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One hour drive to EZE airport. 13 hour 45 min flight to Houston. 4 hour 15 min flight to San Francisco. 1 hour 30 min drive to Santa Rosa. And I’m HOME! For a 20 hour journey…it wasn’t too awful. I couldn’t sleep much, but nothing complicated happened and I could watch movies most of the time.

My last week in Argentina was unfortunately a stressful one though. It was finals week Monday-Wednesday. Which all went well and I got A’s in all my classes. Which surprised me quite a bit, but their grading policy is very wish-washy. So I didn’t question it. Haha. Wednesday night we also decided to celebrate Tajel’s birthday (which is TODAY!…but she doesn’t read my blog so I’m not going to wish her happy birthday). We went to a Drag Show at this bar downtown. It was hilarious and the two wo/men were amazing. One was Much more manly than the other, but it was awesome. Afterwards we danced the night away surrounded by the cutest gay couples. Haha. Interesting night for sure, but it was a blast! The next two days were quiet packing days and just spending time in the house. We went out for our last dinner together Thursday night. We had Amazing steak, creamed pumpkin with honey, and grilled veggies and cheese and fries. Yummy!

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We also took some pictures of the family before Sarah and I left. So here is my host family…FINALLY! Haha. The first picture is with our host parents, Alicia and Enrique. And the second is with our housekeeper Gabby and her son, German. We became closer with them near the end. We played cards with German many nights and taught him lots of English phrases. Gabby is the sweetest woman and she was only 24, so we all got along well and just loved her and German! Thank you to this amazing family for all they did!

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Sarah and I had the same flight, so we were able to split the taxi and ride to the airport together. Saying goodbye to my home in Buenos Aires was hard. I will miss life down there a lot. And I will miss the home and the girls I lived with a lot. Driving to the airport I just looked out the window and said my goodbyes. It was hard to leave, but it is also nice to be home.

The first culture shock I had though was going through customs in Houston. EVERYONE speaks English! It is very weird to hear. And as they picked up my bags from me, I automatically said, “Gracias”…and I walked away with the man looking at me very confused. Those quick response phrases will be the hardest change. When I bump into someone I always say “Perdon” or walking through crowds “Permiso.” I also have adapted to saying “Salud” when someone sneezes, but I think I’m going to keep that one because it makes so much more sense to say health to someone rather than “Bless You”…I don’t think the devil steals anyone’s souls anymore when they sneeze. So I think I’ll stick to saying “Salud.” Anyways, my favorite part of the journey was coming into SF and seeing Northern California and all its green beauty! It was quite the view and it looked like home. After being picked up by the wonderful Moore family (Thank you Ruth and Casey!) we drove the familiar 19th Ave through all its traffic and then across my favorite bridge in the entire world. Driving across the Golden Gate definitely made it click that I was home. It was SO beautiful and the sky was clear and warm. It was a wonderful welcome home sight to see. One thing I did notice was how clean the streets and everything seemed. Buenos Aires is very smoggy and their streets are full of trash…which I got quite used to. But driving down the highway I could barely see any trash on the sides. It makes me proud of CA. And I couldn’t stop staring. What a beautiful place we live in! Another funny little culture moment I had was at lunch. We stopped at Boudin to get a sandwich on the way home and when Ruth ordered water for both of us, the waiter just said there were cups next to the soda machine. In Argentina, you have to pay for ANY water you get. The water at restaurants was just as expensive as soda. So for a moment, I was in shock because I could get water…FOR FREE! Haha. Oh the things we take for granted.

There are many aspects of Argentina I will miss…besides just the city itself. I will miss greeting people with a beso (or kiss) on the cheek. People would take time to make sure they gave every single person a beso when meeting a group, and I think that says a lot about the culture. They give individual attention to everyone they meet and create instant physical contact, which brings people closer and makes everyone feel more comfortable. I will also miss the ease of life. Not just because I had less hw and no job. But the availability of things to do in the city was endless. Our apartment was a block away from any bus we needed. The buses ran 24/7, so we could go anywhere at all times and not have to worry about getting home or having someone drive. Every type of food, cafe, or restaurant was only a bus ride away. Our grocery store was several blocks away. We could walk Anywhere! There were so many things that were available for us and I will miss that lifestyle. Unlimited choices for everything you need! I will also miss Spanish. We have a love-hate relationship, but I liked the challenge and the lessons I learned. Before I greeted or met anyone, I’d have to have a moment to think what I wanted to say and then pick the write tenses and everything to use. It was a Lot of work to talk to someone for just 5 mins! But I came to Argentina to work on my spanish and I had an opportunity to use it every day. One special moment I had was my last week in Buenos Aires I went downtown to do some shopping and stopped in a small, dusty antique shop. The only person in there was an older man sitting in the back office all alone. He came out to say hello and when he learned I was foreign, he began just talking to me. I think he was lonely, but we had a great conversation. It was mostly him talking and me listening, but he told me all about his thoughts of the city and the world and people. He’s from Buenos Aires, but he’s traveled all over the world, and thinks New York city is the capital of the world. He seemed to prefer other cities over Buenos Aires…not quite sure why he’s living there. But he recommended several Anthropology museums to me and told me to visit certain parts of Argentina. We had about a 45 min conversation all in Spanish! It was very cool. I have many reasons to go back to Argentina now….not that I didn’t have Many reasons before. I really hope I can continue thinking and working on my Spanish, but I know it will be difficult here. And I can quickly forget things. And even though my speaking skills were never that strong, I can pretty much understand anything…or at least follow a conversation or lecture easily enough. So I think many Spanish films are in my future. Haha.

Other things I will miss (Sarah…I’m stealing some from your list because it was so good. Thank you!):

  • Tripping on every broken sidewalk tile and then rating our trips from 1-10. And only getting a 10 if you stick it.
  • Hunting for peanut butter forEVER and realizing it’s in a store down the street
  • Learning the transit system and using using the Guia-T like a pro
  • Seeing the enormous mausoleums of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve ever seen
  • Petting lions and tigers and kissing bears at the most unique zoo in Lujan
  • Dancing in the streets and being sprayed with soap during Carnaval
  • Experiencing the quietest part of the city at the Eco-Reserve in Puerto Madero
  • Riding bikes down tiny streets to wineries and getting more wobbly on my bike as the day went on and the more wine was tasted in Mendoza
  • Getting the BEST tour of the most colorful and beautiful city in Chile
  • Drinking wine on the beach and being surrounded by a pack of dogs that protected us
  • Spending the day soaking in the sun and people watching while reading in a park in Mendoza
  • Empenadas
  • Cafés and bookstores and more cafés
  • Taking the longest bus ride EVER to La Boca
  • Rainstorms and thunder
  • Listening to all the spanish around me and slowly being able to understand more and more of it throughout the months
  • Seeing SO much more than the touristic and pretty parts of this city
  • Listening to a symphonic band play Frank Sinatra in Parque Centenario
  • Getting absolutely Soaked and enjoying Every minute of it in a waterfall in Iguazú
  • Wine, peanut butter and Oreos on the roof of our apartment
  • Wine and movies nights with the girls
  • Being amazed at the throngs of people on Día de la Memoria and feeling the thumping music and seeing the colors and flags bursting out of Plaza de Mayo
  • Watching the sun set and sitting on a crumbling rock wall in Uruguay with friends
  • Seeing the amazing street art on every run-down building or wall
  • Waving to our porteros at the door, hearing the buzzer, pulling the rusty gate to the elevator open, and riding the 9 floors up to our apartment
  • The AMAZING, Wonderful girls I was so lucky to live with
  • Our fat, weirdo dog Blas that would greet us the door or trip us in the hallway
  • Enrique telling us several times not to get married until we were 90
  • The awkward silences at dinner and the “Come fue tu dia” that always broke the silence
  • Arriving from Santa Rosa winter to 100 degree Argentine summer in February, then watching the seasons change from summer to fall to winter and leaving the chill of Argentine winter to the beautiful bay area summer in June

As much as I will miss Buenos Aires, there are also several things I will Not miss. Including:

  • salted salads
  • fried Everything
  • painful trips over the sidewalks
  • Spanish grammar hw
  • feeling like a loud, obnoxious American
  • no gym
  • not having minutes or a working phone and not being able to reach people you’re supposed to meet
  • instant coffee and wonder bread for breakfast every day
  • getting my student visa
  • not having a kitchen!
  • smog and dog poop on the streets
  • old creepy men staring at me

The list of things I will miss is SO much longer. Looking back I can’t really think of many “bad” things. Sure, there were tough times, stressful, homesick moments..but overall I had a wonderful time. As I’m sure you can see over my blog posts. This will be my last post. So I hope you’ve enjoyed my journey and my stories. I will miss every single person I have met on this life-changing journey I have had. I know there are many people I will continue being friends with and many who I might never hear from again, but will remain in my heart forever. So thank you for reading along and I hope this blog can be a reminder of the most amazing 5 months of my life. Thank you Buenos Aires. Besos y Chau! Espero que vuelva un dia en mi futuro. Gracias a todo!

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Happy Father’s Day!

In celebration of this dia de los padres, I dedicate this blog to my amazing, supportive father! Thanks for always being there and helping me through life’s challenges…and supporting anything and everything I do. I couldn’t ask for a better father! I Love you!

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Also, here are some fun sites that show you are in good company with the fathers of the world!

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/natures-10-best-animal-dads/heres-to-you-pops

Warning on this one: Inappropriate language (but most of them are too funny not to share)

http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinlarosa/reasons-to-appreciate-your-dad-this-fathers-day

El tiempo está volando

“Time is flying by.” Less than 3 weeks. 2 weekends. A week of finals. 19 days. I already miss Buenos Aires. I feel like every time we go out into the city, I am saying my goodbyes. I can’t believe how fast these weeks are going. School takes over the weekdays, and the weekends go by so fast it’s already Sunday night and I’m looking back at all the things we did. We have created a bucket list of things we have not done, or want to do again and each weekend we try to check as many of them off as we can. This weekend was quite the eventful one! On Friday, Tajel, Lizzie and I went to a small zoo outside the city (Sarah had some other plans with one of her classes and then some Argentine friends). The zoo is called Parque Temaikén (and a little different than Lujan). Getting there was a bit of struggle, we got on the wrong bus, then didn’t have enough money on our bus cards, then we ended up on another wrong bus, which dropped us off about a mile away from the park, which we then had to walk to. Every time we try something new, we always look like the stupid, lost Americans…even after 4 months here. But the park was awesome! It was a wild animal park and aquarium. Luckily, we went on a chilly day, so there was almost no one there. It was a wonderful, quiet day looking at all the unusual animals. Pictures can explain more than I can…

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They had CHEETAHS!! I could’ve watched them forever. We saw them near the end of our visit, and the cheetahs were quite active! They were playing around in the grass, walking up to the glass and rubbing against it, rolling around in the dirt…it was amazing! I definitely got quite excited and couldn’t stop oohing and awwing. But the girls eventually dragged me away and we walked the mile back to the stop and made our way home. That evening the girls and I met up with some friends at a jazz club. We had heard there would be a live jazz concert at this club, so we sat down, ordered a few bottles of Malbec and enjoyed the unusual Argentine jazz. The band included: 2 guitars, 2 violins, a standup Bass, and a Saxophone. No piano. No percussion. They were great though! I think most of it was improv and they were having a blast with it. It was fun to hear!

The next day, we decided to take the tour of Casa Rosada, the official and historical government building. Walking through the streets of Palermo to a cafe, it really felt like fall. We even started singing Christmas songs because it feels like that time of year for us. I still can’t believe it is June.

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After our brunch at a quirky, and colorful cafe, we made our way downtown and listened to the free guided tour through the house (in Spanish of course). The house has a lot of different influences on the architecture and Sarah and I were pointing out different paintings or architectural styles we recognized from our art class. We even got to go into Cristina Kirchner’s office! She wasn’t there though. The building is lit up at night though, so when we walked out of the tour, it was quite beautiful to see.

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Afterwards, we walked to El Ateneo, which is one of the most unusual and biggest bookstores in the world. I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but we had gone before, but Lizzie wasn’t here yet. So we had to take her! It really is amazing!

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After much walking, we made it home only to collapse on our beds. We were quite exhausted. We managed to eat some oreos, which is always just SUCH a chore, and watch “Perks of Being a Wallflower” before heading to bed. Lovely end to a long, and eventful day!

Today, we decided to go back to one of our favorite Sunday morning events, the San Telmo street fair. With local artists, street performers, and tourists from all over the world, it is quite the event. I was able to find lots of little goodies to bring back to the family and friends, and also still had money to buy myself a warm, street-made crepe with nutella and banana. Yum!

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It was a lovely and successful day out in the city with friends! On the bus ride home, I couldn’t help but get sad at the prospect of leaving. As much as I am excited to be back home, making my own food, seeing my family and friends; I also know how much I am going to miss being here. Life here is just so unique. Buenos Aires is a special place to me. Being here has taught me so much about the world, other people and cultures, and especially, myself. Even though I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to (like becoming fluent in Spanish…I still have a ways to go before that happens), I have gotten more out of this experience than I could have ever imagined. I know these last weeks will go by quickly, but I know will continue experiencing new things, and appreciating every last moment I have here. Until next time! Chau!