So So SO sorry for the late post. Allow me to explain why I’m so late: I have been in Buenos Aires for the past two weeks! It has been absolutely crazy and I have been doing activity after activity after activity and haven’t had time to think let alone write a blog post. It’s no excuse I know (sorry Butler’s and CMC study abroad office!) but anyway, this post will be extra detailed and witty to make up for it. Ok, topics of this blog: coming to BA, host family situation, the city, and school visits.
The first week is almost a blur to me now, but the important things to note are the funny situation with my host family. So all of the girls on my program (16 in total) lived in pairs on this trip because the program couldn’t find 16 separate host families for such a short amount of time. My roommate and I were all set to meet our host parents when a thirty year old man named Julian comes to pick us up. Apparently there had been a problem with our real host parents, parents health and they needed to travel to see them and were supposed to be back in a couple of days (which turned into a week and a half). The program didn’t know about this and were a little bit concerned about two twenty year old girls living with only a thirty year old man… but no matter, we went home with Julian and even though we were nervous at first he was really really helpful and attentive (maybe even a little clingy, he texted us like 7 times a day to make sure we were ok) and there was a woman and her husband that help out around the house that lived there as well. I actually could not have asked for a better situation, because I had 5 host parents instead of two (as “cursi” or cheesy as that sounds).
Next order of business: the city itself. BA is beautiful, in fact, as soon as we came here almost everyone on our program was regretting choosing Santiago as their study abroad destination (that enthusiasm for BA has faded as the romantic image of BA has faded with time). Personally, I love BA but this trip has only reaffirmed me in my choice of Santiago. BA is very European, there a coffee shops everywhere, almost everyone speaks fluent english, the architecture is beautiful etc. And I love it for that, but I know that there is a reason I choose to study abroad in South America, and I am glad that I am getting a truly South American experience in Santiago. There is one thing about BA, however, that I do not like in the slightest. Allow me to rant for a moment about the BA public transit system. IT MAKES NO SENSE. The subte (which is their version of the subway) has only 6 lines (for a city of BLANK people) with ONLY 2 INTERSECTING LINES. And all of the lines meet up at Plaza de Mayo which is in the far east corner of the city, so if you live in the far west corner of the city like I do, it is a HUGE hassle to get anywhere in the middle. The buses also make no sense and I don’t think I will ever truly understand them. Anyway, public transit rant over, let me tell you about what we’ve been doing with the program.
The main thing is school visits. We have been to 6 different schools here with different focuses and they have all been incredible. We visited a public school where I sat in a civics class and the lesson was about discrimination and was SO relevant to the students lives. That same school had a high number of teen moms, so they installed a nursery with information and resources for the mothers. They also allowed the mothers a flexible schedule so that they could visit their children in the nursery during the day anytime they needed to. The results of these programs were incredible. The students all raved about their school and it was clear that the school was not just a place where the kids came during the day and sat through some classes that they hated, but rather a staple institution of the community where kids felt safe and comfortable. And because of this comfortable environment, the incidence of dropouts was much lower than at other schools. This school was definitely my favorite to visit but every school we visited had so many resources available for the students and fostered such an atmosphere of community. It was actually a little hard for me to understand how this system could exist. I asked if their taxes were much much higher, because I figured that was the only way it was possible, but everyone told me this was not the case, Argentines just really care about education so their government spends more of its GDP on education.
All in all, BA has been great, but I am definitely excited to return to Santiago, which is a great feeling, because I know that I am comfortable and feel at home there.