Stories from my 14-month study abroad in Buenos Aires, my 16-month post-college move to Miami, and my get-me-the-hell-out-of-Miami move to Denver

Friday, June 27, 2008

And...

I'm alive! The surgery went really well today, and I'm already back at home writing this. A brief synopsis:

So, I got to the hospital and went through the obligatory paperwork. Finally got to my room, put on the ass-revealing hospital gown, and chilled with an IES worker who came along with me. After about an hour of waiting I was taken upstairs and the games began.

I was in the surgury waiting room watching some field hockey on TV when the anathesiologist came in. Really cool guy who's family is from Florida. We chatted for a bit and he asked what kind of anasthetic I wanted. I was debating if I wanted a local so I could watch what they were doing, but I chose to go with general anathestic, the full knock out punch and wow, it was fun.

I'm in the middle of the operating room, and there is a team of like 10 doctors. I felt honored to have so many people watching my hernia surgery. I continued to chat with the anathesiologist, and after he gave me the IV in the arm, he said I'd start to feel funny in a little bit. Sure enough, about 15 seconds later my body wanted to get a little groovy, yes, that's right, groovy. I was in a very relaxed state. I tried to resist it as long as possible, but as soon as the gas mask went out, I was done. Very relaxing little nap. I think I dreamt about Chilton, but I can't remember for sure.

The next thing I know, I open my eyes, and I see the doc pull a huge breathing tube of my throat. "All done" he says. I was still quite under the influence of the drugs, so I got wheeled down to my original room and relaxed. Sylvia, my host mom, was there to hang out when I arrived and stayed until Belen, the gorgeous IES assistant came to hang out and take me home. Which is where that leaves me right now, at home.

I can walk pretty normally, and the doctor told me that I don't need to use gauze or bandaids or anything after tomorrow. I guess they did some special type of cut that they sewed up from the inside. I'm looking forward to getting a look at it tomorrow. I also got some painkillers, so I'll let you know how those go. On an end note, with the hopes of getting my $6000 peso surgery money's worth, I stole soap, conditioner, and the bottle of water from my hospital room! That's how we do.

I've got some more to write on other topics, but I'm going to go watch some TV.

Besos


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Going Under the Knife

That's right folks, you read it correctly!

Turns out Patty Boy here has a little hernia. I noticed it about a month ago and figured I should probably get it taken care of. However, all is well. The IES insurance policy is 100% coverage, so I'm getting free surgery. Maybe even some free hospital gelatin if I'm lucky. I'll be going under the knife this Friday at 14:30. Should be a pretty smooth experience. I'll be at one of the best hospitals in South America, the famous Hospital Aleman. I'll be hanging at my homestay for two days after the surgery, and then I'm off to the suburb of Martinez to recover at a friend's place. After that I'll be heading on a month long excursion! More news on that to come.

If they take any cool pictures during the surgery, I'll be sure to post them.

Love


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Homestay Experience

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about my homestay experience.

When I signed up for IES, I told them that I wanted a homestay with a family and kids. I wanted siblings and hanging out. When I got here, I was somewhat disappointed with my situation. I would be living with a 73 year old women and her 45 year old son. I've had my ups and down here, but I've come to the realization...I couldn't have asked for a more fitting South American homestay experience. I'm living in the epitome of South America. An older women and her son living together. This is exactly what Buenos Aires, and South American in general, is all about.

In the ups and downs, we've had both. Sometimes we don't talk much during the day. I'm constantly coming and going throughout the day, and they're sometimes sleeping or sometimes watching TV. Other times however, we have great conversations. Tonight was a great example.

Carlos, Sylvia, Muki(nickname for Sylvia's daughter who came to eat with us) and I were eating dinner. As usual, I wasn't let down with the food content. Little spinach dumplings, mashed potatos, lentil soup, and some fried chicken.

Carlos saw me eat the piece of fried chicken skin and immediately jokingly called me out for being hypocritical. I don't, and never will, eat the pieces of fat on steak. Carlos loves them. He claimed that there was no difference between chicken skin fat and steak fat. A hearty discussion/fun argument ensued. Slyvia and I on one side saying that they are VERY different, and Carlos debating the entire time.

I'm coming to realize that I've had many great experiences in this current situation. Studying abroad is about experiencing new things, and I can say that this was DEFINITELY a unique experience. I had become so accustomed to having my personal freedom in Minneapolis that moving into a house where my meals are cooked and my room cleaned was quite a shock. I'm absorbing these last two weeks with the family and I can happily that I've learned a lot this semester.




ps- For you spanish speakers out there. In Argentina, I'm not sure about other spanish-speaking countries, they use the phrase "Algo + Adjective" a lot. "Ella esta algo loca!" "She is something crazy!" I've found myself using it in english writing/talking quite a bit now. It's like when Holly and Lindsay say something that has such backwards syntax, you know it has to be a direct spanish translation.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Learning the Culture

A little something you take for granted when you live in your home country:

When you're having a conversation in your home country, you make references to pop culture all the time. You reference the latest news stories without even thinking about it. You reference important people and events in the history of your country all the time. It's part of your life and you weave it into conversation without even thinking about it.

However, when you're in a foreign country, you're at a complete disadvantage. Right now, I feel that my language ability is relatively high. I can understand a great deal of conversation and respond when I feel it necessary. I love conversation. Portenos love conversation. But, the thing that frustrates me is that when you're part of a large conversation, those previously mentioned references keep on popping up non-stop. I sucks being at such a loss when someone references a bombing in 1955 that you never knew existed or a politician in 1984 that everyone disliked.

Therefore, a bit of advice. When you go off to learn a new language...do your research. Learn about the big events and people in that country. Commit them to memory because they're bound to come up and you'll feel great when you can finally make that reference you've been longing for.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Little Language Mix-Up!

This is a story for which everyone who has learned a foreign language can relate. False Cognates!


I don't like tomatoes in the United States. I've never liked them. Mom always forced me to try them, but everytime was the same. I didn't like them. I don't know what it is, but they just don't do it for me.

When I came to Buenos Aires, I told my host mom that I'm not a fan of tomatoes. Because of this, she never served me any when we had dinner. However, one night, Carlos cooked, and we had a salad with tomatoes. I was reluctant to eat them, but because I always finish my plate here, I ate them. To my surprise, they were great. There is something about tomatoes here that makes them amazing. They taste nothing like the tomatoes in the United States.

Well, on to the false cognates...words that look/sound similar, but don't mean the same thing at all. A good example is "actualmente," which doesn't mean "actually," but "currently." Another is...preservativo.

One would think this means preservative, like the things you put in food to make them last. Therefore, I told my host sister,

"I think the tomotoes are better in Argentina because they don't have preservativos in them."
"Pienso que los tomates estan mejor en Argentina porque no tienen preservativos."

Direct Translation:

"I think the tomatoes are better in Argentina because they don't have condoms in them."

That, my friends, is a false cognate.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert

Not really on the topic of studying abroad, or anything of the matter, but I must say I was really upset when I learned that Tim Russert died. I remember watching one of the final debates at home with Mom and Dad and being amazingly impressed by how he really got Clinton and Obama to quit talking in circles and answer his questions. It's a shame he won't be around to moderate debates for the most historic presidential campaign in our history.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Ohh Cristina...

Remember that strike that I wrote about about two months ago. The farmer strike against the government. Well, it's still going. Here's the lowdown over the past few months.

In October when the soy farmers planted their crops, the government retention rate was 26%. This was only the base retention that the gov't charged, not including taxes and all that other fun stuff. When Nestor Krischner left office in December, he increased the retention to 33%. Nestor's wife Cristina took over presidency in December. The week before the soy harvest, she increased the renentino to 45%. This put the farmers over the edge, so they strikes. Rightfully so. Within the past seven months the rentention has nearly doubled.

The middle and upper classes have been strongly supporting the farmers. Why aren't you taxing big business like you are soy farmers. Well, the strike has been going on and off for 90 days now. The farmers stop it for a week to talk with the gov, nothing gets accomplished, and they start striking. This has been the situation for the past two months. It's a repeptive cycle.

However, just this week, Cristina pulled a good one out. The government really didn't say anything about what they were going to use all the retention money for. Everyone knows it would have been used to buy more votes in an election or magically dissapeared. This is the common feeling about all tax dollars. Well, Cristina gets on the podium and says along the lines of, "We've been plannning to use this money to rebuild hospitals and public schools. The farmers are horrible, money-hoarding bastards for not wanting to help fund schools and hospitals."

This REALLY fired up the people. So now, after three months of not telling anyone where the money was going, she pulls this out. "If you would have told us this three months ago, we wouldn't have had a problem" is the basic farming community response. "We're not stupid and we know exactly what you're trying to do to us." However, it's not working. The people are even more pissed at the government for trying to swing public opinion.

It's an definitely an interesting situation down here. It's refreshing to see people actually stand up for what they believe in. If they don't like something, they hit the streets and protest. In the States, everyone is too apathetic to do anything. Prices of tuition go up, "shucks, I guess we'll pay it." Gas prices going through the roof, "darn, I guess we'll just wait until prices go down." The US could take a page out of Argentina's social demonstration chapter.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Argentine TV

In the United States, we have "Dancing With The Stars." In Argentina, they have "Dancing For A Dream." Not many differences between these two prime-time programs, except the Argentine version really loves thongs, 1/2 naked women and sparkles. I had the pleasure of watching it tonight with my mom when this gem of a dance couple performed!

It was like watching a porn with your 73 old grandma. She is completely cool with all of the nudity though. She even called that the girl was going to be naked once she started her routine. She always says "Siempre la cola!" which basically translates to "Always the ass!"

video


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monday, June 2, 2008

Motivation

It's 11:29PM and I'm currently listening to Radiohead's album "In Rainbows." A big thanks toAaron and Brett for getting me hooked on them. I must say it sounded much better on vinyl whilesmoking hookah though. I'm trying to find the motivation to write a short little paper for my Cultural Icons class. It's on Evita. Pretty cool cat. We start talking about "El Che" tomorrow, so that should be quite interesting. The professor is a 29 year old NYU Phd student and super intelligent. I really enjoy his class. Ok, off to write...I think.



I just found this quote while I was facebook-surfing and it was a breath of fresh air. Very very true if you're ever planning on learning a new language.

"The true work of improving things is in the little achievements of the day."

Much love from south of the Equator,
Patrick


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina