Claire Shrader is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Pre-Occupational Therapy major at Mississippi College, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.
In this week's post, Claire tells us what her daily life is like while she embraces new experiences and builds a routine.
Hola! Today is my last day of classes for the week because it’s Semana Santa (Holy Week), so we get the rest of the week off. I’ve officially been in Buenos Aires for five-and-a-half weeks, which feels pretty unbelievable. It feels like just yesterday I had to ask for help with directions every five minutes, leaving 30 minutes earlier than necessary to leave a large margin for getting lost, arriving to class early and still getting lost on the way.
Now I have the walk to school, the subte (subway), and my favorite bus stops all memorized. I’ve also learned that if I get to class 10 minutes early I’ll end up waiting for 20 mins. I’ve slowly started settling into normal. And then I’ll just end up pausing on my walk to my internship and remind myself—WHAT ON EARTH! YOU ARE IN ARGENTINA. It still feels unreal.
I go to Brincar every day except Friday, so on Mondays and Wednesdays I join the masses and cram into a packed subte to ride it almost down the line. Always full of men and women in suits sending Whatsapp voice messages, students in scrubs who all look tired and get off at Facultad de Medicina, hopeful salesmen passing ponytail holders, highlighters, and tissues down the seats in case we might realize in our morning commute that we forgot one of these crucial items. But my favorite passengers are the musicians. A couple days ago a man came on who wore seashells tied to his ankles and played the guitar and had a special type of whistle he used to make music as he hopped around and played all three. It was really impressive.
Why does everyone frown on the subway?
A friend of mine who’s also a CAPA student and I decided to make Mondays “Museum Mondays.” What we didn’t realize when we created that cute little name was that most museums are closed on Mondays, haha. MM has been a thing for two weeks, though, so last Monday when I got back from my internship we went to MALBA, El Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, which seems like the only museum in the city that’s still open after 6:00pm. It’s really cool, and honestly just whet our appetite for a history museum, because it had so many interesting little tastes of history.This Monday we visited Recoleta Cemetery. We wandered through aimlessly, which feels pretty weird to do in a cemetery. “This is like a small, weird city full of dead people,” Sophie laughed as we admired the architecture that soared up far past our heads that truly did make it feel like we were engulfed in a an old, odd city. We stumbled upon an overwhelmingly large group of Americans, whose loud, thick accents notified us of their presence from just about anywhere in the cemetery. We laughed about how glad we were not to just be tourists passing through in this beautiful city, but we still followed their group for a bit when we heard the tour guide yell, “Let’s go find Evita!”
Eva Peron's grave.
Turns out there are some benefits to being a tourist, after all. We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting outside the mall listening to an incredible street performer who sang such perfect Ed Sheeran songs that I went to talk to him in English, assuming he was a study abroad student who just overstayed his visa (grin), but he spoke no English. Like, none at all. He was amazing, and it was charming to get to just sit and people watch, enjoying familiar songs in an unfamiliar place. I always joke that I’m reverting to the stereotypical teenager in the U.S. with how often I’ve been to the mall already this semester, but it really is such a hub of activity and so central that we often end up there no matter where we’ve walked.
I find a lot of comfort in scheduling regular activities that I know will always happen every week. The idea of wandering aimlessly around the city every day is just too overwhelming to me. So I’ve slowly built up a schedule for my week and am starting to settle into a rhythm that feels like some kind of normal. All weekend I look forward to the tango class for people with Parkinson’s I found to fill my Tuesday afternoons. It feels like home, even as I brave a new subte station and a new neighborhood to get there. On Wednesdays I go straight from my internship to Universidad Austral, and sit in the lounge area to do homework (or work on this blog) and to chat with other students. It’s the only time in the week that I have time to just stay on campus, and it reminds me of so many moments at my school at home.
"La Vida Es Rica" translates to "Life is Rich" in English.
These little scheduled moments are so crucial to me when literally everything else around me is different. I’m learning to cherish the familiarity while at the same time not taking the new for granted, or getting too homesick for what I know and love. It’s a balance, and I’m sure I’ll have more insight on that balance in a couple of months!
Felices Pascuas/Happy Easter! May your Semana Santa be full of the hope of the Resurrection.
Claire's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.