Now having been in Mendoza for a little over two weeks, I have settled into a routine. In the mornings, I eat a traditional Argentine light breakfast of toast, dulce de leche, and coffee. I’m not really a breakfast person so this works well for me. After breakfast, I catch the bus which drops me off near Plaza Independencia, which is only a short walk from the classroom. Class is two hours with a 30 minute break, and then the second two hour class. There is a small convenience store right across the street from the class building, which many of us frequent during the 30 minute break. The clerk has come to know most of us and enjoys practicing his English.
After class is over, I head back to the bus stop where I catch a ride back to the host family’s home. Once home, lunch is served with the whole family present. This is very different from the US in that the parents leave work for lunch at home along with the children leaving school. After lunch, it’s time for Siesta. This is the South American version of naptime. It can last anywhere from 3:00 to 5:00 or as late as 8:00pm. Dinner is usually served around 9:00 or 10:00pm. Dinner is usually much lighter than lunch due to lunch being the main meal of the day.
The four hours spent in class are very interesting. I am taking Dr. Thornton’s Economics of the Wine Industry and Latin American Economic Development. In the economics of wine class we discuss not only the production of wine but also the many market factors that are a part of the overall wine industry. Recently, Dr. Thornton set up a wine tasting at a wine club in Mendoza. We tasted wines which have generally been the main focus of our class from the Argentinian wine industry. We enjoyed a sauvignon blanc, a torrantes, and a flight of three malbecs which came from three different elevations in the Mendoza region. It was definitely an experience which greatly benefited our in class discussions.
The whole group recently went to a soccer match in Mendoza. It was a fun experience I will always remember for various reasons. We saw the match between Gordy Cruz and Arsenal. The visiting team (Arsenal) is from Buenos Aries so there was not much of a rivalry between the two teams. The overall turnout for the game was low, however we all still managed to have a great time. The stadium that the game was played in was built for the 1978 world cup which Argentina hosted. While the game was fun (even with the final score of 0-0) my favorite part was the extremely dedicated fans. The end section of the stadium was packed full of die hard Gordy Cruz fans who sang and waved flags during the entirety of the match.
Recently, I went through the process of switching host families. My original host family was extremely nice to me, however, their lifestyle and location of their home was not a good fit for me. I learned a lot during the switching process. I hope other students who study abroad will not have to switch host families for any reason. However, at the end of the day, remember that this is a once in a lifetime experience. Students are in no way ‘locked’ into staying with their host family if it is not a good fit. This experience shouldn’t be one where you are not having the best time possible while learning in a new culture. This experience is about you, the student. Do what makes you happy.