Learning to Tango in Tucson

ice rink

[Photo Courtesy of Google Images]

Leading with your chest, you decide where to take your partner. Imagine you’re standing on an ice rink but without skates. You lead your partner across the ice by taking steps followed sliding your feet while keeping your chests at the same distance as you move. Your partner follows your every move and you glide to the beat as one.

Last night, I learned how to tango. The basics, to be specific and it was my first time every.

From what I’ve learned in my classes, Tango originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina before the 19th century. Depressed men wrote tango songs about their misery, melancholy, loss of dreams, loneliness, love for their mothers and other related topics. The dance itself is a ton of fun and today, exists all around the world.

I had witnessed tango live in Argentina many times and in one of my classes at my university but this was the first I was actually learning it.

I went with a few friends from U of A to a place called Maker House, which is, “a new collaborative artisan, maker, education, tech, and gathering space that opened in the Downtown Tucson Arts District Tech Corridor in the fall of 2013.” It’s super cool! The advisor for the Honors College Ambassadors invited us because he was guest leading the tango lesson and it was free! I brought mate and it was almost like we were back in Buenos Aires. 

I wanted to share this experience because I enjoyed learning to tango and thought you would too! It’s a prominent aspect of Argentine culture and anyone can learn it! Here’s a video teaching the basics, the same basics we learned last night!

Have you ever tangoed before? If not, are there any dances you have learned and would recommend? 🙂

Connecting to Chinese culture through Falun Dafa: Buddhist self-cultivation


[Photo Courtesy of Google: Image of Falun Dafa group at the University of Arizona]

Today, I want to share something I have just recently been introduced to: Falun Dafa. What is Falun Dafa?

Falun Dafa (also called Falun Gong) is an advanced practice of Buddha school self-cultivation, founded by Mr. Li Hongzhi, the practice’s master. It is a discipline in which “assimilation to the highest qualities of the universe—Zhen, Shan, Ren (Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance)—is the foundation of practice.” Taken from the Falun Dafa website.

I found out about the Falun Dafa group from another student representing the Honors College last Friday during a campus-wide fundraising event for the University of Arizona. I attended the weekly Falun Dafa club meeting for my first time today before class. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay more than 30 minutes but I was able to practice the four standing meditation exercises.

The exercises were calming and I felt a positive energy participating in them. After the meeting, I left with a feeling of tranquility. I plan to attend the future meetings for the reminder of the year and next year. I also started reading the book Falun Gong(other name for Falun Dafa) to educate myself and understand all that I can about Falun Dafa.

I wanted to share this today because of the positive vibes I received from the meditation and the cultural connection I felt. I have never taken any Asian studies classes nor do I have much knowledge. However, I see Falun Dafa as an opportunity to explore a different dimension of myself and connect to another culture that I might not ordinarily connect to. I think others could reap these same benefits which is why I am excited to share it.

If interested, you can probably find Falun Dafa groups in your area by looking here. The links above also connect to the Falun Dafa website and a free book(PDF) where you can read more about Falun Dafa. Please share any thoughts below! 🙂


The recognition of family heritage through a weekend trip to Northern California

This past weekend, my younger brother and I flew to San Jose to spend the weekend with my family and for him to meet my Uncle Nick. It was a trip that reminded me the importance of my family heritage.

On Friday, my mom, stepdad and younger brother flew in from Laguna Niguel, where they live, and met us at the airport. They picked us up in a rental car and the next moments were filled with smiles and hugs. It’s always a euphoric moment seeing your family in person after a long time.

Saturday, we woke up early and drove to Milbrae to take the BART into the heart of San Francisco. We spent the early morning/afternoon walking around Fisherman’s Wharf.

fisherman's wharf

san francisco

In the evening, we headed to Gilroy so that my brothers and stepdad could meet my Uncle Nick. We ate dinner at a seafood restaurant called Rosy’s At the Beach. The Ahi fish tacos were delicious! It’s a lot of food too so you receive your money’s worth.

Afterwards, Uncle Nick invited us over for dessert. We were eating cake together when suddenly my younger brother Charlie said, “What’s that?” We all looked over out of curiosity to see him pointing at this


Uncle Nick said, “Well, that right there is called a gramophone. It’s a family heirloom.”

“A gram-uh

-what?” I with a confused look across my face.

“It’s how people used to listen to music back in the day. Here, let me show you.” He turned it on and then I started to hear music. I thought to myself,

“Wow. This. Is. Cool.” I couldn’t imagine what it was like to not be able to hear music aloud whenever I wanted.

“This was the only way to have music at an event or party. It was this or a live band.” Uncle Nick said to us.

It’s amazing to think about how technology has evolved and the things we take for granted these days. Before that moment, I completely took for granted the idea of being able to hear music. I realized how lucky we are to have the ability to listen to music on our phones, computers and tablets whenever and wherever we want.

The other idea I took away from this moment was the idea of heritage. Heritage is defined as, “an inheritance.” In that moment, I inherited not only a part of history in general but of my own family history. This was a moment that I know my ancestors would be happy to see. I hope this tradition continues and that one day, I’ll be the one sharing the story of the gramophone.

Why you should consider learning Portuguese if you already speak Spanish

picture of brazilIf you like languages and are considering picking up a third, check out Portuguese(Brazilian)! It’s a really cool language and if you already know Spanish, it’ll seem so much easier! The pronunciation is different but the grammar and vocabulary are super similar! Here are a few reasons to consider it:

Between 80-95% of Portuguese and Spanish are similar

I couldn’t find a credible source to cite this fact but I researched it as best as I could and the numbers varied but the point is Spanish and Portuguese are VERY similar. My professor once said that 80% of the grammar is similar but then after googling around, some people said 89% of the vocabulary was similar. I’m not too sure which it is BUT there are several similarities- enough to make the process 100x easier learning it as a third language.

Portuguese is the official language in 9 countries(plus 1 “place” where it’s the official language along with Cantonese)

In the following countries, Portuguese is listed as the official language:

  • Brazil
  • Portugal
  • Mozambique(in Africa)
  • Angola(in Africa)
  • Guinea-Bissau(in Africa)
  • Equatorial Guinea(in Africa)
  • Cape Verde(island off the coast of West Africa)
  • East Timor(island near Australia)
  • Sao Tome and Principe(islands near coast of West Africa)
  • Macau(technically not a country, part of China but special)

So if you learn Portuguese, it gives you a reason to visit all these countries and islands and even Macau, the “Special Administrated Region of the People’s Republic of China!” I think it’s so cool that Portuguese is one of the official languages there. It makes me really want to go there.

Speaking three languages will increase your job opportunities

This one is pretty obvious but the fact that you speak Spanish AND Portuguese could really help you especially if you’d like to work for a company that deals with clients from around the world. Instead of having to hire a Spanish and a Portuguese speaker, they could just hire YOU! Or, if you don’t like the jobs you’re finding as a bilingual Spanish-English speaker, maybe you’ll find one you like as a bilingual Portuguese-English speaker? You never know!

Unlike Spanish, you only really need to know three verb forms when conjugating

In Portuguese, you will only really need to know these conjugations:

  • I- eu
  • you/he/she/us- você/ele/ela/a gente
  • them, you all- eles/elas/vocês

So the main difference is that instead of using a separate nós form, in Brazil, they typically use a gente which is conjugated the same way as you, he, she, and us.  That’s also really awesome especially if you’re used to learning 5 or 6 different conjugations in Spanish. Now, you only have to learn 3!

Hopefully some of this information was new to you or you enjoyed reading this post! I decided to share it because I love learning languages. I’m also learning Portuguese and wanted to share this information because maybe you’ll find it helpful or interesting! Feel free to leave any comments or thoughts below! 🙂


Milk comes in a pouch? Say what?!

It’s the last day in September, meaning I have about two months left. In today’s post, I want to share a few “aspects” that are different here in Buenos Aires.

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Mayonnaise and milk come in pouches

The mayonnaise and mustard are in pouches instead of containers. I thought this was so weird when I bought milk for the first time. It comes in a pouch. I put the bag in a pitcher and then pour it. It sounds funny but hey, it works 🙂


Coca cola signs are bigger than the names of restaurants

I don’t know why this is but they are lots of stores and restaurants that advertise the brands they carry instead of their actual restaurant. By that I mean you’ll see a restaurant with a Coca Cola sign that’s BIGGER than the name of the restaurant. I guess it makes sense in that fact that if you’re a small restaurant and you don’t have a catchy name you at least want people to know that you carry Coca Cola.

The popcorn at the movies is sweet, not salty

When I went to the movie for the first time with my girlfriend and friends, we ordered popcorn and were to surprised to taste a sweet, kettle corn flavor instead of the buttery and salty flavor we’re used to back home. It’s not bad but I personally prefer the salty popcorn.

That’s it for today’s post! It’s a short one but hopefully you enjoyed it! Feel free to share any comments or thoughts below 🙂

I have about two months left before I come home.