wildcats abroad

Yes, you may spit in public: Cultural Differences in Shanghai after 4 weeks

shanghai chian

[Photo taken on June 18th, 2015 while walking to the subway from IKEA]

It’s been two weeks since my last post(I haven’t sat down to write in a while) but I finally found time to write about a few cultural differences I’ve noticed while being here in Shanghai, China. Here are the main ones:

People are genuinely kind

For the most part, Chinese people in Shanghai tend to be kind. They smile at you, they laugh, and they help you when you ask for it. I haven’t had any issues yet(fingers crossed) but I don’t expect to either.

Chinese people are very superstitious

Often you will hear fireworks go off randomly around the city. Anytime a new store is opened, they shoot off fireworks to scare away the ghosts. The color gold is used to also scare away ghosts and “protect” certain buildings and stores. Also, the number 4 is unlucky because it is a homonym for the word death meaning it is the same word, but in a different tones in Mandarin and some other dialects of Chinese.

Spitting in public is socially acceptable

In public, common to hear people gathering up all the saliva and mucus in their mouth and then yucking it onto the street. It may be disgusting to hear and see but it’s most likely due to the air pollution that they have to eliminate all that gross stuff from their system. I

Men grow out their pinky nails to pick ear wax

I wish I had a picture to show for this but yes, some men will have long fingernails on their pinkies with the specific purpose of cleaning the earwax from their ears.

“scooterpooling” and “bikepooling” is common

Almost anywhere I go in Shanghai, I always see multiple people on scooters and bicycles. I carefully observed scooters and bikes when I’m walking and it seems as though almost all are built to hold at least two people. I personally think it’s awesome! They’re saving electricity(most scooters are electric) or just sharing a ride! I wish my bike back home had a seat on the back for someone- I’d give friends rides more often! I don’t have a picture I took but here’s one I found on Google Images so you get the idea:

bikesharing

Well, hope you enjoyed the short post with a few observations about cultural differences in Shanghai! Next week, I will write about what my experience has been like teaching English! Zàijiàn!

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An adventureous night in Vancouver led by serendipity and the kindness in strangers

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

As we started approaching customs, the short time frame I had to decide whether or not I wanted to start a conversation with these two strangers was coming to an end. It was now, or never. I took a deep breath and asked the simple question, “How far is the airport from downtown?”

Before I continue to explain how this one moment carved the path leading up to a night of several serendipitous events, I should start from the beginning.

Two weeks ago on May 24th, 2015, I was leaving from LAX Airport and flying to Shanghai, China with a 13-hour layover in Vancouver, Canada. After eating dinner in the airport, I headed towards my gate. When I neared the gate, I scanned the area to find a place to sit. Two blonde girls that appeared to be my age or slightly older were sitting and chatting. I noticed a few open seats in the row across from them and decided that if I sat there, I might make a few friends.

I dropped my bags and sat down. The conversation between the two girls seemed to have faded as they both were reading when I looked up from my seat. I decided to join the reading party and pulled out the intriguing book I was currently reading called Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts(*I highly recommend it! It’s about a man who escaped from prison in Australia, fled to India and worked in the slums, black market, and fought in the war. True story).

A significant amount of time passed and the reading party continued. Then the Air Canada desk attendant announced over the loudspeaker,”Any foreign passengers that are not Canadian citizens must come up to fill out a form before boarding the plane.” I pulled my nose out of my book and realized the message was directed at me, as non-Canadian citizen. I went up, grabbed a form, then returned to my seat and proceeded to fill it out.

“Sir? Excuse me.” The younger-looking blonde girl with the tattoo of a feather behind her ear who was sitting directly across from me asked in a tone that voiced her doubtfulness with choice of “sir” to address me.

I looked up with my own form of uncertainty. “Is she calling me sir?” I chuckled to myself in my head. My choice of attire most likely influenced her word choice. I wore brown dress shoes, simple khakis with a brown belt and an azure-colored polo tucked in.

Once we made eye contact, she continued, “What is that you’re filling out?”

“This? Oh, it’s for U.S…” I stopped short.

“Citizens?”

“Yes” I laughed.

“Oh, okay good.” She said smiling back.

A sign of relief washed across their faces. I assumed they must be Canadian so they didn’t need to fill out the form.

Both parties returned to reading their novels. A few minutes later, I overheard the other blonde girl say to her friend, “Sir is a little bit formal.” I smiled, looked up at them and chuckled, “Yeah, it was a little formal but I guess I’m not sure what else you would use?”

They laughed. The blonde girl in front of me added, “Yeah, ‘dude’ or ‘guy’ would have been weird.” I smiled and laughed. That was the extent of our conversation before we boarded the plane. Unfortunately, I didn’t sit next to them on the plane either. However, the first serendipitous moment happened soon after.

During the 3 hour flight from LA to Vancouver, I simply minded my own business and read. The two older women next to me both put in headphones either to prevent any conversation between us or to create a white noise to ease resting during the flight.

When the flight landed around 10:45pm, I realized I was going to be spending the next 13 hours in the Vancouver Airport…I thought maybe if the city were close enough, I would go exploring but the research I had done prior to flying was so preliminary that I felt uncertain whether it would be a good idea or not to leave the airport. I certainly didn’t want to risk missing my flight.

Since I figured I would be spending the next several hours in the airport, I decided to take my time getting off the plane. The combination of not being in a rush to make a connecting flight or go anywhere, plus the fact that my large backpack was in the overhead compartment and would take a good amount of time to take down convinced me to wait until a large amount of people had exited the plane before I get off.

While waiting for a gap in the line off the plane, the two Canadian girls I had spoken to briefly smiled  and said bye as they walked past me. Then, the gap I had been waiting to seize appeared. I took advantage of it. I loaded my large blue 48L Osprey backpack on my back and my medium-sized black 25L REI backpack on front then exited the plane.

And this is where the story picks up from where it started. I was about 5 feet or so behind the two Canadian girls- just enough to be able to start up a conversation.

The two girls looked back at me and the other one who I had not spoken much to said, “Downtown? It’s not too far. You can take the Canada line straight there (similar to a light rail). It might take 30 minutes or so.” My simple question broke the dam created by society stating that we “should not talk to strangers” and a river of conversation finally flowed out.

I learned that their names were Katie and Kelsi and they had spent the weekend in California for fun. They went to Disneyland, the beach and had a wonderful time. Both were 22 years old and studying at a university in Vancouver. Katie was undecided and Kelsi studied sports sciences.

Before reaching customs, they both convinced me to take advantage of my layover as an opportunity to explore downtown Vancouver. We stayed together, chatting through customs till I went to the kiosk to scan my passport and realized I had ended up in the line for Canadian citizens.

I hurried over to the line for foreigners then proceeded to the customs agent when a window was available. After lots of intimidating questions such as why I’m in canada, where I’ll be staying, who’s paying for it, etc. I entered into the great country of Canada.

Not sure where to find the Canada line or even what to do downtown, I sat down near baggage claim and attempted to find a wifi network to connect to. Unfortunately, none of them were unlocked or free so I sat there looking a little helpless. Lucky for me, Katie and Kelsi grabbed their bags and then offered to help me.

They walked with me over to the storage center then offered to walk me to the Canada line upstairs. They wrote directions to arrive downtown via the Canada line on an old receipt from a Nike outlet store. I told them I could figure it out with the directions they gave me then hugged them and said goodbye. The fact that they were total strangers yet demonstrated the kindness of a friendship  that had lasted for years amazed me. I felt extremely grateful for their help and the serendipity of the situation.

From there on, the serendipitous moments continued as if someone had planned the entire night for me.

I took the escalator up to the Canada line and went to the machines to buy my ticket. Not sure exactly how much fare to purchase to get downtown, I stood in front of the machine for about two minutes before a kind man in a green vest approached me.

“Are ye lost?” he asked me in his thick Canadian accent. I told him I wanted to go downtown. He told me exactly what stop to get off and even handed me a map. At this point, I think to myself, “Gosh, the Canadians are so friendly. I should just stay here.”

I got off at the City Centre station nearby and found myself in downtown Vancouver with no plans or knowledge of the city.

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I started walking down a street that looked busy and found myself a small pizza shop that sold slices for $2.75. I bought a supreme slice, sat down at a table and munched away that evening’s dinner. Luckily, there was wifi so I could look up places to go. At first, I decided to google pubs and bars in Vancouver but then I thought, “Why am I sitting here on my phone when I could easily ask someone or just go to a random bar see what happens?” I finished my slice of pizza and headed out to continue the night’s adventure.

I recalled Katie and Kelsi mentioning a bar called the Roxy somewhere downtown. I wasn’t sure exactly where it was so I just decided to walk down the street and see what I could find. I went down once then went back up the same street and decided on a place called The Roxyburger. The outside patio was full of people drinking beer and chatting. Inside, there was a bar and tables where people were eating food. I sat at the bar and ordered a beer. I laughed to myself and thought, “Okay, I’m here but now what? How does one go about meeting people without intruding on a group?” I sat there for a good 15 minutes, people watching and enjoying not knowing how the night would unfold. A guy and a girl came up to the bar and looked over at me momentarily. They were ordering shots I guessed and the bartender told them to move over to the empty seat next to me. He poured them two shots of an alcohol that I didn’t recognize.

“Have you ever tried a buttery nipple?” The girl turned and asked me.

I was startled for a second then laughed and replied, “No, what’s that?”

“It’s sweet. They’re really good. Take one with us! We’ll wait for you!”

I thought, “Ah, sure, why not.” I ordered one, took the shot with them and then said, “That wasn’t too bad.”

“Yeah, we like them,” the girl replied as they started to get up to return to their table outside.

“Hey, could I join you two? I’m here because I have a layover and obviously don’t know anyone.” I laughed in self-pity.

“Of course you can! We’ll introduce you to our friends!” The girl replied and the guy smiled at me.

And then, the next section in the night began. The girl’s name was Emily and she was from Oregon. She had traveled from Oregon with two friends to see Milky Chance in Vancouver and they decided to stay in Vancouver for a little. The guy’s name was Daniel and he was from Australia. He was traveling in Canada for a little. They introduced me to the rest of their group which included a few Germans, a few Australians and a few Canadians. Everyone was between 21 and 25 and very friendly and welcoming! They referred to me as “Joe from Arizona” or with a few, just “Arizona,” which I found rather amusing.

I chatted and hung out with them for a while before a group of Canadian guys in college from Manitoba, Canada who knew Emily, invited us to go on an unofficial pub crawl with them. We all agreed to go and then we headed out. In total, there was about 12 of us.

One guy that stood out the most from the group was named Brady. He was Emily’s friend and from Oregon. We connected really well. He was friendly, genuine and outgoing. He studied photography at a small college in Oregon and was the one who bought the tickets to see Milky Chance. Emily, and her friend Peyton, both had known Brady since high school and asked if they could go to the convert with him. At each of the two bars we went to, he offered to buy me a drink and then we had an interesting conversation about who we were and why we did the things we did.

Around 3:15am, the group of international travelers I had been spending most of the night with decided to head home. Brady offered for me to stay the night at their hostel but then remembered they checked everyone’s keys so unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. I said my goodbyes and then remained at the bar till about 3:30am when they kicked everyone at. A server at the bar gave me directions back to the Canada line station but said it wouldn’t start running again till 5 or 6am.

Out of plans and ideas, I decided to walk back to the station anyway and figure out a plan there.

When I got there, the gates were locked and it was closed, just as the server had warned me. I sat on a bench and contemplated my options. Well, it was dark near the station and I didn’t know if the area was dangerous so I decided to head back towards the pizza place and the Roxyburger.

On my way back, I peeked my head into the Burger King that was still open. “Should I go in, order food and just hang out?” I contemplated to myself. I decided not to, thankfully, and headed to the pizza shop.

I was in luck. It was still open.

“Hey look, it’s the guy from Best Buy,” one guy joked as I got in line for pizza. I then realized there were no longer serving pizza. A girl and a guy, who looked to be my age, started talking to me. They both wanted pizza and asked if I wanted to join them to buy pizza somewhere. They didn’t seem to be dangerous or suspicious and the guy who joked about me working for Best Buy was with them so I said “Sure, why not?”

We walked up and down the streets looking for restaurants still open at 4am in the morning on a Sunday. They asked me why I was there, what I was doing, etc. and we made small talk. They were all friendly and seemed like genuine individuals. Their names were Jordan, Morgan, and Ivo and they were all 23 years old. I told them I had never been to Vancouver before, let alone Canada and then told me they would take me to the best spots and hang out with me until the Canada line opened back up.

The only food place we found was a 7/11 that serves taquitos- you know, the ones you think “Hmm, those could be good” but then you second guess yourself and say, “No, what am I thinking. Who knows how long those have been out?” Well, that was the only hot food available so I bought two. They weren’t delicious but they did the job and kept my hunger at bay.

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They brought me to Yaletown, which is this pier with lots of large yachts and boats. We sat down and talked about life until about 6am when the station opened back up. Ivo even offered to take the Canada line with me to the airport to make sure that I returned with no problems. After having talked about culture, he also offered to introduce me to ice caps which is a coffee slushie that he said was really popular in Canada, or at least Vancouver.

I said goodbye to Ivo and thanked him for helping me. Then grabbed my bags and curled open on the ground to take a 4 hour nap before heading to my gate around 10am. As I lay there and reran the route of the all-nighter in Vancouver, I realized the night took itself in directions I could never have imagined. I feel extreme gratitude for the kindness all those I encountered treated me with during my long adventure in Vancouver. It reminds me that there are lots of good people out there in the world and one of best thing we can do to make sure those good people don’t disappear is to be kind to all.

Life reveals her inner beauty when you simply surrender the desire to control her and you let her sail you which ever way she decides to blow the wind.

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Update: To make this story even crazier, the guy I met named Brady is a dating a girl who went to high school in Oregon with one of my really close friends at the University of Arizona. The world is so big yet it’s so small.

Next trip: teaching English in Shanghai, China for two months!

what to pack for two months in shanghai china for an internship teaching english

[Everything I’m bringing to Shanghai minus a daypack with a few belongings]

So I know it’s been ages since I’ve posted on here but I hope you’re still interested in being a part of my journey! The next chapter takes place in: Shanghai, China.

Seems kind of random right? Well, there’s a good reason I’m going to Shanghai this summer! Lucky for me, Katie, one of my good friends who I’ve known since elementary school, told me she was doing an internship through the company her dad works for in Shanghai this summer and her dad was able to find me a job as well doing what she’s doing- teaching English to teenagers at a private English institute- els.cn

Between May 26th and July 23rd, I will be sharing my observations and experiences here about my life in Shanghai! I fly out on Sunday, May 24th and will be traveling from Los Angeles to Vancouver to Shanghai! Hopefully there will also be a 10 day trip to Thailand that Katie and I are planning on taking towards the end of our internship. If this sounds like something you might be interested in reading about and seeing pictures, definitely subscribe and I’ll promise to do my best to keep you informed and entertained for the next two months 🙂

Lastly, I want to give a special thanks to the University of Arizona Honors College for generously helping me fund this opportunity with a scholarship. I honestly wouldn’t be able to afford it without them. Sending lots of love their way, to the UA and Tucson ❤

 

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Reflection on Study Abroad in Buenos Aires: Lessons Learned

joe previte sitting on a mountani in mendoza argentinaI am finally back in Arizona and couldn’t be happier to see my family and friends. I’ve really missed the beautiful desert and the amazing scenery that surrounds me here in Phoenix. After living in the metropolis Buenos Aires for almost six months, I appreciate the suburbs and the proximity to mountains and desert more than ever. Now that I’m back, I’ve had a chance to look over my journal and review a few of the lessons I’ve learned from studying abroad and living in Buenos Aires for the semester. I’ve highlighted the most important ones I’ve taken away from my trip below:

Focus on the now

I didn’t realize it before but I’m the type of the person who is always thinking about the future. I’m always planning what I’m going to do next weekend, next semester, next summer, etc. I like to plan because it’s fun. It’s exciting to pump myself up of the fact that I’m spending the weekend in California with my family or visiting my friends but what I didn’t realize was that thinking about the future can and does take away from the present. If I’m constantly thinking about what I’m going to do next, how can I enjoy what I’m doing now? What I’ve learned to do is to plan whatever I need to plan and then push that thought away so that it can’t consume the attention I should be paying on the present. It can be difficult at times but I think it’s important and I’m trying focusing on the now, now and the later when it comes.

There is no need to rush

I learned that I sometimes put myself in situations where I rush myself to complete 500 tasks in one sitting. This kind of has to do with “having too much on my plate,” which I’ll explain more later but the idea is to slow down sometimes. I think I’ve taken the idea of relaxing a little and not rushing from being immersed in the Argentine culture while abroad. I mentioned this in a blog post but I’ll say it again- from my experience, Argentinians don’t rush. They don’t know when the bus is coming or the subway, it’s okay if someone isn’t right on time, and lunch/dinner/dates/meeting up with friends may last three hours. I realized this last semester when I completed a course assignment where I tracked how I spent my time during the week and learned that I rushed myself every time I ate breakfast, lunch or dinner.  There is no need to rush though. I don’t need to be watching a movie for homework, or reading an article or doing SOMETHING every time I’m eating. Instead, I’ve learned to hit the brakes and take my time when eating a meal, having a conversation with a friend or simply getting ready in the morning.  There’s a Chinese proverb I read in a book I’m reading called The Three Pillers of Zen that says, “Eat when you eat. Walk when you walk.” I try to always remind myself of it when I feel the desire to multitask or speed up things. It’s true. No one ever said you had to rush yourself. However, I try to do too many things at once or put much on my plate, I’m going to find myself scrambling and stressing out, which simply isn’t necessary nor healthy for me.

It’s not always good to have a “full plate”

I mentioned this idea earlier but I wanted to touch back on it because it’s an important lesson I’ve learned. It’s not always the best idea to have several commitments in your life. This didn’t hit me until I realized that I simply didn’t have time to work, study, volunteer and invest in the culture and language in Argentina. Yes, I needed to work because I needed money. Yes, my main priority was to study but I didn’t have a balance at first. I wanted to practice my Spanish all day, every day but also work and have money to spend while abroad but I felt overwhelmed. I’ve realized that if I do all of these things, then I have to sacrifice other areas- like spending time with friends and investing in friendships. If I’m spending 90% of my time studying and working and only 10% with my friends, then I’m not going to be able to become close with my friends. I now know that I shouldn’t try and cover my plate without first thinking about how it will affect the rest of the time I have and how else I’d like to spend my time. Overall, I’ve learned to not commit to more activities than I can handle while still being able to maintain and invest in friendships.

It’s better to have 1 close friend than 10 acquaintances

I had never really considered this until this trip. I’ve always had acquaintances and friends who I’ve hung out with a few times but I never thought about the level of friendship I have with people. I met really amazing people in Argentina but didn’t spend as much time with them as I wish I would have. Yes, I was busy but of course I could have made time- I just didn’t. I realized at the end of the trip that I can meet people once or hangout with them a few times but if I don’t invest into the friendship and make sacrifices to see them and get to know them that they won’t last. For me, I’d rather have a close group of friends that I know well who I enjoy spending time with and who enjoy spending time with me rather than acquaintances who I only know on a shallow level.

Life is beautiful outside

One of the best wake-up calls I received during this trip was the idea that life is beautiful outside. I remember as a kid, watching commercials or PSAs where a kid sits on a couch and watches another kid playing outside and then it pans out and the exact same tree is outside his house yet he decides to watch it on TV instead of going outside to play. Being the type of person that loves playing sports, I never considered the idea that maybe I spend too much time on the computer or inside. However, after becoming friends with a girl named Allie through my girlfriend, I realized I do spend most of my time on the computer and that I’m missing out on the world outside. As much as I love technology and learning on the internet, I don’t want to spend the majority of my day sitting in front of a screen when I should be outside enjoying life and nature and all the wonderful things and people.

The future doesn’t need to be set in stone

Last lesson that I learned is that the future doesn’t need to be set in stone just yet. By that mean, I don’t have to have my life figured out or know exactly what I want to do for a living after I graduate. I remember hearing that when you go abroad for an extended period of time, you figure out what you really are passionate about in life and how you should spend the rest of your life but I still feel ambivalent about the path I want to take. With this trip though, I’ve learned that I don’t need to know yet and there is absolutely no reason to stress right now. All I want to do is focus on dabbling in various fields to figure out where I’ll be the happiest.

Well, that’s it for this post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and that you’re convinced to study abroad or at least live abroad. I believe that it’s something everyone should do. Not just for themselves, but to learn, explore, and grow.

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134 days down, 12 to go: Observations from Salta and Jujuy

purmamarca jujuy argentina un pueblo chico

 

[Photo of Purmamarca, Jujuy, Argentina. Population in 2001: 2,089]

WOW! Time really does fly when you’re having a great time and boy have these four and a half months flown by. I can’t believe I only have 12 days left here and then I’ll be back in Arizona. I have mixed feelings-sad to leave the culture, the friends I’ve made, and the language here but excited to see my friends, family and return to my life in Arizona.

This week’s post is about a few observations I made while visiting Salta(the capital city of Salta) and Jujuy(San Salvador de Jujuy and Purmamarca-two provinces in the North.

Foreigners stick out more

While in San Salvador de Jujuy, with of population of over 230,000 people, we definitely caught a lot of attention. Since Jujuy is farther North and has a warmer climate, the people tend to have darker skin. As a result, we stuck out like a sore thumb. A group of men even decided to call us out by yelling, “GRIIIIIIINNGGOOOOOS!” from across the street. I felt a little intimidated but got over it since I’m used to people staring at me in Buenos Aires because I’m a foreigner.

They´re more formal in the Northern provinces

The people tended to use usted, which is the formal word for “you” whereas in Buenos Aires, almost everyone uses vos, the informal word for “you.” I’ve heard that they use vos for everyone in the Capital because the don’t believe they should put someone higher than themselves for age, occupation, etc.

The people are friendlier than in Buenos Aires(The capital)

Whenever we needed help or bought something at a store and left, they people were always 10x friendlier. Instead of just chau, hasta luego(bye, see you later), most people also included something along the lines of qué les vaya bien(similar to the way we use “have a nice day”).

The “ll” sounded less like “sha” and more like “jah”

I was told this before but didn’t realize how different it sounded til I heard it in person. In Buenos Aires(the capital), the people usually pronounce the “ll” like a “sha” but in the North, people pronounced it like a “jah.”

Well, that’s it! Hope you enjoyed! Feel free to leave any thoughts or comments below! 🙂

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Caught in a protest in Jujuy and a night in the airport in Salta

“Joe, get up!” Stacey yelled at me first thing in the morning at our hostel in Salta.

“What? No, I wanna sleep more.” I replied back without opening my eyes or moving.

“No, seriously, Joe, get up, get up! I think there are bed bugs.”

“No, it’s probably just a fuzzy from the bed or something.”

“No, Joe. Look.”

I finally turned my back and peeked open my eyes. I saw a little black circular looking fuzzy on my pillow. I went to grab it with my hands to show her it wasn’t a bed bug and then suddenly it moved.

“Oh, no. Stace, you’re right. That’s not good. This isn’t good. We should probably switch hostels, even if this one is free.” I muttered calmly to Stacey.

loki hostel en salta argentina

And this was the first event of our exciting adventure in the provinces of Salta and Jujuy in the Northern part of Argentina.  After talking to Allie, the other friend in our group this trip, we all decided the free night’s stay wasn’t worth the bed bugs so we headed to the bus terminal and bought tickets to a province farther north called Jujuy. We had originally planned the trip to visit the Salt Flats and the Cerro de siete colores anyway so we thought the change could only benefit our trip.

When we arrived there, we were extremely lucky to receive a free map and assistance from a man at a ticket office who recommended a few hostels in the area. The first hostel we went to looked cozy and had a pool so we booked it for two nights.

Thanks to our luck, the room had a few cockroaches(only 2, thanks goodness) and I had trouble sleeping due to my fear of cockroaches and the idea that one might climb up the bunk bed and land on me while sleeping. Lucky for me, we found them and killed them before they could sneak up on us.

The second day in Jujuy was amazing. We took a bus to Purmamarca, a city about 90 minutes away from the capital of the province(San Salvador de Jujuy) and visited the Cerro de siete colores and the Salt Flats(las Salinas Grandes). The road from Purmamarca to the Salt Flats was quite an adventure(picture in the middle).

 
el cerro de siete colores
la ciudad purmamarca en jujuy argentina
la cuesta de lipan joe previte en una remera de university of arizona wildcats
salinas grandes con stacey y joe

After our awesome day, we ate delicious ice cream and went home to watch a movie and go to bed early because our bus back to Salta left around 9am so we needed to leave the hostel by 8:30.

Friday morning, we woke up and headed out on schedule, arriving at the bus terminal five minutes before our bus left. We boarded it with smiles on our faces knowing that we would arrive in Salta with enough time to explore before our 8pm flight home to Buenos Aires. Little did we know that our adventures were no where near the end and only about to  get 10x more interesting from here on out.

Less than 30 minutes into our two-hour-and-thirty-minute bus ride to Salta, we encountered our first problem- a road blocks made of tires lite on fire on the highway by protesters. They surrounded all the entries and exists and prevented us from leaving. Fortunately, the protest was not violent by any means but they said they weren’t going to lift the roadblocks until 9pm that night. We heard that the protest was happening all around the province because the protesters were angry with the government because the government stopped providing some sort of welfare to the people.

protesta corte en la autopista de jujuy

“Wait, but you don’t understand. We have to catch a flight back to Buenos Aires at 8pm.” I thought to myself. Stacey, Allie and I felt a little bit of a panic attack because we didn’t know what to do. I only had about 20 pesos left on my prepaid phone so we were in a pickle. Very lucky for us, there were two moms on the bus who asked needed to change their flights and called the airline for us. The airline charged us about US$50 to change our flight to Saturday morning but it was the only thing we could do to ease the stress of missing our flight or not.

After about 6 hours of sitting on the freeway, the roadblocks back to the bus terminal in Jujuy were lifted and we headed back to the terminal to change buses. We waited about an hour before the new bus came and then made our way to Salta and then the airport in Salta.

We arrived one hour before our original 8pm flight and rushed to the ticket office in hopes of being able to change back. However, our hopes were soon crushed after the woman at LAN, our airline, told us it would be another 400 pesos(about US$50) for us to change the flight. Reluctant to spend the unnecessary money, we decided to keep our flight for the next morning and spend the night in the airport.

Yes, you would think the adventure ends here, but it doesn’t! I don’t know why we didn’t bring any extra money, debit cards, or credit cards but somehow we ended up with only 15 pesos left for food until we went home to Buenos Aires.

In the cafe in the airport, Allie asked if she could use the credit card information  she had on her phone to purchase food. She came back with a yes and we drooled looking over the menu, considering what we wanted to order.

After we decided what we wanted to order, Allie went up to the register to place the order only to be shut down once again when the same woman said, “Oh, I’m sorry. You actually can’t use the credit card details because we’re only able to slide the card.”

We went to our last resort and called my friend Ivana who is from Salta and has friends here. She explained the situation to our friend and told us that her friend could bring us 200 pesos for food later that night.

Ivana called me about an hour later and said her friend just left the center and was heading to the airport soon. Dying of hunger, we decided we couldn’t wait any longer so we ordered the pizza instead of waiting til Ivana’s friend arrived. The pizzaria 6 delicious meat empanadas and a large mozzarella pizza would arrive in 40 minutes. Perfect! The money and the pizza would arrive around the same time and we would be able to eat! We were filled with joy.

Then I received a call. It was Ivana. Her friend couldn’t bring us the money.

Our luck stuck once again! I panicked at first and didn’t have any idea what I would tell the pizza man when he arrived and I didn’t have the money to pay him. We called the pizza place and cancelled the order and decided we would have to wait until tomorrow to eat since we spent 10 of our 15 pesos calling the pizza place and using the internet to contact our parents.

stacey and allie sleeping in the airport of salta

To end our adventure of unluckiness, we woke up around 5am in the morning on Saturday and agreed we could buy a medialuna, or croissant, with our last five pesos and split it for breakfast.

I walked up to the cafeteria and proudly said, “I would like one medialuna please” and handed the cashier the two 2 peso bills and peso in coins.

“I’m sorry, they’re six pesos.” She said with a sad look on her face.

“Wait, what? But yesterday they were five on the menu?”

“Yes, you’re right. But we raised the prices today.”

“Well… okay, then. Thank you.” I said disappointingly and walked away.

We battled our hunger off and waited til we arrived in Buenos Aires to be treated to a large mozzarella pizza by Ivana. Wooh! What an adventure it was.

If you read this far, I hope you enjoyed it 🙂 Feel free to leave any comments below!

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14 Weeks: Chasing geese in a pedal boat

This blog post is just an update on what I’ve been up to here in Buenos Aires. Check it out!

Oktoberfest and Hiking in Cordoba, Argentina

I traveled to the Córdoba, the capital city in the province of Córdoba, last weekend with my girlfriend Stacey and a few friends. We originally planned on visiting that weekend because we didn’t have school on Monday AND it was the last weekend of Oktoberfest. We went to Oktoberfest on Friday but of course with our luck, it rained and they shutdown the festival about an hour after we arrived.

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Thankfully, the next day we had better luck with our adventure. We decided to go hiking in a small city called Cuesta Blanca, about an hour and a half from Córdoba.

cuesta blanca argentina

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The bus dropped us off in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. We found the path to the river with the help of a group of high school kids. The river and mountains were a pleasant escape from the city. We relaxed by the water and even made a new friend with a dog that was obsessed with finding rocks in the river and dunking his head under to get them.

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joe previte con un perro

Pedal Boating in Lago Palermo

Stacey and I ran to Lago Palermo(about 2-3 miles from her house) and spontaneously decided to do the pedal boating! It was 90 pesos(about $11) for a half an hour and it was definitely worth it! My favorite part was passing the geese in the lake:

“Joe…joe! JOE! I don’t like being this close to the geese.”

“Stace, they’re not going to come near us.”

“Joe, please. I’m scared of them.”

“Quack, quack, quack! Come here, geese!” I said jokingly as we passed the geese(even though geese *honk*).

“JOE! STOP! Get them away from me!” Stacey yelled at me as we passed them.

Needless to say, we both had a fantastic time pedal boating in the lake 🙂

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2 Kilos of Ice Cream for $13!

A few nights ago, Stacey and I had a coupon for 2×1 kilos of ice cream from and Italian ice cream shop called Freddo. The texture of the ice cream here is smoother than back home and it gives it a richer taste. It’s absolultely delectable.

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Dustin Luke Fiesta

Friday night, I finally met Dustin Luke in person. He lived in Buenos Aires for four years and now makes YouTube videos in Spanish. If you haven’t seen any of his videos but speak Spanish, you should check out this video.

The coolest part was meeting him in person after having interviewed him back in February for a Spanish project. It’s crazy to think that I randomly heard about him from an Argentine friend, interviewed him for my project and then actually met him in person.

dustin luke y joe previte

That’s it for this post! Hope you enjoyed reading it! Feel free to leave any thoughts or comments below 🙂

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13 Weeks: Language Differences

Just passed the 13 week mark for time spent living in Buenos Aires. I have about 60 days left before I come home. It sounds like a lot but it feels like it’ll be here tomorrow. In this post, I want to share a few differences I’ve noticed about the Spanish language from being immersed in it and the culture these past three months.

Spanish syllables are sometimes more than one syllable

I realized this when I tried to pronounce the name of one of the largest oil companies in Argentine, YPF. At first I pronounced it like I would pronunce an English acronym- by the letters(in Spanish, of course), which sounds like igriega-pe-efe. Then I thought to myself, “Why is it that in English we can pronounce acronyms so much faster?” I said the alphabet in my head and realized, “Oh! In English, all the letters in the alphabet are more syllable, except for w.” I had never considered before but I found it fascinating afterwards.

Matafuego, paraguas, and parabrisas are constructed similarly

These words mean “fire extinguisher,” “umbrella,” and “windshield.” What amuses me is these words are put together in Spanish.

  • matafuego can be thought of as mata, which means “kill,” plus fuego, which means “fire” So it’s like you’re saying, ” the thing that kills the fire.”
  • paraguas and parabrisas can be thought of the same way- para means “stop” plus agua, which means “water” gives you, “the thing that stops water” and brisa means “wind” or altogether, “the thing that stops wind.”

Even though in English, you could say the same thing about “fire extinguisher” and “windshield,” the words in Spanish stuck out more because the verbs matar and parar seem to be more commonly used in Spanish than the words “extinguish” and “shield” in English.  Also, I might add that I’m more attentive  when it comes to learning words in Spanish than in English because I learned Spanish from scratch.

That’s it for this post! Feel free to add any thoughts or comments below! 🙂

Mate- a social practice in Argentina

yerba mate de buenos aires argentinaOne of the most interesting parts of the Argentine culture that I’ve been exposed to thus far in my study abroad is the social practice of drinking mate.

Mate is the national drink of Argentina(it’s popular in other places as well such as Paraguay and Uruguay). It’s a tea, most commonly sipped from a straw out of a gourd filled with the yerba or actual tea leaves. It’s most common among a group of people and is had at anytime during the day(I believe the morning and the mid-afternoon/early evening periods are most common). Sometimes I add sugar to make it sweeter because otherwise it’s a bitter green tea taste.

The reason why I love mate is because it’s a catalyst for a small social gathering. It’s a simple and fun thing to do with a group of friends anywhere. Usually a friend invites me over for mate and we sit and talk while drinking  mate, occasionally accompanied by sweets such as alfajores or cookies. It’s like you’re doing nothing but at the same time you’re doing something.

In my opinion, we don’t have something similar in our culture in the United States, or at least in Arizona. I think that’s why I appreciate it so much. I plan to to take this tradition back with me to Phoenix and share it with my friends.

If you like tea, you should check to see if you can find it in your city! I know Dutch Bros. sells a delicous mate tea. I’m sure there are international supermarkets that sell the yerba as well.

Feel free to share any thoughts or comments below 🙂

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P.S.- If you’d like to read a little bit more about mate, check out this blog called From Argentina with Love.

10 weeks: Supermarkets in Buenos Aires

supermercado

[Photo courtesy of Google Images]

Today’s blog post is a short one.  Here’s one cultural difference that I noticed and wanted to share.

“Chau, hasta luego” in stores

Whenever I am leaving the supermarket, a small shop, or anywhere, I always say, “Chau, hasta luego” which means, “Bye, see you later.” At first, I didn’t think much of it. However, just a few days ago, I realized in Arizona, I don’t say, “Bye, see you later” when I’m leaving Fry’s or a clothing store in the mall. Instead, people usually say something along the lines of “Thanks. Have a good night.”

Every once in a while though, I’ll buy something at a small shop and the owner uses the same expression that we do in Arizona. I think this relates back to the observation I wrote about in another post about Americans being “overly polite” at times. This is simply one aspect that’s different about the two cultures that caught my attention. Obviously some stores owners will be more polite than others in both places.

All in all, I’ve enjoyed the 10 weeks that I’ve been here and I look forwarding to learning more about the Argentine culture as time goes on.  Feel free to share any thoughts or comments below 🙂

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