From the top: café con leche con medialunas, dinner at home (la papa no es una verdura √), tarta de pollo con tomatitos, and ice cream with loads of dulce de leche.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
From the top: café con leche con medialunas, dinner at home (la papa no es una verdura √), tarta de pollo con tomatitos, and ice cream with loads of dulce de leche.
On Friday, I had my first thoroughly Argentine movie-viewing experience, in that I saw an Argentine film in an Argentine theater (the previously mentioned hella-swank one). I understood 98% of what was said, as there was relatively little dialog and they spoke in a very formal manner, so I feel qualified to review this for real!
The film takes place in Buenos Aires in 1982. It might be best described as a character study, focusing on 23-year-old Marita, a teacher at a prestigious school. She is a tragic character – confused, lost, very repressed and insecure. This is a film about contained, silent suffering. Historical metaphor!!
My thoughts, in brief:
Excellent acting. Interesting cinematography. A bit slow-moving. Hard to watch at times – a couple of truly horrifying, yet powerful, moments. Possibly unappealing for Argentines who are ready to stop talking about la dictadura militar already, but interesting for foreigners such as myself who have only just started learning about this country’s history.
This film went to Cannes, so it is probably en route to the U.S. as well! The English language title is “The Invisible Eye.” I recommend seeing it when you have the opportunity to go chill out at McDonald’s afterward – but not as a fun intro to your next Argentine vacation.
i.e. the adventures of Biddie and Viking in el capital federal whilst our peeps were busy touring wine country.
A bunch of our besties went to Mendoza for the weekend, leaving Emma and me to our own devices. I’ve decided to dedicate a blogpost to our little shenanigans, since so few were around to witness them.
Basically, we spent Friday somewhat accidentally hopping from one fancy-pants place to the next. Tea Connection to start; a café that served me tiny toast; and a movie theater that bore more resemblance to an opera house than to any AMC I’ve ever seen.
Bearing in mind the exchange rate, we weren’t spending much, but we decided to cut the class after the movie and go to McDonald’s for dinner. We had to wait a long time for our nugs, but I was seriously impressed by the interior decorating. The place is three stories tall with multiple seating alternatives and numerous lovely potted plants. I must say I’d like to return.
Emma is unamused by the potted plant creeping up on her:
We ended the night at Casa Bar, which is decorated in the style of a European home from the Baroque period. SWANK. And yet, we paid no entrance fee. Score again.
Since pictures are always fun, here’s a beautiful double-self-portrait of us with wine-stained tongues.
(No, we did not drink wine at McDonald’s.)
In keeping with my vow to review all of the plays and films I see while down here, I have five reviews to write from the past week. Holy moley. I’d best get started.
But before I bombard you with reviews, I’d like to post some personal snippets that don’t really fit in anywhere:
1) I recently purchased a bright red beret. Those of you who know me well shouldn’t be surprised that I’m counting this as a major, life-changing, blog-worthy event. I’ve been a hat person for a long time now – at times, obsessively so – but I think it’s safe to say that this time I’m in love.
2) Latest step in resolving language frustrations: I’m vowing to stop being such a neuro-case about my accent. The poor Argentines who have imitated my r’s have had to then listen to my long-winded, flustered explanations of how my Finnish-American tongue often produces “grracias” instead of “gracias” and “perdón” comes out sounding an awful lot like “Perón.” From here on out, I promise only to refer to my accent as “utilitarian” and “cute.”
3) A couple of my IFSA pals are keeping blogs as well. I’m going to embarrass them by publicizing on here:
Robyn – beansandfudge.blogspot.com
Alli – alliupsidedown.blogspot.com
Expect a kajillion reviews super soon!
P.S. I’ll do a photoshoot with the beret soon. It’s pretty epic. I ask you to please support my need for you all to see it on my head.
Word of the day: el boludo – n. This word has many meanings. Technically, it’s a derivation of “balls.” Can be used the way we use “asshole” and “idiot” in English, but it can mean “dude” in a friendly way, too. (I can’t believe this hasn’t been word of the day yet. It’s an essential part of porteño vocabulary.)
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Un montón de gracias for the lovely comments in response to my last entry :) It´s just really lovely to know who all is reading. It seems my play reviews and lunfardos are reaching many corners of the world!
Coming soon: 2 more play reviews (I went 4 days in a row), Fuerza Bruta, screaming and pinching as classwork, and MORE.
Stay tuned, thanks for reading!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
PLEASE COMMENT ON MY BLOG
I KNOW YOU´RE OUT THERE
COME ON, COME ON!
That could have been a haiku if I had tried. But really, dear readers, PLEASE COMMENT if you´re reading, I want to know what you think. And that you think. That you exist, really. You say you´re real, but are you?
Saturday, August 21, 2010
(we had balcony seats but I could still see that red crap around the guy's mouth)
Last night, I went with Rodrigo from fourth year to see a play. At first we weren’t sure which one to see, so after he delightfully observed (and insisted multiple times) that I was acting like Rainman (Rainman, Fez, what have you) we went in search. Well, he went in search, and I followed along, much like Rainman might have. A night at the theater with Rainman.
We ended up with “La Vida es Sueño” (Life’s a Dream) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. It’s a very famous piece and I had read it previously in English (Sources of World Drama!!) so I had a foggy sense of the story.
Listening, I had the frustrating experience of understanding most of the individual words, but since the verse has a complicated rhyme scheme, the word order threw me off and I was pretty lost. I basically understood what was happening, and there were a few slow, solemn speeches that I grasped quite well, but most of the dialogue went over my head.
Understanding impeded, my other senses were heightened. In other words, I spaced out and thought about things other than the words. I thought about the set a lot. They had somehow managed to haul tons of sand onto the proscenium stage, which was arranged in a circle about a foot deep and thirty feet wide. This gave extra weight to the actors’ footsteps, and in the form of footprints the landscape of the set was changed by the actions of the characters (much like in a certain production of Titus Andronicus ahem ahem.) There was also a giant mirror that descended from above at various angles, which played with the light beautifully. At the end, the mirror was turned on the audience, which was a little predictable, but perhaps would have resonated more had I understood the text this gesture accompanied. All in all, it wasn’t my favorite set ever, but I think it evoked the half-dream, half-nightmare mood that the text is after.
I can’t say that I liked this play. It’s a classic, and this was an impressive production, but none of the characters really like each other. There is a lot of rape that is presented fairly lightheartedly. It definitely doesn’t pass the feminist test (having two female characters that talk to each other about something other than their relationships with men. Emberlie, is there a better term for this?) To conclude, it is hard to watch, but not in a way that makes you grow as a person or anything. What is left for contemporary audiences to appreciate is the language, and at this point, the language left me with a sense of mental exhaustion rather than a sense of enjoyment. Still, I’m glad I went. Does that make sense?
Stay tuned for more posts soon. I’ll try to do something other than see plays. Well, technically I do other things, but do you really want to hear about tea and boliches and grammatical improvements? (note that tea was the first thing on that list. It’s serious.) Well, I’ll just keep doing what floats my boat, and I’ll write about much of it.
P.S. Come on, dear readers, this blogpost is choc-full of shout-outs. Don’t hide the fact that you’re devoted, in a near-religious manner, to my blog! Gimme some comments. I love you!
P.P.S. I should add, en fin, that Rodrigo liked the play. I think he was a little distracted at first by his worry that Rainman wasn’t getting it, but, much like Tom Cruise, got used to it after a while.
I’ve been having a great time, and as the days go by, I’m becoming increasingly aware that this time abroad is really counting as a Life Changing Experience. DISCLAIMER: I’m going to talk about my feelings now.
I get frustrated a lot. My spoken Spanish still isn’t nearly as good as my written Spanish. I’m aware of problems with my accent that I need to work on. I can’t fully express my more complex opinions or make (good) jokes.
“Well,” you might say, “you’re not a native speaker, so you can’t expect to be perfect!”
One evening I sat in my room, rapidly alternating between different Spanish books and Spanish magazines, Spanish TV on, Spanish dictionary and Spanish pen in hand, trying to cram as much Spanish into my head as I could. “Why don’t I know this word?” I thought, “Why can’t I pronounce that one?” I was mad. “Why do I have yet to use this type of sentence construction in daily conversation?!” I stopped. I looked at my life. It dawned on me that I was going a little nuts in this pursuit.
Cramming is never the smartest way to go, but especially not when it comes to an entire language. Immersion is key, but achieving fluency is a gradual process nonetheless. Right now, I’m making an effort to keep things in perspective. Sometimes I lose patience, but when I think back to my first week here, I realize just how much my Spanish has improved. It’s hard to fathom. Most of the time, I REALLY understand people when they speak. Several things that don’t have English translations make sense to me. I am developing a feel for this language, a place for it in my heart. Aww.
In the midst of this self-centered reflection, what I have to offer to my readers is this: encouragement—nay, insistence that you learn a language if you want to. (I said “nay.”) It is very possible and very rewarding! One day, you’re still pronouncing the “h” in “hola” (hint: don’t), and the next, you’re creating beautiful sentences to describe hypothetical situations with appropriate use of verbs in the pluperfect subjunctive. Yes, I AM THAT NERDY.
Language-learning aside, I’ve been learning how to manage independently in a big city. I'm learning different systems of education, transportation, and communication. I'm feeling the clichéd study-abroad-induced changes starting to happen. Realizing my own strengths. Figuring out who I am outside of my language, my habits, my home.
I'll leave it at that for now, since this is only 20% of the way. I have four times as much left to learn as I have already learned. Or is that the way it works? I guess we'll see.
Thanks for reading :)
*Remember, there were actual goat-clones, this is not some cool new slang term I’ve invented. Or is it?
Word of the day BONUS EDITION:
guy (young man): el chabón, el flaco, el pibe, el tipo/el tipito
girl (young woman): la chabona, la mina/la minita, la piba/la pibita
This is the second play that Professor Dubatti, who teaches my seminar on theater today in Buenos Aires, sent us to see. He is quite a well-known guy, they even MENTIONED HIM IN THIS PLAY. Woah.
I found this play to be really quite fascinating. The full title of the piece is actually Mariano Moreno y un teatro de operaciones, i.e. Mariano Moreno and a theater of operations. It spends very little time talking about the actual historical figure and is best described as a witty, energetic commentary on the process of theater-making and connections with one’s history. A near-quote from the play: “When we conform to the same pre-determined, unchanged texts over and over, we become little more than beasts...” The play explores the connection between political freedom and artistic freedom, an essential idea in the development of contemporary Argentine drama. Well done, Dubatti!
I would love to see this play again at the end of my stay here (a.k.a. that magical time when I will understand everything. Fingers crossed!) The audience laughed a lot, and while I was entertained, I only got a couple of the jokes. Much of the humor had to do with the impressive speed at which the actors spoke, and therefore, much of it went over my head. Still, I was able to grasp a surprising amount of the text once I got into the rhythm of the play. Baby steps for the impatient baby.
The piece was highly stylized, which I loved. The makeup, costumes, props, and actors’ movements made the whole thing seem like a gothic puppet-show. The energy of the actors was unbelievable. The company is called “el bachín teatro” and I would love to see more of their work. And be best friends with them. Most plays make me want to act, but this was one play that gave me that unrequited love feeling, longing to be a part of it.
An extra note:
Those of you who knew her can understand why I’d say that Robin Wood, my high school drama teacher, would have particularly adored this piece. I wish so much that I could e-mail her about it and get back one of her enthusiastic, all-caps, ingenious replies. She taught me a lot, much of which I am just starting to learn now.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Yesterday, I met up with lovely North-Americans Alex, Alli, Andrea, and Morgan in San Telmo, a part of the city I had yet to visit. I discovered that it’s quite easy for me to get there in colectivo or subte, and that I absolutely LOVE IT.
We ate lunch at a great little Middle-Eastern restaurant (not quite Zorona’s, but yummy nonetheless) and then headed to the huge outdoor market. Junk, antiques, hats, mate mugs, and art everywhere. Lots of artsy folk, which I love, with surprisingly few tourists to be seen.
As I had not planned for shopping, I had little money with me and thus only bought three small items. This means I am full of unrequited material lust, but it’s best that I didn’t buy everything in sight, and I shall return for sure.
My purchases, documented through dear old photo-booth...
First, I stumbled upon these vintage clip-on earrings. 30 pesos. In retrospect, I could have gotten something similar for less, but at this point I’m having a problem with the “pesos-as-monopoly-money” mindset, which I think most Americans experience upon arriving here. (Really, the exchange rate is about 4 pesos per American dollar.) I tried to take a girl-with-a-pearl-earring-esque photo, but the result was a little too MySpace-y, so this is what I ended up with:
I chatted for a bit with the lovely hippies that I bought this journal from. It’s handmade, hand-painted (“to inspire you,” they said), and allegedly eco-friendly. I was having trouble choosing from their selection, and one of them told me that this journal was the color of my soul. That totally sold me on it. I am such a sucker for compliments, especially from hippies, even if they are trying to sell me something. So this 25-peso journal is el cuaderno de mi alma.
The last thing I bought was this headband. Well, I’m excited about it! 15 pesos. Note my frustration with taking photo-booth pictures of myself.
Nearing the end of our journey through the feria, we stumbled upon a wonderful band playing on the street corner. Traditional South American music, which I absolutely love (we listened to a similar band during reading time in 4th grade, major nostalgic joy!). And they were having so much fun! I want to be best friends with them (I find myself saying that a lot these days). I also want their CD, but they don’t have one. Alas.
Anyway, I must return to San Telmo soon, in hopes of befriending that band...in any case, successful shopping experiences await there. I would like to go again with the intention of taking my time and talking to the artists (I'm starting to really be able to have interesting, organic conversations in Spanish!). On a warmer day, perhaps—mind you it is still winter here, and I’ve started conforming to the Argentine mindset that this winter is VERY COLD.
Word of the day: el guardaespaldas - n. Bodyguard (this is not lunfardo, rather an actual word, but I love it because it's one of those great combo-words that Spanish has a few of [lit. "guard-back"])
Friday, August 13th
Finally! A play I can write something bad about! Praise the universe!
Basically, nothing happened in "El box." A man injected himself with clear liquid a few times while people with odd bodies walked around in odd little flesh-baring outfits. The actors punched each other and humped each other a fair amount, but also randomly quoted Marx and Proust to show that the play had “intellectual substance.” On top of it all, the lead actress shouted her way through the entire piece. At least it was only an hour long.
I’m still glad I got to go for two reasons.
Reason one, it was interesting to see the space. We entered through a marked but modest door into an entryway, which led into a house, behind which was a warehouse-type structure in which the performance took place. High, tin roof; concrete walls; minimal catwalk (that thing high above the stage where the techies walk around and hang lights from); and enough seats for about fifty people.
Reason two, I got to hang out with three students from the fourth-year class, whose rehearsals I watch every Thursday. We talked before the show started, I made some embarrassing language-errors, I tagged along with them after the show and we had a beer. (Apparently, I don’t hate beer. Apparently, I just hate PBR and Natty more than I hate beets and fennel [the latter are healthier than bad beer but equally as vile, as far as I’m concerned.]) The Argentines hated the show, too. They discussed just how much over the beer. They asked me to recite some Shakespeare for them. My mind was blank for a while, until I finally recalled a bit from Midsummer Night’s Dream. They dig iambic pentameter.
I continued to awkwardly tag along with them for a quite a long time afterward. We went to the apartment of one of the girls, and I found a kindred spirit music-wise and movie-wise, which I was ecstatic about. She is now in my phone as “Andrea Box,” so her name and number will forever be associated with that night and the putrid performance we saw together.
Afterward I met up with my Unitedstatesian chicas. Gwen described hanging out with Argentines as being “the Fez of the group.” I love this analogy, because it is both ridiculous and accurate. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you clearly haven’t seen as much silly 70s-themed television as I have and you should get on that post-haste.
Word of the day: copado – adj. Cool (in the ‘groovy’ sense of the word)
The Day of Embarrassment (new holiday I’ve created in celebration of myself)
Fun, masochistic anecdote:
(Friday, August 13th)
While at lunch with Zoë and Gwen yesterday, I got “trapped” in the bathroom. The door was latched shut from the inside and I couldn’t for the life of me undo the latch. I began to panic, imagining myself running out of oxygen in the tiny, airtight stall while a man with a chainsaw was being summoned to cut a giant me-shaped hole in the door (does this remind anyone else of a certain Japanese game show? Okay). My next panicked thought was, will I be able to communicate the urgency of my situation in Spanish?! I began to bang on the door. No response. I shouted, “HOLA! ESTOY CERRADA EN EL BAÑO!” which is technically correct, although mildly ridiculous. Zoë and the waitress came to my rescue. Apparently I was just using the lock incorrectly. Ay, Dios.
The rest of the day didn’t end up being as embarrassing as it could have, but I did say I had studied Spanish since I was fourty when I meant fourteen, which of course is HILARIOUS because “cuarenta” and “catorce” are SO DIFFERENT, unlike in our stupid language in which the simple omission of an “n” could lead to mix-ups. Geez Louise.
Don’t mind the negativity that’s unpleasantly seeping through here! I just want to be fluent NOW. I’d probably have to sell my soul for that to happen, though.
So I usually write my blogposts at home, then haul my computer on over to Havanna, my fave café, where I try to connect to their Wi-Fi and usually succeed after about 30 minutes of tea-drinking and internal frustration. Recently, I haven’t been able to connect AT ALL, so I’ve had all of these blogposts burning a hole in my...cerebral pocket (come on, that sentence totally rocks and you know it). They’re going up now, though (as I write this I still don’t know when “now” will be, but as you read this, “now” had already happened). They have dates on them. Enjoy!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Last night I went to see Tatuaje at the Teatro Alvear.
It was certainly the gayest thing I’ve seen in a long time, and I really mean that in an extremely positive way. Like, male leads sporting turquoise eye-shadow and dangly earrings for the duration of the play, tango-ing with each other, and also dressing up as Marlene Dietrich from time to time. An unmistakably homosexual, thoroughly enjoyable work.
The cast was small; 3 men, 2 women, all extremely talented. The show told the true story of Miguel Molina, a flamboyantly gay Spanish performer who faced persecution under Franco's regime, and his friendship with Eva Perón, who granted him refuge in Argentina.
The costumes were incredible and stood out against a bare black set. Evita’s blonde wig was an avant-garde spectacle on its own, and at one point they dressed her as a mummy as she told the story of her death. My costumière-brain was going nuts.
There was a lot of humor in the play, and much of it went over my head – a lot of wordplay, innuendo, and historical/pop-cultural references. When I did get a joke, I laughed twice as loud, half for the simple joy of understanding.
While this was an entertaining piece, most of the dialogue was narration, which caused me to zone out from time to time. In contrast, Todos Eran Mis Hijos held my attention throughout because of the sense of constant movement and immediate action. At this point, I can understand most of what I hear, but only if I listen – my subconscious doesn’t quite speak Spanish yet.
Friday, I am going to see a show on the independent circuit, El box. The larger commercial theaters are impressive, but I can’t wait to have the independent theater experience – the shows often take place inside people’s homes, something I’ve never experienced before. I’m imagining the at-home performance in Finding Neverland...but I shall see soon enough what it’s really like! Stay tuned...or even better, come here and see some shows.
Shopping period is coming to a close, and I’ve just about finalized my schedule of classes. Here is my week (remember, all in Spanish):
Conexión Creativa I (“creative connection,” first year)*
Voz y Canto III (voice and song, third year)
Escuela de Espectadores (lectures by playwrights and directors in the “spectators’ school”)
Castellano Matenamiento (Spanish language maintenance)**
Destreza y Malabares I (gymnastics and juggling, first year)
Taller de Actuación (acting workshop: just me, Robyn, and our teacher Marisa)
Seminar: Theater Today in Buenos Aires
Observación (observation of rehearsals for the fourth year students’ play)
So far, an excellent schedule. As part of the Central Seminar I’m required to see a different play each week (paid for by the program), and I can also sign up to see other shows that the program sponsors as extra-curricular events. In short, tons of theater. All the time. At no additional cost to me. WHAT?!
Please don’t hate me because I’m theatrical.
*I have yet to attend this class, but I really want to take it after what I heard. Sounds like a super chilled-out Drama 102 (alas, only Vassar kids will get that reference)...like an exploration of creative expression.
**This class is required by my study abroad program. As part of the concentration, I will be enrolled in a section with a focus on – what? – theater.
Important: most of the “word of the day” posts I make here are slang terms, most of which are unique to Buenos Aires and the surrounding area. Definitely not for use in your next essay for Spanish class, and possibly offensive if used in the wrong way! But I do recommend integrating these words into your everyday friendly Spanglish conversations, using them can be re-divertido.
Word of the day: el lunfardo – n. The slang vocabulary of castellano rioplatense, i.e. Castilian Spanish of the Río del Plata area
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Taking a break from watching Freaky Friday dubbed into Spanish to note down some of my weekend experiences...
I went clothes shopping yesterday for the first time since arriving. Leti (my host sister) took me around the barrio and showed me all of the best places to buy clothes. I fell in love with one store, Takana, that sells clothes made by independent designers. I got two dresses and a skirt (todos muy lindos!) for 290 pesos total, which is less than 75 bucks (what WHAT). There are cheaper clothes here, too, but these are of excellent quality and exactly my style (I branched out a little bit – only two of these items are purple.)
Last night, Leti graciously took me out for a real noche porteña. She did my makeup for me (possibly more than I have ever worn off-stage) and helped me pick out my outfit. We left the house around 1 am (“Oh, it’s still early,” they all say), then met up with a couple of her friends, and made it to the boliche around 2 am. My first real boliche, says Leti – Sahara didn’t count! This one was definitely bigger and nicer, with a much bigger crowd, and everyone seemed to be in the 19 to 25 age group. √ +. The club is Club Araoz and the boliche is called “Lost/Shake” – Lost on Thursdays, Shake on Fridays. There’s a difference, don’t ask me what.
This night out was definitely very different from anything I’ve experienced in the States. Things that stood out:
1) Alcohol was not featured. People were drinking at the club, but I only saw a couple of people who were visibly drunk. In fact, no one I was with drank anything the entire night.
2) Men approach women assertively.* Vassarians, I know this happens at the Mug, too, but boliches foster a whole new breed of creepiness. There will constantly be a creeper standing by watching a group of girls, and a guy will grab a girl’s hand/waist/hips to start dancing and protest fiercely when she politely declines (usually she’ll say she has a boyfriend, even if this isn’t true). Not exactly my cup of tea, but the girls here are used to it – they laughed at how I disconcerted I looked as I observed these situations.
3) They danced ALL NIGHT. 2 am to 7 am. No sitting around drinking and talking, no late-night meal, no changing location. Just dancing. I cannot comprehend their stamina.
All in all, it was a fun night, with a healthy dose of culture shock. I don’t think I’ll be revisiting the boliche scene in a hardcore fashion anytime soon, but I’m glad I had the experience. Leti’s friends were also nice enough to teach me some actual dance steps to add to my usual endearingly (?) awkward routine.
Tonight, I’ll be out with the Americans! Tomorrow, I have readings to do, but I might also get to go to the theater again! I’m also expecting an overseas call from the ’rents tomorrow morning, they’re in Finland right now (our first time in completely opposite hemispheres!) They can take this blog shout-out as proof that I’m excited to talk to them!
As always, thanks for reading!
Les mando besos y abrazos :)
Word of the day: fiaca - n. Laziness.
Coming soon: Photos of classes and new clothes :) Watch me learn to juggle in style.
*Hey, do you like my asterisks?**
**Sorry. Continuing. Men approach women assertively...This is generally true in this city. Men (not all of them, obviously) call out to women on the street as they pass by (this is called piropo). Gwen and I even had someone whinny at us the other day. (I didn’t know that human vocal chords could produce such a very equine*** sound)
***I love the words equine, bovine, ovine, ursine, etc. I learned them through taking a Sporcle quiz. I don't often get the chance to use them. Forgive me.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Last night, I got my first true taste of Buenos Aires theater! IFSA paid for a group of students to go see Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" (in Spanish, of course!) at the Teatro Apolo. I LOVED IT!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Believe it or not, I am here to do more than go to boliches and hang out with cats! This is the first week of classes, and so far it has been AMAZING.
I am participating in IFSA’s new theater concentration, which means that my schedule of classes is designed to give me an in-depth look at theater in Buenos Aires, and to help me continue my studies in acting and directing. I’ll be taking two classes at the School of Dramatic Arts at Universidad del Salvador, a small private university in the city; observing an USal class; attending a seminar; and participating in a workshop where I can put what I’m learning into practice. In addition, I’ll have Spanish class once a week at IFSA. A full program! There is only one other student, doing the concentration with me, which is actually ideal because it means I won’t be alone but I also won’t have tons of Americans in my classes, thus making it easier to get to know my Argentine classmates. Robyn is the other IFSA student, she’ll probably come up quite a bit in posts about classes as we venture forth together into the sea of Argentine drama kids.
Sitting outside of the School of Dramatic Arts, I could tell I was in the right place for me. Crowds of students with loud voices and colorful clothes stood around talking and laughing together, waiting for classes to begin. My people!
My first class was Voz y Canto (voice and song) with the third-year students (mostly 20- and 21-year-olds). Right away, I was taken aback by the tiny class size (I counted ten students) and the laid-back environment – lots of joking and chatting throughout class. When the professor explained what they would be working on this term, right away the students protested and suggested different options. The Vassar theater department is quite friendly, but this level of openness definitely gave me a culture shock.
I took my first theatrical risk of the semester by taking a turn at reading a monologue in front of the class. It was from Romeo and Juliet, so I knew the scene, but it was of course in Spanish – ye olde Spanish. Quite difficult! I stumbled quite a bit but the class applauded my efforts. I need to memorize it for next week! I am excited to see how I improve week to week over the course of the semester.
The people in the class were really nice. I ended up talking with a couple of the girls afterward, and they said that if I had any questions about drama stuff in the area I should feel free to ask them.
Yesterday, I attended Destreza y Malabares, which is a class on gymnastics and juggling for actors! It is taught at the oldest circus school in the country (the second oldest in all of the Americas) by a man whose family has been in the circus business since the 1800s. Wow! The students in this class are also from USal, and they have been in the class since March, thus being able to do all sorts of crazy circus stunts. It was quite a shock walking in and seeing them hula-hooping, juggling balls and rings, and doing flips in a seemingly anarchical manner. Once again, a very informal environment! I wasn’t wearing proper clothing, so Robyn and I just practiced juggling two balls for a while before she went off to learn other tricks and I was adopted into conversation by a group of students. I think I surprised them with both my relatively good Spanish and my lack of knowledge about NYC. They gave me some tips as to what boliches to go to (once again: NOT SAHARA!). They seem like a really fun group of people, I hope to get to know them better in the weeks to come.
This afternoon, I will attend my first academic class, about contemporary theater in Buenos Aires. The professor is supposed to be extremely good and knowledgeable. I’m excited! Going with the same theme, I’m going to see a professional production of All My Sons tonight, but in Spanish (Todos Eran Mis Hijos – “They All Were My Sons” - huh), sponsored by IFSA. It’ll be the first play I see here. I’ll write a review tomorrow!
Next week, I’ll take my camera to class with me. I didn’t want to be that freak exchange student taking pictures of chairs and stuff, but now they know me, so I think it’ll be okay.
Thanks for reading! Keep those comments coming, I miss you all more than you know.
Word of the day: el quilombo - n. A chaotic mess.
This past weekend, I made my first attempt at going out like a true porteña. At Vassar, I’m used to nightlife that extends from about 10 pm to 4 am at the latest. Here, it’s not uncommon for people my age to go out around midnight and stay out until at least 6 or 7 the next morning, sometimes later. And since dorms are non-existent here, and most university students live at home with their parents, going out is entirely city-centered, rather than campus- or apartment-centered.
Friday night, I met up with some amigas (I’m gonna be an a-hole and italicize – “Hey! Look! A foreign word you couldn’t possibly know!”) at a bar in Palermo So-Ho* around midnight, and it was pretty clear that most people there were either fellow Americans or were just finishing with dinner. After some electric lemonades, we took a cab to a gay bar in Recoleta that had a 30-peso entrance fee (about $8 US) for an open bar. It was a cute place, with disco balls hanging from the ceiling and pictures of Hollywood starlets on the walls. They were projecting a bizarre film that looked like it was from “America’s Funniest Home Videos” on the back wall. Nothing like dancing to Lady Gaga with a bright pink drink in your hand while watching clip after clip of people passing out at weddings. Seriously, it was a fun time!
After a couple of hours at the gay bar, we got a little depressed by the (surprise!) lack of straight boys, and decided to go someplace a little more hetero. We took another short cab ride to a boliche called Sahara. DO NOT GO TO THAT PLACE!! The first floor contained the 40+ crowd, while upstairs was full of what looked like 15-year-olds. One boy told me he was 20, and when I didn’t believe him, he took out his passport to prove it. Odd.
I left feeling a tad disappointed, thinking that all boliches would be like this. Later, I told my host sister the story of the night, and she practically exploded laughing when I told her we went to Sahara. She said it is the worst of the worst. I was relieved to know that there was hope for me yet in the boliche world!
Saturday night yielded no further boliche experiences, but I did get to eat some amazing Peruvian food in celebration of Veronica’s birthday. Afterward we went out to Plaza Serrano in Palermo So-Ho. We ran into tons of Americans from our program and hung out ‘til around four (i.e. we turned in early).
Sadly, I have no pictures to go with these stories, as I didn’t want to lug my camera around, but other people were taking pictures, so who knows what gems might pop up later on facebook...I’ll post them here if there are any good ones.
The “’burbs” part of this entry is considerably shorter, but still important. Saturday morning, I headed out to the suburbs to visit family friends. They are from the city but are currently staying in a gated community while their house is being renovated. I was extremely tired, which further stunted my Spanish, but it was a lovely day nonetheless. It was great to finally meet them after such a long time. They are a great bunch! They also fed me some of the best food I have ever tasted. As souvenirs, I brought an uglydoll for each member of the family. Up next are some snapshots from the trip.
*The city is divided into barrios, and Palermo is further divided into parts, including Palermo Hollywood and Palermo So-Ho