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Back to la Escuela

Our alarms went off at 630am (probably about the time we went to bed Saturday night… or Sunday morning, whatever). We both looked at each other and made a quick decision to forego the shower and hit the snooze button. That extra half hour seemed far more important than making a good impression at that moment, tucked in to our little single beds.

We eventually did get up though, picked out our outfits with not much care (which I found funny considering how much care I used to put into picking out my outfit for the first day of school… it always had to be new and impressive and laid out neatly the night before), and packed our bags with our matching duotangs that Kaley had made up for us. Haha. I secretly (or not so secretly I suppose) love school supplies, so these duotangs were certainly a highlight for me.

We followed the printed color maps that Kaley had inserted in the front of each of our duotangs that lead us the six or so blocks to the school. We walked through the mobs of students and professionals rushing off to their jobs and classes that Monday morning in Buenos Aires. Our school was right near the Universidad Buenos Aires and the hospital so there were med students galore.

Off to school! Day 1! Check out our duotangs!

Off to school! Day 1! Check out our duotangs!

We managed to cross all the correct busy streets and find our little ECELA school without incident. After paying the 1000$ balance on our programs, we were sent up to a hot little room filled with about eight other students to take our placement exam. This would determine what level we would be put in.

I confidently filled in my name and the date in the correct places… and opened to the first page to begin, ready to show off my mad Spanish skills.

I could answer maybe one question.

It was all verb conjucations and it all looked impossible to me. Apparently I didn’t remember as much from that one semester in college as I thought I did. Maybe I could get myself around while traveling, through the most basic of conversations, but when it came to written, I was lost.

The good thing was… Val was in the same boat. This would mean at least that we were in the same class. Which was really good news considering we only had one set of keys and weren’t sure how we would coordinate things if our classes were at different times

We handed in the exams, blank except for our names, and apologized for wasting their paper. They informed us we would need to come back that afternoon for our welcome pizza party and our classes would be Monday-Friday from 2-6pm. So after that whole early morning alarm clock business, we were turning around and walking right back home.


We decided to stop at a gorgeous little restaurant right near school called Pertutti’s and order up a couple cafes con leche. The server brought out a tray with our coffee, two bite-sized pastries and a couple shooter-sized glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice. Yes, juice. Real juice. Delicious juice. This was officially my new favorite place.

The thing is, I have this sort of love affair with juice. I definitely drink too much of it. I try not to buy it so I consume less. But more often than I should, I lock eyes on it, and it just gets me weak in the knees. I can chug back juice like nobody’s business. And I remember this from last time I was in South America: the juice here SUCKS. It’s disgusting. Sugary water. This of course wildly disappoints me, but at least it helps my figure. My sugar intake drops dramatically while I’m here. Haha. But here I found some delicious juice. Just the teeniest serving of it. And freshly squeezed. I made an immediate mental note and decided that I would be back… often. Okay, this blog is supposed to be about school. Not juice.

So anyway, we basically went back to bed until we had to go back to school. We did absolutely nothing worth mentioning. Between the exhausting travel experience and the crazy Saturday night out, we just couldn’t seem to rest enough and get back to normal. So for the first two days at our new casa, we slept alot.

At our welcome pizza party that afternoon, they introduced all the staff and reviewed all of the rules. The rules. Haha. We’d seen these rules as they were posted in our house as well. And they handed out copies of these rules and had us sign them. They were pretty straight forward and mostly related to our apartments. Things like not taking drugs, cleaning up after yourself and my favorite one: There can be no alochol abuse. (hehe, will come back to this later)

After we scarfed down some pizza and sugary water (their idea of juice… so sugary in fact we had to mix it with regular water just to stomach it), we went up to our classroom and met Leila: our teacher for the next two weeks.

Leila is short, skinny and has a personality five times the size of her. She’s witty. She’s tough. And she likes to poke fun at her students. And day one… the student she picked was me.

Apparently in her class, there was no English allowed. There was even a little sign in the corner of the room that depicted this rule. A sign I hadn’t noticed. A rule that she had yet to tell us. So when Alex, the Swiss guy sitting across from me looked at me, confused, when she said “preguntas”, I whispered the translation to him. “Questions”. Well, Leila called out my name and in slow, clear espanol, while acting the whole scene out so we beginners could understand, proceeded to tell me that she was going to hit me on the head with her shoe so hard that I would have a mountain-sized bump on my skull. That in Argentina, violence was not illegal and that she was good friends with the school director so there would be no police and they would believe her word over mine.

So much for helping out a fellow classmate!

I had a flashback to my Spanish class in college and remembered how much the teacher hated me. I did well still, because you couldn’t mark me poorly on my perfect conjugations (hehe), but still, she hated me. I was immedaitely worried that this Spanish class would end up exactly the same. That she had chosen me as her victim and that was it. Two full weeks of harassment.

Lucky for me, by day two of class, I realized that Leila didn’t play favorites. She shared the harassment amoungst all of her students.


Anyway, we did good in our class. Maybe not the best but not the worst either. It was the perfect level. I was very concerned beginner would mean learning words like “gracias” and “hola”, but she actually moved quite quickly through all the basics so it was more like a nice refresher of things I had learned years earlier.

We reviewed numbers, dates, basic greetings, seasons, characteristics. And we took home a page worth of tarea (homework) to bring back complete the next day.

We stopped and picked up some groceries and four bottles of vino. You know, might as well stock up. It’s only about 2-4$ a bottle. A bottle that goes for about 20$ back home goes for about 20 pesos here…. So about 4ish dollars. Yup yup! How jealous are all you right now?

We cooked some pasta and finally spent some time actually talking to our roommates. We live with a girl from Brazil and a guy from Cambridge, England. We offered them some dinner and wine and sat around in our living room on our tiny white leather couches talking, laughing and watching movies with Spanish subtitles.

Until somehow, all the wine was gone.

Our little kitchen

Our little kitchen

So… we went next door (that’s right, the liquor store is next door to our casa… BOO YA!) and picked up some more. Hehe.

And that’s about where I’ll have to trail off as after that much vino, I don’t remember the rest of the evening. All I know is I woke up late the next morning, asleep on my keyboard, upside down on my bed, with just enough time to have a cold shower (our hot water wasn’t working), rush through my homework and get to class by 2pm.

Ay ay ay.



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I’m a traveler. I want to see the world, or at least lots of it. So far, I must say I’m on a roll. I look at it as an investment, bringing me a richer life and a greater perspective.

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