Argentina: Market in San Telmo

Submitted by Mariapia Scotto Di Carlo on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Argentina sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

I am writing my final reflection on going to El Mercado in San Telmo, also known as the Fiesta de San Telmo. This was an incredible experience for me because ever since we visited San Telmo on a group tour, I always wanted to go back. Lucky for me, we had some extra time this week so I and my housemates were all able to not only go back and see it again, but also experience the market. It was a long cobblestone street filled with amazing back to back vendors that stretched so far, by the end, we reached the Casa Rosada in Playa de Mayo (another thing we wanted to see for a second time actually)! I think the coolest thing to me was actually what each vendor was selling. On the left side of the street, tons of vendors were selling antiques of all kinds. Anything from old pesos, to plates, to old Coke bottles from the World Cup with soccer teams on them. On the right side of the street, there was anything and everything to buy. These items were along the lines of homemade jewelry, mate cups, art by local painters, Mafalda merchandise, and so much more. Upon walking further down the street festival, there were even stores – especially chocolate stores and those with homemade sweets handing out free samples. My housemates and I all walked around and were buying little gifts for our family and friends, but my favorite part was actually speaking with the vendors and hearing where they were from, or how they got into making their jewelry or selling what their products. They were so funny and it was cool to be integrated in the culture and learn their motives as to what they were selling. It was also amazing how it was all outdoors on such a beautiful day. It reminded me of a farmers market in the United States, but with so much more than fruit. I am so grateful I got to spend the Sunday at the market in San Telmo, it was beautiful, and I loved it!

Here is the picture I took for my Week 4 Reflection at the Fiesta de San Telmo in Buenos Aires, Argentina! This is a photo of street art, which one of the vendors was selling. It was just one of the many things being sold in the street on a beautiful day!


Amazing Panama

Submitted by Elise LaFramboise on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Panama sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

I have officially spent three weeks in Panama! I have been having such a fun time and I don’t want to go back to the United States. This weekend, for the first time, we traveled to somewhere relatively far away and stayed there for a night! It was an amazing experience. We went to Valle de Anton, which is a mountainous region in Panama. It was interesting to see the pace of life there compared to Panama City. Life is a lot slower paced in Valle, a more rural area, which I liked a lot. Everyone seems a lot more relaxed, and the town itself is very tranquil. It was a big change between the city and Valle de Anton, but I liked the change so much that I am thinking of going back to Valle de Anton next weekend. It was beautiful there! I have also enjoyed Panama so much that I am actually thinking about going to grad school here. They have grad schools for what I want to do (Occupational Therapy), so this is something that I am considering since I love the country! This week has been amazing and I am sad that my study abroad program is going to end in less than two weeks.

Brazil: Vivid Landscapes

Submitted by Lawson  Schultz on the 2020 winter session program in Brazil sponsored by the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences…

Over the weekend, we took a three day excursion from Rio de Janeiro to Inhotim and Tiradentes. All 19 people fit into one van. On the way to Inhotim, we went on a detour to Oscar Neimeyer’s house, also called Casa de Canoas. His living room had glass walls on both sides. One side overlooked his pool surrounded by a neat checkerboard lawn designed by Burle Marx, while the other included views of a large pond surrounded by various foliage. The whole area was surrounded by cloud spotted mountains.

Our next stop Inhotim, is a museum and botanical garden. The large park included dozens of paths, leading to outdoor sculptures, indoor exhibits, and beautiful plants. The exhibits included a variety of modern art displays, including sculptures, videos, and everything in between. The rain poured down during our entire visit to the park, but everyone had a partner and an umbrella to attempt to remain dry. While on the path, one group spotted a very small orange and black snake, later confirmed to be poisonous.

We got back into the van for another long drive, this time headed to the city of Tiradentes. In Tiradentes we stay in a beautiful lodge. The whole city had historic architecture, tiled roofs, and cobblestone roads. Many of us walked 5km to a waterfall. On the way there, we met a rust colored dog that followed us the whole way to the waterfall. Once we got there, we went swimming, enjoying the cold water. Later that day, back in the town square, a parade performed. People in costume on stilts, a lively band, and decorations lined the road, ending our time in Tiradentes with a bang.

Casa de Canoas
Inhotim Path
Tiradentes Church
Waterfall near Tiradentes

Argentina: The Birthplace of Tango

Submitted by Mariapia Scotto Di Carlo on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Argentina sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

This week, we were able to see an authentic tango show right where it originated, Buenos Aires! I had seen tango in movies and obviously heard of it, but being able to see the show was an incredible experience. The cast opened with a group dance with incredible costumes, energy, and music performed by a live orchestra above the stage. After the first act, pairs took turns sharing the stage performing different forms of tango (some faster, slower, etc.) It was so cool to see different flares added into the dance. There were also some singing acts that took place, one even sang a famous tango song we learned about in class! It was the coolest dinner and show I’ve ever been to. It was incredible being able to apply what we learned in class and have seen in movies to having it right in front of us. I’m so grateful for such an experience! The way the tango dancers moved was so fast and intense, it seemed like it was only one person! Truly an incredible experience!

Group shot of all the tango dancers together at the end of the show – the lights, music, and insane energy from the dancers made it a show to never forget!

Getting to Know Costa Rica

Submitted by Isiah Hiatt on the 2019 winter session program in Costa Rica sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures…

These week was eventful and exciting. Wednesday, we went to Alajuela, to the Juan Santamaría Museum. Juan Santamaría was a drummer in the Costa Rican army during the Filibuster War. He succeeded in setting fire to the hostel in Rivas that the opposing men were in, but died in the process. This act was a tremendous contribution to the Costa Rican victory at Rivas. Due to his sacrifice, he is a national hero of Costa Rica. Alajuela is very different from Heredia, where I am staying. Alajuela is very calm, quiet, and relaxing. While Heredia is quick-paced, people are always moving, and you feel like you always have to get somewhere.

Later during the week, we went to Monteverde. There we went on a night tour and were able to see some of the nocturnal animals and get a good look at Costa Rica’s diverse animal population. We saw frogs, snakes, toucans, a porcupine that was in a tree, and many more. It was a great experience and it was very interesting to see how the animals acted at night. Personally, I think my comprehension skills are increasing. I am able to understand most things people are saying if they speak at a reasonable pace. I have also noticed that some things I don’t have to translate to English anymore, which is interesting. By this I mean when someone says something in Spanish, I don’t even translate what they are saying in English while they are talking. Which shows that my comprehension is improving. I highly recommend a study abroad program to anyone who is interested in taking their language skills to the next level.

The first picture was a picture of a frog taken by Donald, who was a tour guide for our night tour in Monteverde, using my phone.
The second picture is of the Juan Santamaría statue in Alajuela.


Argentina: Passionate about Tango

Submitted by Regan Pavlock on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Argentina sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

During our third week in Argentina, everyone had the opportunity to dress up more formally than usual to attend a tango show at night. The show included dinner as well as a two hour long tango spectacular. When we arrived, we were offered foods typical of Argentina, such as steak and pasta, but we were also offered a tango lesson. Being able to learn something so important to the Argentine culture was very exciting to me, and it was a great opportunity to be able to learn the basic steps to such a traditional dance. This tango show inspired me to want to take a tango class outside of the activities scheduled for us during the program, because the elegance and energy between the dancer was something that was breathtaking for me. Once the show began, I had never seen dancers as talented and as skilled as the men and women who danced and sang the tango songs. I was inspired by this Argentine tradition in a way that I had not expected, and I am very grateful for the chance to have seen this performance in person. I was moved by the tango performance, and I felt that I could not compare tango to any American dance traditions, which I found interesting. As a common theme, I feel that Argentine people are more passionate about their country’s defining elements, such as tango, soccer, asado and mate, as opposed to American traditions and customs that are not as widely celebrated and advertised.

The Esquina Carlos Gardel Tango Show

Argentina: Learning about Tango

Submitted by Margaret Costello on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Argentina sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

This week, we got to see a tango show and I think that it was probably one of the top highlights of this program. We have been learning a lot about tango within our classes such as its origins, what the music means and what the dance symbolizes. As for the origins, tango was created right here in Buenos Aires. This is really cool because we were able to see a tango show in its birthplace. However, the show was very modern and much different than what tango was like when it first originated. The music that is sung during tango dances is always very sad and about loss of love. Tango music also contains a lot of lunfardo, which is the slang they use here in Argentina. Lastly, the dance is very sexual, erotic, and dramatic. We definitely saw this exemplified at the tango show that we saw. Overall, this was an amazing experience and one of my favorites so far. It was great to experience something that we have been learning in class since week one.

Argentina: Tango Showcase

Submitted by Adamari Rodriguez on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Argentina sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

By the third week, we have become pretty accustomed to the routine and schedule of an average day. On our last excursion for our study abroad program, we went to the Carlos Gardel Building which is known for its tango showcases. Our dinner was similar to the U.S. where we have an appetizer, main course, and dessert. However, the steak was so soft it could probably be cut with a spoon. After the dinner, we watched a tango showcase that was unbelievable.

As a dancer myself, I was very eager to compare the dance to what I practice. Argentina’s traditional dance of tango is extremely emotional and very sexy. Even though in the United States, dance couples rely on a lot of trust and precision, the level of trust these dancers in Argentina had was inexplicable. The female partner was thrown at incredible heights and was caught very close to the ground. In addition, in my dance company, we often have a story behind why a dance is the way it is from the song choice to the costume and dance moves. Similarly, the tango couples had a story behind each dance, but there was more emphasis on theater as well. Even the transitions went along with the story behind the showcase. The most interesting part of the performance was that all the music was performed live by an orchestra instead of being played from a recording. Overall, the dancers did what they intend to do which is to be entertainers. I had the opportunity to see their most cherished piece of art unfold on stage which was a great opportunity because the dance styles I practice are not what I would dance at casual gatherings whereas tango is danced both casually and professionally.

Carlos Gardel, San Nicolas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Panama: Getting to Know the People

Submitted by Melissa Lewis on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Panama sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

This week was full of many new experiences. It’s amazing that I can feel and hear how my Spanish is improving with all of my experiences. For example, I am talking more in my home with my hosts and with Pablo (our family addition). The opportunity I have to practice my Spanish at home helps me a lot when I go out. For example, I went to the mall and talked to the people in the shoe store for 30 minutes. I learned my foot size in this country (39). I had a good time.

On the weekend, I went to Casco Viejo with my friend Alyssa. We were exploring Casco Viejo and decided to ask the people who were around us instead of using our cell phones for directions! We met three new people. The first people were Miraña and Rosy in a small shop. We talked a lot and I learned that Rosy wants to travel around the world and Rosy is Cuban. Besides Rosy, we met another Cuban named Robert. He works at the Feeling restaurant and we had a good time. At the end of the week, I went to the beach with all of the students and had the opportunity to speak with more Spanish speakers. I learned how to dance salsa, too.

In the Villages, it was a bit difficult in the beginning to connect with the children. What I noticed is that when children see us students doing something the children want to do the same thing. Since the children are always ready to do something, I have to be prepared with a long list of activities and a lot of energy. This week has confirmed, again, how kind Panamanian people are and I love that. It doesn’t matter to anyone what people look like. What matters is the personality of a person.


Uruguay and Argentina: Sense of Community in the Cities

Submitted by Sara Bixler on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Argentina sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

This past weekend, our group traveled to Uruguay to visit Colonia and Montevideo. Colonia (which is pictured below) is a historic town that was one of the first areas in Uruguay to be settled. Montevideo is a more urban city, although this town is also surrounded by the river and there are many beaches lining the edges of the city. After living in Buenos Aires for the past few weeks and after visiting Montevideo, I have come to appreciate the active lifestyle of the people who live in these cities. I think it is a common assumption that people tend to walk instead of drive due to traffic and the pure convenience of many places when you live in the city. I think this is true in cities in Argentina, as well as in the United States. However, I have been surprised by how many people I have seen running or working out in the various parks throughout Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Many of the parks even have outdoor workout machines that people actually utilize. In addition, young families with children spend a lot of time in the parks together, and groups of people are often seen drinking Mate (a type of tea) together. The sense of community is very strong within these cities, despite the fact that it is a city. I found this rather surprising, because I do not think cities in the U.S. tend to have this same environment.