First, I have to start with the more unfortunate news. A few weekends ago, while out at a club in Buenos Aires, my wallet was stolen from my purse. It happened completely without me noticing, probably as I was making my way through the crowded dance floor. Luckily I had very little money on me, and all of the things stolen were replaceable. Then, only a few days later, a friend had her necklace ripped off her neck by a young teenager while we were walking down the street! This was in broad daylight in a nice neighborhood. Needless to say, these events (and others- at least 4 other people in our program have been robbed) changed my opinion of Buenos Aires, at least for a little while. I couldn't help but feel violated and frustrated at living in a big city with all of its humanity, which can be exhilarating and overwhelming and scary all at the same time.
In our orientation at the beginning of the program, we were told that in adapting to another culture, one goes through certain stages. First there's the honeymoon period, where you fall in love with the culture and all the new experiences it has to offer, where every day you can go to a different museum or bar, you can meet new people, you can try new foods, the possibilities seem endless. Then, inevitably, that honeymoon period has to end, and you begin to notice things that bother you about the culture, whether it's how the people act, or different customs, or maybe you get robbed- any of these things can thrust you into the period called "negotiations." In this stage, basically, you can certainly be aware of what you like and dislike about the culture, and yet you still must navigate through and live in your new home, therefore you establish a new way of thinking about the culture and all the great and not-so-great things it has to offer. Lastly, you can accept the culture for what it is, and learn to love it once again (this time with more life experience).
As you can probably guess, I went through these stages in the last couple of weeks, starting with when I was pick-pocketed. After losing trust in this city, I had to learn how to fall in love with Buenos Aires once again. I also had to realize that being robbed was a result of Argentina's current economic crisis, and the increased thefts of students in my program (and the best exchange rate we've had yet) is only an indication of the economic problems getting worse for this country. Additionally, this experience will only make me a smarter traveler in the future, and I got to learn this lesson with relatively little negative consequences. Looking back, I believe it is incredibly important to go through these "stages" of culture shock in order to ultimately feel at home in a new country- but I am so happy to say I love Buenos Aires once again! You can see now why while not many "big" events have happened, I feel like lots has changed since my last blog entry.
Here's what's new in my life lately:
- In my last few entries, I neglected to mention the biggest news in Argentina for the past month! The newly inaugurated Pope Francisco is from Argentina and is the first Pope from Latin America! The whole country has been so excited, even non-practicing Catholics. I believe it's a point of pride for Argentina and the rest of South America. I happened to be reading in a cafe when the news was announced, and the reaction was surreal. People were crying and hugging, and it was not difficult to get swept up in the excitement. The roomie and I woke up at dawn one morning to head to the main plaza and watch his inauguration ceremony on large TV screens.
|Plaza de Mayo|
|El Obelisco draped in the Vatican flags|
- I went to a futbol game!!! It was the Argentine National team versus Venezuela, AND it was a qualifying game for the World Cup. We got to see Messi play, and Argentina swept 3-0. It was such a fun time, with the stadium completely filled, and all of the fans yelling out cheers and wearing Messi jerseys.
- During Easter break, I and three other girls ventured out of the city for a couple of days to an eco yoga retreat! It is located on a rustic farm about an hour outside of Buenos Aires, and little did we know that it is run by Hare Krishnas! It was quite the experience; we took meditation and yoga classes, saw a lecture about the Hare Krishna religion, went to music therapy, ate vegan food, and slept in eco-friendly bunkhouses. It was so peaceful and relaxing, and we got to visit the dairy farm next door where the owner introduced us to the cows and fed us ice cream. It was definitely necessary to get out of the hustle and bustle of city life to breathe a little in the countryside (and get eaten by mosquitos, of course).
- My friend Vi and I took the most amazing bike tour of all of the street art in Buenos Aires. Here, street art is respected and even commissioned, and the police allow the artists to do their thing, even in broad daylight! We rode bikes around a few key neighborhoods and saw multitudes of fantastic murals, stopping at each to learn a bit about the most prominent Buenos Aires street artists.
|Vi and her bike|
|This is actually the outside of a closed-door restaurant.|
|(For more pictures, check my Facebook page!)|
Coming up next for me: Going to Colonia, Uruguay this weekend to renew our visas and explore a new place! Next weekend is the opera Carmen at Teatro Colon! And soon after I'll be heading back to California (which I honestly cannot believe). More updates soon!
Sidenote: It has come to my attention that the floods in Argentina have made national news. While I want to make it clear that I was not directly touched by the flooding in any way, certain provinces of Buenos Aires (such as La Plata) were greatly affected, with more than fifty people dying as a result. I am safe, but it is definitely a tragedy here in Argentina.