el fútbol!
On Thursday March 28th I went with my friend, Tilen, to pick up our tickets for Lollapalooza in the capital. It was such a great feeling knowing we could travel to, around and back from Buenos Aires alone (but still asking for directions when we were lost) without troubles, and that when we did ask for help, people understood our Spanish. 

On the 1st of April Tilen and I met up with Ailen (she went on exchange to Oshkosh last year) and Pia (from Austria) in San Isidro for Lollapalooza. We saw Aloe, Portugal, the Man, Capital Cities, Cage the Elephant, Julian Casablancas, Imagine Dragons, Kidd Cudi, Zedd and Arcade Fire. It was my first festival and tons of fun, and hopefully next year I can go to the Lollapalooza in Chicago.

Lollapalooza AR 2014!
On April 5th Leonie and I made dinner for my host parents! We made flammekuchen, squash soup and 'dirt cups' for dessert! 

Dirt cups made with chocolate mousse! 
La mesa!

April 11th through the 13th I went to a 'spiritual retreat' with some of my classmates. It was definitely an interesting experience and I'm really glad I chose to go. We left Friday after school and drove with la profesora de catequesis to el Colegio Emaus in Palomar. 

In the opening ceremony they welcomed each school and the larger school groups had banners, flags, confetti and horns, but this was our group when they called out Sofia Bunge: 
At least Jazmin got into it!
Throughout the weekend we did a ton of activities- some emotional, some fun, and others boring (with 1500+ people, waiting in line for food would sometimes take hours). I really hope the pictures help explain some of what went on, because there are no words that can.
It was a Catholic retreat called 'Pascua Joven'

The six girls from Bunge!
Doing the wave!
My group making educational games to give to an orphanage

I might be in this picture somewhere.. 
Misa de domingo de ramos
The theme was "Live in my love, share in my joy" and there was a song to go with. I still have it stuck in my head!
Picnic dinner with the kids from my school!
Mosh pitting and body surfing to liturgical music? 
It was cold and we were tired, so after lunch we decided to take a nap. 
Closing Ceremony
Embedded image permalink
Meeting new friends and taking selfies!
The weekend I went to the retreat my host family had un campamento and they brought along Pia and Marine (two other exchange students from Austria and Belgium). They stayed for a couple of days after I got back and one night made dinner (I helped!). 

Austrian and Belgian mix!
The next day in school we had mass, and being seniors we didn't have classes because we had to help set up everythig. I read the readings during mass and afterwards everyone clapped, which was slightly embarrassing. Half an hour later people were still saying I looked like a tomato, and the priest was surprised that I've only been living here for 8 months... apparently everyone understood me while I was reading! Afterwards we played a video from Pascua Joven and I really hope that it helped convince the younger kids to go next year- there were only 6 of us from my school who went this year.

pre-mass selfie!
After school two friends came home with me to eat lunch with Pia and Marine. It was fun to have everyone together and after chatting the afternoon away with cookies and terere (cold mate made with juice) we made huevos de Pascua!

Chocolate Easter eggs!
Later that evening we went to Padua to sleep in a Rotarian's house because the following day we went to Uruguay! Our combi didn't have the proper documentation to transport us over the border, so we rented a vehicle for an hour to drive us around Fray Bentos in Uruguay. We stopped to take a few pictures and drove back to the border to renew our visas and eat lunch on the Argentine side in the province of Entre Rios.
Us in the combi with our new Rotary sweatshirts!
The group in front of our combi!
In Fray Bentos, Uruguay!
On the border there was a parrot's nest!
I love the Belgian flag.. and my Belgian friends!
Now we're on Easter vacation! This Wednesday I'm going on a 6 day trip to Calafate and Ushuaia in the south of Argentina, so when I get back I'll write about that and Easter. 
Until then, 
Un beso enorme, 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Only 3 months left!

So during this entire exchange it's been exciting to count the time I've been here.. one week turned to two, which turned to a month and then three and then seven. It's crazy to think that I've been here for more time than I have left; I only have a little more than 3 months left.

I've gotten back into school-mode. As much as I love my classmates, I miss not having a schedule, and waking up at 6 is not fun. I've gotten used to it, but keep in mind that we don't eat dinner until 9 or 10, and then it's a few hours after that when we go to bed, so mornings are difficult and siesta-ing is kind of a necessity. I'm in what is equivalent to my senior year here, so my classmates are currently preparing for their parties and senior trip. One thing I love about Argentina is how widespread partying is... most egresados here throw parties to raise money for partying. At the end of the year, each schools' seniors throw a party at a club. They rent the club for the night and invite everyone and anyone. The seniors then wear costumes and they play a slide show. It's basically a celebration of the last 13 years they've had together. However to rent the club it costs a lot of money, so they throw parties with entrance fees and then use this money to help them pay for THE party.

With my class, aside from 'classwork', we've been working on decorating the classroom, planning fundraisers, and other fun egresado things.

My classmates!

Working on the decorations!
Last weekend I went to Carlos Keen, a town en el campo, with my host family and another exchange student. We walked around town, took pictures, ate a ton at 'Lo de Tito' and slacklined. It was a great weekend!
The old train station
Food for 5... 
This picture makes it appear as if I'm actually good at this.. 

There was even a rainbow on the way home!

A few days later I skipped school (oops) to go to the zoo with some friends. It is by far the coolest zoo I've been to and you can tell that they're putting in a lot of effort into wildlife conservation and (though I know nothing about animals) it appeared as if the animals were happier and had a lot more space than other zoos I've been to. We spent around 8 hours here and still didn't get to see everything, but were our normal silly selves and took tons of pictures. There were quite a few animals I've never seen, and the zoo was super interactive. We got to feed the rays in the aquarium, there was a hippo show (hippos are super interesting... watch this), there was also a very large exhibit with parrots and bats that was cool, and a 360 degree theater, which I had never even heard of. Temaiken had started out as an ice cream parlor with some outdoor bird cages owned by one of Argentina's wealthiest, and has since grown into a large organization 'that works to protect nature, educating, researching and preserving species and ecosystems', but you can still buy the ice cream (which is really good!). If you ever find yourself in Argentina (ahem, current outbounds to Argentina) I would definitely plan a day to visit! (Click here for the website) 
We're so cool. 

I wanted to get a better picture of the albino peacock but she was too fast!
They had underground tunnels that led to where the prairie dogs were! 
Probably one of the prettiest animals that exists!
But toucans are really pretty too!
So a Belgian and an American were riding a lion... 
King of the meerkats!

The sign was probably more exciting than the actual wallabies. 
The parrots had so much attitude. 

It was a great week! On Friday one of my friends and I went to Pia's house for her birthday! Pia's host sister lived in Wisconsin, so it was really interesting to hear her point of view on everything. Her mom went to visit her while she was on exchange and they both just kept telling me how much they absolutely love Wisconsin and how much they miss it (probably more than me.. ). We went clubbing in Buenos Aires. It was great, but I've been fighting a cold so I was a little miserable during some parts of the night. In the afternoon the next day we went out for frozen yogurt in Ciudad Jardin (it was on our exchange bucket list!) which is definitely worth the hype.

It's been cold here lately! Right now it's 56 degrees and I'm bundled up. With the cold weather and being back in school a lot of people have been getting sick. My host family has been a lot sicker than I have... send prayers or good thoughts to my host family and hope that everyone gets healthy soon!

I hope that everyone in the US is also staying healthy! Besos a todos!

Oh, and I took this quiz:

I got Buenos Aires, so I guess I'm exactly where I belong. Although I recently took an online quiz called 'What country do you actually belong in?' and got Switzerland, so I think I'll have to plan a trip to visit Leonie when I get back. ;) 

Monday, March 10, 2014

200 días!

Today is my 200th day in Argentina! It was also my first day of school. On Mondays I have two hours of English and math, and we leave at 11:40. It's the first time I've seen the majority of my classmates since school got out, so it was nice to see everyone together. We spent most of class discussing what we want on our buso de egresados, and fundraisers for their class trip to Bariloche and grad. party, which, unfortunately, I won't be here for.

Since I last wrote, I went to a birthday party for another American exchange student, Kevin. It was tons of fun and it was nice to hang out with the exchange students and Kevin's classmates. During the day Kevin gave us a walking tour of Chivilcoy where we bought ingredients to make tacos and stopped for some icecream. For dinner we enjoyed our tacos and after one of the best cakes I've ever eaten and versions of the happy birthday song in 6 languages, we went clubbing.

Plaza de España en Chivilcoy

The whole group!
Apparently it's a tradition for boys in Chivilcoy to shave their heads on their 18th birthdays, so we all had some fun and cut/shaved Kevin's hair into a mohawk/mullet with weird side details. He ended up getting some weird looks in the club, as his classmates wouldn't let him completely shave it off.

Belgian, American, Swiss, Austrian, Argentine and German girls clubbing!
Right before I hopped on the bus back to Ituzaingo, I got to see the lovely Paz! She was an exchange student in Waupaca last year, and she can brighten anyone's day! It was nice to see her, and hopefully soon we'll be able to do something together!

I also went to 'El Caminito' with my host parents, and La Plata with my host parents and brother.

La Boca is a very colorful neighborhood in Buenos Aires, and 'el Caminito', literally meaning little path, is a street with touristy shops, tango dancers and restaurants. 
El Caminito

Even the trees are participating in the fun!

La Plata is the capital of the province of Buenos Aires. This is slightly confusing given the capital of Argentina is the city of Buenos Aires, which is, physically speaking, within the province of Buenos Aires. However, the city of Buenos Aires has it's own government, thus it is not actually a part of the province of Buenos Aires, but surrounded by it. In La Plata we went to a gorgeous cathedral and un museo de ciencias naturales. I apologize for the random order of the pictures. When I click 'add caption' it always moves that picture to the top.

Thiago and me
Gorgeous stained glass!

The entrance to the cathedral

In the plaza
My host mom and host brother

Afterwards we went to a gorgeous park to drink mate! I'm definitely going to miss seeing palm trees.

Cute lake with boat rentals!

So now that school has started, I'll hopefully get back into a routine. I have some fun things planned for the near future, so stay tuned! 

Un beso,