I arrived to Mendoza, Argentina on Saturday, Sept 27th with Lisa. We traveled for just about 24 hours! But we were happy to fly together. We ran into Naz, my other friend from the program, at the airport in Chile. The three of us and two other girls were all on the same flight from Santiago to Mendoza.
Upon arriving, it was lovely to see host families claim their host child. Also rather funny to watch since they know what we look like and we have no idea what to expect! The program coordinator dropped me off at my new home in downtown Mendoza. Nerea, my host sister, was the first to receive me. She is 21 years old and also studying Psychology. She has been an absolute sweetheart and has called me her “hermana” ever since I arrived. My host father, Norberto, is a famous artist in Mendoza, specifically known for his plastic art. Although he is not a man of many words, he is very loving and has made me feel welcome. I am the first international student that they host in their home.
My family is Catholic and we pray before meals. Also, I have learned that people here eat dinner LATE! For example around 10 or 10:30pm seems to be normal. “Mendocinos” as they are called, are also accustomed to taking a “siesta” or nap, after lunch. The first day I just laid in bed and played on my phone because I wasn’t use to being told time for bed in the middle of the day!
Sunday, Nerea organized for us to go to the Mendoza River with her friends. Her friend Bruno picked us up with his red monster truck and with 8 of us in the car we were off! It’s funny how 3 people in the front and 5 of us in the back was seen as no problem. Also drinking in the car (not the driver though) is no biggie. It was great to be with Spanish-speaking friends my age! Naz tagged along since she lives close and does not have host siblings. We met Mason, the only male in the program, at the river with his host brother, Francisco, and his friends. The two groups of youngsters got along great! We got to ride around the lake on the ATV or “quatrimoto” which was exhilarating. We also tried “mate” for the first time. From what I gather, friends tend to drink this herbal drink when out at the park, river, etc. I personally didn’t like it that much, but am open to trying it again.
Monday was orientation at Universidad de Cuyo. Nerea took Mason and I on the bus for the first time. The bus was PACKED and obviously Mason and I stuck out like sore thumbs since we were being taught where to get on and off. I also think our NorthFace backpacks gave us away. When we got to school, Mason noticed that his iPhone had been stolen out of his front pocket – What a bummer, but life goes on.
It was great to meet the other 17 people in the program. It was like an introductory meeting – We went over important things to know, the agendas for the different levels, and were given cell phones to make local calls. This was followed by a lovely dinging experience outside – accompanied by Mendoza wine of course! During lunch we were able to try lots of different types of meats such as vacio, morcilla, etc. Our families picked us up at the end of the day. In the evening, I went out to eat with Mason, Francisco and Lisa on Aristedes, a downtown area with bars and restaurants. It was lovely at night with all the lights. Francisco treated us to a typical drink here called “Fernet”. It’s served with a bottle of Coca Cola and the suggestion is 30% Fernet and 70% soda. The three of us really liked it upon our first time trying it!
Today was my first day of school. I really liked both of my professors: Profesor Lazzara and Profesora Guillermina. I have school 9am-4:30pm and lunch is included in the program. We eat in the university cafeteria. My classes today were Argentine Literature & Culture and Argentine Cinema. At the end of the day, I took the bus home with Naz to her apartment to see where she lives. We then walked to my house to know how to get to each other’s places. It was nice to know how easy it is to get to each other’s places for sure. I am very optimistic that this experience is going to be life changing – It has already opened my eyes so much. I love my new family for they have truly tended to my every need to make sure that I am very comfortable. I am also very lucky to have a host sister that wants to take me everywhere and wants me to meet all her friends. I know these three months that lie ahead of me will be incomparable to anything I have experienced before and I plan to blog throughout so that you can come along with me!