Tag Archives: argentina

BA Cast: Season 2 Finale

9 Dec

BA Cast

This week is the season finale of Season 2 for BA Cast. This is another slightly-longer episode and ends the season in a nice way. This was a really successful and fun season for the show, and we grew a lot in our material and listener participation. We hope those of you who listened enjoyed it too, and we’ll look forward to providing more material in Season 3. Chau!

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End of Semester Jitters

5 Dec

After working harder than I’ve ever had to before, my first semester in grad school is winding down. This is the last week of classes, and it seems that because I worked very diligently over Thanksgiving break that I’ve set myself up to cruise into finals. That was not on purpose, and it reminds me of the time I decided to double major by adding on Journalism at UMass. Upon doing so, I was convinced I’d need to take 6 classes from then on instead of the standard 5, and worked extra time that first year. As it turns out, I positioned myself so well ahead of the curve that in my senior year I was able to take 4 classes a semester.

That isn’t the case nowadays, yet I’m helped by the fact that one of my finals won’t even be assigned until the last day of class on Wednesday. It’s a blessing and a curse, because while it has allowed me to focus entirely on my two other finals, I wish I could use the time right now to work on it and I know that once classes are finished, I’m going to be lazier about the last final. Also, once classes are over, I’m going to take on more hours at work and thus won’t have obscene amounts of free time anyway. After frantically rushing around for the last three months, from work to study to class to study, etc, I’m finding it hard to simply sit down and catch my breath. I read about a journalist in the 70s who was working the schedule of two people, and when she went on vacation found it impossible to sit down and relax. After extended periods of time in constant movement and stress, down time becomes the stress factor, as there is a sense of not knowing what to do with yourself.

I feel like I’ve learned a year’s worth of material in just one semester and regardless of whether or not I took the courses I wanted to take, I can say unequivocally that I am smarter in the aftermath. I’ve learned about some extremely interesting things, both good and bad. I’ve become familiar with the government of the United States in ways that I never thought, and though I never considered myself very political, I’ve come to the realization that I need to at the very least understand it. After all, I’m basically studying international politics, not culture. This first semester has given me the chance to meet some amazing people and make great friends, including Americans from all over the country, as well as foreign students who add their own touch to the lessons.

I’ve learned that in order to survive as a grad student, you have to develop some kind of cynical and desperate sense of humor. You have to laugh at how ridiculous your course load is, at how stressed out you feel and how helpless it seems when someone speaks in class and you think you’re the dumbest person because you have no idea what they’re talking about. But you also get your chance to put other people in their place once in a while. The classmates form a little support network and understand in just a few monosyllabic words or facial gestures how exhausted we all are, and when we have an opportunity to go out for a drink, we make the most of it to blow off a little steam.

Still, I can’t complain too much when I think about the students in Buenos Aires, for example. I work 20 hours a week in addition to being a full time student, and I feel like I barely make it week by week. Yet friends back in BA would work full time, which is typically 9 am-6:30 pm, and then have class which could get out at 11 pm, or even start at 11 pm. It’s not unheard of. On top of that, some go to the gym, play a sport, and manage to stay active enough with their friends. It’s probably why people go out so late, and also why most people don’t graduate when they’re 22.

I don’t know if I would have it in me to keep this up for another 6 years, but for now I’m getting the hang of it. It’s a wholly unique experience and is not at all the undergrad life. Again, that’s a good thing and a bad thing. Anyway, now that the first semester is nearly finished, let us never speak of it again.

BA Cast: The USA: Dan’s Bottom 5 and Fer’s Top 5

3 Dec

BA Cast

This week’s episode of BA Cast is a short featuring Dan’s Bottom 5 things about the United States and Fer’s Top 5 things about the U.S. Since they’re always talking about top and bottom things in Argentina, this week they take a look at it from a difference angle. Listen in to hear what the guys have to say.

An American Thanksgiving

23 Nov

Tomorrow will be the first time in four years that I celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. The last three were spent in South America–first in 2008 at 16,000 feet above sea level on an extinct volcano in central Ecuador, later in 2009 with some Argentine milanesas at a new friend’s house, and lastly in 2010 at a pot luck dinner filled with expats and a few Argentinians. I remember the first year abroad, winding down the day alone at the hotel and realizing that it was Thanksgiving. At first it hadn’t even dawned on me, and with no media reminding me of the date, and no family or friends around who were also celebrating it, I simply went along as if it was a normal day. Later in the week a few of the volunteers got together and made a dinner, making up for the lack of family.

The next year I was in Argentina as a newbie, and though I’d just met a girl named Tamara, she invited me over to her house with her sister and friends for dinner. They made what they knew best–milanesas, as well as some other vegetables and fixings. We had some wine and because it was a beautiful spring night, we sat outside late into the night, something I’d never thought possible on Thanksgiving. I still had to work that day and it was depressing being on GChat while no one else was, so the day dragged on until the dinner. I still had work in the morning, so I had to bow out of the conversation around 12:30 am, while everyone else was still going strong.

The next year an American friend invited me to a coworker’s apartment for a joint pot luck dinner, where foreigners from all over the world (and even a few Argentinians) were meeting up. Everyone was in their mid-20’s-30’s and it was a refreshing mix of familiar accents and stories. This year I’m finally back in the U.S. and I’m thankful to be with family and old traditions. Like so many Thanksgivings past, we’ll be waking up at the crack of dawn to drive down to Brooklyn, New York and my grandma’s apartment. Later on we’ll probably head in to Manhattan with my dad and cousins to go out in the Village. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving too.

BA Cast: Bi-national Relationships

16 Nov

BA Cast

This week’s episode of BA Cast (admittedly late, but hey, it’s tiempo argentino) is a double length show featuring the topic of the month: bi-national couples. The show will be wrapping up Season 2 after this month and we’re happy to say we’ve been continuing to grow and expand as the season has gone on. This episode features some interesting chamullos between English and American expats, and we talk with an expat who lives outside of Buenos Aires in Necochea. Listen in and hear all about it.

BA Cast Short: What NOT to Say

7 Nov

BA Cast

This week’s episode of BA Cast is a short, and a very useful one at that. This episode will teach you all of the standard Spanish words to unlearn when you visit Argentina, as well as the words that you should know if you go to other Spanish-speaking countries. One example of this is the word “carro” which is used in Spain to say car. However, in Argentina it is more common to hear “auto” or even “coche”. Take a few minutes to listen and learn.

BA Cast: Citizens of the World

31 Oct

BA Cast

The new episode of BA Cast is available, and it’s another extended edition that we think you’ll find very interesting. This is the show’s most international episode yet, with interviews with expats from Argentina, Italy, the United States, Nepal, and Mexico. The episode features an interview I conducted with a fellow classmate of mine from Nepal who has been studying in the US for five years, and I also give a short interview at the end of the episode on the differences between Ecuador and Argentina. Hope you enjoy the episode. Oh, and Happy Halloween.

An Autumn Reflection on Argentina

20 Oct

Today was a crisp fall day, with a chilly wind blowing around and a grey sky hanging low over the capital of the United States. Walking to class on the usual route up Wisconsin Ave to Massachusetts Ave to Nebraska Ave, my walk was less a tour of the U.S. and more a stroll down memory lane. Red-golden leaves crunched under my Converse as I for some reason was reminded of friends back in Buenos Aires. I can’t remember why–maybe I saw a picture before leaving the apartment or was listening to a song that brought it up, but suddenly I was walking down some cobblestone street in Palermo or avoiding the potholes, narrow sidewalks filled with businessmen and women, and dodging traffic on the way to the office.

A half-grin instantly came over me while thinking of friends. I thought of Fer, from the BA Cast, and no matter how ridiculous of a story I had, he would smile and understandingly say, “Y bueno, es lo que hay!” Fer spent some years as an expat in Europe, and therefore he could relate to some frustrations in Argentina, yet could take it all in stride. He still loved his city very much, and the endearing way in which he defended his hometown always made it seem better.

There was Leo from the office, who wonderfully tip-toed the line of insulting me in an endearing way and never taking it too far. “¿Qué querés, estupido?” “Mirá a esta cara de pony” and “Sos un boludo” were common ways in which I could expect to be greeted by him. Vero would defend me and Matías would calmly tell me that I was a lost cause. The office environment, while at times totally aggravating and prison-like, afforded me the opportunity to build long lasting friendships and become familiar with Argentina in ways that many foreigners never do. I sat in quietly as my coworkers debated politics, vented and complained about societal issues, or discussed pop culture from the soap opera on the night before or a television series from the 80s. I usually said little and just listened, learning as much as I could. At lunch I would usually take a walk around the block and think it all over.

There was also Pablo, who became a great friend simply because he was interested in helping a lonely expat. He was another returned expat from Europe, returning to Buenos Aires around the time I moved in, so as he reunited with his old friends he invited me into the circle for pizza night and education on Argentine literature and movies, among other things.

So many other important friends to me still live inside my head and my heart, but the walk to campus is only about 25 minutes, so I don’t have time to think about it all. Instead of feeling down about missing them, the smile stayed and it made me glad to know that they were there and will be there. I’ll fantasize about a reunion, a big hug and catching up on the small things while simultaneously complaining about the transportation and heat/cold, like always. Every day gets me further away from Argentina, and though I’ve been back for over three months, I still feel that weird need to immerse in a culture that I no longer live in. I still want to drink maté with friends in a circle, or have a big asado, or whatever else. I think about taking that trip to the coast, but what coast? Mar del Plata?

The question is not if I’ll go back to Argentina but when. I’m aiming for sooner rather than later, but uno nunca se sabe what’s going to happen. For now, I’ll have to continue with the friends in my head and heart, and know that when we do see each other again, it will be better than any memory I quickly run through on the walk to campus.