Chimmies

Argentina has come to Fitchburg, WI. Recently, an argentine sandwich shop named Chimmies opened near my house. The menu isn’t extensive, but my parents were both quite pleased with their sandwiches; I stuck with the humita empanada (corn). The filling was quite different from the humita empanadas from good old Lo de Fercha, but it was still very tasty. They seemed to be fried, but were not the least bit greasy, and were nice and crunchy. Overall, definitely a place to visit again!

Empanadas (humita and beef)!

Empanadas (humita and beef)!

– Maddy

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San Antonio vs. Seattle

It came and went far too quickly, but we DID have another SIBling reunion in Seattle, just like we told you we would. Robby did a pretty great wrap-up of our weekend with a social media collage, of sorts. Since THAT exists, and our Argentina vs. Chile comparison post is one of our most popular, I thought I’d do a comparison of cities.

WARNING: I absolutely loved Seattle and could easily see myself living there, and on the flip side, I’m not a huge fan of San Antonio. Meaning, I’ll try to make this a pretty neutral comparison, but there may be some (glaringly obvious) bias. Woo, here we go!

THE NATIVE PERSONALITY

San Antonio: country, to the point of being a little redneck

Seattle: as hipster as a coffee shop in an Apple store

The easiest way to notice this would be the bar scene, I’d say. Places I’ve gone out to in San Antonio include Cowboys Dancehall, Wild West, and Thirsty Horse Saloon. There’s also this gem right down the road from my apartment…

Back Camera

They have bike night every Wednesday.

When I got to Seattle, though, Robby was waiting with a bottle of locally grown and bottled wine.

This is a true friend.

This is a true friend.

And then we walked about a block and a half up from his street to the Eastlake Zoo Tavern, which looked like a cleaner and less shadowy frat house basement that got thrown into an old barn and was full of flannel-and-beanie-clad young folks playing pool.

I tried to blend in.

I tried to blend in.

That may not sound appealing, but I assure you it was charming and delightful.

The Zoo

The Zoo

Local craft beer, of course!

Local craft beer, of course!

WHERE’S THE WATER AT?

San Antonio: the Riverwalk and not anywhere else super close, since it’s the desert.

Admittedly, it's pretty cute.

Admittedly, it’s pretty cute.

Seattle: literally, everywhere

I mean... SEAPLANES?!

I mean… SEAPLANES?!

Beach time

Beach time

An Abi Original

An Abi Original

NOMS

San Antonio: south of the border and/or as big as possible

All Mexican all the time!

All Mexican all the time!

Food as big as your face!

Food as big as your face!

BONUS: There are many margs to be had.

BONUS: There are many margs to be had.

Seattle: fresh, local, sustainable, VEG-FRIENDLY

So fresh, it's still alive.

So fresh, it’s still alive.

Molly Moon's! My sophomore roommate worked there!

Molly Moon’s! My sophomore year roommate worked there, so we *had* to.

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Truth is, as much as I adore Mexican food, one can only have so many greasy cheese-only enchiladas in a city that doesn’t understand why you wouldn’t want a huge bloody chunk of cow on your plate. Seattle was all about local sourcing, which I’m all for, and I don’t remember seeing anywhere that DIDN’T have a pretty decent vegetarian option on the menu. Sign me up.

ACTIVITIES

San Antonio: two-stepping, walking around malls, and floating on the river

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Seattle: biking (EVERYWHERE), walking (everywhere you can’t bike), paddle boarding, wind surfing, [insert various other water sports, etc.]

Pike's Place strollin'

Pike’s Place strollin’

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Follow the leader... up a mountain of stairs

Follow the leader… up a mountain of stairs

And I wonder why I’m not getting in any better shape here…

THE TOWERS

San Antonio: Tower of the Americas

tower-of-the-americas

Seattle: the Space Needle

space-needle-seattle

Surprise Fact: The Tower of the Americas wins the heigh contest by just 17 feet.

POLITICAL VIEWSnothing too taboo for this blog!

San Antonio: Texas, as a whole, is super-de-duper conservative, minus the liberal bubble that is Austin. One of the hot button issues that’s been ongoing since I’ve moved here is Planned Parenthood vs. a restrictive Texas abortion law, which you can read the updates on, if you so please. Spoiler: women’s rights are not the current victor.

Seattle: Same-sex marriage has been legal for almost a full year in Washington state, as has recreational use of marijuana. There are, of course, tons of other issues to be considered, but you can draw a general conclusion from that one statement.

Found in Seattle's Urban Outfitters - I rest my case.

Found in Seattle’s Urban Outfitters – I rest my case.

THE ‘HOOD

San Antonio: The city is a huge circle with few ways to distinguish sectors; usually it’s done with cardinal directions (i.e. I live in northwest San Antonio). Everything runs together and, besides Downtown, looks like a continuous strip mall.

Seattle: Like Pittsburgh, Seattle has very distinct neighborhoods with their own personalities, essentially making a bunch of mini-cities under the Seattle umbrella. Robby lives in Eastlake, which has its own bars (as you saw), restaurants, markets, shops, and office spaces. You could easily survive without leaving the few-mile radius of your neighborhood, but each area is so unique, why would you want to miss that?

There’s a lot more I could cover, like sports teams and history and nearby attractions, but I think I’ve rambled enough.

From that circular narrative, I hope you could see that we had a grand ol’ time in Seattle! It was nice to remember what seasons feel like, and Seattle’s honestly like the Pittsburgh of the West. I needed some quirkiness back in my life.

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This wasn’t really supposed to be a Battle of the Cities, but I guess I can’t help myself. I’m sure you can tell I have my eyes looking beyond the Alamo. Even so, I have at least a year left in San Antone, so I’ll be trying to make the most of it and find some nifty little pockets to show you!

– Alexa

Two-Year Anniversary

Our blog provider just told me that today is our two-year anniversary since registering this blog. Can you believe that? Time flies! Really, though.

Two years ago, the three of us were sitting in our respective hometowns counting down the days (We had exactly a month left, I recall.) until we would get on a plane to Buenos Aires and not look back… Well, not for 5-6 months, at least. Now, we’re all in very different places of our lives.

Two years ago, when you logged on to this site, the page was blank but for the sky blue and white background – reminiscent of the Argentine flag and the ambiguous open potential of what we were about to encounter. Now, you can scroll through every detail of our trip, every milestone that came after, and other bits and pieces that make up the last two years.

I meant to write one of those “New Year, New Me”-type posts because I think it’s a refreshing thing to do, but seeing the little Happy Anniversary! notification when I logged on brought all of these other words to the surface.

For now, I want to dig up this gem to let it see the light of day again after these two years.

blah blah blah

One week until Argentina!

See that excitement?! That’s how I want to feel about the next year coming up. I think I’m starting to get there.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck around for this long and to those of you who have jumped on for the ride. We’ll try to keep things interesting. 😉

– Alexa

After the Return Flight

My absolute favorite part about study abroad aftermath (ok, sometimes there’s not a lot to be happy about after you leave, but I’m serious about this one) is that you come back with a whole new set of American friends! That’s not a very me-like thing to say, but I continually appreciate the people I met abroad who I still get to hang out with once in a while. We make weird comparisons between the U.S. and whatever country we both lived in, they’ll speak Spanglish with me, they’ll get nostalgic and plot escape plans to Patagonia… the list goes on.

Besides having these people strategically stationed throughout the U.S. to give us a great reason to travel domestically, Abi, Maddy, and I are lucky enough to have some American study abroad buds close by when we need a dose of Argentina. I ran into some pictures that we took when our friend Tori came to visit before Halloween that we never put up!

Costume shopping - Unfortunately neither of us bought what we tried on.

Unfortunately neither of us bought what we tried on.

Playing at the fancy Apple Store

Playing at the fancy Apple Store

Getting lost, coloring on tables... you know, doing adult things

Getting lost in game stores, coloring on tables… you know, doing adult things

We love seeing Tori whenever she can drop by. Merritt’s extra close, too!

Just a neighborhood over!

Just a neighborhood over!

We miss our other fellow Buenos Aires wanderers, but I’m sure we’ll manage to have a reunion one of these days when we pay back our college loans (that we most likely used on plane tickets and souvenirs).

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So, ladies, when are we heading back?

So, ladies, when are we heading back?

– Alexa

Sand of the World

Hey everyone! Sorry for being MIA recently… I’ve had a crazy busy summer, but I finally was able to get around to this little project of mine that I began a few years ago when we went to Chile.

The sand pictured is from Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina, but I hope to continue sneaking sand back into the country after all my future travels as well!

-Abi

(p.s. the cute little jars are from IKEA!)

MVM: One Look Back

Looks like I’ll have to refer back to Music Video Martes since being home has kept me running around for these first few days, at least. Sorry for leaving you with a music-less Monday! I know, it’s a crime!

I wanted to throw in one last super Spanish band for good time’s sake. At my last day at work, I heard this song playing. The beat was kind of catchy, but then when I listened, I realized it was talking about a one-night stand. I could probably do better than to compare my time in Spain to a one-night stand, but when I think about it, it’s mostly accurate. Madrid didn’t make me fall completely in love with it like Buenos Aires did, but we definitely had a good time together and are now going our separate ways. I’ll let La Guardia explain it for you.

Warning: This song’s from 1990, so the video is amusingly terrible. 🙂

Do you feel like you ever form a certain “relationship” with different countries when you’re traveling?

– Alexa

Culture Shock

You know that class I said we were in? Well, it continues to be very interesting and has led me to another blog-able gem: culture shock!

Culture shock affects everyone differently, but pretty much everyone experiences it in some way while living abroad. I know it hit me hard around this time last year – about 2 months into our trip. I got pretty sick for a few days, and that seemed to amplify my hatred of Argentina. I even wrote an entire journal entry about everything I hated about Argentina, which detailed my frustration for not completely understanding the language to how the amount in my bank account was a seemingly never-ending downward spiral. Of course, I got over this after a few days, but those few days were pretty rough. I thought that I was the only one feeling these things, but I didn’t know that it affects everyone!

Anyways, back to our Organizational Behavior class. We read a chapter about culture shock and this graph really spoke to me and allowed me to really understand just how universal culture shock is:

The graph essentially shows a 1 to 2 month “honeymoon” period (a.k.a. the BEST TIME EVER!), followed by that period of not-so-happy times, and then it all levels out again, you come to terms with the new culture, and you feel more comfortable. (I think most of us would agree that this graph is a pretty accurate depiction of culture shock.)

Like I said before, thankfully these hard feelings for Argentina passed and I was able to love my time there again! I think the main thing that helped me get out of my funk (other than just plain old time) was getting out of the city and being distracted by new and exciting things.

Lucky for me, my favorite weekend of our entire trip happened right after!

Sadly, that honeymoon period doesn’t last forever, but I just wanted to put my two cents in and remind anyone who is feeling this that it does get better. You’ll go home eventually and reminisce of all the awesome times you had abroad, and you’ll think those homesick feelings were ridiculous (because – let’s be honest – life at home is rarely as exciting as living in a foreign country!)

Any thoughts?

-Abi

*Graph taken from International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior by Nancy J. Adler with Allison Gundersen.

Studying Abroad in Buenos Aires: What You You You Oughta Know

After living in Buenos Aires for 5+ months, I’d say we know our way around studying abroad there…sort of.

Here’s some of the tips, tricks, and things we wish we had known before our journey to Argentina!

1. Money! Cash is used pretty much everywhere in Buenos Aires, and it can sometimes be a hassle (see #5). I went equipped with a credit card and debit card, but I don’t think I used my credit card even once. For everyday money, I (and I believe Alexa and Maddy did this, too) would just get a couple hundred pesos out every few weeks and pay the $3 USD transaction fee each time. A friend of ours used Western Union to get extra money transferred from the States, and she had a few problems and it just seemed like a huge hassle, so I wouldn’t recommend going with that route.

2. Visas. Ohh, Visas. We had to pay about $140 USD when entering Argentina for a 3-month tourist visa. Customs officers will put a sticker in your passport and then if you enter Argentina anytime in the next 10 years you won’t have to pay that $140 USD. If you need the tourist visa for a little longer, you can just leave the country (head over to Uruguay for the day!) and once you get back to Argentina, you will then have a 3-month tourist visa from that date.

In order for us to get our transcripts sent back to the US, we had to get student visas (which is a whole ‘nother story). CEA held our hands through the process but one thing that went wrong at the end of our trip was that we didn’t know we had to pick up the official copy of the student visa, and we needed to present that copy to leave the country on our way home. One of our friends didn’t have that copy at the airport and had to run frantically around the airport (almost missing her flight home) and had to pay for a whole new student visa. Luckily, our friend warned us about this so we were able to get our official copies before we flew home, but make sure that doesn’t happen to you!

3. Ignore online packing lists. We were told that porteños had an impeccable sense of fashion, which is true, but you aren’t a porteño. Bring some workout clothes (whether or not they are fashionable) if you think you are going to want to go for a run through the beautiful neighborhoods or join a gym. I remember reading, while researching my trip, that porteños don’t really wear shorts. I’m extremely glad I ignored that little detail and packed all my shorts. The second you open your mouth, they are going to know you aren’t from Argentina, so just put aside all those worries about fitting in and just pack what you know you will be comfortable in!

4. Take as many classes in Spanish as possible. You aren’t going to Argentina to learn English! We had the option of taking our courses in Spanish or English at the University of Belgrano and I think choosing all Spanish courses was definitely one of the most beneficial parts of improving our language skills. My listening comprehension skills have increased tenfold after hearing Spanish lectures for an entire semester!

5. Don’t pay for your cab with a $100 peso bill – even if they say it’s ok. It’s kind of a funny story. Well, not really funny. I mean, as funny as someone getting pepper sprayed can be. Yeah, now you’re intrigued! Here’s the rundown: Girl. 21st birthday. Goes out in Buenos Aires. On her way home, hails a cab. Gets in cab and tells the cabbie she only has a $100 peso bill. Cabbie says “Sure, come on in.” Takes girl home. Girl gives him bill. He refuses to take it. Gets angry. Verbal argument in drunken Spanish. Cabbie won’t give her change, so girl gets out. Cabbie jumps out of car, PEPPER SPRAYS HER, and drives off.
What?! Seriously?! I can’t even…
So, moral of the story: always break bills BEFORE going out on the town. (The girl was fine, by the way!)

6. Learn the bus system. Taxis are expensive. Walking is nice, but its a big city. This site saved us. Learn and love, my friends.

7. Bring your own tampons. They are nowhere to be found in Buenos Aires, so bring enough for your whole trip! Or, if you’re like Alexa and care about the environment and don’t want to take up all of your bag space with girl products, try one of these. Supposedly they’re awesome.

8. Sad news: There is no close beach. Looking at a map you see that the city has a river on one whole side and you think “sweet, I’ll get to hang out at the beach alllll the time!” Nope. For our beach experiences, we had to travel 5 hours down the coast or to an entirely different country.

Beach NOT in Buenos Aires (its in Uruguay!)

9. Live close to an empanada place. You may not be able to control this one, but its great for many reasons. Empanadas are cheap, for one; they’re delicious; and you WILL miss them once you’re no longer in Buenos Aires.

10. Three words: Buenos Aires Delivery. We’ve mentioned this one many times before, but we almost lived off of this. And those empanadas from #9.

11. Hoard your coins. Seriously, don’t let anyone take your monedas! They are your most valuable possession if taking public transportation (buses don’t take bills.) You can always stop into a bank and exchange $10 or $15 pesos into monedas on your way to school!

Hopefully some of these tips will help make your trip just a little bit easier!

We are currently knee deep in finals, so writing this blog post was a nice little escape from the studying! Wish us luck!!

If you have any questions (seriously, any questions) please leave a comment or shoot us an email at itsaboutargentime@gmail.com!