Posted by: estudiantedeund | July 14, 2012

Final Thoughts

I made it home safe and sound last weekend. Thankfully, getting through the airports all went very smoothly and I didn’t have any troubles. With each plane ride, there were more and more people that spoke English. It was a little hard to adjust to using common phrases such as “thank you” and “excuse me” in English because we had been saying them in Spanish for so long. It has been great to be home and see my family. The first thing I did when I came home was to eat some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drink a tall glass of milk. I had been missing these staple foods in my diet, haha. After living in another country, I have become more aware of many things I take for granted here at home. The experience has also allowed me to better understand the differences between how we live as Americans compared to how other people live. It is interesting to see how different cultures not only have their own customs, but they also have a way of thinking that is not always the same as ours. Sometimes it takes stepping out of our culture in order to look back and see things we didn’t even recognize as being part of our culture.

Overall, I was very pleased with my study abroad experience. I felt that the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) was a well-organized program and we were able to see and do a lot in our 6 weeks. There was a good combination of IFSA planned activities and things we did on our own. I would recommend this program to other students. I met so many great people through this program and it will be so fun to keep in contact with them.

If you, or anyone you know, is thinking about studying abroad in Argentina or possibly in other parts of South America, feel free to contact me if you have questions or want to know more about anything in particular about my experience. I will be happy to help as best I can. My email is kayla.yarusso@my.und.edu

Thanks for following my blog! It’s been fun to share my experience and hopefully help future students with some advice and fun stories. Chao!

Posted by: estudiantedeund | July 7, 2012

All good things must come to an end

My trip to Iguazú was nothing short of AMAZING! Everything worked out so well and it was a wonderful, short, vacation. Our adventure started with a 16 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú. We got there about 1pm on Monday. We checked into our hostel and then spent the rest of the day walking around the town and doing some shopping. Some of us decided to do a moonlight dinner and walk to the falls. It was really cool that we happened to be there on the perfect day, because they only do this activity when there is a full moon and when the weather is nice enough. We walked out to the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat) and got completely soaked by the mist from the falls. We spent all of Tuesday and Wednesday in the national park. We walked each of the paths twice because the views were so incredible. I don’t know about other people, but I took over 700 pictures! This trip was seriously a dream come true for me. I am absolutely fascinated by waterfalls. All I kept thinking when I was there was, “This is paradise” and “That is SO MUCH WATER!”

These last two days have been spent relaxing, packing, and hanging out with friends. We all have mixed emotions right now. Most of us are ready to go home, but it is hard to leave our new friends. It will also be sad to leave my host family. They have been so kind and it has been great to be a part of their family. Brownie, the dog, will miss lying on me and hiding things under my bed.

I have everything packed now and I am waiting to be picked up to go to the airport. Three of us are taking a remise together. A remise is like a taxi, but we reserved it ahead of time. My host mom was able to give me the name and number of a guy she knows that has a remise service and I was able to talk to him about giving us a ride. I am not too excited about having to navigate airports again, but if I can make it in Buenos Aires for 6 weeks I can get through an airport, haha.

Please pray for everyone’s safe travels! I’ll be home soon!!!

Posted by: estudiantedeund | July 1, 2012

Vacation time!!

Just like that, my 5 weeks of classes are over. Overall, I feel like the classes I took were very well organized and I learned quite a bit. The most difficult part was that they packed in a lot of material into a short amount of time and that there were assignments for almost every day. For the credits we are receiving though, the work load was more than reasonable. The trick was getting everything done for school while still finding time to do a lot of touring and hanging out with friends. I definitely think that my classes at UND will seem easier after having taken these classes in Argentina.

This week I chose to experience the nightlife of Buenos Aires. I’m not one who usually goes out to the bars and night clubs, but it is a big part of the culture here, so we decided to check it out. The thing that makes it the most different from going out in the U.S. is the acceptable hours for being out. Here, the custom is to go to a bar/restaurant and eat dinner at about 10 or 11pm and have drinks. Then everyone goes out to the boliches (night clubs). Whereas the bars in the U.S. usually close at 2am, many of the clubs don’t open until 1 or 2am here. It is common for people to stay out until about 5 or 6 in the morning. It was fun to experience this part of the culture, but my body will appreciate returning to a more normal sleep schedule.

My adventures were limited this week because of all the final papers I had to write for my classes, but we were able to do some last things before leaving this great city. We spent a day walking around Puerto Madero last weekend. The people in Buenos Aires call themselves porteños because it is a port city. It took me 5 weeks, but we eventually found time to make it to the port. Unfortunately, we didn’t get close to where the large ships come in, but it was fun to walk along the water. An interesting fact about Puerto Madero is that all of the streets are named after famous women in the country. There is also a cool bridge across the channel that is called the “Puente de la Mujer” (Woman’s Bridge-see picture). My other adventure this week was to go on a bike ride through some of the northern suburbs of Buenos Aires. We only biked about 15 miles, but I was pretty sore afterwards. About a third of the streets we rode on were cobblestone and not so fun to bike over. The views were cool though. I loved being in neighborhoods outside of the city. It is a much more relaxed environment. We biked on a path near the water to a spot where we could see the skyline of the city. It was a great day for being outside and I appreciated the exercise.

Tonight, some of my friends and I are leaving on a 16 hour bus ride to Iguazu national park. We are going to be there until Wednesday evening. I am so excited to see the waterfalls!!! I have been told that it is one of the natural wonders of the world. There was a group of students that went last weekend and their pictures show that we will not be disappointed.

I hope everyone is having a great summer and I wish everyone a happy 4th of July!!! I am a little sad because this will be the first 4th of July that I have not spent with my family. The funny thing is that I am missing the 4th of July by just a couple days, but I am also going to just miss Argentina’s independence day as well. I leave Buenos Aires on July 7th and their independence day is on the 9th. Oh well, this whole experience has been worth it. I can’t wait to share with you my adventure to Iguazu in a couple days.

Posted by: estudiantedeund | June 21, 2012

Viva la Vida

We are in the home stretch already! I can’t believe it! It is amazing how much you can learn about the world and about yourself in 6 weeks abroad. Overall, this trip has caused me to go through many different emotions, but I realize now that everything I have experienced has made me a much stronger and more confident person.

Last weekend, I finally was able to attend Mass at the cathedral and then my friends and I took some pictures of the obelisk. It was so surprising to be walking around Buenos Aires on a Sunday morning because, for the city that never sleeps, the streets were completely empty. We had to laugh, because we didn’t think that was possible here. The streets are usually packed with vehicles and people all the time! So, we got some good pictures while standing in the middle of the road.

I also was able to walk through the one street in the neighborhood of la Boca this week. It is famous for all of the houses and buildings painted multiple colors. It is a tourist attraction now, but the area has historical significance. We learned that because the people in that neighborhood are part of the lower class, they would use whatever paint was leftover from the ships at the port nearby in order to paint their houses. They couldn’t afford to buy enough new paint for their houses and stores, so they ended up with whatever colors they could find. After the Boca, we walked through the artisan fair in San Telmo. I was able to purchase many of the items I still wanted to buy before I left.

This week has gone so fast because Wednesday was a holiday (Flag Day). The program planned for us to go to an estancia (ranch) that was about an hour and a half away from Buenos Aires. It was definitely a tourist place, but it was fun to learn a little about gauchos and eat a ton of meat that they prepared for us! If you come to Buenos Aires be prepared to eat meat, especially if you are with a program like this one, because they bring multiple courses of different meats to try.

Getting all of our “midterm” assignments turned in was slightly stressful, because everything was due at the same time. We only have one week left, so we are down to the final papers. I will be excited to be done with school, but I guess I have learned quite a bit in these classes. At the very least, I am happy that I have had so much practice listening to native speakers lecture because now I feel like my Spanish classes back at UND will seem so much easier.

My friends and I are planning a trip to Iguazu Falls after school gets done. We bought our bus tickets today and were happy that they gave us a discount because we were all booking tickets together and because we are students. I am so excited for this trip! It will be a great little vacation before we all go home to our respective states. It is kind of weird to think that I might not ever see these people again after this trip. After a month of being classmates, traveling around the city together, and sharing so many new experiences I have made some great friends. It will be awesome to have contacts all over the U.S. now though.

I hope everyone is enjoying the first official days of winter! haha, I mean summer for you all!

Posted by: estudiantedeund | June 17, 2012

Half way!

Hello again everyone!

It is crazy how fast the week went and how much I have done since the last blog. This is part 2 of the blog for this week. Make sure to take a look at the one I wrote just before this about my trip to Uruguay. I will write in chronological order, so it is easier to follow along with the pictures.

Last week, I went to a tango class. We learned about the history of tango in our classes, so it was fun to be able to hear the music and try the dance. It is not particularly easy, but we did our best to follow along with the instructor.

I spent a day with some of the other students in the barrio of Recoleta. We walked through another artisan craft fair and then walked through the famous cemetery. This cemetery is where many of the upper class families and well known people of Argentina are buried. It was probably one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. I was not expecting what we saw at all! There were rows and rows of giant mausoleums. After asking a couple people for help, we eventually found the site where Eva (Duarte) Perón is buried. Her tomb is the most visited in the entire cemetery because of her popularity for supporting the working class.

To expand my dancing experience even more, I participated in a salsa class this week as well. It was really fun and I found it much easier than tango. The music is much happier and the dance can be really fun if your partner knows what he is doing.

This week, my friends and I have discovered how amazing facturas (pastries) are. There are many different kinds and they are pretty cheap. The picture I took was of the empanadas I often have for lunch and the facture in the back of the photo.

The next six pictures describe what I see every morning before school on the way to the bus stop.

There should be no confusion where the police are because the sign is written in four languages. Both kioscos and locutorios are very common in Buenos Aires. They are small convenience stores that sell snacks and other things. Sometime they are also connected to small internet cafes. Bus 141 is the one I take to school every morning.

This week we went to the Evita museum and today we toured inside of the Casa Rosada and the Bicentennial museum. The Casa Rosada is similar to the white house in the U.S. It is the building where the president and other members of the government work, but she does not live there. A group of history students in Buenos Aires came with us on the tour and part of our assignment was to talk to them about some important events in the history of Argentina.

The last picture I posted in this blog is of a group of people playing music. It is representative of all of the forms of music around the city. I have been on numerous buses, subways, and streets where people just start playing instruments and/or singing. These musicians are trying to make money however they can. Sometimes it is annoying if it is on the bus, but often the music they play is entertaining.

So, week three of school is over and we only have 7 more days left. I can’t believe how fast the time is going because of these classes. We many of our midterm assignments due this week and now we mostly just have the final papers left. Many of the projects we are assigned as part of this program are to be done in groups. At first, I thought this would be difficult because we all live in different apartments and in different neighborhoods, but my friends and I have been able to do all of the projects so far by using facebook and google documents. I would recommend both of these forms of communication to other study abroad students, because they are really helpful and easy to use. Also, at the beginning of the trip, one of the students in the program created a facebook group and invited everyone that is in the program. This has been the greatest form of communication with everyone in the program. We are able to talk about homework questions, share plans for traveling places together, and coordinate social events without having to waste our phone minutes and text messages.

At the end of week 3, I definitely feel a lot more comfortable in the city and it doesn’t feel as much like a foreign place. I had to laugh the other day, because I was thinking about how “boring” it will seem back at home compared to being here in this huge city. There is still so much that we want to see and do. I am finding that it is so hard to cram all of the fun and school into six weeks.

They always say that you learn by making mistakes. Well, these are some of the ones I made this week that I probably won’t forget now J

-I had someone ask me “Le extraño a tus padres?” and I was really confused because I thought that they were asking me if my parents were strange. Later I learned that the verb extrañar means to miss, so they were actually asking me if I miss my parents. It makes a lot more sense now J

-Another mistake I made this week was during a presentation. We were supposed to present some pictures that we took of Buenos Aires and I started my presentation by saying “esta pictura.” My professor stopped me right away and told me that pictura is not a word, oops. If you want to say picture you need to use the word imagen or foto. The word pintura is used for a painting, but pictura just isn’t a word at all.

Last piece of advice in this blog for other study abroad students or any traveler: keep up on uploading and saving pictures as well as taking daily notes or writing journals to remind yourself what you did each day. I am doing this and I am so glad, because it takes a long time, but at least it is manageable if you don’t get far behind.

Posted by: estudiantedeund | June 17, 2012

Trip to Uruguay

Last weekend, we all took a 2 day trip to Uruguay. It was so fun! We took a boat from Buenos Aires to Colonia, which was about an hour ride. We spent the afternoon and evening on the beach and touring the historical part of the city. We stayed in a hotel in Colonia, right on the Rio de la Plata. The next morning we had a huge continental breakfast and we had a beautiful view while we ate. Then we got on the omnibus and rode about 2 hours to the capital city of Uruguay, Montevideo. It is a fairly large city, but we could definitely tell that it wasn’t as crazy as Buenos Aires. We went on a guided walking tour of the important buildings in the city and then had some free time to explore and shop before we had to return to the boat for the 3 hours ride back to Buenos Aires.

Fun Facts about Uruguay

-The exchange rate right now is 20 Uruguayan pesos to 1 US dollar. This makes all of the prices seem really high so don’t freak out if you go shopping in Uruguay

-There are a lot of stray dogs and they like to follow you around. They also chase cars for fun and they get so close to being hit it is scary to watch them.

-I was told by a friend at home that Uruguay has the best steak, so I tried it and I was quite satisfied. It wasn’t cooked as much as I would have liked, but it tasted pretty good.

-Chivito (see the picture of the sandwich): is a popular food in Uruguay. It is a flat hamburger with egg, tomato, lettuce, and onions.

-Driving through Uruguay, from Colonia to Montevideo, reminded me of North Dakota and northern Minnesota. There were a lot of fields and cows, not much else.

Posted by: estudiantedeund | June 6, 2012

Hace Frío

Hace frío! It decided to get cold! It has been mid 40s this week, which I know is not that bad for being from the Midwest, but the humidity here is so much higher that it seems even colder. The university is not heated and so inside the classrooms is pretty close to the same temperature as outside. It is weird to think that it is June and everyone is walking around in coats, scarves, and hats. I decided that I may need to buy a sweater or two and a scarf while I’m here because I don’t think I brought enough warm clothes. Anyway, enough about the weather, the trip is still going well. I am definitely more comfortable with getting around the city and we have been keeping ourselves busy with finding things to do and see in between doing homework.

This week, my friends and I saw the Japanese gardens and the botanical gardens, we went to a club rugby game, and watched the Argentina versus Ecuador soccer game on TV. Every Thursday, Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo march in the plaza to remember and raise awareness of their family members who “disappeared” during the dirty war. We saw them last Thursday, and also walked through the Cathedral while we were there. Our schedule is such that we go to class from 9am to 3pm and then we have time, while its still light out, do see things in the city before needing to be home for dinner. I have found that there are always people that want to go out and have plans for every night, but it is best for me to pick these activities carefully and be okay with not participating in everything. Especially after the first week of being so exhausted, some days I know I just need to go home, do homework, and rest. This upcoming weekend, everyone in the program is required to participate in a Tango class and as a large group we are spending two days in Uruguay. We get to visit Colonia and the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo.

Let’s talk about food! Argentina is very proud of their meat. We went to a Parrilla (BBQ restaurant/grill) and were able to try a couple different types of meat as well as having a full salad bar, bread, and dessert. I have enjoyed all the food I have had here so far. The eating schedule is becoming a little easier to conform to now. At my home here in Argentina, we usually eat dinner between 8-9pm. This is common and sometimes even a little earlier than other families. It makes it difficult to do homework though, because when dinner is over it is already getting late and I get tired fast. Some of the common Argentina foods I had tried are empanadas and choripan. Empanadas are cheap and you can get them almost anywhere. They are a small pastry often filled with beef, chicken, spinach, or cheese. Choripan is a sausage I had in a sandwich that was super delicious! Here are some interesting facts about food in Argentina

1. When you order pasta at a restaurant, you have to order the pasta and sauce separately (they have two different prices on the menu)

2. Carbonated water is a standard. If you want normal water, make sure you order “agua sin gas.” Also, water and pop come in bottles, so you have to pay for water just like any other drink.

3. As in other Spanish speaking places, the restaurant and cafe setting is very relaxed. The waiter will take your order, bring you your food, and then let you sit for as long as you want. In most cases, you have to flag down a waiter to ask for the check.

4. If you want a hot chocolate, ask for a “submarino.” Yes, like submarine. The way they make hot chocolate is to first heat up a glass of milk and then you drop a bar of chocolate into the milk and stir it. It is a brilliant idea and works really well. I never would have thought of that!

Okay, one more topic…School. I decided to take all three classes. I only told UND I was taking two of them, so I don’t know if I will get credit for the history class or not, but I figured I am already paying for it and I think it will be interesting. It is getting easier to understand the professors. I like the fact that each of these classes has a couple professors that switch off days teaching. This allows us to learn how to comprehend different native speakers versus learning how to only listen to one person’s accent. The classes have each had daily readings and homework. Being a science major, history and literature were never my favorite classes in the first place, and then trying to do them in Spanish is proving to be a challenge, but not impossible. There are only 5 weeks of class total and we are almost done with 2 of them already!

For me, I think the time is going at a good pace. I need a couple more weeks to feel like I have had enough cultural experiences and to finish these classes, but I will also be ready to go home when the time comes.

Posted by: estudiantedeund | May 30, 2012

My first days in Buenos Aires

When they tell you “culture shock” will probably happen to you when you study in a foreign country, they are absolutely right. I didn’t really know what that would mean, but I figured it out pretty quick. It is a feeling of being very stressed and overwhelmed about most everything. The good news is that after a couple days, I feel much more comfortable with traveling in the city and figuring things out. This past weekend was devoted to orientation for the program and for literally orienting ourselves in Buenos Aires. In the last 5 days, I have done so many things that I have never done before, anywhere! I rode in a taxi, bought a phone and put minutes on it, and figured out what bus would take me home from where I was, just to name a few. Learning how to live in a big city in a different country and in a different language has been interesting, but it feels good to know that I have been equipped with a sufficient amount of Spanish to communicate with the locals in order to get what I need.

Today was the first day of classes. There are 3 classes offered and everyone goes to all of them for this week. We have until Friday to decide if we want to drop any of them. I am in a Castellano class, which will focus on grammar and some aspects of the culture in Argentina, a class in literature of Argentina and Latin America, and one on the history of Argentina. I am excited for the Castellano class, but I think the other classes are going to take a little more effort. I have found that right now it takes a lot of energy and concentration for me to comprehend the professors. My hope is that by the end of this week I will be able to comprehend native speakers more easily. I can already tell that I am able to understand more than I could the first day I got here.

I think I will try to end each of my posts with some advice, important information, or interesting facts that I learn, that others should know if they travel to Buenos Aires.

  1. Get a copy of the “Guia T.” It is a book that has all of the bus routes and maps of the city.
  2. Carry your backpack in front of you if you are riding un colectivo (bus) or el subte (subway). They can be uncomfortably crowed and things could get stolen easily.
  3. If you attend el Universidad de Buenos Aires and dare to use the bathroom (at least in la facultad de filosofía y letras), make sure to bring your own roll of toilet paper because there isn’t any there.
  4. Know the word “permiso” because it is used frequently. For example, the people on the crowded subway will say permiso when they need to get past others in order to exit. In another context, my host mom and sister say permiso before entering my room to let me know they are there and to ask permission to enter.
  5. The majority of people use “Chao” to say goodbye or goodnight, basically whenever you are leaving someone.
  6. This one probably should have been first, but when you greet someone you always touch your right cheeks together and make a kissing sound (you don’t actually kiss them). Of course, this is only for the people that you are close to, friends, and people you are meeting. You would not greet someone at the store this way. I went to a party with my host sister at a different apartment and found it interesting that when someone arrived to the party they went around the room and greeted each person this way.
  7. Know that they use the form “vos” in place of “tú” for the second person singular pronoun. The rule is simple. Just take the infinitive and remove the R, then add an s and an accent on the last syllable. Remember that there are no stem-changers in this form and that the conjugation is only different from the tú in the present tense and affirmative commands.

I have learned much more than these few things, but this is what I can come up with right now. I will write again when I have had a couple more days of class and have participated in some other activities. Chao!

Posted by: estudiantedeund | May 23, 2012

It’s Time to Travel

Adiós Minnesota y hola Buenos Aires!!!

My bags are packed and I am ready to begin an experience of a lifetime. Tomorrow will be a long travel day as I will have to go through Chicago and Miami before I get there, but hopefully everything will go smoothly. By Friday morning we will be in orientation for our program and meeting our host families!

This is the biggest trip I have ever taken without my family and the first time I’ve had to navigate airports on my own, so I am a little nervous. I am definitely excited though and can’t wait to start using my Spanish and living in a new culture. After communicating with my host sister and asking her a bunch of questions, I feel confident that my host family will be very hospitable and helpful while I am getting used to being there.

There isn’t much else I can say right now, other than when I check in with you all again I will be in Argentina and there is a good chance some more Spanish might start slipping into these blogs :) Please pray for everyone’s safe travels!

Posted by: estudiantedeund | May 16, 2012

Hola Amigos! (Hello Friends)

My name is Kayla Yarusso and I will be studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for six weeks this summer. I will be a senior in the fall and am majoring in biology and Spanish. I have heard from many people that studying abroad is a rewarding and beneficial experience and I am very excited about the opportunity. I have always wanted to travel somewhere to practice my Spanish and this summer program, through IFSA Butler, seems like it will be a perfect fit for me.

Today, I received contact information for my host family. My host mom and sister both friended me on facebook this week and it has been fun to have some contact with them before I leave. I am excited to experience the new culture and, although I am kind of nervous about communicating with native speakers, I can’t wait to become much more fluent and confident in the language. I feel like I know the language well, but I know that what we learn in school is quite formal compared to the daily use of the language. I am hoping to improve my conversational Spanish and believe that living with a family will help me in this area.

Currently, I am in the process of deciding what I am going to bring with me and making sure that I have everything I need. I am looking forward to sharing my experience with all of you through this blog. I hope that this will be a good way for me to remember my trip, but also a useful resource for future students who would like to study abroad in Argentina.

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