Monday, August 25, 2008

attack in "la boca"!

Two weeks ago Steffi and I decided to go to "la boca". It's an district next to "San Telmo", where I live and there is one street called the "Caminito" where the houses are very colorful. All travel guides say that it's a very poor area with the highest crime rate of Buenos Aires and that you should never go by yourself, never go in any street that's not the "Caminito" or not turistic. Well, Steffi and I we went to the "Caminito" (see pics here) and went after to the famous "la bombonera", the soccer stadium of the famous team "la boca juniors", where also started playing "Diego Maradona". On the way back we had to walk on a little street that leads right to the "Caminito". Suddenly I young man came up from behind (maybe 18 years old), put out is pepper spray, put it into Steffis mouth and eyes! In the same time he tried to steal her camera. But luckily she hold her camera tight in her hands so he couln't grab it. She screamed and he ran away. First she couldn't really breath the first minutes and she couldn't see anything and her eyes hurted so much. We walked to the police (that was standing one block away) to tell them to help us find a taxi to go as fast as we could out of this area. Well, unfortunately we couldn't do anything, her and me we couldn't remember how the guy looked like, everything went so fast (maybe about 20 seconds). At least she still has her camera. One day after the "attack" her eyes stoped hurting and everything is fine now. What do we learn out of that?
That we will probably not return to "la boca"...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

news from Buenos Aires part 2 - la UBA

Now I wanna tell you my experience with the UBA. Unfortunately I found out that my courses are not being held at my faculty but in another place pretty far away from where I live (it takes me about an hour to get there from where I live now). The building is even more dirty than the other building, a lot of waste on the ground, broken windows, shabby tables and so on... A few days ago I was sitting in a classroom with a lot of broken windows so that the wind could come through. We were all sitting with a warm sweatshirt and winter jackets and were still freezing... Well, I would say - different country - different conditions to cope with :-)
(You can see pics here).
I will participate in three courses which are called the following: "Taller de informática, telemática y de datos" (something like "Medieninformatik"), "Diseno gráfico" (graphic design) and "mujeres populares de la re/construcción de la nación argentina" (popular women of the re/construction of the Nation Argentina). Being a foreigner means you're "only" allowed to take 3 courses. But all Argentinian students I talked to have been chosing the same amount. They're not allowed to take more than 4, so that's not that a big difference. The courses themselves are splitted into two parts: one is a course "teorética" ("Vorlesung"), the other one is called "práctica" (with less people, like a "Seminar"). Both together are 4 hours, so I have 12 hours of studies in total. Many of the foreign students I met are taking less courses because they're pretty expensive. For Argentinians they're for free, but foreigners have to pay (this is only true for my faculty) 1200 pesos for one course plus 450 pesos for the immatriculation, so totally I paid 4050 pesos (900 Euro) from my own pocket. I'm hoping that "Auslandsbafög" will pay this for me but I still need to send them prove of my immatriculation which I don't have yet because here in Argentina everything just takes a lot longer than expected... To be honest I feel extremely happy lately if something really works out the way it was supposed to work out! No lie! It's like a miracle here :-)
Well, now I'm gonna tell you something of the courses. I will have college every Tuesday and Wednesday evening (from 15-21 o'clock) and Thursday morning from 9-13 o'clock. All courses are offered a lot of times during the week, the time span is between 9-23 o'clock! Seriously! Especially the theoretical classes are in the evening, especially for those students that work. And here are A LOT of students that work fulltime until 7 or 8 pm and go to college after. This is why you see a lot of man and women in working dress at the college.
Now a word to the language:
Of course I don't understand a word! Okay, it's not that bad, I would say I understood 20% of what the profs are trying to tell me. It's terrible. But I was prepared for that experience. What can I expect? It's a little sad, yes, after almost 8 years of trying to learn Spanish having this bad experience but hey - the Argentinian accent is very hard and I was very released when I heard that many other students had the same problem of understanding than me. I hope this will better very soon otherwise I will have a BIG problem. So far I can tell that most of my Argentinian study mates are very nice, most of them are positively surprised when I tell them that I'm from Germany. The funny thing is that many Argentinians are asking me, what the hell I'm doing in Argentina when I'm from Germany where I've got everything I need! For them it seems to be a crazy thing to do. In almost every course I seem to be the only foreigner, but in one course there are a lot of people from the United States. The courses are not very simular to German colleges I would say. Well, a powerpoint presentation, which is totally normal in at the college in Augsburg, here is a miracle. I only have one professor that's using powerpoint. So the professors tell us a story 2 hours and its on our turn to write everything down we find important to keep. We also have to read a lot. Every week we have to read about 100-200 pages for one course, so I really should get started to read... (at the moment I feel like I'm reading the amount of the whole KW-Eilders Vorlesung Reader of "Einführung in die KW" or "Medienwirkung" in only one week and it's all in Spanish so I need more time to understand! help!).
One thing more to mention I think is that I got the impression that both professors and students are more active and ambitious in discussing. Especially the professors are very motivated here.
Today also my Spanish class started. Actually I wanted to take courses at the so-called "laboratoria de idiomas" of the UBA, which is THE center of learning languages in Buenos Aires. But last week was the inscription and the test of level which I wanted to take part in. The test of the level of spanish started on monday at 9 o'clock so we thought it's good enough to be there at 10. Unfortunately the places for the test only were full and so I had to take the test the day after. By then most of the classes have been closed already (because they're have been full, many students already signed up for those courses) so I was only offered one course which I couln't accept because I have another class at the same time at the UBA. So I decided to ask my faculty (they offer language courses, too) if I could join them. That was not a problem at all so I had my first class today. I will have 4 hours of Spanish each week, we're only 3 Germans and one teacher, so that's great.
So, that's for now, next time I will tell you something why I will move out, why I will probably not return to "la boca" (district of Buenos Aires) and how my first "asado" (barbecue) with a lot of Argeninians was :-)
Un beso!

news from Buenos Aires part 1 - social life/acitivities

Hola chicos! News from Buenos Aires!

I'm sorry, I was supposed to write a little earlier but some things are going on here, I've been pretty busy lately...
First of all I have to tell you that I like the city from day to day a little more. I get kind of used to the chaos, I met more people and I find my way through the city without getting lost :-). Now I will let you know what happened the last week: Last sunday (a week ago) I picked up Steffi (a girl I know from the college in Augsburg, she will stay in Buenos Aires for 13 months) from the airport. She will stay here until she finds a nice place to stay for herself. Since then we have been doing a lot together (last weekend we've been to Puero Madero - the harbour - for example, you can see pics here) which is very nice because we both are new in the city and the city is full of things to discover! But unfortunately lately we haven't really had the time to enjoy the city because we're both looking for a new room (following soon on a separated blog entry). Anyway - we do our best :-) Within the last few days I also got in touch with a bunch of people, thanks to a language "tandem", I met some nice argentinian people but of course I also met people mostly from Germany (man, you don't believe it but Germans are just everywhere in the world...), most of them study at the UBA too and we met a few times so far to see some places together. Last Sunday for example we took the bus to "Feria de Mataderos" (see also pics here), it's in a suburb of Buenos Aires and it's a very traditional place with a lot of great food, traditional rope to buy and other stuff. It was a really nice trip!
I also got the chance to get to know to Argentinan night life!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

You thought German bureaucracy was complicated? Well, it's nothing...

...compared to Argetinian bureaucracy! I my god! I tell you. I my god! Now I have to tell you my story about how trying to get my study visa. I didn't come further than TRYING. I still didn't get one and I wonder when and if I will really get one. Well, in order to get my visa, I needed a paper from the UBA that said that I was a student and that I would study. It also includes my date of arrival and the amount of time I will stay in this country. The woman from the UBA put a wrong arrival date on the paper accidently and also switched my 6 months stay to a 12 months stay. Well, at the beginning I though this wouldn't be such a big problem. Wrong guess. I somehow knew that this could be a problem, so I went back to the UBA to have this paper changed. Unhappily the woman from the UBA was out of office to make some copies. Unfortunately she didn't come back after 1 hour of waiting so I decided to leave and to try my best of the immigration hall. At the immigration hall - as I thought - they told me that I had to have these wrong details corrected. So I went back to the UBA (the woman who's in charge - wasn't there that day, so I had to return another day). There she gave me a letter that said that the details on the paper were wrong, that it was her fault and also she wrote down the real details. Back to the immigration hall they didn't accept the letter and told me to bring the original paper but corrected. I told the woman at the UBA that I needed the original paper changed which she was trying to do. First she had problems with her computer that refused printing out the corrected original. After having called the immigration hall for help she found out that she needed to come herself to the immigration hall PERSONALLY to correct the details because it was her fault and not mine... Honestly, I didn't know if it was better to laugh or cry. Unbelievable. This week she doesn't have time to go, maybe she's going next week. Anyway, she told me not to worry, she will let me incribe myself without this study visa (which was my only reason to obtain it). Lol. Fine with me. I wonder if I will able to get this visa at all within the time I spend here... Vamos a ver!