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!)