Argentina — Josh Miller

image11June 30th

I’ve been home for a few days now. I was surprised how large the shock would be returning to an English speaking community. Many of my classmates and I were still saying “por favor” and “gracias” without thinking. I am somewhat relieved though to be back in the states.

I really became close with my second host family. I enjoyed getting to know the kids and grandparents during the weekly asado’s on Sundays. I’ll also miss the family’shyper border collie, Símon. I know that I’ll keep in touch with them and hope to visit them again in the future. They made me feel like a member of their family and for that I am very thankful. My host family really made my time abroad memorable and enjoyable.

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My main piece of advice for students going abroad is to speak up if there is an issue with your host family. At first I was worried about speaking up about my problems with the host family. I did not want to make the family upset, or for them to lose money(since they are paid to host students). However, I was lucky enough to have the support of Dr. Palmer and Dr. Thornton who helped guide me through the process of switching host families. After switching host families, my whole experience changed for the better. I realized how important the host family’s role is in the experience of studying abroad.

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I’ll never forget my time abroad and I will look back on it as one of the best experiences of my life. I encourage all students to study abroad and to be immersed in a foreign culture.

 

 

Argentina — Josh Miller

June 30th

Now that I’ve been in Mendoza for a little more than three weeks, I feel that I am finally getting into the routine the people follow here. Typically, after classes are over at 1:30, I head home for lunch with the host family. In my new host family, the host parents are often busy at work during lunchtime. I usually eat with the three kids and the housekeeper. It is an interesting family dynamic to get used to but I really enjoy the change from the typical American routine.

This week, we toured a meat-processing factory. At first, I was less than excited to tour the facility. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The tour was very interesting and informative. In Dr. Thornton’s Latin American Economic Development class, we discussed how difficult it is for businesses to purchase machinery and heavy equipment necessary for production. Knowing this was a problem, a classmate asked the tour guide (who was actually the granddaughter of the founder of the company) this question. She explained that the machinery was mainly from Germany and Italy. She explained that the way her grandfather runs the business does not allow for debt to accrue. So, the company paid in full for all of the machinery in the factory. She also explained that the machinery had to be paid for in euros due to the weak exchange rate of the Argentine peso. We later discussed in class how difficult it is to acquire foreign currency in Argentina due to the government’s attempts at strengthening the value of their own currency.

Later in the week we toured Bodega Alta Vista. This Bodega is more of a ‘boutique’ operation compared to Familia Zuccardi’s bodega. We sampled three different complex wines with interesting origins from the Mendoza wine regions. Alta Vista differentiates their products from others by focusing on the terroir of the vineyards. The result is a premium product with a more specialized consumer market. I really enjoyed learning about their process and customer base.

Caskets of Wine

 

In the last full week of the study abroad experience I hope to continue to learn as much about the culture in Mendoza as possible.

 

At the Vineyard

Argentina Excursion

Professor Thornton shares some pictures from the May Term Abroad in Argentina program’s tour to of the Zucardi vineyard.  The students in the Wine Economics class impressed the tour guide with their knowledge!

Separating the leaves from the grape clusters:

Separating the leaves from the grapes clusters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating and Storing the Wine:

Wine creation The Finished Product

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Zucardi restaurant:

At the Zucardi Restaurant

Josh Miller — Mendoza, Argentina

June 8, 2015

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.

Vineyard Scene:

Vineyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Soccer 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.

 

Mendoza, Argentina — Josh Miller

May 27, 2015

 

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After traveling for around 24 hours, my fellow Hampden-Sydney students and I arrived in Mendoza Friday morning. The length of the travel time was the least stressful part of the trip though.

We arrived at the airport in Richmond ready to set out on the trip of a lifetime. We immediately ran into problems at the check in desk, this was a small portion of the problems we would face. We had been previously informed that the airline would allow us to have two checked backs at no extra cost due to our international flight. The staff at the desk quickly told us this was not the case. Each person who wanted to check a second back then had to pay an extra $75 for their checked bag to make it all the way to Mendoza.

The connection in Atlanta went smoothly. We then set out to Miami. Once arriving in Miami, we headed to the gate of our flight to Santiago. Once there, we attempted to obtain our boarding passes from the staff there, however, we were informed that we would all need to exit the area and retrieve our other boarding passes from the front desk. After having Dr. Thornton watch all of our things at the gate, we made our way back through the airport and received our new boarding passes. The worst part was having to go back through security (for those who may not know, the TSA in the Miami airport are not very pleasant).

We then boarded the plane to Santiago; the flight went well. After landing in Santiago and hanging out for about an hour, we had finally boarded the flight to Mendoza. It was finally setting in that we were so close to what will be a very fun and educational month abroad. This flight was my favorite due to the striking views of the Andes Mountains as we soared over them.

After landing in Mendoza, we went finally met our host families. I met my host “mom” and “sister.” I was somewhat nervous about meeting them, mainly due to my incomplete knowledge of Spanish. However, I was quickly relieved when I realized that I know enough to communicate and that they were very patient when I attempted to have conversations with them. This is the first time I have been totally submersed in a culture so different from the United States and I am quickly realizing how beneficial this experience is.

After leaving the Airport with my family, we drove to our home. The house is located in a residential area of the city. It is only one block away from Mendoza’s largest and most beautiful parks. My host mom and one of her daughters live in the home. My host mom’s 6-year-old granddaughter visits daily.

My first impression of Mendoza is that it’s a beautiful city with a lot of culture. Many of the people here are from a European background, which gives them an interesting dynamic. My favorite part of the culture is siesta. Businesses close and people leave work to eat lunch with their families. After lunch, everyone actually takes a nap! This is so different from the US but I really enjoy having time to relax in the middle of the day.

I am most looking forward to learning my way around the city and trying as many new types of food and wine as possible during my time here. I want to absorb as much of the culture as I can.

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Argentina May Term Abroad

The H-SC May Term Abroad Program arrived safely in Mendoza, Argentina on Friday.  Here are some of the pictures Dr. Thornton has sent.  Thanks, Dr. Thornton!

Look for posts soon from our student blogger, Josh Miller!

About to Board the Plane

 

 

 

 

 

 

About to Board the Plane in Richmond

Argentine Steak for Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Argentine Steak for Lunch

14 Floors Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 Floors Up

San Martin Monument

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Martin Monument

A view of the Andes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andes View

Traditional Asado Dinner with Program Host Leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Asado Dinner of Grilled Meats with Program Host Leader

 

 

Taking Part in a Foreign Culture

By Justin Smith ’11

As Americans, we often find ourselves visiting other countries, whether it be for business or vacation. We spend a week or two shopping, eating out, and visiting famous museums and beaches. We then return home, making the claim that we visited “this place, that place, and everywhere else”. But do we truly understand the countries we visit? Do we take part in their culture, discovering what makes them so unique? I thought about these questions as I partook in the study abroad program to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I wanted to experience what it meant to be Argentine, that I could then share my experiences and observations.

One of the first things I had to get accustomed to was the family life in Argentina. My host family consisted of my host mom, Marta, whom I love dearly; my host brother, Nicolas, who was crazy about guitars, jazz, and blues; and the cat, Martina, who somewhat despised my existence, except at mealtimes. One thing I found interesting was that the children usually stayed at home until they got married. This is because it is so expensive to get an apartment, which is what most people live in, that they have to wait until they can live with a spouse. Thus, oftentimes, there would be thirty-year-olds living with their parents. This does not seem to be a problem, as most families in Argentina are extremely close; this is true for the extended family as well. At least once per week, Marta invited her sister, her brother, nieces, nephews, an the occasional friend over to the apartment. There was always something going on with the family. Another interesting fact is that the members of the family are often very open with each other. For example, one day Marta asked me how my life was going with my lady friends. I told her it was fine. I didn’t realize that any other Argentine would have gone into some detail, variations of such depending on the person. As I didn’t offer more information, she began to pry. That was when I learned that almost anything was up for discussion when dealing with families. To be honest, I got a kick out of it!

One other thing I find important when traveling are the friendships. If you don’t have the luxury of being with a family when you travel, you should definitely try to make some good friends! Making friends is another way to experience the culture of the place you’re visiting. I found my friends to b every interesting. From what I saw, most people in Buenos Aires are extremely outgoing. When I was invited to go hang out with my friends, it was often in groups of three to ten. We would go to parks, museums, coffee shops, movies, etc. One thing what intrigued me was that not once did we go out to movies, or watch TV, and call it a night.l Always, without fail, we talked, and talked, and talked. Talking, for Argentines, is the method by which one gets to know one’s friends. And they talk for hours on end, whether it be joking, politicking, or just a friendly conversation. What’s even more interesting is what I call the “ceremony of talking”. Usually, when we got together, someone would have a strong tea called “mate.” They would pour hot water from a jug into a mate gourd, and then pass it to someone. The person drinking could not way “thank you” until they were done drinking (I learned this after my friends looked at me weirdly when I did so beforehand.) The gourd would then go back to the server, who would pass it to another person. When the water ran out, the server would run and get more. This went on the entire time they were conversing. It was truly an interesting experience, one that I repeated many a time.

What I depicted was but a small part of the things I took part in. If you are fortunate enough to travel somewhere, make it worth your while. It’s fun to go clubbing almost every night of the week, but it’s also beneficial to get in on the culture. There are many way s to go about it: talk to shop owners, go to performances, take a walk to national museums, etc. We may say that the world is a small place, but it gets bigger with every new culture we take part in. So: don’t pass up a great opportunity the next time it comes around. You never know what you might learn!