Martes el 23 de agosto – día 37
Tuesday was my first castellano class with my program. I was super excited, as I got my first choice: Castellano Avanzado y Cultura Argentina: Focalizado en Música Popular Urbana en Argentina. I got up at 8 AM, had some breakfast, and then took the bus to class. I arrived 35 minutes early (comoviajo.com grossly overestimated the travel time) so I walked around the neighborhood. The class is in Recoleta, which is an absolutely gorgeous area, and our class is at a museum which used to be a house.
My professor Darío (who was my professor for my taller de gramática) introduced himself and have a description of the course. Each class is three hours long, with about an hour dedicated to each of its three components. 1. Gramática, 2. Discussion of literature, we have to read 4 books over the course of the semester, right now we’re reading Blanco nocturna, 3. Discussion of music. We have 2 GB worth of music and their lyrics to listen during the semester. They’re separated by decade (from the 1960s to 2000s) and we’ll discuss them with reference to culture at the time. The class seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m excited to hear some Argentine music since the only music I’ve heard so far has been from America.
After class I decided to walk home because it was a lot closer than I originally thought. It took about 30 minutes and it was a really nice area, so I think I’ll walk to this class more often. When I got home I made some lunch and then headed out to my UBA class.
I opted to take the colectivo instead of the subte for a change of scenery. My colectivo broke down in the middle of the street halfway there. I was not happy. When another bus was finally able to get through I got on and rode the rest of the way to UBA. Lucky for me I’m always early to everything here, so I arrived to class with 5 minutes to spare and the professor was 10 minutes late.
I would like to take this time to more thoroughly explain Universidad de Buenos Aires - Filosofia y Letras to all of you back home. First, walking up to UBA you see a building with a dilapidated exterior, dirty Argentine flags, and graffiti. To put it bluntly the building resembles a crack house. To your side there are tons of street vendors with blankets lining the sidewalks, trying to sell their various wares. Mates, wallets, book bags, t-shirts, jewelry, socks, hats, scarves, pretty much anything imaginable, you can find at a street vendor. Upon entering the large green doors, which are propped open approximately, 15 people try to hand you pieces of paper with information about a political party, movement, or random bar or restaurant. Enter farther into the building and you’ll encounter stands upon stand of people selling choripan, sopa, water for mate, beverages and other edible goods. There are also individuals selling stuffed bread or churros out of baskets. Another thing you’re likely to notice is the complete lack of cleanliness (Nanny, you would have a heart attack and/or stroke if you saw this building). There are tattered political posters lining the walls, and a general feeling of dirt and grim everywhere. The bathrooms don’t have toilet paper or soap (always have tissues and germ-x in your bag), and there are random pigeons roaming the hallways. On any given walk to class you will encounter no less than 2 groups of lighting up cigs in the hallway. Once you arrive at your designated class room you may find there aren’t enough seats, thus forcing you to sit on the floor. If you’re lucky enough to have a seat chances are the attached desk was long ago broken off never to be seen again (learn to write on your lap). When the professor arrives (usually at least 10 minutes late) they most likely won’t be able to show their powerpoint presentation as the projector and stand were stolen at some point (we received an email about how the school received 4 bomb threats between the 12th and 18th, and a lot of property was stolen during the evacuation) therefore professors have to reserve one of the few remaining projectors before class. Throughout the course of your 2-4 hour class it is highly likely there will be at least one interruption by a group of students trying to spread word of their cause or looking for signatures for a petition.
Despite all – or maybe because of - these seemingly terrible things UBA is actually a very interesting place. First, all students attend classes completely free of charge (aside from buying texts, which are photocopies rather than actual books). UBA is completely funded by the state (which may explain the lacking state of the building). It is also a very active and politically charged campus. While it is a completely foreign concept to me, as students attend school for free, there are constantly petitions circulating asking for more from UBA. Whether it be $5 peso platos del día (which would be the equivalent of getting a meal at bullet for $1.25), more night classes (for students who work during the day) or bettering the conditions of the school (which I understand). It’s been hard for me to grasp the view of education here (at least at UBA). Since students don’t pay to attend classes it takes may of them years and years to finish a degree. For instance, one of the girls I’m working with on my project has been going to school for 4ish years but is really only about 2 years into her course work. She only takes 2 classes per semester as she works full time. There are also many many older students. I get a sense that often times people are taking classes more for their enjoyment, or because it’s what they actually want to study, whereas in the US there’s more pressure to do something that will make us “successful,” or that will earn us the most money. While it’s kind of a refreshing attitude to have, it’s definitely a foreign concept.
It is most certainly a complete 180 from Gettysburg as far as the physical atmosphere is concerned. However, what UBA lacks in esthetic appeal it makes up for in classes. I was surprised by how in depth and intellectual the classes seem to be in spite of the lacking building. The professors are also very impressive, having written multiple books, serving as advisors to La Presidenta, working as the top professionals in their field etc.
At first I was completely against taking classes at UBA because it was so different, now I’m starting to see the value of getting such a different experience.
After class I took the subte home and did a little reading before dinner. We had some vegetable rice again, and then Clarisa and I had postre de vigilante and some tea while watching “Salven el millón” (exact same show as million dollar money drop, but it Spanish). When the show was over (the family lost) I went upstairs to shower and get ready for bed.
Miercoles el 24 de agosto
¡¡¡¡¡FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS A JARED!!!!!
|Ain't he purty???|
If you come down to Buenos Aires I’ll buy you a nice dinner at the parilla (you’ll get the best steak of your life) and a Quilmes.
Today I got up at 9AM, had some breakfast and then headed to yoga. It was a different kind of yoga, and with a different instructor than my previous class, but it was fun.
I headed back home, got ready for class, packed my lunch, and took el colectivo to UCA. Our assignment for the week was sacar fotos en noche sin flash (take photos at night without flash). Here are the pictures I presented to the class:
Our assignment for next week is to do auto retratos (self-portraits). I’m not looking forward to this assignment, maybe I’ll share the pictures with you next week, depending on if I like them or not. In preparation for this assignment we watched a bunch of videos about artists who do self-portraits. I thought most of them were crazy, or their story was very depressing. We watched one about Francesca Woodward, who took a ton of self-portraits, and ended up killing herself at the age of 22. The other one that stuck out in my mind was this French woman known as Orlan who went through an artistic phase in which she got plastic surgery, stayed awake for all of it, and filmed it. Ew. Maybe this is just me being closed minded, but I wouldn’t consider that art, I’d call it crazy and attention seeking.
After class I took the colectivo home and did some work para mi clase de castellano. Clarisa called me down for dinner (ravioli). She also told me they'll most likely be cutting our electricity at 8 AM tomorrow to do some maitenance so I need to shower and charge anything I need charged tonight... welcome to Argentina. During dinner we watched "Salven el millón" again, except this time I knew 3 answers! The first question was "how many stripes are there on the American flag,"options: 12, 13, 14, 15, the second was "what is the best selling sound track of all time according to <insert name of some American music institute I can't remember>" options: The Bodyguard, Grease, The Wall, Woodstock. The third was "what is Venus standing on in The Birth of Venus" options: a crowd of angels, a seashell, a marble alter (The correct answers for you novices out there were: 13, The Bodyguard, and a seashell).
Anyway, I'm off to shower, read some more, and go to bed.