Month: July 2013

A new friendship thanks to language identity and Verbling

two friends in buenos aires, argentinaIn November, I paired up with this guy, Nicolas Berroeta, on Verbling and told him about my plans to study abroad in Argentina. 8 months later, I found myself, sitting next to him on a roller-coaster(which I normally hate) at an amusement park in Argentina. I couldn’t believe it.

After I mentioned studying in Argentina, he immediately offered to help me practice so I wouldn’t be lost in the lunfardo, or Argentine slang when I arrived here. From then on, we usually spoke once a week via video-chat. I felt extremely thankful that he wanted to prepare me for my time here. As a result, the preparation facilitated the transition from Mexican Spanish to Argentine Spanish and I arrived without any worry in not understanding the Argentine dialect.

A few days after we arrived, Nico traveled from his hometown Tandil(about 4 hours away) to Buenos Aires to stay and show my girlfriend Stacey and I around the city.  I couldn’t believe I was actually meeting him in person after communicating solely through my computer.

He turned to be one of the nicest and most fun guys I’ve ever met. He brought us some Havana alfajores as a welcoming gift and took us to an amusement park in a city called El Tigre where Stacey and I went on the scariest rides of our lives(at least thus far)!

Afterwards, he invited me to visit his hometown Tandil for a few days where I met the nicest people, ate the most delicious meat and had one of the best experiences of my life. He showed me the best hospitality and generosity I could have asked for.

Tandil, Argentina is a very beautiful place

Now, it’s safe to say he is one of my closest friends and I’m certain our friendship won’t end here. I’ll be back in Tandil in less than two weeks and I couldn’t be more excited!

###

First week in Buenos Aires: a few observations

a street in Buenos Aires

While it feels like 2 months have already passed, I’ve officially been in Buenos Aires, Argentina for only one whole week. So far, I have noticed a few things that are different here in Buenos Aires than in my hometown city Phoenix, Arizona.

Everyone is in a hurry-always.

Now I know that it’s the same way in all big cities around the world but one different thing is that everyone always seems to be walking the speed of light and lots of people cross the streets in front of cars because they don’t care to wait and they know the cars will stop. It’s normal to j-walk or cross the street if no cars are coming and the crosswalk sign is red-even on really wide streets.

You can’t trust anyone in the street

You never know who is going to pickpocket you or rob you on the streets, the bus, or the subway. You can’t trust anyone. I have to keep my backpack in front of me on the subway and my wallet hidden in the public. It’s sad to say this but you can’t assume that people will automatically help you if you’re being robbed in plain sight. It is that way though because you never know who actually needs assistance and who is an actor.

No one walks and eats

I didn’t even realize this today until my girlfriend Stacey told me but you will never see anyone walking and eating. I guess I wouldn’t know if people do that in Downtown Phoenix but at least I saw a few people doing it in San Francisco. I think the reason is because Argentinians eat three meals a day in appropriate proportions and set aside enough time to finish all of there meals before they start moving.

It’s really hard to get change(coins)

Of course the colectivo or city bus, only takes coins but for some reason, it’s extremely difficult to get coins. I believe it’s because almost all prices already include taxes so no one really needs change.

Car horns are used for communication

Maybe this is just Phoenix, Arizona or where I live but to me, it seems like the social norm for using your car horn is to beep at people if they do something wrong. Here in Argentina, the majority of the time, people honk their horns to say, “Hey, I’m letting you know that I’m right here.” They also use it if people do something wrong but for the majority, it’s a form of communication with other drivers or pedestrians.

 

Well, I think I’ve summed up most of the observations that I’ve noticed thus far. I will continue to be on the lookout for societal differences and share my observations with you here. Hope you enjoyed this post! Feel free to share any thoughts below! Chau! 🙂

###

 

Almost victims to the “bird poop trick”

pickpocket

Stacey(my girlfriend) and I finally arrived here in Argentina! Although it was quite the struggle to obtain coins for the public bus from the airport to the city, we managed to accomplish it and we found our more than pleasing hostel.

A strange event occurred, however, on our adventure from the bus stop to the hostel that I’d like to share with you. While we rolled our luggage down Chacabuco Street towards the hostel, we were almost victims to the common “bird poop trick.”

All of the sudden, drops of gray tar-colored liquid landed on Stacey’s jacket. My attention was focused on carrying my own bags and rolling one of Stacey’s, which caused me to miss the source of the splash. Stace didn’t see it either because it hit her from behind so we both felt puzzled and stopped to examine the damage.

There was an Argentinian woman, in her mid-thirties, wearing sunglasses who happened to be walking at the same pace as us when this bizarre event happened. Stacey stopped and the woman handed her a watered-down napkin to clean her bright, yellow ASU jacket. Unfortunately, we couldn’t remove it.

We continued walking until we hit a corner and Stacey asked to stop to wipe the rest off of her neck. The same lady was still next to us and offered another wet napkin to wash it off. She told Stacey to put her backpack down and then handed me the napkin and told me to wipe it off. At the same time(I didn’t even notice this), Stacey said the lady was pushing her towards me and away from her backs. Another Argentinian lady gazed into my eyes with a weird look and said, “por casualidad, por casualidad” and then walked away.

At first, I didn’t comprehend the situation nor the trick and simply told Stacey and the woman that we would wash it off at the hostel. Thankfully, Stacey knew what was going on and told me to grab her bags before anything else could happen. We continued to the hostel and finally arrived safely, without having anything stolen.

It wasn’t until we were at the hostel that I processed the entire situation and realized that I had been told about that trick being popular in Spain. I feel extremely lucky that nothing was stolen but also disappointed that people like that lady, try to take advantage of foreigners/tourists. Next time, I plan to be more cautious, especially if a situation seems fishy.

###

Have you ever been robbed while traveling or experienced something similar?

The start of a six-month long adventure in Argentina

a new global student book about international education

I first considered studying in Argentina after reading The New Global Student by Maya Frost and learning a little about her daughters’ experiences.

This was during junior year of high school and I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do for college or anything. After reading this book, I tried convincing my mom that I should graduate from high school early, study at community college for one semester and then move to Argentina to study at the University of Buenos Aires because it’s free for everyone, including foreigners.

Fortunately, my mom didn’t let me and I ended up graduating with everyone else and not going to Argentina right now. However, now that I’m in college, I will have the privilege of studying abroad in another country  for one semester starting in less than a week.

This time I chose Argentina for a two other reasons:

  • It’s one of the cheaper programs in South America for me because it’s direct enrollment
  • The accent various to an extreme extent compared to other countries and I wanted to challenge myself

I leave for Argentina on July 16th and will arrive on the 17th in Ezeiza International Airport. The semester begins on July 29th and ends around November 8th. I also plan to travel to Uruguay, Chile, and Brazil before I return on the 10th of December 10th.

I’m really excited for this trip because I’ve wanted to study abroad since my second year of Spanish in high school and I am finally making it happen! I plan to meet as many people , dive into the culture and make a difference by helping others.

I’d like to end this post with a quote that I hope to validate during my trip- “True happiness is knowing that the only thing you need is to give back to someone else.”

###

Starbucks gift cards- A random act of kindness

a close up of a starbucks cup

The purpose of this post is to share an wonderful experience that happened to my friend Jordan and I while we were sitting in Starbucks on Monday afternoon.

Jordan and I are talking about the travel website we’re working on when we hear the door open and the bell jingle. Two ladies-roughly he same age as our moms so in their forties-walk in, look around and see that there are no tables open inside.

“Well, shoot. I guess we’ll have to go to another one since we can’t sit inside.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. That’s a shame.”

Without thinking twice, I say to them, “No, wait! You two can have our table.”

“Yeah, it’s totally fine! We don’t mind sitting outside.” Jordan chimes in.

“Are you two sure? It’s awfully hot outside.” One of the ladies replies.

“Yeah, we can handle it!” I reply and then smile back.

“Thank you so much! That’s very kind of you gentlemen.” The other lady replies as we move our stuff and go sit outside.

We honestly didn’t think it was that horrible outside because we were used to it. And, the misters kept us semi-cool.

After about a minute, one of the ladies came outside and offered to buy us coffee but we declined.  We were only trying to be kind and help them out. Especially since we had been there a while and we didn’t mind moving our conversation outside.

Then another minute went by. This time a lady-about the same age, maybe 5 years older-came outside and said,

“What you two did was very generous. It’s a blessing to know there are still random acts of kindness. Think of this as a token of appreciation. God bless you.”

Then she handed us each Starbucks gift cards.

Jordan and I both looked at each other with our jaws dropped thinking, “Did that really just happen? I had heard about random acts of kindness and always thought of them as holding the door open or letting someone out of the parking lot first but never witnessed nor experienced first-hand something like this.

Then I realized, “Wait, if what she did had such a positive impact on me then why am I not imitating her and doing more random acts of kindness?”

Now, I hope to play the opposite role and cause someone’s jaw to drop with kindness. I know that it may seem hard to find opportunities to do it without being weird or uncomfortable but I plan to purposely look for them. When I find one, I’ll be more than happy to share!

###

Have you ever experienced a random act of kindness or performed one?