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.