Friday, March 19, 2010

it's about time!


It's been quite a while since I last posted!

Things have been, well, the past two weeks have definitely been quite a transition, to say the least.

And so, my lovely 4 weeks of intensive Spanish classes came to an end. I said goodbye to the Belgrano neighborhood, goodbye to my wonderful host madre, Maria Cristina, goodbye to our cat named Gato, goodbye to her 29-year-old son Juany, and of course goodbye to Juampy, the little tortuga...(yes the turtle's name was similar to her son's name...and her older, married son's name was Juan Martin ---lots of Juan's in that house!),

On Sunday midday I called up my new host family, una senora named Paula, to find out what time I could go over to her house. I dialed, connected and said,`Hola Paula, es Eliana Bronstein, el estudiante de los Estados Unidos, en el programma de IES, que vivirá contigo...´ (Hi Paula, this is Eliana Bronstein, the student from the U.S. , on the IES program, who will be living with you...)
A softspoken, quiet voice answered, `Hola, *pause* pause* - ¿Eliana?, ¿vos no es Sarah Bronstein?´ (Eliana?? you're not, Sarah Bronstein? )

Basically, what was clarified later, was that the housing coordinator on my program had told her that my first name was Sarah, not Eliana! ( This was my first encounter with the disorganized nature of my study abroad program! )

One taxi ride later, I arrived at my current homestay in the heart of Recoleta, an upscale ritzy neighborhood. The building I live in has a beautiful lobby, and the actual apartment is a nice size, though she is an older woman and the house was relatively dusty at first sight. She led me to my room which was a much larger bedroom than the first two places I stayed, with two small beds, a desk, a large closet, even enough floor space for me to do some stretches in the morning!

Then she showed me the bathroom, where I could put my toiletries, next to some other toiletries - which belong to the other student that lives here, Paola explained, Lauren is also from the U.S....
About a half hour later, at about 1 in the afternoon, out walked sleepy-eyed Lauren, (also from NJ) who was living in the same homestay as me!
Though I had not been told there would be another American student living with me (and soon found out that it's not allowed on my program), I was actually not so surprised. I had met two other friends who both requested a Jewish/kosher family and were placed in the same homestay since there are not a plethora of those types of special requests for a host I was not taken aback to see Lauren there (who I very soon learned came from a Conservative Jewish background). Though Lauren is generally more outgoing and talkative than I am, we got along really well right off the bat!

Since then, I had a tiring and boring orientation for my study abroad program, met some wacky / some fantastic other students, came down with a silly cold and cough, and met some wonderful new families in the Jewish community and in the broader Argentine community as well.

I also had a rough patch adjusting to my new homestay (though lots of things have been great, I've finally vocalized the underlying feelings I've had for the past two weeks - of not feeling as comfortable here as I could/should - and so I am currently on the search for a new host family.)

This past week I finally started classes and have the weekend to do some serious introspection and figure out which classes I want to take!

Tonight, I just came back from from an event at the local Moishe House - which is a gathering space for young Jews in their 20s and 30s to create a community within the larger Jewish community. There are Moishe Houses in about 20 cities around the U.S. and in about 10 international cities...Buenos Aires being one of them! I tried my best to listen a very long speech about Pesach, given by some Rabbi (in Castellano, of course - which required extra attention). Afterward, I met a few of the local Argentines and even met one guy here on a visit from Uruguay who was very excited to help me arrange Shabbat plans when I travel there!

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to tomorrow night - I plan to go to a free sushi dinner at the Chabad house in Palermo!

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