UB and My Days Are Numbered in the Greatest City in the World
Well, its my last week in Buenos Aires. My classes are finished. And I still have so much to do and see in the greatest city in the world. I'm choosing to start off this blog post with a anecdote about the University of Belgrano, followed by my adventures over the last few days.
When I first arrived in Argentina back in July and realized that my school was nothing like Delaware back at home, I was certainly surprised. To begin, Buenos Aires has no space for an actual campus like UD, so the University of Belgrano is just one 19-story highrise in the middle of the neighborhood of Belgrano. If you've read some of my previous posts and remember how ass-backwards some things in Argentina are, you shouldn't be surprised to know that "UB" is no different.
I finished my classes and finals this Thursday (11/6) after cruising through the most relaxing 15 week semester of my life. As an international student, the teachers do not expect much out of their students because they know that they are purposely here to learn the language and experience the culture of Argentina. In other words, there is no time for schoolwork (which might actually be the most harrowing realization when I get back to Delaware for spring classes in February). From that, most of the teachers that I had were some of the nicest people I have ever met, and were very excited to know that people from all over the world wanted to learn about Argentina. The genuine attitudes of the teachers were probably one of the higher notes about the school, especially since two of them already managed to find me on Facebook and add me (as they mentioned they would..).
However, I'm sure that the other 200 international students from countries all over the world could also agree that UB was the strangest school that they have ever attended. For instance, the school has both elevators and couches in the first floor lobby that are designated ONLY for teachers and not students. And if they see that students are using either of the two, the front desk staff will not hesitate to yell at them. Maybe the best thing is also the fact that the elevators also only stop at 4 of the floors in the building (1st, 6th, 11th, and 17th) which threw everyone for a loop for the first month of classes at UB. Better yet, the process to get our final exam grades was just as interesting. Every teacher held individual meetings with each student to get their grades, which does not sound terrible. But when you have to wait an hour and a half for EVERY CLASS because your last name begins with a "V".. you start to think that it is a huge waste of time.
The best of all things, which I cannot remember if I already wrote about, was the fire at the University of Belgrano back in the beginning of October. Basically the source of the fire was never exactly confirmed, but it is believed that an electrical spark triggered the fire in the administrative offices on the 6th floor of the building. And when you are on the 10th Floor of the school and are only notified of the fire because an administrator went to each classroom to inform everyone to get out of the building, you are a little concerned. The best part was that the fire alarms never went off and we were just as surprised as the genius that went classroom to classroom during the incident. And I can honestly say that running down 10 flights of stairs through bellowing black smoke (more or less) was a highlight of my time in Argentina because it is exactly how this country goes. Expect the unexpected.
But all in all, my time at UB was, if nothing else, something else. I met many people from all over the world that I know would be more than willing to house me in my eventual travels; and vice versa. In travel, you meet people, exchange stories, create new ones, and make life long friends. Hence why these last few days saying "see you soon" to all of the friends that I've made has been more difficult than anyone expected.
On Tuesday (11/4), most people were finished with their finals and celebrating the only way college students know how to: with more studies and rigorous board games. And if you believe that, I am sorry for you. My friends and I went black to El Alamo, a famous bar in Recoleta that is known to host a good mix of Argentines and foreigners. It was great to have a night with the majority of my friends all together, especially with some of those in another program (shoutout to my API Crew). The following day, Wednesday (11/5), some friends and I took a trip to a place deemed the "best shwarma in the city". For those that do not know, shwarma is a typical Arabian food that is basically a steak wrap, but far better than just that. Once again, it was another first for me, and worth the trek down to Palermo.
On Thursday (11/6), my program had its Farewell Dinner in Puerto Madero at another famous restaurant called Gourmet Porteño. Situated right on the waters of Puerto Madero, also known as the "ritzy" part of the city, the meeting was relatively formal. With a buffet-style of setup, the restaurant offered everything from local cuisine, parrilla, italian, seafood, sushi, vegan, and everything in between. It was nice to have that time and a to see our program advisor, Gaby, for one last time. She has done a lot for all of us throughout the past 4 months, and we all wish her nothing but the best in the coming months and years with the arrival of her baby in March.
After the phenomenal dinner, everyone in my program had to celebrate for one last time all together before the first few people left Argentina today and tomorrow. We went to one of our favorite bars, called Chupitos, followed by another club nearby. Regardless of where we were, I'm sure it still would have been fun, as I can say this night was one of the best for all of us while abroad. What's funny is that people from such diverse backgrounds and hometowns in the United States can all come together and basically see each other every day for 4 months. I will definitely miss my study abroad friends, and I hope that we will be able to meet up again either back in the US or on our next adventures.
And today, Friday (11/7), was dedicated to exploring more of the city and saying "see you soon" to some other friends. I met up with my API friends down at Las Heras Parque to hangout for a picnic. Once again, thanks to my friend Katie, also from NJ, I was able to meet this awesome group of people. These were the people that I went to Mendoza with way back in August, and I am thankful that I stayed close with them back in BA. After this, and realizing that seeing my friends leave Buenos Aires would be much more difficult than I had anticipated, I headed down to Plaza San Martin in Retiro to finally see the park and meet up with John. The plaza plays tribute to the main liberator of South America from Europe. With that, that basically is a summary of my most recent days.
In the coming days, I have a lot to do and see. I have plenty more blog posts to come, so stay tuned and I'll talk to (and see) everyone soon. And as far as the countdown goes, it has dwindled down to just 5 days until I arrive back in the States..
"These are the days we've been waiting for, with days like these who could ask for more? Keep 'em coming cause we're not done yet. These are the days we won't regret, these are the days we won't forget." - Lyrics from "The Days" by Avicii