Hola from Argentina!
As I got off my plane and paid my fee at international affairs/customs I walked though baggage claim and through the sliding glass doors and looked around in excitement and anxious and I saw my host sister, Manuela jumped a little with the sign that had my name on it with her mom, dad, and Rotary member, Julia next to her. As i hugged my host family for the first time, I knew the experience I had been waiting sooo long for was finally in the palm of my hands. We walked out towards the car and drove home. The cars here are different, some are the same, but I liked the difference and was beyond excited to see my new home.
My house is nice and yellow and looks like it’s from France, my host parents built it and they’re building the one next door too. They have a real estate business and work together. I have 2 cats, Mili and Comahue, and one kitten, Lenon. My other host sister, Augustina is 24 and is a teacher for little kids. My other host sister, Lucia, is 28 and works in a Petroleum Enterprise in communications. My family is very nice and made me think of the family I left at home, hopefully this home sickness wears away soon.
The day I got here, Manuela took me to the Recolta, or town square. It has a famous cemetery for political, wealthy, historical, or peoples rights leaders. Some of them are so old that the glass doors are broken and you can touch the coffin in which their bodies. Some are still in pretty good shape. I got to see where the woman who fought for (and won) woman's voting rights was buried. I also got to see the Law school and the Engineering school, which looks like a old chapel. We take the bus everywhere, I didn’t realize how many people take the bus, from business men to school kids it’s always packed, but I like it. People are really polite to each other. On Wednesdays, the day I arrived, was family night in the Lasry household. I got to meet Manuela’s uncle, grandfather, and cousins and one of their wives. All of them are extremely nice and said that they are happy to have me and I’m equally happy to be here.
The second day, I met some of Manuela’s friends at their house as the practices dances for a fundraiser for a party they are going to throw around December. They are all nice and taught me some slang in Spanish, people here are very nice and all say that they are happy to have me.
On Friday, Manuela went to school and I got to go to my 3rd family’s home, who is now hosting Mats from Sweden and Madeline from Canada. Madeline will be attending La Salle with me for school. Belu, Fernanda (My 3rd hosts’ daughter) took the 3 of us to the mall, it seems like the malls in the United States, but different stores, I like the style here and we had tea there. People here drink tea all the time with every meal and in between meals. I also go to meet her friend Sati and visit La Salle. My school looks like Hogwarts, Madeline and I are very excited to be attending school there. That night we had a dinner party with our counselors from Rotary, my 3rd host family and the Lasry’s, and Mats and Madeline. The 3 of us will be rotated between the Lasry’s, the Scalionie’s and the Breglia’s. The party ended at 2 am and it’s completely normal for them, I love it. During the party we Skyped with Victoria, the Breglia’s daughter, who is now in Satellite Beach, Florida. Homesickness first hit me very hard when we skyped with her and her mom got teary for seeing her, I thought about home and how my family felt without me.
Today, I went to The Dot, a bigger mall with Mrs. Lasry, Manuela, and Augustina. The stores are soo nice and people are up to date on the latest fashions. Parking is a little different there. You get a free ticket going in, and you have to show the ticket to the guards to get out. In parking there are red lights indicating that the space is taken, green being vacant. It’s pretty reliable and easy to park, except the parking garage is beyond huge. Oh and the mall is 4 stories, no big deal.
It is extremely cold here compared to Florida, it's about 15 degrees Celsius, which is about 60-50 ish Fahrenheit, I miss the beach.
My first day of school was unexpected, I mean, I knew I was going too school, but not what was going to happen. I met my principle or the “head mister” in the morning and he only has one eye, so it made me even more nervous than I already was, but he was nicer than I could imagine. He showed me into my Economics classroom, the field I chose to study in, and all the kids stared at me. After he left they all sat around me and just asked every question that you could imagine and they were extremely nice. The United States is amazing to the people here, being that I lived only 1 hour from Miami and 3 from Disney; they were so excited to ask me questions about things they knew. The whole day I found people starring at me from other classes asking each other if I was the new American student. I finally after 3 weeks got around to meet everyone who wanted to meet me and I know most of everyone’s names. My name is a little long to say, so they all call me Caro.
At my first Rotary orientation, we went to the middle of nowhere kinda hahahah, they’re were horses walking around freely and smaller houses with, it was somewhere between a city and the country side. I met people from Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, France, and Texas! Brianna, the girl from Texas, and I got along immediately being that we could speak English to each other and relate to things that were in the United States and here. Since it was only 2 days long, we didn’t do much but meetings and welcoming ceremonies.
I’ve noticed people here dress a lot nicer than people in the United States, there are not as nearly as many overweight people, and we greet with a kiss to each cheek to everyone. Here, the also have 5 o clock tea and the siesta. The siesta is a late afternoon nap after you have tea, when I found out we had time for napping in the day, I was sooo excited. People here are so welcoming to United States citizens, but everyone, even the bus drivers, notice that I’m foreign. I didn’t think it was that obvious. Also, Argentina is known for it’s steak, take it from me, add to your bucket list to try Argentinean steak, it’s completely worth it and to have at least 1 alfajor in your life. Argentina is more European that I could’ve ever thought.
People still stare form time to time, but everyone’s more relaxed around me here and try to do their best in English to talk to me and I do my best in Spanish to answer them.
My family took me to country side because their cousins own a pig farm; it also had chickens, lambs, and geese, but mostly pigs. I’ve learned farm animals don’t like me. We had an asado (a Bar B Q) there and it was sooo nice, I have never, in my life, seen so many stars in my life. I also haven’t held a 10 day old baby chicken either, that made my day. I’ve had to chance to try duck, cow intestine, and blood sausage, three things I’ve never had until I got here. I favor the duck over all 3. I felt guilty about eating it though. My family also took me to Puerto Maedro, or downtown, it sits right on the river. It has the Catholic University, the craziest avenue I have ever seen, restaurants, the Women’s Brigde, and this sailboat that has been in the water since the 1800’s. The pink House (the equivalent to our Whit House) is there too and many other monuments. Surrounding downtown are parks, skate parks, art parks, or just plain parks. My host sister also took me to The Recolta. It has a cemetery for historically influential people and the wealthy, old churches, The Law School, fancy hotels, beyond expensive stores that you can only stare at, a park, and on weekends festivals of shops come.
I also attended a Rotex camp at one of the Rotex’s country houses. It was 3 days and most of the inbounds, Rotex and outbounds attended. It was a lot of fun also. We played games, had fires, (you can get burned like a sunburn by a fire, I learned this the hard way, it’s not fun) played rugby, soccer, and the Rotex gave us advice and things to helps us get by with the exchange. We had a mud/water fight too… there was no washer or dryer at this house, never take the sun for granted, it was my best friend that weekend.
Rotary here is great too, it’s not too fancy, but you have to dress nice and my counselor is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, her husband as well. Both are in the Rotary. I also got to meet the Governor of Rotary here over the weekend and he’s extremely pleased with me and my progress with Spanish and hopes to see me again soon. Madeline, she is from Canada, invited me to her Rotary meeting and we had an asado. Her Rotary has a whole house for Rotary! Mine meets in a recreational center, but it’s nice and I like it. At her meeting, they honored a disabled firefighter, who was put in a wheelchair while on duty, he’s only in his 20’s and he still is a firefighter to this day. Madeline and I have become very close, you weren’t lying when you said Rotary kids would become the closest people to you.
I’m now part of a group called the Lyt’s (pronounced whities) at school and we’ll be getting jackets in a few months. It’s a group of 23 girls and there’s an equivalent group of guys called Bordolaga Soccer Club. Some of the Lyt’s are in my class, hence how I became one, they befriended me on the very first day. All the people here are so nice and I’m soo happy about where and who I ended up with. There are no “popular” groups, people are just in groups; however, that doesn’t exclude you from hanging out with kids form other groups, you just happen to belong to one, not 3. If I could write a big enough thank you card in the sky for how nice these people have been to me, I would.
I’m officially on summer break since December 3, 2010. I have been hanging out with friends and my host family. My host sister, Manuela will be going to Germany on January 18, for her exchange and she’s so excited. It was weird to have a hot Christmas, it’s about 90 degrees here everyday in summer, at night it becomes a little cooler. It was also different not to have a real full sized grown Christmas tree, but the decorations my host family did were cute, especially our little tree. Here, we had a Christmas dinner on the 24th and opened presents after at midnight. It wasn’t like sitting around the tree and opening presents wither, we all got one or two gifts form the family and passed them around the table. I got a pretty shirt, bag and lotion. I was so happy it was Christmas, but I missed my family in Florida a lot, but I knew that they were having a great Christmas too. They also put off fireworks on Christmas and set off these lit balloons that float across the sky saying it’s Papa Noel for the kids The next day on the 25th, I went to my host mom family’s house, she had a beautiful house, closer to downtown. We had lunch and went in her pool. (by the way, it only takes 10 days here to put a pool in!) For New Year’s I’ll be spending it with my third host family and a few inbounds. I move families on the 2nd of January and I’m excited to live in a new house and get to experience new things. I will actually get to be moving into Vicky’s house, she’s currently an inbound in Florida! In February I’ll be going on the North Trip to the northwesy and northeast of Argentina and get to see the Iguazu Falls!
On January 7th kids will lay out they’re shoes and put gifts, food, and food for the animals for the three wise men and their animals as they pass through searching for baby Jesus. Here, they put so much effort for kids to believe in the spirit of Christmas and being happy for what you have. I have become so much more grateful for my family at home and for having them there for me all the time.
Around end of February early March we will start school again and my school will be the graduating class, and the group, Lyt’s will be getting jackets! I know I won’t be with them when they graduate, but I know that they will have a great time.
I knew homesickness was bound to happened and I knew I was ready for it, but it recently really hit hard on me. I’ve never wanted to hug my mom and dad as much as I want to do now. I will continue on my exchange and make my parents proud, the feeling of them knowing I accomplished such a rewarding task makes me so happy and I know that I will succeed. Sometimes I really just want to eat American food again and speak in English again, but I know all the work I’m doing to improve my Spanish and eating culturally diverse foods will educate me in ways that you cannot receive from a text book. This exchange has made me so grateful for what I have and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
I had a dream in Spanish the other day and it was different I woke up thinking in Spanish and I couldn’t think of anything in English to save my life, it took me like twenty minutes to think of something besides hello. It was a weird; indescribable feeling, but I liked it. I am finally getting Spanish. I just passed my 4 month anniversary here and I couldn’t be happier here, thank you Rotary
I just started school again this past week and it went well. Being that it is the first week, we didn’t do much work, just sign papers and meet new teachers. I’m in what would be senior year for the states. Also, many people from the states call it America, well, people here are from America too and make it a point whenever you say, but they do have a point, I am in South America.
Over my summer I went on one of my Rotary trips to the North of Argentina. It was absolutely beautiful! I went to Salta, Juy Juy, and Tucuman. I saw the mountains where the Incan Empires stand and went to a Museum where they have an Incan girl, as she was buried in the mountain as a sacrifice in prayer of good rains. The girl was preserved and I was able to see her hair and teeth. The altitude of the mountain and the cooler climate inside the mountain kept her, a maiden, and a young boy preserved all sacrifices. We also visited Las Salinas, or natural Salt fields, Montanas en los nubes, the mountains in the clouds, and the seven colored mountains. It was amazing! On our way through all the cities, we stopped in Pueblos, Museums, and Vineyards, ate empanadas, and bought all hand made products from the people living there. We drove through and up mountains, I got to pet a wild llama. When we were in Slata, we went out to a famous restaurant where the gauchos dance their traditional dance, and later pick people to dance… yes, I was chosen. I got to see many old churches where you’re not allowed to take pictures in because of the paint in the church. We also took a Gondola up a mountain and got to see the entire city of Salta. In the Slainas, we stopped, it just on the side of the road, there are endless fields of salt and slat pools, it actually kinda looks like snow. I will be going on my next trip to the Cataratas, or Iguazu Falls on the 17th of March and I’m so excited!
Right before my trip I changed families and my new family is great! My host mom is a personal trainer and my host dad works at the Gas Station that my host mom’s brother owns. I also have one host brother. My host mom took me Chinatown here! We took the train and ate sushi in a plaza bear Chinatown. A few weeks later, there was a Chinese Festival there and we went to that too. It was traditional dragon show and told many delicacies of China. I also went to Tigre, which is a town that is on the River (Rio de la Plata) and parts of it are in the Delta. It’s cooler in Tigre than in San Isidro, where I live now. I also live 15 minutes from Unicentre, the biggest mall in South America. It has a movie theater, grocery store, post office, bowling alley, multiple food courts, and 3 floors of stores.
Also over summer I hung out with friends and went out with my family, but it was really relaxed and I liked it. It also gets extremely hot here over summer, I was surprised. I’ve been getting used to my home and city. I have come to also realize that my exchange is coming to an end and in about 3 and half months I’ll be leaving here, but I don’t like tot think about it, but I know I must face it soon enough and I couldn’t be happy with what Rotary has given me, Thank you so much Rotary and Rotary club of Coral Springs!
The trip was amazing!!! It was like a 25 hour bus ride, but completely worth it! We
finally reached the Iguazu we checked in to out hotel and slept till the next day. On our
second day, we went to the waterfalls and we had to take a small train through out the
Iguazu to get to them, but when you get there (to the first visible one) you think it’s the
biggest… it’s not. It does however, come up to standard and looks amazing and like
death at the same time. We moved on to the bigger ones, he ones that border Brazil and
where you can take a boat excursion through them. After walking through the manmade bridged tail, where parts of it go over smaller waterfalls we found
the indigenous turtles of the Iguazu, some rare birds, this raccoon type thing, and there
are SO many butterflies. We finally arrived to the first sight of the bigger waterfalls,
there are about 20 some stops to see them and take pictures or you can just take pictures
as you walk to each stop. I never really seen anything like this in my life and I didn’t
know what to think about, I was shocked that these things exist. We were right above
the excursions and you could see a few taking place, but there had been an accident. An
excursion went too fast into the falls; hit a rock, capsized, and 2 people died. If you zoom
in my pictures, you will see the capsized boat and people waiting along side the mountain
waiting for other. I also saw where the discovered one body, but at the time, they didn’t
report him dead. This excursion was the one right before ours, but after this happened,
the excursions were suspended. This had never happened in the Iguazu history before, so
there were helicopters from all news station, even one from BBC! Police were everyone
and it was sad, but we moved on with the tour. We walk throughout, over and under, the
other falls leading to the ground where you get the view of the falls looking up at them,
where as before you looking directly at them. We took pictures there and got a little
closer to the accident, but it had been all settled out and there just the capsized boat in the
water. Later we went back to the Center of Reservation Park for the Iguazu, ate and went
back to our hotel. The next day we go to go to the border of Brazil, in between Brazil
and Argentina is a space that’s not really Argentina or Brazil, and we went to Duty Free
Shop. I’ve never been so happy to have a Kit Kat in my life, being that I haven’t had one
since I left the States. Through out our week in the Iguazu, we went and saw the city, but
it’s really quite a small city. On Friday, we returned home and I was sad it was over, but
so happy I got experience it.
When I got to school, all my friends had asked if I knew what happened while I was
at Iguazu and I told them and they felt bad because of 3 United States citizens dying. I
didn’t realize how big the news was throughout Argentine, and then someone told me
that it never happens. Everyone was calling me and asking if I was alright (they all knew
I went the day the accident happened). I wasn’t expecting what to happen, to happen, but
I’m praying for the families that lost their loved ones.
Before changing to my third and final family my host parents took me a city about 2
hours away form my house called Lujan. Lujan is famous for its zoo and Cathedral. I
went to both! The zoo is one of the last remaining old fashion zoos where you can go in
and hold, pet and feed every one of the animals. I held baby tigers, parrots, pumas, hares,
bunnies, and lions! I was able to pet and feet the elephants, adult tigers, adult pumas, and
adult lions. Along with them, I pet some rare species of goats, miniature ponies, donkeys,
calves, and a seal. I rode a camel and horse. My life is almost complete. Later, after the
zoo we went to the cathedral, which is one of the biggest and oldest in Argentina. Being
that it was a Saturday, it was crowded with people and tourists, but it was also under
construction. It was gorgeous and sort of creepy, but it was great to see it.
About a week after that, I had to change families and now I’m with my third and final
family. In my third family, I have a mom, Maria Fernanda, a dad, Miguel, and their
daughter, Belen, is in Germany now on Exchange. My second weekend here, after
getting used to the adjustment, we went to La Boca. La Boca is a city near downtown
Buenos Aires. It also contains the La Boca stadium for the soccer team CABJ (Club
Atletica Boca Juniors) where Diego Maradona, if you don’t know who he is, he was the
best soccer player before Messi, played before he played for the Argentine team. Boca
and River are two soccer clubs, here in Argentina, that are famous through out South
America, I’m a fan of River. However, it was interesting to visit Boca, being that many
players on the Argentine team are recruited from the Boca team, River as well. With my
new family, we took a tour of the Boca stadium, which actually smaller than it seems. I
was able to see the locker rooms, go through the halls that the players run through before
entering the stadium, walk through where people sit, and walk onto the field. I may not
be a very supportive fan of this team, but it was still awesome to do all this! Later, we
went to Caminito, also located in La Boca, where all the houses are different colors
and back in the days of Maradona where everyone would go to watch games. There are
statues of him and other revolutionists of Argentina there too. It has an art museum too.
Caminito is along the river and has tango shows everyday.
It coming close to the date that I must return to the states, so now I’m just going to school
and trying to spend as much time as I can with friends. There’s a Conference meeting in
San Nicholas on June 4th where all the exchange students in my district will say good bye
to one another, and I’m not really looking forward to it. Looking back on my exchange,
I’m happy with what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished and I hope to end it well.
Thank you, once again, Rotary.