A lot has gone on in my life since I last posted! Here goes catching up on it all…
A few Sundays ago my host mom taught me how to make gnocchi! There is a very strong Italian influence in the culture here – an influence that is strongly reflected in the food. Gnocchi is not that complicated to make. All you have to do is cook the potatoes on the stove for a while, wait till they cool, add egg and lots of flour, knead the dough thoroughly, and then cut it into little pieces. This last part is very time-consuming and requires a bit of patience. But the end product is definitely worth it! They were so good! The whole family came over to eat them with us.
Two weeks ago I finally started classes. I have two classes that are just with my group from Dickinson. One of the classes is called “Realidad Argentina.” It is an Argentinian history and culture class. So far we’ve learned about a variety of topics including the gauchos, soccer, music, tango, geography and mate. Mate is a type of tea that is very popular here. Mate is a social drink that is passed around among friends using the same metal straw and cup, which is shaped like a gourd, because originally they did drink mate from gourds. There is specific mate etiquette. For example, if someone offers you mate and you refuse, it is seen as an insult. Also when you say thank you to the person who is serving you the mate, it means that you have had your fill and do not want anymore. Mate can be served bitter, sweet, or mixed with other flavors such as mint. I personally like all of the varieties that I have tried so far. I find it fascinating that people bring their mate everywhere! I’ve seen people drinking it and passing it around in the park, in the car, during business meetings at my internship, in class (I’ll talk about this more later), at home – Sam I Am I do not want green eggs and ham. J Essentially people drink mate everywhere all the time here.
My second class with my group is Spanish, which is always useful when you’re studying abroad in a Spanish speaking country.
Additionally I have two classes with the other Argentinian students. One is called Marketing, Publicity and Propaganda and the other is called Administration of Human Resources. Marketing has been really interesting so far. I really like the themes and the professor is very nice. Administration of Human Resources is interesting too, but a bit boring. This class is also challenging because I have a hard time understanding this professor!
Classroom etiquette in Argentina is fascinating because it is so different from what I’m used to at Dickinson. First of all, it is very common for professors to come late and I have yet to have a class that has started on time. It’s not like a few minutes late either. It’s usually half an hour or more. On my first day of Marketing the class started two hours late! Lately I’ve been trying to get to class at the exact time that it starts instead of early as I normally like to be, though I still end up being early!
Second of all, the students are obviously on their phones, talking, drinking mate (which they pass to the professors too!), smoking on the patios off to the sides of the classroom, or going in and out of the class. The professors don’t mind as this is just the way it is here. It’s really amazing. I don’t know how they learn with all of those distractions!
Third, if you have a question here you just shout it out to the professor, even if the question or the comment interrupts them. No big deal, better to get your question answered.
The way majors work here is also very different from what I’m used to. Basically you pick your major when you start college and there is a set schedule of which classes you take each semester for all four or five years of college. So if you are majoring in political science you take the scheduled classes for political science every semester. It is uncommon to take classes in other areas besides your major.
Besides school I have also been interning with an organization called Oikos, a network that seeks to defend the environmental rights of the people of Mendoza. Mainly I’ve been doing a lot of research on fracking and efforts to combat it in the U.S. to see if there are any strategies that Oikos can implement to fight against fracking in Argentina.
I have also been singing in a choir with my host mom! It’s so cute! We go every Thursday afternoon. It’s so cute and the other people are so nice and welcoming! Every day we go it takes them about 45 minutes to start singing because everyone has so much to say to each other or some of the women bring baked goods, knitted scarves, and other goods to sell to one another. But once the singing does commence it sounds great! I sit with the altos. They mainly sing super catchy folksongs that I find myself singing them for days after the practices! Occasionally I have trouble pronouncing some of the words, especially in the faster songs, but I’m convinced it will help my Spanish in the long run! I spent Rosh Hashanah evening performing with the choir at an event!
Additionally last weekend I went repelling and rock-climbing in the mountains!
I’ll stop here for now so that this post doesn’t get any longer!