Saturday, May 30, 2009


All of a sudden it is very much fall/winter here. All of a sudden I am putting on the same clothing I put on in November, and it feels strange. The mornings are cold, and the sky is clear and even if it is sunny and a little warm when you're not in the shade, it smells like winter. "Winter" is a relative term, because everywhere experiences it so differently. I keep waiting for something, for my concept of "winter" to arrive, but I think it is more or less here. I like it.

Lately, things have become real. This isn't just an experiment, this is life. Instead of just having new, exciting experiences, I am having everyday, common life experiences that everybody has, only they are happening in a new, foreign place. I like this. I am nervous and stressed out about school, I am comfortable in my house, I do laundry and the dishes. I have a schedule, and people that I am infatuated with from afar at the facultad that I run into randomly on a daily basis. Sometimes I don't go to class, I recognize the ticket workers in the subte and the tellers at the bank because I go there so often. These are all daily things I experience at home, at Bryn Mawr. It's a nice feeling.

I have fallen in love with anthropology here, specifically anthropological theory applied to art and its place in culture. My main class, Sociología y Antropología del Arte is brilliant, and so complex that it may be the end of me. Cross your fingers for my huge in-class "parcial" (midterm) on Tuesday. But that aside, it is so interesting to take any sort of anthropology class when you are living in a foreign country, because you are essentially assuming the role of anthropologist. Every moment, every interaction, is fodder for my new anthropological lens.

There are moments when I love Universidad de Buenos Aires, and moments when I don't. UBA is the type of place where if something isn't nailed down, it doesn't stay in place. There are moments when I feel like I belong, and moments when I feel like I cannot handle the disorganization. Preparing for this exam has been an interesting process. I have listened to my classmates try to figure out what is on the half of the exam taken from our optional lectures without success, and realized that everybody else is reading even less than I am. I often find out information about our assignments and readings from the large, gruff, moustached woman who works at the fotocopiadora where we buy our texts. I think she knows more about this course than any of our many professors.

Our four hour lectures are often interrupted multiple times by children begging for coins or adult men who bravely stand in front of us, a group made up of impressionable 20-somethings as well as older men and mostly women finally able to conquer academia in the autumn of their lives. Last Thursday it was a man with throat cancer, standing up in front of the class apologizing for humiliating himself. He was dressed in nice clothing, a sweater vest, glasses. Next was a nervous, twitchy man who had a severe stutter and essentially told us that he had escaped from a mental institution for one day to solicit our help. I looked around at my classmates. Everybody looked so guilty. Such a different experience than I have had at Bryn Mawr, obviously. Here the facultad is public space. There is no lock, there is no doorman. Homeless children play soccer and spend their entire days inside.

Back to studying. Taking this test is going to be like going into battle.

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