Insensitivity and Exclusive Pop Culture References

I’LL BE HOME IN TEN DAYS, Y’ALL!

Don’t worry, I’m not as excited as I sound. Kidding, I totally am. Just kidding I’m not. Just kidding, I’m kidding. Kristen Wiig SNL, anyone? If not, go NOW.

What about Arrested Development? Anyone watch that? If you don’t, go watch it (yes, all four seasons) and then come back. See you in a few days.

Anyway, there’s an episode in season 1 where the beautiful Lindsay, who is used to being ogled at, goes to visit her dad in jail. She takes this as an opportunity to get some much-desired attention and dolls herself up. Much to her dismay, not one of the inmates looks up from his poker hand to do any form of ogling. So when she comes back, she’s wearing a tank top with the word “SLUT” written on the chest and a short skirt with fishnet tights and her beautiful luscious locks flowing down her back. You guessed it: still nothing.

Apart from allowing me to verbally ogle over Portia de Rossi’s beauty and use some form of the word “ogle” three separate times, I recount this to you because I have a feeling that this is going to be our experience coming back home. Except instead of prison inmates, it’s going to be the American public (some have argued this similarity) and instead of fishnet tights, it’s going to be salmon-colored jeans and yoga pants (yes, I go to DU). We have become so accustomed to drawing all attention when walking down the street simply for having different bone structure and lighter hair that it’s going to be quite an adjustment coming back to a society where Lady Gaga is a thing. (Yes, I know she’s a woman.)

Basically I’m going to need all of you to tell me I’m pretty all the time. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Anyway, after two exclusive pop culture references and some blatant narcissism, is anyone still with me? No?

Maybe this is a sign from the blogging gods that I should stop. Lucky for you all, I’M A BLOGGING ATHEIST!!!

Jokes about religion, always crowd favorites.

Anyway, needless to say I’ve been taking advantage of this city as much as possible during my last weeks here, but still getting very anxious to return to the US. This basically entails eating a lot and thinking about how great America is. Maybe I should have studied abroad in Texas???

Speaking of Texas, I was talking to my friend Shea the other day and she said of our abroad experience, “We might as well have been in a coma for four months.” Obviously this is taken out of context from a conversation where we also discussed how grateful we are for this opportunity, how much we have learned, and a whole other slew of things we’re societally obligated to say, so calm it down right now.

But drawing on that metaphor:

1) Comas are real expensive.
2) Many times, when you come back, everything is pretty much exactly the same as you left it.
3) Because of this, you are left wondering what the hell everyone did while you were gone. Get to work, people.
4) Sometimes, when real life gets too hard, you might wish you were back in a coma.
5) While you were in a coma, you were helpless and had to sit back as real life went on without you.
6) You are forever grateful for your life and all of the little things to which you were once accustomed.
7) You have a somewhat altered life philosophy and see the world through clearer eyes.

Therefore, study abroad=coma. Plus some Spanish fluency. Unless a coma’d person has come out with knowledge of a foreign language before, in which case, I’m very impressed.

For those of you who think I’m being insensitive to coma’d people, I have one song line for you, only slightly modified: “Who gives a fuck about a metaphorical coma?” That’s the only curse word I’ll include in this post, promise. Vampire Weekend made me do it. Seriously though, no disrespect to people’s medical emergencies. I’m just trying to be entertaining.

On that note of insensitivity, I wanted to touch on one of the facets of Argentine culture that has been the most interesting for me during my stay: Calling it like you see it. I have most thoroughly learned this from my host mom, but I’m confident that she’s not mal-intentioned or saying things outside of her cultural norm. Examples of this include:

-When we were watching the Packers game and the screen panned to some players with long hair and she said, “Oh, look at the women!”
-When I was in my roommate, Sophia’s room and she jokingly said, “Sophia? Is that you? You got fat and dyed your hair!”
-When we were watching a talk show where people were dancing and she said “Oh, look at the fat one!”
-Lovingly calling her daughter “Gorda” (fatty) and her friend “Negra” (blacky?)

Like I said, all of these are just ways of calling it as she sees it or being affectionate, but it is nonetheless hilarious trying to imagine these things happening in the US. “Fat” is a fighting word in the States and I’m 89% sure that anyone who called Clay Matthews a woman would be dead in a matter of seconds.

But I like this part of their culture for the most part and I think we could learn a lot from this in the States. Seeing as I like my jobs and most of my friends, I’m not going to be the first one to try to implement this change, but you guys go ahead.

Kidding, tell me I’m pretty when I get back. Thanks.

It’s a weird sensation thinking about coming back home. My bank account and I are both ready for it, but it’s weird to think that we’ll be leaving an entire part of our lives behind us forever. But like all good things, all difficult, mind-opening, and amazing things must also come to an end. It’s been a good ride. Thanks for being here when I need to make fun of ungrateful Americans as well as when I need to be an ungrateful American. I’ve really enjoyed blogging and I think I’m going to continue doing so. Then one day I can be famous and it will all be because of you. Don’t you feel special?

Now get back to work, fatties.

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The Coolest Thing I’ve Done Recently

“What’s the coolest thing you’ve done recently?” This question plagues my conversations with nearly all of my loved (and liked) ones and every time I am asked this, I rack my brain for anything to satisfy their desire to live vicariously through me. But all that seems to come up is a lot of empanadas, some good drinks with good friends, and the question, “Haven’t you seen my Facebook?! I put a lot of work into fulfilling my role obligated by society as a study abroad student so that everyone knows how cool I am.”

This may not be exactly what I’m supposed to say on a blog about my cultural whirlwhind that is my experience abroad, but the thing is, I haven’t been doing a lot of individually cool things. But like, I feel like my life is still like, really, really cool. Also, you must be new here if you think this is a blog full of things I’m supposed to say on a study abroad blog. Cue maniacal chuckle/tears.

Sure, I can rattle off a bunch of restaurants and coffee shops and dogs we have seen, but when it comes down to it, none of those things are individually all that interesting. This is where I think we are wrong about what we tell those who are about to go abroad. My friend Alli (sup gurl) made the great observation that people romanticize being abroad so much. It’s portrayed as four months of sightseeing and partying. And I suppose for some people, it could very well be just that. But I’ve lived my whole life priding myself on not being “some people”.  

What I’m getting at is that I think there’s something deeper to experience while living abroad: living. Living in a new culture and experiencing on a realistic level how the people of this area of the world actually live, and consequently, view the world. At least, that is my preference. I understand that it’s also natural to do unforgivably touristy things like take pictures of every picturesque street or grab drinks BEFORE dinner, but I came on this trip to experience what it’s like to live here, and LIVE HERE I WILL, dammit.

Inevitably, there is an element of self-discovery in this, which basically means you have to skip class a couple times to cry in your room and eat Alfajors (United States peeps- you’ll get one, cherish it). While these cry sessions are not usually welcome, there’s really no way to prevent them. At some point in the day you can just feel it creep up on you and, just like in the Dane Cook sketch, you know that as soon as you get home and are left alone, it’s going to happen. I normally stop by the store on my way home to grab some Oreos, because my addition to the quote “a wise man is never cold twice” is “a wise woman never cries without Oreos twice”.

The goal is to come away from these with one more small slice of understanding who you are and what makes you tick. And mine are normally followed by a cold shower and a promise that I won’t eat any more of your Alfajors followed by a step on the scale, which makes me feel much less fat because there are roughly 2.2 pounds to every kilogram, so I get to pretend I’m under 100 lbs here. It’s kinda fun.

During these cry sessions, you normally send some irrationally angsty texts about how stupid this place is and how you can’t wait to come back. And then your friends say all the wrong things like “You need to enjoy this experience while you can!” and you resent them for a minute for not understanding your super cool but still super hard life. I know, nobody understands you, right?

But then comes the realization that if the roles were reversed, you would probably say the same things. Living abroad is an incredibly unique experience and really, the only people who can relate are the people who have done it before.

Here is where you fit in. You are one of the lucky few who has the privilege to lose yourself enough to find yourself. Nobody ever develops a great relationship with himself by being 100% happy and 100% comfortable 100% of the time. These have not been the best months of my life. These have not been the hardest months of my life. However, they have arguably been the most important when taking into consideration the sheer amount of understanding I have gained. Understanding of myself and of the world around me, which I was only able to gain by first trying to understand others.

There’s a quote that is way too overused in DIY projects of painting globes on Pinterest that says, “If you travel far enough, you’ll eventually meet yourself.”  While I’m normally not a proponent of anything that anyone wants to paint on this beautiful world we live in, I really like this quote. That is, to lose enough familiarity that you are forced to become familiar with the only thing you have left: yourself. So I suppose THAT’S the coolest thing I’ve done recently.