As my long, extended study abroad experience comes to a close - the semester here started at the end of July/the beginning of August - work at LBV has settled down a bit. The last month or so has been filled with the same old, same old, but as LBV grows and hires more interns and employees, it isn't quite as overwhelming as one might imagine for a small, local tourism company. The good part about the bit of research I was doing in obtaining information about popular lodging was that even if the office was full and computers therefore occupied, I could continue the online portion of that research from home! GoogleDocs is really a handy tool that LBV definitely utilizes in the best ways.
I would say that this was also a challenge - the office being so tiny, finding workspace where everyone is situated has been a little speed bump recently. Scheduling becomes very hectic with so many employees doing a plethora of jobs in every aspect of the company - from the mechanics to the receptionists to the walking tour guides to the biking tour guides to the vineyard tour guides and between the administration and business that comes with the upcoming summer travelers - not to mention the recent presidential, senate, deputado, and other official elections here in Chile - it is sometimes easy to get lost in the masses! The work I had been doing in the maintaining of good relations with the hostels and hotels is definitely not overshadowed as it is an integral part of keeping a good customer base, but sometimes finding new avenues and ventures tends to not be the primary focus.
The most rewarding part of being a part of the LBV team for me I think is the feeling that even when I am not present, I am still guiding and directing people to the office to take advantage of all of the wonderful tourist opportunities that the company offers. Whether it is between perhaps family members, friends, other visitors, or locals here from the city, it is really neat to be able to feel like a part of something here, especially considering Santiago is such a great place that I can see myself returning - even after the upcoming semester in which I have decided to stay and extend my study abroad experience! The impact may be fleeting in the sense that tourism is not exactly a permanent state of location; however, the efforts made at LBV can't be undermined and I will continue to advocate for them regardless of where I am!
You all know how the rest of it goes. July 15 is my last day in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Around 8.30 p.m., I will be leave Ezeiza International Airport and fly for 10 hours until I return to the United States (i.e., JFK). I can't really describe how I feel as I finish packing up my things and think about ending this experience. During my time in Argentina I had the good fortune of meeting excellent people from all around the world, learning from great professors, and enjoying Argentina's natural wonders, history, and culture. Studying abroad changed my life. It made me more independent, more confident in my abilities to connect across cultures, and it showed me how much we can learn from one another. ...continue reading "All Good Things"
Sorry for the lull guys. Things really picked up down here in the past two weeks! June 28 was the last day of the "cuatrimestre" at UCA. That means I am finally done with those three hour-long classes that start at 7.45 am and spending way too many pesos on photocopies. It also means that I'm pretty much done with eating delicious medialunas (sweet butter croissants). The last one is hard for me because I became a medialuna convert on Day 1 and know that it will be hard to find them in Washington, D.C.
This week has been filled with work. I don't usually stress about academics (I'm of the belief that you should study the subjects you love so you never think of them as work), but when you still haven't packed, bought souvenirs for the family, finished the final touches on those fall internship applications, and your 13 hour intercontinental flight leaves on July 15, you can probably get the picture. ...continue reading "Finals Week"
This week was very nice. On Thursday and Friday, Argentina celebrated the Day of the Flag, a national holiday that commemorates the death of the flag's creator, Manuel Belgrano, an important figure in early Argentine history. UCA was closed on Thursday and Friday due to the holiday. With only a few no-school days left before the end of the semester, I decided to travel during the four-day weekend.
Although I thought about several different places, I ended up going to the city of San Isidro with some friends from Spain last Saturday. San Isidro is a small municipality located in Buenos Aires province, around an hour outside of Buenos Aires City. After taking the train from the Retiro station, we arrived at the Mitre terminal and took the Tren de la Costa to San Isidro. It was good to get outside of the city and change the transportation up. Many UCA students live in San Isidro and make a similar commute every day. ...continue reading "Saturday in San Isidro"
The week of June 11 will be a busy one. I will take for two midterms, one in my Contemporary Political History class and another in my Argentine History I class. It's the latter exam that I am studying long hours for. Taught by two great professors, this class meets on Tuesdays from 8.30 am to 10.30 am and on Fridays from 7.45 am to 11.00 am. Yes, my class is 3 hours and 15 minutes on Friday mornings! In the past few months we have covered the major political, social, and military developments of what is now Argentina, from the creation of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata in the 18th century to the Argentine War of Independence and Civil Wars in the 19th century. ...continue reading "Only in BA: Midterm Preparation Fail"
In my Peronism class, each student must read a text specific to a particular unit and give a 15 minute class presentation on the main points and facts of the text. Remember that the language of instruction is Spanish, the texts are in Spanish, and the presentation must be in Spanish. This week, I was responsible for covering the third part of a three-part text on Argentine political transformations from 1955 to 1973 and the impacts of different societal groups (unions, students, guerrillas) on the transformations. Luckily, I did not have any problems with the presentation (which counts for a significant part of the final grade).
After receiving the text from my professor, I read the 16 pages over and wrote my notes/outline in Spanish. I found that writing notes in the language of instruction is the easiest way to remember information when it comes time to give a presentation. By thinking in the language and phrasing your thoughts correctly, you improve your Spanish and end up having an easier time understanding the text when you read it again. So after taking my notes and reading the text for the second time, I decided to test myself. ...continue reading "Preparing for the Spanish Presentation"
The 25th of May is probably the most important date in Argentine calendar. On May 25, 1810, the citizens of Buenos Aires expelled the Viceroy of the Río de la Plata (roughly modern-day Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay), Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros, established the Primera Junta government, and began the Argentine War of Independence. For 203 years, Argentines have gathered to celebrate this seminal event in world history. On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people took to the Plaza de Mayo, the place where all those events occurred, to celebrate "Argentina, the Fatherland, Liberty, and Equality." ...continue reading "The Party at the Plaza de Mayo"
I finally got my student visa this week! After two months, I finally received the document that gives my time down here a little bit more legitimacy. In Argentina, exchange students enter into the country as tourists and get their student visa later. The tourist status is good for 90 days and can be renewed. When I returned from Chile, my tourist status started again. As an UCA exchange student, the UCA International Office helped up through the lengthy process, and I am grateful that it is all over.
The first step involved getting a background check (you can't be a criminal and study in Argentina). When I went to the first Migrations office to complete this step, I gave the official my original passport, a copy of the passport page with my personal information, and $40 pesos. The official then gave me a document (a Comprobante del Trámite de Antecedentes) that I had to hold onto for eight days. After those eight days were up, I had to print out my Certificado Digital de Antecedentes Penales to begin the second step of the process. The second step involved me bringing my original passport and a photocopy of all the pages in it, my certificado, a 4-by-4 photo (it was a little bit hard to find places that made these), $300 pesos, and an official note from UCA detailing my status there. ...continue reading "The Student Visa"
Last Saturday, my friends and I went to the Centro Ana Frank in barrio Belgrano. Having known about the Anne Frank story and the eponymous museum in Amsterdam, I was excited to see what what in store. Surprisingly, the Center was not on any of the tourist maps that I got months earlier, which usually go to great lengths to point out interesting cultural spots around town. After taking the Subte's D line to the terminal stop, Congreso de Tucumán, we walked for 20 minutes until we got to the unassuming yellow house, the front banner of Anne's face greeting us with a smile as we entered. ...continue reading "Anne Frank in Belgrano"
Yesterday, a friend and I attend Festival PUMM! Festival Sustentable para un Mundo Mejor. This free, no ticket required event was sponsored by the Government of the City of Buenos Aires and held in the barrio of Belgrano right next to Aeroparque Jorge Newberry. The festival brought together some very big names in Argentine and Brazilian reggae scene to perform some of their hits. We got there a little after 1.00 p.m. when stage tests were still being done. We left a little after 9.00 p.m. Yes, that's 8 hours of standing! It was worth it though.
There were six musical acts in total (three minor acts and three headliners). Argentine reggae band Lacandona Social Sound was the first to perform. They started things out right with good songs. Things backtracked a little bit when Caña de Azúcar got on stage, as they were unable to maintain the audience's attention. Rondamon picked up the ball and impressed me with their interesting addition of electronic elements to the traditional roots reggae sound. Ending the minor act portion of the show, Rondamon paid homage to Bob Marley with a good interpretation of "Buffalo Soldier." I actually bet my friend at the beginning of the show that if any band played a Marley song it would be that one. ...continue reading "Reggae Buenos Aires Style"