Despite some bumps in the road to Argentina, I am here and absolutely loving it. There is so much that I have to talk about so i will try to keep it short because I know if it's too long no one will have the time or energy to read it in one sitting. For that reason, I am going to talk about my home stay and what I have learned in just a few short days.
When we arrived at the school, (think city college inside of a mall with five classrooms) we were met by the families that we would be staying with. My numbers aren't exact but out of 24 students in the program, 14 are doing a home stay while the other 9 are living in apartment suites near the school. It had already been a hectic day so when I was introduced to my mother, and the Argentine custom of a kiss on the cheek, I don't think I had any idea of what was being said to or about me. After a quick taxi ride from the school (15 minutes) filled with vast explanations of buildings that we passed, that were entirely in Spanish (To get a good picture think of someone talking Spanish and my response every time she paused being, "Ah si, si". That was pretty much my taxi ride) we arrived at her house and the start to my new adventure.
It would probably be worth noting that my senora (house mother) does not speak any English, absolutely none. The reasons I picked the Argentina program was because I don't know Spanish but I needed a foreign language requirement. Needless to say lunch was a very, well, interesting conversation. It consisted a lot of me saying, "Como?" and her saying a lot of Spanish that I still have no idea what she said. For example, during the tour of the apartment she was showing me around and, from what I assume, telling me things that are very important like "don't do this", "always do that", and "whatever happens make sure you don't..." to which my reply eveytime was, "Si". Anyways we were doing the tour and she brought me to the bathroom. I think it's reasonable that even on a tour it isn't human nature to follow that person into the bathroom because it's something you just don't do. Well I was wrong because apparently she wanted to show me the shower, where the towels were etc... but I kept walking away, only to follow a little bit, and then walk away again. I of course felt pretty stupid that I couldn't figure out she was showing me the bathroom but after that any feelings of pride in my country and nationality were erased. After the tour and a quick nap I walked around the apartment so that I could see what was near me. I was blown away by how beautiful the was!!! I saw more parks and plazas than gas stations, more people outside running and walking than in cars, and more patios and balconies than garages. Que marveloso!!!
That pretty much sums up my first day but there has been so much more to a home stay. Because of the home stay selection, there are two meals prepared daily for you that are usually breakfast and dinner. My host mother always asks what time I would like dinner and is very gracious. Our conversations at dinner are still mostly her saying things that are probably profound and my contributions of, "Me encantan queso y gatos". I'm sure I will have something to contribute once I figure out my Spanish class (whole other entry) but for now we are both content to eat and drink on her patio with a panoramic view of the city (I can see a really cool river from my house! It might even be more of an environmental biohazard than the Susquehanna River). Doing a home stay is definitely the way to go and I've only been here 3 days. It might be a little subjective to say but I have the best senora anyone could want. Perhaps the most important phrase you can learn when doing a home stay if "The food is very good but if I eat anymore my stomach will explode" (Just say, "Me encanta la comida pero no mas por favor. Es muy rico)More to come on impressions from the first week and stories of cell phones, birthdays, and metro buses.