If you’re looking for pictures, there won’t be any today. It was wayyy too crazy. Today started with an early wake up and breakfast before my host mom traveled with my by bus for the first site of our orientation. I tried to pay attention to where we were going, but it was hard. Orientation was not too bad, all of the IFSA staff are really really wonderful. On a break my friend Alexis and I tried to find a place to change money, and though I asked a man in a store, we had no idea where we were so it was no good. Then more orientation just about Argentina and all it has to offer and things we should do and things we shouldn’t.
Then at lunch some friends and I decided we would find converters, change money, get phones and eat lunch all in an hour and forty five minutes. The line for the phones was too long, but we got everything else done. The program can’t tell us where to get money on what they call the “blue market” because technically it’s illegal. But when I got home tonight and told my host mom I changed my money at the bank, she was disappointed ahhaa. At the bank you get eight pesos for the dollar but at “casas de cambio” or “cuevas” you get around 12 pesos for the dollar, which is a huge difference. But we had a nice (but super quick) lunch where I felt okay talking with the waitress and she seemed pleased that she could understand me. We were also reminded at the restaurant that the concept of water is not the same here as in the U.S. Ordering water does not mean it’s free. My sandwich cost 35 pesos and my glass bottle of water (it was pretty big) cost 26 pesos. That’s like over three American dollars for a water. Crazy! But then again my sandwich only cost about 4 American dollars which is really cheap.
We returned for more orientation about safety which was pretty scary but now we know what to look out for. At our next hour break my new friend Aileen and I booked it to the Movistar phone store. There after some waiting, I was helped by a woman who spoke very rapid Spanish. I explained that I had an American SIM card in my Iphone 5c and that I needed a Movistar one. Then she spoke to me faster than anyone probably has before. When I asked her to speak slower she literally responded at the same rapid pace. Somehow I managed to pay for this SIM card (thank god I understood it needed to be in cash) and got her to install it. But then she gave me instructions that I didn’t really understand but I was like okay whatever I think I get it. Then I sat down next to this woman to wait for my friend and the woman asked me, in Spanish, where I was from and I told her the United States and then in English she said to me “There is no way you understood what she just said! I didn’t understand it! That’s so crazy. And rude. Do you need help?” Which I quickly said yes too and she explained everything to me. She was super sweet and wished me good luck as we left. I finally felt good about something, I had fixed my phone! Now when I got lost getting home by myself, my host mom assured me I would, I could at least give her a ring.
Back to orientation we went for a final session where we practiced more Spanish and then learned how to use the guides and maps for the buses and the subway. All day we were spoken to in Spanish except for when the Director wanted to make sure we understood what he was saying because it was very important. I’m still very confused why the part about getting home was not in English, but oh well.
Then they sent us on our merry way to get home. The program ended at six thirty, I didn’t get home until 7:30, almost eight. Oops. My host mom was right, I got lost. Sadly right away too hahaha but after a bit I found my way on my own again and then finally found the stop for the bus I needed to take. The bus system here is strange because they never tell you where you are, you just have to push a button to get off. Also you can pay with a tap card like in the D.C. Metro (I don’t have one of those yet) or coins. The bus driver charges you based on where you tell him you’re going. Somehow I never paid for this trip. Probably because I was overwhelmed. Then I was sure I was on the wrong bus and I was freaking out but then I saw the street Salguero and I got off. I thought I was really wrong for a little and it started to rain a little too but then I found the Starbucks we had passed that morning and moments later I was ringing up to my host mother to let me in. Cue me being quite proud of myself for still being alive.
After catching up about my day and correcting my Spanish, my host mom had me practice with the keys and also showed me where to run to if a man followed me into the building (AH!). Then we had a dinner that was pretty much like corn pudding but different (it was soooo good). She made me take seconds because she says I eat too little hahhahaha. Then we had flan for desert. And I drank lots and lots of water. It’s so hot here! Plus my feet weren’t ready for sandals yet and they hurt haha oh well sneakers tomorrow I guess. I’m spending my evening making detailed maps for myself and getting ready for my placement test tomorrow! Fun fun stuff.
A stressful but very rewarding day I would say!