Thursday, June 10, 2010

El fin

This feels like the end. Argentina and I had a good run. Though, I don't think the nation wanted me to leave, due to the hell I went through trying to get back to Michigan.... but I digress.

Four months went by so quickly. I feel like it was forever ago and also never ago. Did it really happen? Did I really go? And live? And learn? And speak spanish? The best, most challenging, most enjoyable, hardest, fun-est four months ever. I wouldn't change a second of it for anything. I did exactly what I wanted, pushed myself, and did not sell out. I consider it a sucess.

Was I ready for it to end? Never. I know myself and I know when I am done with something. I was not done. But life happens. Do I want to go back? Por supuesto. Will it happen? No sé. Tengo mucho para hacer.... mucho que quiero hacer y para hacerlo, no puedo estar en Buenos Aires... Pero no sé. Things change. Ideas, wants, life. Life changes. So, who knows? Maybe I will become an ex-pat afterall.

Being home is not completely miserable. I've had a few rough culture shock moments and am relatively grumpy/on edge. I'm hoping it will go away. But I've also spent time with one of my best friends EVER and her family. It's just nice to walk into her house, plop down on the couch, chat with the 'rents and brother, and just be. Be called "honey" and just be part of the family. Just the comfortablilty of it all. It just feels so normal and easy. Right now, it's comforting. Keeps me from getting overly emotional, but could it hold me over forever? Doubt it.

Today, I talked with Sam about what I want to do. I feel passion that I've never felt about ideas or possibilities. But none of that would lead me back to Argentina or Latin America in general, and that breaks my heart. So, it is really what I want? Quién sabe... ¿quién sabe?

It feels like the end. But it isn't. That much I do know. However, it is the end of this blog. : )

Gracias por todo- por su ayuda y amor y por leyendo. Buenos Aires- Te extraño querida y te quiero para siempre. Chau mi amor!! Te veo pronto!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


My host mom just came into my room, asked if I had taken my last final yet, and then we did a happy dance while shrieking and screaming "I'm done!"/"You're done!" Am I done.

The next two days are going to be really sad ones. Tonight, I have to start packing. Last dinner with my host family.

Tomorrow- Final gift getting. A goodbye lunch or two. Mini- Despedida/birthday party for one of my favorites at our favorite bar. Staying out all night long.

Saturday- Final goodbyes to host family, friends, and Buenos Aires. 10 hours on a plane, and then I am home. It's so crazy to think that something so substantial can end in the blink of an eye. I get on a plane, and then POOF!! Chau Argentina, Hola los Estados Unidos. Within the next 10 days, my life is going to drastically change.

For some people, BsAs has satisfied their travel bug. They are ready to go back to New York or where ever, and be. Set down roots and live. But for me, it has made me question if I can ever truly enjoy "normal" life. I have always set out to challenge myself, so how am I going to fare being in a nation whose language I speak fluently? Where everyday is not testing my knowledge, my comprehension? How am I going to handle things being easy? My life has never been easy. Being here has changed so much. I seriously question if the EE.UU. is where I want to live my life. The more I think about it, the more apparent the answer is... How scary is growing up?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Faltan diez días...

Things are wrapping up here pretty quickly. In ten days, I return to the States.

Pros: Home, American Food, English
Cons: Home, American Food, English

I kidd, I kidd...

I am ready to come home? Ish? The past few days have made me really miss my home base. I need my friends. Granted, I am always away from them, but this time it's just been a little harder. I feel like calling them friends does not even get to it. They are family. I mean, who sits online with you, while you rapidly rant about and whine, sobbing, until you calm down and can function again? I had a rough few days, and now that they are done, I just really miss the people who make my life simple, or help simplify it when it goes crazy.

I also miss my doggies, my bed, TELEVISION!!!, radio, TACO BELL!!! To name a few.

I don't think I could ever say I am ready to leave here though. This now feel natural to me. I am used to sitting down at dinner, being made fun of for my constant lack of energy, while my host siblings argue over the computer and my host dad just shakes his head at me. Little Rambo, knawing my LEG off. My cuarto IS my cuarto and I just feel at home. And now, I have to be uprooted, readjust, and try to act like Michigan or the States are really what is normal.

Plus- No one in Flint speaks spanish... which is fine... except that I went to a bar with an American bartender last weekend, and couldn't remember how to say "menu" and then had difficulties ordering food in English...

Next ten days will be epic!! Time to enjoy the city, enjoy the life, and enjoy the friends who won't be coming back to the States conmigo. : (

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Yesterday was a good day.

I wrapped out my volunteer project yesterday. I helped plan, organize and EXECUTE a huge painting project at the Hogar. Four of the girls rooms had recently been "renovated." Renovation in this case means fixing door sized holes and patching nearly entire walls. When I first visited the Hogar in February, these four rooms were definitely in the worst shape I've seen in a while.

So, another NYU student, who I love dearly, organzed a Happy Hour to benefit the Hogar. We made some pesos, and then proceeded to organize this event, a 6 hour painting day, to make these rooms more liveable and homey for the chicas. Needless to say, it was a sucess.

The group consisted of a few of my close friends here, a few other classmates, but the majority were people I have never said more than two words too. Our program is small, but not that small. It's amazing that you can spend so much time in the same building, yet never have a conversation with a person.

We all just worked really well, the girls were in good spirits. We danced, sang, joked around, spoke english and spanish, sanded, taped, painted, ate panchos, and just had a good time. Completely different than when I used to go on Mondays- girls were in school, busy, didn't have time. But yesterday, we all made time for each other. And it was just great.

So today, I am sore. My foot is nice and swollen. My shoulders are killing me. And I am mentally exhausted. And it was all totally worth it. What a great way to start my last three weeks here.

Yesterday was a good day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"'Tienes?' Well that just sounds odd. I prefer 'Tenés.'"

I took another hiatus. Clearly. So much has just been happening. It's hard to actually experience life if I feel like I have to remember all the important, amazing, spectacular things to write down. Alas, I try. I try.

Three more weeks. It's crazy. I'm going to say it, so be prepared: I, Briana Avery, speak spanish. Now, am I fluent? HELL NO!! But can I hold a conversation? Can I understand what is said to me? Can I function in a spanish speaking nation? HELL YES!! Check that off the list!

Recently, I've seen so much. Taken the colectivo more, spent time with different people, gone to CÓRDOBA!!! Traveled into the mountains, saw a mini Igazú Falls, and gorgeous lakes in the valleys. The realization that I will soon be parting is just insanity. I feel like I've been here for such little time and for a lifetime simultaneously. I honestly do not remember what it is like to function in the States, or New York. What? Ordering food in english? What? Not kissing people as a form of greeting? What? Not talking about myself using "yo" "soy" "estoy"? What is this?! Transitioning back is my biggest fear. (My english has suffered... a lot)

I love Buenos Aires, but I can't lie, I miss home. As I write, I am listening to the smooth voices of a track some of my friends from home made. Hearing their voices both makes me long to be home with them, to be experiencing what they are, instead of this weird, out of body thing that is Argentina. I almost want to go home because I feel like I can be so much more productive, useful there. Here, I am living for myself for the first time in my life, and its hard. Every day, I go through the motions, acting carefree like the rest of the NYU population, but I'm not. I have other things on my mind. I know how important my goals are and I know what I need to do. Being here just seems like a pause in my life. Necessary? Yes. Hard, almost painful? Definitely.

New York is another issue though. Almost senior year. Almost done!! Going back in August no longer means living in the same building as my friends. Or even the same barrio. We're all spread out, not to mention minus one. The past 5 months have changed the meaning of so many things. I will now have to manage, maybe even meld, two distinct groups of friends, from the village, to Brooklyn, to midtown, to Queens, to UWS and not to mention myself in Tribeca, and three of my favorites being abroad. I just have to develop a new way of adapting.

Cosas que yo extraño (Top 10):
  1. Taco Bell
  2. Cottage Cheese
  3. Ebbie Webbie y Monte Carlo Di'Vinci
  4. Ranch (ahora, sé que existe en Buenos Aires... tres meses despues..)
  5. Starlite
  6. My shoes that I couldn't fit in my suitcase : (
  7. Mi cama
  8. BORDERS!!
  9. Black people (legitimate concern. Google ethnic break down of Buenos Aires)
  10. People
Three more weeks!! Lets make em goood!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

"How do you say cheesecake in spanish?" "Cheesecake."

Last night, I forced a confession out of my host dad. My brother was explaining something to me and needed to know how to say "hill" in english. My dad told him and he finished his explanation. Okay. Someone who is NOT fluent in english does not know words like "hill," "wardrobe," and "seashore." So I asked him "Perdón Fernando, pero, ¿Cuantas idiomas hablas?" "¿Aparte de español?" "No... aparte de español Y inglés..." and he laughed. And then asked what made me think he spoke english. And I gave him the same logic explained above. Then he confessed. Apparently, he speaks "only" english and spanish, but understands italian as well. He learned English in school and used it a lot when he worked for Citi Bank (closer to finding out what he does!!!), but he only used "technological" terms, which he says are easy... Lies. Anywho- I finally know all about his language abilities. And that when I was epic-ly confused back in the day and he would just explain things to me in spanish in like three or four different ways, he could have just told me in english. I greatly appreciate his dedication to improving my spanish skills. Can I please put my host family in a suitcase and bring them back to the States with me? Garrrrry can stay here...

Just had dinner with the fam though and understood everything. For a while I was plateauing, but now I think I am back to improving. I've had some pretty good conversations recently. All in spanish. I can express myself pretty well, which is amazing seeing as where I was 10 weeks ago.

Only 6 weeks... actually not even. It is just amazing to think of everything I have done and how much I have grown. I am ready for America though. I have so much to go back to. This is not the time for me to become an ex-pat, though I cannot promise that it won't happen eventually...

For now, I am trying to do as much as I can. Like today- I took the colectivo to Starbucks with Titi, met Raquel, did some homework, took the colectivo back with Raquel, got off, hugged her goodbye, and then face-planted into an old man. These are totally the life changing experiences I am looking for. : )

Until then, I will just stare at my Argentine amante, wondering how I could EVER dream of leaving him.

I mean seriously... Tell me thats not adorable?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Canadian-English-Speaking-Colombian-Named Pri... Perspectivas

This week. Ugh this week. Many a test. Many a study session. Many a freak out. Many a good friend. And many a judgy- wudgy Argentine.

1st Argentine:
I was sitting at McDonald's with my friend after a horrible volunteer experience. Just enjoying my "Doble McNifica," speaking in English and having a really good time. Then this woman, about 70 or so, next to me asking (in english) "Where are you from?" So I respond in Spanish (it's just a natural reaction now), saying we are students from New York, but studying here, yadda yadda. And she looks at me and says "No. Where are YOU from?" So I repeat it all.. in spanish again. And she looks at me and says "But you don't speak American english..." This coming from an Argentine.... whatever.

So she begins to talk about the fact she is a journalist, yadda yadda, and has roadtripped through Ohio, Michigan, and Canada. And she keeps on talking about Canada. Canada this, Canada that. So finally I ask her if she is insinuating that I speak Canadian English. She responds with: "Well yes. You speak like a Canadian, but she (pointing to my friend) speaks clearly and friendly." Well thank you Argentina for judging MY english. Muchas Gracias. It was all in good fun though... right? My friend and I got a great laugh about it.

Argentine #2 however, was not so enjoyable

2nd Argentine:

I came home, took my nap, got up, did some homework and then for some reason went into the dining room. I saw the good table cloth out, with the good china on it, and heard a strange voice in the kitchen. I knew what this meant- Dinner guest.

So, I looked horrible, sporting track shorts and an NYU sweatshirt. Met said dinner guest (DG), she seemed nice. Cultured. Apparently a friend of the family. Initally, she assumed I spoke no spanish. My host mom informed her that I understood most of what is said, but DG just assumed I still didn't. So she spoke to me in English, I spoke to her in spanish.

She found it necessary to translate everything for me. Which I mean is fine... I guess. Except that if I wanted to speak in English, I would, because my host dad is definitely fluent, two of the kids are close, and my mom and other sister understand english. But I do not want to practice my english, so I speak spanish. But still. That was fine. I can handle that.

Then she asks me where I am from. I tell her I go to school in New York. And she persists on knowing where I am from. So I tell her (still in spanish) I am from a city in Michigan that is an hour North of Detroit. "WHERE?" So I tell her I am from Flint. And she scoughs, which is always great because then I know what is coming. But still, she caught me off guard.

DG: "The Infamous Flint Michigan?" "Umm... es posible.." and my host dad, now joining the conversation, wants to know why she is calling Flint "infamous." Our conversation went as follows:
"No les dices sobre Flint?"
"Sí... un poco..."
"Ohhh *scoughs* Ja! Pues, Confesa ahora."
"Confeso? No... está bien..."
"Well... Flint, a veces, en partes especificios, no es muy seguro. A veces, en esas partes, es un poco peligorso..."
"Un poco? En serio... Un poco? JA! BASTANTE! Well, Briana, at least you don't live there now."
"Mi familia vive en Flint..."
"Well. At least you are ALIVE."
"Yes. And so is the REST of my family..."

At this point, my host dad, picking up on how not comoda I was, said "Bueno..." and changed the topic.

What made her think that she knew more about my hometown than me, I shall never know. But she surely did have guts to tell ME that MY city is "bastante" dangerous and that "at least I am alive." If you have never been to Flint, if you have never seen the city, then, honestly, Callate la boca. I do not want to hear your shit. You are Argentine, so please do not act like you know all about MY país. I politey ate the rest of my dinner and dessert and then left to my room. I did NOT tell her goodbye. Go suck an egg DG.

Besides that, this week has been pretty good. After tests, I have had lots of time to hang out with different people. It's nice to get some diversification in there every once in a while. As my time ticks down in Buenos Aires, I am in a really good place. Happy with where I am, where I am going, and how far I've come.

Buena vida.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Me llamo Bri... como el queso...¿?"

When it rains in Buenos Aires, it pours... and floods... and is impossible to get anywhere. I spent my day at a Starbucks (trying to prepare to transition back into American society.. I swear) and then, around 730, decided to leave with my friend who lives near me. As we are getting ready to leave, we decide to make a bathroom pit stop- DECISION MAKING FAIL.

If we hadn't, we would have gone outside, easily caught a cab, made it home happily and watched the typhoon from inside. But no...

To make a long story short, after spending about 20 minutes in the rain and HAIL trying to hail a cab (funny how many different meanings a word can have), the rain eased up. We crossed a river, meaning my feet have officially been submerged in Buenos Aires-nasty, and walked home. I got into my building, saw my doorman, tried to avoid him and save face, but that was also a fail because the elevator was on the 14th floor. He asked me if I was wet... apparently asking the obvious is funny in Argentina too. I explained to him that in New York, when it rains we take the subway. I think seeing drenched rat Briana made his day or atleast gave him a good laugh. Either way, I learned a new verb- mojar and had a virtually flawless conversation with someone I had never said more than "Hola, ¿Qué tal?" y "Gracias."

Other highlights of my week:
1.) Last night went to this performance of a group called "La Bomba de Tiempo." It's pretty amazing and so is the venue.
2.) Had a cab driver ask me about 3 times whether I was POSITIVE that I was not Colombian. I assured him that I was not, but thanked him for the compliment.
3.) I still do not like empanadas. I tried, but we just do not get along.
4.) Rambo and I might break up. He was very rude to me today. And peed on my purse while I was brushing my teeth. But he is adorable. Either way, I miss my Ebbie. : (
5.) In other news- I am NOT done with spanish. I am taking Advanced Conversation next semester. Apparently it is really good for building vocab, which is what I really need. I'm pretty excited about it.
6.) Almost punched a latino in the face yesterday.

And finally, to end my lovely post- a public service announcement:

Dear Men Residing in Argentina-
Please review what the phrases "No me toques" and "No lo/la toques (insert noun here)" mean. They are important to insure that I don't inflict physical harm on you. Also, remember that not all American girls are easy. Consider these tools for a peaceful existence until either you or I leave this nation. Muchas gracias.

: )

Monday, April 12, 2010


The past 24 hours have been pretty darn good.

Last night, we went to Glam, to dance and enjoy the view. : ) Initally, things weren't going as planned. People didn't come and then people left and yadda yadda. But it ended up with me dancing for nearly 4 hours, just chillin. It was amazing. I knocked back a few bottles of water and my friend and I just danced. It was so incredibly refreshing. I cannot explain how happy it made me. Just Dance. It really is that simple.

Afterwards, being college kids, we wanted to eat. Apparently at 6am, every other 20+ year old in Buenos Aires has the same idea- McDonalds. So after deciding it was not worth an 30min or more wait, the remaining three of us got papas fritas, frutillas con creama, y agua sin gas at a local cafe.. Debriefed, laughed, and just chilled. When we exited the cafe, we saw daylight. It was 730am, and we had officialy made our first Buenos Aires sunrise. This means that we three are now porteños and no one can deny it.

So after sleeping for four hours, brunching, sleeping for two more hours, I got to see two of my favorite people, one of which had spent spring break back in New York City. It was fantastic, until out of a desperate cry for attention, I decided to spill my drink all over myself, my friends, and our table... Good to know some things do not quite change.

The rest of today has been spent talking with some of my favorite people from my two other homes. I think I just needed to decompress. With everything going on around me and Spring Break ending, I kinda got frazzled, did some silly things, and just needed to reboot. I love the people who keep me grounded.

Tomorrow I go back to real life. Volunteering, school, homework- gotta reel in the social life and try to go back to balancing things out... which is hard seeing as I've gone out every night for the past 12 nights.

Entonces- Buenas vacaciones. Buenas decisiones. Buenas personas. Buena ciudad.

Buena vida.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I have officially been in Argentina longer than I will be in Argentina. It's just been such a grand experience that I don't think I could ever sum it up in a sentence or two, or even a blog post. I am seriously worried about transitioning back into life in the US. I am spending my summer back home, working at Camp again, and training starts less than a week after I get back. That itself will be rough. I will have barely anytime to transition or just digest, before having to be Camp Counselor Bri- peppy, happy, energetic.

My spanish is definitely coming along. Though I still have issues. It's funny because most of my major "spanish fail" moments happen when I'm at home. I think I am just so nervous about sounding perfect and yadda yadda, while when I am out a bar or something, I could care less. Generally, I will never see this people again. So my bad spanish means nothing. But its not bad. Its getting there. And I still have time.

This week has been spent between nations- Uruguay and Argentina- trying to soak up as much as possible. Though Uruguay was pretty miserable, I'm still glad I went. Poverty is incredibly apparent there. My friend and I ended up en the outskirts and it was pretty depressing for a few minutes there. Also- the sidewalks are worse (didn't think that was possible...) and finding a cab was IMPOSSIBLE (especially one where you weren't crammed). But coming back to BsAs has been great. I've had time to go see things, be touristy, be lazy, and be a college kid on spring break. Especially with everything going on in Flint, having time to decompress has been nice. I have tried to explain to people that my city is literally on fire, but I just don't think anyone is able to quite grasp what is going on at home right now and why concentrating has been a little more difficult. At least, from what I hear, things are calming down back home? I hope so.

Anywho- I am going to try to update this thing more often. Though it is getting harder and harder to.

Let me end with some fun facts-

1.) I still don't like empanadas... I've tried. I really have. But... ugh. Nasty. Please don't make me eat them.
2.) I also don't like red wine. White wine please!!! Unless I am alone and thus find it acceptable to put some ice in my red wine.. I like cold beverages
3.) I have never felt so comfortable making friends before.
4.) Rambo is the cutest thing ever... even though he needs to learn not to bite. Every morning he runs to greet me, licks my hand, and then attempts to knaw my big toe off...
5.) McDonald's is amazing here. As in everyone should leave the States and eat McDonalds. Mmm Argentine beef.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sin remordimientos

Recently, I've been a blogging fail. I think its because now, this is normal to me. Buenos Aires is normal. Not understanding everything I hear, read, eat or even say, is normal to me. The US es extraño, pero Buenos Aires? No. Buenos Aires is home.

In the past two weeks, lots of things have changed. I've begun making Argentine friends. I can now text from my phone. I have a puppy. Midterms just happened (and almost took mi vida). And spring break has begun. I leave for 5 days in Uruguay on Friday. Tonight was the last time for about 10 days that we would all be together and the thought of not seeing these people who I've gotten so close to for that length of time is crazy. Will I survive? I hope so. The chances of not surviving are pretty slim.

Most importantly though, I have come to terms with my language skills. I speak spanish. Now do I speak good spanish? Hell no. But I speak it. And can be understood. And can understand. Sometimes, even though its not perfect, it comes more naturally. I'm not affraid to have a conversation with a taxista any more or suck it up and ask people questions because I'm "the most advanced speaker" during the moment. It's crazy. And scary, but it's happening. Not being bound by language barriers is so incredibly freeing. You should really try it.

So, as Buenos Aires grasps a part of me that I will never get back, its also forcing me to deal with some issues of my own. All good. Sometimes difficult, but ultimately beneficial.

On an even more personal note, I'm beginning to realize what's really important and ultimately feel like I'm going to diverge from "the plan." I just feel like it doesn't represent who I am now, what I want now, and how I want to achieve that. I'm not totally disposing of the plan, just going to alert it... a lot. I have some ideas that I'm going to put into action and in reality, I don't care what anyone thinks. I love you guys and know that you have my best interest at heart, but this is my life, right? And its about time I stop thinking about what will look good or sound good, or what will please everyone. This is me time now and I am forging ahead, with no regrets.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sin Título

I'm kinda in a funk right now. Which explains why I have not written in well over a week.

Still trying to break old habits as well. Ejemplo: I was sitting at the table for dinner, eating my food, zoning out as usual. I hear my family just rambling on, and I was not even trying to listen. Just enjoying the wonderful-ness that was Mariana's stir-fry, complete with Teriaki sauce and colorful peppers. Mmm.. And then I notice the conversation has stopped, and that the last thing someone said was "Oh... ¿Ella?" Revelation hits- I'm this "ella." So I look up, to find all of them staring at me. Apparently someone asked me a question. Apparently I was not listening or paying any type of attention. Just concentrating on using my chopsticks properly, amazed at how good of a cook Mariana is, thinking about how I like to cook, and who else cooks? People on Top Chef cook... So yeah.

I look up, make eye contact with Fernando, who can tell I am just gone, and then repeats the question (Pretty basic guys- "¿Cómo fue tu fin de semana?" Which is probably how he knew I was just gone.), to which I aswner (pretty incredibly basic answer "Bien, gracias.") and then melt into laughter. Fernando chuckled with me. At least we have a non-lingual understanding. Incidents like this are probably why my host siblings think I don't understand Spanish. But thankfully, my parents know I do... but probably just think I am emotionally unstable. : )

Big News!! Big News!! I have a new man in my life!! He's loveable, friendly, and showers me with kisses. He has He's in the process of being house trained and likes to naw on chair legs, but utlimately, I have found an Argentine for me. His name is Rambo.

Lots of homework. Internship apps. And other things to worry about. Querido Blog, tenés que esperar. Chau chau!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reflexiones de Mi Primer Mes en Buenos Aires

So apparently we've been here for a month... I personally think someone lied, or messed with time? I mean a month? I can hardly believe that I've been here for so long, but it feels like so much longer. I feel like I've known my friends for years and my homestay really feels like home. Apparently, during times of great change, you adapt the ways you adapt? Hahaha. I have no idea. All I know is that one month, which seems like so much and so little time, has had a tremendous effect on me.

  • I just used 3 tenses in 2 sentences at the dinner table with my Mom. As if it was my job. It just flowed. I paused to think once, and then when I was done, stopped and had to rethink what I had just said, to make sure it was right. I mean I didn't even translate it from English into Spanish. It was pretty nice.

  • In general, I'm less bashful when it comes to speaking. I guess I've just accepted the fact that my Spanish is NOT perfect, but it's not gonna get there unless I USE IT. Like come on- Sugar Daddy Bill is not paying for me to be scared to use my Spanish. Plus, I don't want to look like an idiot. Or come back to the US knowing the same amount of Spanish. Right now, I feel like I am fluent in no language. I skype-called my mom, and couldn't think of words like "syllabus" (programa) or window (ventana). I also had issues putting frases together. I mean here, if I speak in Spanglish to people, it's no big deal. But emm in the Real World, I need to be able to distinguish.

  • I've gotten lazy in some senses. Ejemplo- For people who know me well, you understand I have an obsession with my nails. They HAVE to be painted. And the paint CANNOT be chipped. Melly knows that like every 2 days, I am reapplying nail polish. I like it in bright colors. All of this = me being crazy. But, in the past month, I've done my nails ONCE. ONCE!! ¿Cómo? ¿Qué? Exactamente... it's odd. But don't worry Melly- I just applied bright blue to my toes, and yellow to my hands.

  • In other ways, I've been forced to adapt to crazy Porteña habits. Ejemplo- Girls here wear make up. All the time. I, Briana Avery, tend to not wear make up. Maybe eyeliner here or there, but never like being completely made up. But here, you just do. It's just natural. I have my tinted mositurizer, bronzer powder, assortment of eyeliners, mascara... like the works. And I never go out at night without (which is funny because I wear makeup to DARK places, where people can totally see my face).

I've just learned a lot I guess. About a lot of things (Very specific, I know). But there is a lot that I don't know. And don't understand. Like my host Dad was talking about putting Anita on top of a bookshelf when she was little and her almost dying? I have no idea.. I wasn't really listening (clearly). I only pay attention during important parts, like when they talk about teachers who wear thongs.

Happy (belated) Sucessful Month in Argentina Day!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Argentina just got a little more intense

One of the things I really wanted to do while I was here was volunteer. I love volunteering. It's a great way to get to do a bunch of random stuff and typically really helps me figure stuff out. My plan was to take 3 classes, and then volunteer, and starting Monday, that's exactly what I get to do.

My assignment is pretty intense. I'm working at la Asociación Civil Maria del Rosario de San Nicolás. Basically it's a home for girls who have been neglected or abused, removed from their homes, and places en San Nicolás por el Estado. Currently, there are 23 girls living there, many of which (or maybe even all of them) attend school outside of the Center, typically for half a day or so. So that's all really intense. But I'm excited. I'm teaching a drama class and english class with another NYU student, so hopefully they will be a fun, stress-free outlet for the girls.

Oh. Did I mention it was all in Spanish? As Americans, we just kinda expect people to speak English. Well, this is the real world. And in the real world, English is NOT the language spoken by every living soul. On wednesday, I had to sell myself in Spanish. On Friday, I had to submit my lesson plan in Spanish. Tomorrow, I get to teach my classes in Spanish. Part of me is scared, but then there is this other part, that know this is just what I have to do. It comes down to what is more important- Giving these girls a little comic relief (because lets face it, mi castellano= comic relief) or my fears/ego? This is just what I do. I've been doing it for five years now... this time it's just in Spanish. How hard could it be? Hahaha

Entonces, this week I've had a few revelaciones:

1. Under pressure, I can put some spanish frases together. Good skill to have. (Also, after a drink or two...)
2. Cachaza is strong.
3. El Subte is pretty nice. Easy to navigate and RIDICULOUSLY cheap ($1,10 per viaje, which is like 30 cents...)
4. American music is really popular here.
5. Tanning near the hole in the Ozone layer is great. You get darker, quicker (and skin cancer quicker as well!).

I think I'm pretty well adjusted as well, which is good. Trying to be more porteña and stayed out til about 5am last night. By the time I leave, 7-8am will seem like NOTHING!! The more time I spend here, the harder I know going back is going to be. But until June-something-th, it's just me, Bs As, mis amigos (basically amigas + UN amigo, but whatever sexist language), y some pesos. I make I'm totally content now, and it can only get better right? Estoy muy emocionada.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Communication... say what?

My weeks are always crammed with stuff. That's how I've always liked it though. It keeps my mind off all the other things swirling around. My favorites are:

  • What am I going to do when I go home? Reverse culture shock?
  • How am I going to go back to my old friends after experiencing so much that they don't understand?
  • And my family? Whooa buddy
For the most part though, my mind is here is Buenos Aires (or Bs As as the Porteños abbreviate it to). Besides my current addiction to American television (Desperate Housewives? Grey's Anatomy? Brothers and Sisters? The Deep End? Come on!!), I'm pretty detached from the States. The past few nights my family has been asking me more substantive questions. Does everyone in your family live in Michigan? That's pretty typical in the US for kids to not live in the same State as their parents, right? The US is the land of opportunity, right? And my personal favorite- When you go to Mc Donalds, do you eat your fries or hamburger first?

I am trying to talk more at dinner. It's a lot easier when it's not a 5:1 Argentine to American ratio. Like any big family, they tend to all talk at once. Which I love!! Except for the fact that I understand nothing when they all talk at once. And then, when they all ask me the same question, at the same time, my answer almost always consists of "¿Cómo?"

I especially love when I'm asked the same question in two different languages. The oldest child, Manuel, bless his little heart, thinks I am completely incapable of speaking Spanish. Now, I mean, I'll give him some credit. His English is twice as good as my Spanish. But if I wanted to practice my English, I would have gone to London. I'm not stupid kiddo. Just a little slow. And I usually understand what you're saying, especially when you're not saying it to me. : )

Back to my dinner conversation- I try to practice as much as I can. But the last time I tried to hold a major conversation, it was an epic fail. Let me elaborate-

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Briana. She was having dinner with her host family- all five of them, which is a rarity. Her host mom lovingly asked her about her classes and Briana explained that a few of them were more difficult than she had imagined, but she was doing fine. Then, her host father asked which class was the hardest. Briana quickly replied "Economía" (meaning her globalization and economic based class). Her father asked her why. With a fiery passion, Briana responded that she absolutely HATED economics and what her teacher was instructing her and that it went against everything she believed in and cultural studies had taught her. Her host mom, not fully grasping what Briana had just admitted to, said to her the worst four words possible: "¡Fernando (her host dad) es un economista!"

Immediately Briana remembered that one question she had been meaning to ask her host dad- "¿Cuál es tu profesion?" Only one word flashed in Briana's mind at that moment... four letters.. I'm sure you can guess. Luckily for Briana, she is quick on her feet, and recovered (in spanish) by spewing stuff about needing to have a wide view of the world by studying subjects you both like and dislike. Her father gracious agreed and all was well. Since then, Briana has refrained from profound statements, in spanish, at dinner.

So, lesson of week #3- ASK YOUR HOST DAD WHAT HE DOES BEFORE RAMBLING ABOUT HATING ECONOMICS. I still haven't officially had that conversation about him, so I'm not exactly sure what him being an economist actually means, as in if it was just his major in college or if it's part of his profession now... No sé. Figured I would just not say anything about it for a while... Maybe then my SHAME will wash away. Hahaha

Alas, I am ready for another week in Bs As. I have my litre of water, contraband stash of Oreos, Doritos, and FRUITLOOPS, and no centavos on my prepago celular. Chau for now- My flipflop and I have a meeting with a moth that is circling around my room. Apparently in Argentina, they don't believe in putting screens in windows. : )

Sidenote- I went to some really pretty places this week.

Floralis Generica- Big metal flower, sitting in a reflecting pool, that opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. AMAZING!!! I went with my lovely friend Raquel, during an adventure in our barrio se llama "Recoleta."
It seriously is MASSIVE!!

(More pictures located on my facebook yo!)

Thursday, February 25, 2010


On a side note-


I mean I've had like chucks of beef, and beef in stir-fry and beef patties. BUT THIS WAS LIKE STEAK STYLE, AMAZING, 100% ARGENTINE BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEFFF!!!

And then I was given fruit. Glad I chose grapes because apparently here you eat peaches with silverware and I surely would have looked like that American, biting a peach like a Yankee savage. : )

Because Anna told me to...

This week has been filled with me learning to appreciate the differences.

Difference #1- Walking. When you walk here, you don't look up, you look down. The sidewalks are one reminder that you are in a developing nation. They are pieces of crap. Some tiles move. Some are cracked. Some are even missing. So for those of us who have issues with balance, every day is an adventure. Do you have a conversation with someone and risk falling flat on your face (anyone who knows me understand the likely hood of this) or do you look at the ground, being a hermit, and running into every single person in Buenos Aires?

Difference #2- Eating. People here don't really eat. But they think you do. For the first few nights at my home, my mom would give me these HUGE portions of food. Like enough to feed two people. What are you supposed to do with that? I don't want to be rude, and not eat, but eating all of that food was a task. Eventually, I think they figured out that I really don't eat for like 5 people. Just for one. And my portions have significantly decreased. Sidenote- It's also really hard to avoid cheese or milk when eating out. I am popping like 5 lactaids a day... which is a lot.

Difference #3- Time. What is time? Being on-time? Schedule? In Buenos Aires, people are chill. 1230 really means like 115... maybe. Everything is laid back, no one is ever in a rush. So you put a group of anal-retentive NYU kids in a city where the pace is slow... it's a pretty funny thing to watch.

Of course there are more differences- I tried to eat a hamburger last week and got this thing that was, well scary. Tried to help my friend refund an adapter she had bought, and was basically told "We don't do that here" (Argentine attitude included)- but now, instead of being angry and thinking as I walk down the street next to an unleashed dog "I hate this place," I have developed an ability to respect it?

Some things are still a little too cray cray for me- Like men don't wear wedding bands. Wha? You better believe that if I have to wear a piece of metal marking me as yours, that you will have to wear one too hombre. Machismo my culo.

My point is that I am happily progressing along the adjustment line. Ya gotta acknowledge and accept the differences before you can progress right? My low point probably involved getting my laundry done (which was super cheap) but when I went to pick it up, closed. My friend definitely heard the extent of my 4 and 5 letter vocabulary (as did the rest of Recoleta).

But en este momento, I'm pretty tranquila. My classes are progressing. My chicas make me life enjoyable. My familia is great. Instead of looking for American food that I like (before this trip I would have argued that "American" food didn't exist, but not any more..), I am beginning to find some stuff typical of here that I enjoy. Like tostadas? Basically a grilled cheese minus the grease. I also found that most places do have ketchup, so I can get papas fritas con ketchup, which is seriously auh-ma-zing. I'm adapting and we all know how I feel about change.

Hope everything is going well in the States. I feel so out of touch even though technology makes keeping in contact so much easier.

Sidenote- Apparently "copy and paste" translates as copy and paste. And according to my host dad, everything that is written nowadays is just copied and pasted from something else, which a few words changed around.

(So there ya go Anna. Happy now? Get out of class so we can go get some tostadas con papas yo!)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You know you're at NYU when...

I'm sure many of you have heard my lovely rants about the kids at NYU. Sometimes, many times, they can simply just be jerks. Apparently NYU in Buenos Aires students are included.

You are in a foreign country. A nation who's official language is NOT English. On top of that, You are demanding to be taught in English. So when you are in a class, and you have a professor who's English is almost impeccable, and every like 15 mins, he asks if he translated ONE WORD right, you really think it's okay to act annoyed with him? Our professors are highly intelligent guys. And bi-lingual, which many of us are not. I mean how disrespectful can we be? If you want a teacher who doesn't slip a spanish word in every once in a while, go study in London.

For me, la luna de miel está terminada. It's not a bad thing though. It means that I'm adjusting and trying to figure out my real place in this place. Just in the past week and a half, my Spanish has gotten better. At dinner last night, mi familia de acá told me that my Spanish was good (which apparently means a lot since the last girl only said "Perr-Fect-O" according to them...) and that they could only imagine how good it would be by the time I left.

Don't get me wrong though- half the time I still have no idea what is being said to me. My problem is that I don't listen as well as I should. Example: I was lying on my bed studying, and my mamá stopped at my door and said something, to which I responded "Bien. Bien. Sí. Sí." and just kept on reading. Two seconds later, Manuel comes to my door, and, speaking to me in his nearly perfect English, says "Don't you have class at 3 today?" I nodded. He just kinda stared at me and chuckled. "That is not what you told her." Apparently, what I thought was "How was your day?" was really "How was your class?" Manuel thought it was hilarious. Just to clarify (espeically since this conversation was one of few in English), I asked him if I had just lied to his mother. "Yes. Yes you did. (laughing) I will go tell her." Well thanks bro.

Luckily enough, I've found a nice group of people that are hilarious and all around fantastic. Definitely making this week a little easier. I mean studying abroad is hard for everyone, but when you're seriously living with another culture, another language, you hear music and TV that you don't understand, arguments in the house that you only get half of, and only hear your native tongue when you're at school or out with friends, it kinda wears you down. I would die for a hamburger right now. Or cottage cheese. Or a bagel. Mmmm bagels.

Also, my 11 year old hermanita has returned. She's my buddy and makes me stuff and gives me cookies. : )

If I can make it through this week, I can make it through anything.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Pueyrredón y French, por favor."

This past week has been (como mi amiga TiTi diría) "cray cray."

Between orientation, making friends, being social, and trying to figure out where in the world I am ALL THE TIME, I'm simply exhausted. Everytime mi mamá o papá de acá ask me how I am, I always say "Cansada." Now it's kinda a joke between all of us- I'm always tired, but always going places.

I don't think I've talked much about the nightlife here, but things happen really late. You eat dinner late. Typically en mi casa, we eat around 10-1030pm. And you also go out late. In Buenos Aires, it's normal for people to meet up and go out at like 2am and not come home until 6 or 7. CRAZY but I am proud to say I know 3 people who have successfully done that. Me on the other hand, I am in capable of staying up that late. Gotta work up to it.

Fun Facts:
1. 2% of the people in Buenos Aires are black
2. They don't have cottage cheese
3. "Tú" is not used here. Instead "vos" is. The only differences are in irregular verbs in the present tense (Like "Vos tenés" instead of "Vos tienes") and mandatos afirmativos.
4. Mullets are in style
5. There are stray dogs en cada barrio, cada calle, EVERYWHERE!!
6. "ll", which usually makes a "y" sound, in Buenos Aires, makes a "shh-e" sound. It's hard to describe, but if you don't know to listen for it, you don't understand ANYTHING
7. Porteños like their helado. Thank goodness every place I've been has helado sin leche. Makes me life lovely
8. People stare like nobody's business. All the time.
9. My birthday ( 9 de Julio) is a el Día de Independencía en Argentina!! To bad I won't be here then. : (

I just love how it feels here. It's a big city, but the pace is definitely slower. Being here isn't as exhausting as New York (minus the heat and the nightlife...). People stay up late, sleep in even later (when there is no school), and just generally enjoy life, instead of rushing through it how we Americans do. My mind feels at ease even though my body seems to be rejecting everything.

Sidenote- We went to el Tigre, which is pretty amazing. Its a river (that happens to be brown...), where we got to swim and just chill out with everyone. Make some new friends, and have an ASADO!!! Which is basically when you eat a bunch of meat. Mmm

For the most part, I think I'm pretty well adjusted. Though I think the Honeymoon phase is ending. Real life starts tomorrow, balancing classes, homelife, spanish, and a social life. But I'm lucky enough to know a bunch of people going through the same thing. ¡Hasta Pronto!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Umm... Qué?

So much has changed within the past few days that I don't even know how or if I could ever fully express my mental state right now. When I write and speak in English, I have to fight inserting Spanish words. My mind is lost somewhere en between Flint y Buenos Aires.

I was lucky enough to have a friend on my flight. Apparently there were a lot of kids on the same flight, but none of us wore NYU stuff as advised by the staff. Oh well. But even the ppl picking us up, the Student Life ppl, lacked visible NYU anything. A group of us just stood in the middle of the lobby, outside of Customs, until the guy found us. He was wearing an NYU shirt hidden by a white button up. Way to go man.

On the ride to Buenos Aires from Ezeiza (the international airport), the first thing to hit me was how poverty in the US is not at all equal to poverty in Buenos Aires. It's comprabable to the "shanty towns" outside of Mexico City.

My family is really great. At dinner a few minutes ago, my host mom asked me if I had been able to choose if I wanted to live with kids and pets or if I was just put somewhere. I told her I chose it, and she was like "Bueno- porque estamos locos." (Good, because we are crazy). Mi madre is really sweet but definitely firm with her kids, which I can respect. Mi padre is the typical Dad, watching fútbol from the dinner table and explaining to me that my computer charge has a converter in it. Basically tech savvy, like any dad.

Mis hermanos are funny. Manuel is the oldest (15), followed by Elena (13), y Ana (11). Ana is adorable and loves to speak to me in English. She made me a necklace and likes to explain how to use everything like the light switch, fan, keys... its cute though. Elena is the total 13 year old, wanting to be independent from her mom, but still being a little too young for that. I'm not sure about Manuel, but he's nice so thats all that really matters at this point.

They all speak some English, so when I get totally confused, usually one of them can explain it, but even today my Spanish is so much better than it was yesterday. My madre said that the first girl they hosted had perfect spanish, but could understand nothing, and the second just said nothing. She knows that I understand what she tells me even though I have a hard time expressing myself without using Spanglish. The goal is to both listen better, so that I understand more of what is being said in general and to not be affraid to speak. They understand my interesting Spanish so it's working well. Next week will be better. Having such a large family is kinda intimidating, but I like it.

We went on basically a tour of la mayoría de Buenos Aires which was really nice. I'm starting to piece things together, slowly but surely. We went all over and it took 3 horas, but we saw placed like La Boca, Puerto Madero, Plaza de Mayo, la Casa Rosada (where the president works and apparently comes in via helicopter every day...), el Cementario de la Recoleta, y lots of other famous places.

The past 3 days have just been really long, but I am definitely content right now. And exhausted but thats a pretty good introduction to my life for the next few months. My goals for tomorrow are to make a successful phone call on my cell phone, remember more names, and befriend Gary our cat (She's a girl... still haven't figured out why her name is Gary...).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

D- Day

I leave tomorrow!!!! It's been 7 weeks since I left NYU and have been chillin' in good ole Flint, Michigan. I'm dealing with a lot of mixed emotions- What if they don't understand me? What if I don't understand them? What if no one likes me? I feel similar to how I did before college, except for a few differences. For the next four months, I'm going to be in a completely different country and climate, living in a language that is foreign to me, and trying to enjoy as much of it as I can, while only having a limited amount of time to really adjust and ward of culture shock. Part of me wishes one of my friends was coming to Buenos Aires with me, but I know that would only stifle me. Sometimes ya just gotta go for it and oh baby am I goin' for it.

The Spanish is really what scares me the most, but this is exactly what I signed up for. It's going to be a rough first week, but after that I have a feeling things will ease up, and frases will flow more smoothly.

For now, I'm off to my last meeting, last trip to Target, and last meal at Starlight. I need to finish packing my LIFE into a little tiny suitcase (okay, its huge but still...) and just enjoy the English before I spend the next 24 hours in transit. Hasta pronto!

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Dun Dun Dun. Another one bites the dust!"

Let's be honest- I am pretty terrified about what is going to happen in the next 4-5 months. For me, things really weren't sinking in. Until Melly left. And then Mike left. And today Drew left. Tomorrow Dem leaves. Everyone else is back in school. It's just me, my mom, and the dogs. I think having all of this extra time is causing me to overthink.

When I'm not freaking out, I'm pretty darn excited. Buenos Aires is one of those incredible, "once in a lifetime" opportunities, that a girl just cannot pass up. Kinda like going to NYU- new city, new people, new campus. Except this time it'll all be in Spanish. : )

As much as I hate to admitt it, I really needed a break from New York, and everything it held. Don't get me wrong- I do not for one minute take the last two years of my life for granted. It's been a great experience, in a amazing city, with some people I really love. But I was ready for a change. Change of pace and scenery. And let's face it, when I get back to New York, things are going to be quite different. : ( Going abroad and learning how to readjust (again) will really be helpful.

So right now, the goal is to focus on the positive. I'm working on a puzzle (haha), have some books to read, some work to do around the house, lots of family in Flint, and some friends too. I have three more weeks to prepare to live in a completely different way for a semester. And I really am excited.