University of Wisconsin–Madison

School is in Session, Sort of

It’s crazy to think that I’ve already been in Buenos Aires for three weeks. It’s also crazy to think that I’ve only been here for three weeks, because boy oh boy have we jam packed our time full of experiences and cafes and countless subway rides. What our time has not been packed full of is classes. School doesn’t technically start here until the last week of March. So while everyone in Madison is jetting off to warm places for spring break, we will be starting our Argentine school careers.

While classes haven’t officially started, we have had a sort of “shopping period” the past week or so at the four different universities that our program allows us to take classes at. This shopping period involves a lot of hours spent navigating Spanish websites and class schedules, searching fruitlessly for syllabi, and numerous meetings with advisors at the different schools. After the searching ends, you’re left with anywhere from one to ten or more classes that you’re semi-enrolled in, and can attend in order to gauge if the Spanish is too difficult for you or if the topic is interesting. Depending on your experience in the class, you can either officially enroll or you can choose to drop it. As someone who really likes knowing her schedule prior to classes starting, having all of the new textbooks sitting on her desk, and notebooks properly labeled, this shopping period has been a challenge. Not only has it been difficult to keep the classes and the schools straight, but it’s difficult to judge based off of one or two classes what the rest of the semester will be like. Some of the classes that are difficult now may not be once our Spanish improves. Some of the classes that seem to be the appropriate level of difficulty now may turn out to be too easy later on.

With this said, the one class I have tried so far went surprisingly well. Two of my friends and I went to the first class of an international human rights class, and not only could I understand most of what was going on, but I was incredibly interested in the topic and the layout of the class. Another perk: the class doesn’t start until 11 which gives me time to recover from the late Argentine nights. The class structure here is something that undoubtedly will take some getting used to as well. Most classes meet once a week for a three hour power lecture to trump all other power lectures. If you think an hour and fifteen minutes is bad, three hours puts it to shame in the blink of an eye.

This coming week is when the shopping period really kicks into gear for me. Tuesday, almost my entire day will be spent running around the city to try different classes and finalize my schedule for the rest of the semester. Here’s to hoping that I can find my classrooms on time and that the professors are nice and the students are understanding of my rudimentary Spanish skills!

In addition to my first class this week, I also attended my first music festival. Lollapalooza recently expanded into South America, with 2018 being the third year they’ve been in Argentina, and the first year they’ve done a three day event. We only got tickets for Saturday, mainly because my friend Claudia is basically in love with Khalid. The rest of the lineup, as to be expected at Lolla, was pretty stellar. Lana del Rey was the headliner, Wiz Khalifa was there for some reason, Kaleo and The Neighborhood played earlier in the day. In other words, it was a great day for music. The weather, unfortunately, was forecasted to rain on our parade big time. The skies were an unsettling grey in the morning, forcing us to frantically rethink our meticulously planned outfits, substituting our tank tops and sparkly highlighter for rain boots and coats.

The train ride to the suburb where Lolla is took about an hour longer than expected, because the train went a whopping ten miles an hour for most of the way, and at a couple stations decided that it would just hangout for about ten extra minutes than were necessary. The lackadaisical train caused us to miss both Kaleo and The Neighborhood, which wasn’t great. Upon arrival at Lolla, we headed straight for the stage we thought Khalid was playing, only to discover that not only was it the wrong stage, but that all of the bands had been condensed in order to hopefully end the day before the worst of the storm started. With our newfound knowledge, Claudia proceeded to legitimately run across the festival grounds and make her way as close to the stage Khalid was playing right as his set started. For an artist who is pretty big in the States right now, he has a surprisingly small fan base in Argentina, and a lot of the people there seemed pretty indifferent to his music. On the contrary, we were all incredibly excited, and his set did not disappoint. While his decision to wear a fully camouflage sweat suit was questionable, his voice and dance moves more than made up for it.

Next up was Lana del Rey. If the dictionary needs a visual to accompany its definition of “diva” it would be an egregious mistake not to use one of Lana. She was fabulously fierce her entire set. Dressed all in black, with a cat eye sharp enough to cut, Lana serenaded a crowd of adoring Argentines, many of whom sobbed the entire time, treating it more like a religious experience than a concert. We had no idea Lana was such a big deal here, but wow were we wrong, she’s about as popular as it gets. After Lana, Lolla was over for the day, thankfully sans rain. 10:00 is still early in Buenos Aires, so we made our way back to the city and proceeded to demolish more than a pound of ice cream between the five of us.

Not only did Lolla fly by, but this entire past week has disappeared within what seems like a span of two minutes. Looking forward to the coming week full of new classes, new classmates, and an impending trip to Uruguay through IFSA, I know without a doubt that it too will fly by.