What I am up to these days, and how my future looks!

Hey all! Since many of you have been asking what I am doing these days, and what my future plans are, I have decided to write a blog entry clearing everything up!

So I just spent 4 months (End of June-Mid October) living in Córdoba, Argentina learning Spanish and interning for a great company. I had probably the best experience of my life there, and met so many great people. I really love how the Argentinians live and are so open and welcoming!

I know this internship was required for my studies, and the initial plan was to return to Berlin to continue my studies, I had a realization while abroad. I realized that I don’t want to continue studying in the German language. Although my German is pretty much fluent, I still struggle when it comes to writing and grammar. Studying in German is possible for me, but it is difficult, and I don’t see why I should have to make myself work extra hard when I could study in my native language. Sure, I should have realized that before I decided to study in German, but I didn’t expect it to be so difficult. I am also more than disappointed with my university here, and their lack of support and organizational skills, but that is another argument.

So I have decided to transfer universities. I am not exactly sure yet where I will pick up my studies, but I am currently applying. Since I study tourism and it is a specialized subject, it is only offered at smaller private universities, meaning starting once a year (in the northern hemisphere’s autumn!) That leaves me about 10 or 11 months of “free” time.

I am currently in Berlin, getting ready to move out. It is sad, but at this time there are no possibilities for me here. I am ending contracts, looking for someone to take over my lease, etc. Soon I will return to California to spend some time with my family and friends, and help my dad out with working! I am very much looking forward to it! I am also working doing some translations for a friends company (www.learnboost.com). And doing work for the company (www.startspanish.com) that I interned for in Argentina (more on that later!).

My next BIG step, is moving back to Argentina in February!! Like I said before, I had the most amazing time, and dream of going back and continuing my life where I left off. I also need to continue improving my Spanish skills as I have not reached the level I would like to be at! I have also been offered a great job that I can’t resist! Córdoba, Argentina is where I want to be at this point in my life and summer in February will also be a nice change too ;). But don’t worry, I do plan to finish my studies and get my bachelor’s degree, I just don’t see why I need to rush through my studies, this economy is horrible anyways. Whoever started the standard that “getting a degree by age 22 is necessary” is crazy. Look at me, I am trilingual (working on language 4 and 5 too ;)), living all around the world and making friends, networking and having REAL LIFE work experience! This is a life experience that going to class in a classroom can’t give me! Overall, I am happy enjoying the moment and looking forward to the future too!

Thanks for reading and I hope this entry has answered your questions!

Keep reading for more updates!

-Nat

Cordoba ❤

My last view of Cordoba

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Santiago de Chile

I spent 6 days in the end of September in Chile and 4 of them in Santiago de Chile. I needed to leave Argentina so I didn’t overstay my legal 3 months there (tourist visa!).

I was lucky I had a friend (through another friend) in Santiago who offered to have me stay at his place and show me around Santiago! During the time I was in Chile the Universities were still protesting for a free education,which had been going on for more than 2 months already. To my luck my friends in Chile and their friends had a lot of free time to show me around and have fun,but I believe Chile should finally have free education like their Argentinian neighbors. Its crazy and many students have been literally living in their faculties to make a statement!

Anyhow I enjoyed Santiago, I found the city very beautiful at the base of the Andes mountains and also not far from pacific coast. I did however find the common city people much ruder than the Argentinians. People seemed to push me out of the way when I got on the bus, and just weren’t overall very friendly. But of course, my friends are and I had a great time!

Enjoy the pictures.. the highlights of my trip to Santiago

Drinking Terremotos (Earthquakes) literally White wine, Fernet and pineapple ice cream.. one of those and I was finished!

University Protests

The view from above!

The Scary funicular ride!

Some more pictures

…..and the BEST part (although a bit bumpy!)

Flying over the Andes!

I took a video!

English and Mate

When I arrived to Córdoba in June I asked the man working at my agency ways I could get to know more people here. One of the interns told me about “English and Mate” and to look it up on Facebook then join the group. I did just that, and decided to go one cold winter day. I took my German friend Desiree with me because I didn’t want to go alone to an apartment of someone I hadn’t met before.  A lot of people showed up and we all went around in a circle introducing ourselves.

When it was my turn I said “Hi, I am Natalie, 22 years old originally from Northern California, but I have been living and studying in Germany the past three years. I came to Argentina for an internship and will stay in Córdoba for a one month intensive language course, and then I will move to Buenos Aires for three months where I will do my internship.”  After I introduced myself, Jeff the creator of English and Mate said something like “Buenos Aires huh? Ha, yeah we will check in with her in a month.” It was quite ironic because a month later I did end up returning to Córdoba from Buenos Aires!

English and Mate was started by Jeff Weiser, an American from Philadelphia who has lived the past 2 or so years here in Córdoba. His vision was to start a group where Argentinians could get together and practice their English together. Over time it has become an English speaking community for people from all over the world, and a possibility to learn more about Argentinian culture.

English and Mate is the highlight of my weeks here. We meet on Thursdays at 7 PM in a central part of the city: La plaza de la intendencia(or an apartment depending on the weather!). At this time, the plaza is usually filled with young people hanging out drinking Maté. Usually between 15-40 people attend English and Mate, depending on the weather.  The warmer it is, the more the people show up. We sit and drink mate, and speak about certain topics for about 2 hours in English. The group is made up of about 50% Argentinians and 50% foreigners from all parts of the world, especially Europeans and US-Americans. It’s a great group because it allows people to practice their English, and meet other cool people. I have made a lot of really nice friends from English and Mate!

Afterwards we always walk together to a bar and have “Español y cerveza”. I try my best to use this opportunity to improve my Spanish and enjoy some beer. It’s fun and once in a while we continue to a boliche (club) to keep the party going!

If you ever come to Córdoba, Argentina you MUST check this group out! You won’t regret it! I don´t know what I am going to do without my English and Mate Thursdays!

Some pictures:

Plaza de la intendencia – Where English and Mate takes place

English and Mate

Cerveza y español

Check out the website here:

Check out and become a fan of the Facebook page here:

A few things I love about Argentina

After spending nearly 3 months in Argentina I thought it would be a nice idea to write the things and customs that I very much enjoy here. Some of these apply to Argentina in general and others, particularly Córdoba.

I love how people tend to be friendly and helpful even if there is a language barrier. I haven’t experienced any rude people (In Córdoba) yet.

I love how the Argentinians tend to be “nocturnal”, people here tend to go to bed later than in the other countries I’ve lived in, and prefer sleeping in. I like that as I am not a morning person! Also a night out starts with dinner around 10/11,then heading to a bar around 12:30/1 and then to a club from 2-5 A.M. No hours of the night wasted. I love it!

Mate! Mate is more than just a drink, it’s a ritual here. The Argentinians like to load up their Mates, sit together and pass it around while eating some Alfajores or criollitos, etc. It’s a social gathering especially between lunch and dinner time (around 5-7 PM) all the parks and city squares are filled with people having Mate, Its fantastic!

The weather! (In Córdoba). When I decided to come to Argentina during winter I was a bit upset to be missing out on summer, but I don’t think I have experienced one day of rain since I have been here! The sun is shining almost every day and the climate is dry, so it’s great for breathing!! It’s not even very cold here and people spend a lot of time outside.

The buses. I know weird right? Usually I don’t like buses, but there are some pretty comfortable air conditioned buses that I’ve taken to nearby cities, the mountains, etc. I have not yet been on a long distance bus, but I have heard that the “cama suite” (bed suite) is rather luxurious!

Two words: Fernet and Cola!! The national drink of Argentina (particularly Córdoba), I love it, and I also find Fernet Menta and Sprite a great combination!

The Italian food. I know I am not in Italy here, but if it weren’t for the Italian food I don’t think I would survive here as a vegetarian! The pizza is probably some of the best I’ve ever had in the world (sorry Italy), and the helado (ice cream) is FOR SURE the best I have had in the world, I know this because I am not a fan of ice cream, and even I find it delicious here!

That’s it for now. Of course there are many things I love about Argentina, these are just a few!

I’ve spent a lot of my life in airports

Since I have been fortunate enough to travel a lot in my young life, I thought it would be interesting to write out and count the airports Ive been in. Some more frequently than others, and a few I didn’t even leave the airport. Over my 22 years of life I have been to 44 airports in 14 different countries! Here is the list. Ones with a “*” are airports I have frequently visited. I hope to continue adding to this list as my life goes on!

Argentina:

Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, Buenos Aires (AEP)

Ministro Pistarini International Airport, Buenos Aires (EZE)

Ingeniero Aeronáutico Ambrosio L.V. Taravella International Airport, Cordoba (COR)

Canada:

Calgary International Airport, Calgary (YYC)

Toronto Pearson International Airport, Toronto (YYZ)

Denmark:

Københavns Lufthavn, Kastrup, Copenhagen (CPH)

England:

London Heathrow Airport, London (LHR) *

London Stansted Airport, Essex (STN)

Birmingham Airport, Birmingham (BHX)

Germany:

Frankfurt International Airport, Frankfurt am Main (FRA)*

München Franz Josef Strauß Flughafen, München (MUC)

Flughafen Schönefeld, Berlin (SXF)*

Flughafen Tegel, Berlin (TXL)*

Flughafen Frankfurt-Hahn, Kirchberg (HHN)

Leipzig-Altenburg Airport,Altenburg (AOC)

Iceland:

Keflavík International Airport, Keflavik (KEF)

Ireland:

Dublin International Airport, Dublin (DUB)

Italy:

Aeroporto de Torino, Torino (TRN)

Milano Malpensa Airport, Milan (MXP)

Caravaggio International Airport Bergamo Orio al Serio, Bergamo (BGY)

Mexico:

Manuel Márquez de León International Airport, La Paz (LAP)

Scotland:

Glasgow International Airport, Glasgow (GLA)

Edinburgh Airport, Edinburgh (EDI)­

Spain:

Aeropuerto de Málaga, Málaga (AGP)

Sweden:

Stockholm Skavsta Flygplats,Nyköping (NYO)*

Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Stockholm (ARN)*

Switzerland:

Geneva International Airport, Geneva (GVA)

United States:

Arizona:

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix (PHX)

Tucson International Airport, Tucson (TUS)*

California:

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, San Jose (SJC)* [Home airport]

San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco (SFO)*[Home Airport]

Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles (LAX)

Bob Hope Airport, Burbank (BUR)

John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana (SNA)

LA/Ontario International Airport, Ontario (ONT)

San Diego International Airport, San Diego (SAN)

Hawaii:

Kahului Airport,Kahlui, Maui (OGG)

Honolulu International Airport, Honolulu, Oahu (HNL)

Illinois:

Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Chicago (ORD)

Nevada:

McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas (LAS)

New Jersey:

Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark (EWR)

Washington:

Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, Sea-Tac (SEA)

Washington D.C.:

Washington Dulles International Airport, Dulles,VA (IAD)

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington D.C. (DCA)

Airlines I’ve been on:

  •  Aerlingus,
  • American Airlines
  • Air Berlin
  • Air Canada
  • British Midlands
  • BMI Baby
  • British Airways,
  • Continental Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  •  EasyJet
  •  Air India
  • Germanwings
  • Icelandic Air
  • LAN-Argentina
  • Lufthansa
  • Ryanair
  • Southwest Airlines
  •  United Airlines
  • U.S. Airways

My first real adult decision!

Coming to Buenos Aires was a dream of mine since the past year. I constantly Googled the city for pictures and more information, I bought tons of books, asked friends who had traveled there what it was like, and even managed to make some friends from Buenos Aires currently living in Germany.

For my internship I definitely wanted to leave Europe for a different experience and learning Spanish was the goal. I also like the Argentinian dialect! So when I found an agency able to find an internship in Buenos Aires for me I was ecstatic! I had to wait 2 months before I got offered a job, and when that day came (May 8th, 2011) I went out and drank liter cocktails at a local bar to celebrate.

For the agency I needed to submit a Spanish exam so they could test my level of Spanish and see if it was sufficient enough to start the job immediately. As I expected it wasn’t so they said I needed to take a language course before my internship, and that the language school was located in Córdoba (the 2nd largest city in Argentina). I thought, oh man I just want to go directly to Buenos Aires and start working, but oh well. Afterwards I was excited to have the chance to live in 2 main cities in Argentina.

I spent a month in Córdoba taking intense Spanish classes and meeting a lot of great people. It’s a student city with about 1.5 Million, but it’s somewhat safe and laid back. Córdoba also has the best weather in Argentina, and a very nice dry climate. A man working for my agency told me on my first day that Che Guereva  moved to Córdoba because it was a better climate for his asthma. The nature surrounding the city is also amazing, with many mountains and lakes. I had one of the greatest months of my lives in Córdoba.

When the time came to move to Buenos Aires, I made sure to say bye to all my friends which was very hard. I was excited though, to finally come to this big amazing city and meet people and enjoy the big city life. I was shocked immediately when I moved into my house here, and it was not catering to my health. The woman has a dog and a cat, and I am highly allergic, and she smokes inside the house which is bad for my asthma. Besides that I live on the widest avenue in the world (Av. 9 de Julio) so it’s always very loud with sirens, cars, and buses. I realized I needed to get out of this living situation so I contacted my agency and they said they would look for a new place. I attended the first day of my internship but left even early on that day because I got so sick with the flu, I had the chills etc. I had a fever with a temperature the next 3 days, and a week later I am still getting over my sickness. I really enjoyed the job though; it is ideal  for tourism. www.sayhueque.com  The boss is from United States and was very nice and helpful. My first day was research but afterwards he was expecting me to write stories promoting destinations. Like I said, I really liked the job; the commute to work was terrible though. It took about 45 minutes door to door. The subway here has a good connection but it’s very humid, and I noticed myself sweating badly and having difficulty breathing. I am thankful I haven’t encountered the “subte” during rush hour because I really heard that is miserable.

Since my agency is based out of Córdoba and not in Buenos Aires, they are not so well developed in Buenos Aires which is understandable, so that made me wonder how long it would take them to find me another accommodation here. Out of curiosity I asked if it was possible to return to Córdoba, and said if not that’s possible it’s ok. I just wanted to know. The women responded very quickly and said yes it was possible and even proposed a new internship. I was surprised and thought; wow perhaps I should go back. I had a terrible week here and it is a fact that the climate here is very humid. I noticed it was tight in my chest as soon as I arrived and sweat instantly. The humidity in Buenos Aires is about 70-90% and in Cordoba around 20-40%. The hard decision was – Do I stay in Buenos Aires possibly living in this terrible house for a long time but having a job that’s very interesting even though the commute is terrible. Or Do I return to Córdoba where I was more than happy with my life, friends, and the climate, but have a possibly less interesting job? I spoke with some people about it for advice and came to the conclusion to go back to Córdoba. For my health the climate is better, the nature nearby is fantastic and accessible, I love my friends I’ve made, living costs are cheaper, and my commute to work will probably be about 10 minutes walking.

I am very happy with my decision even though I am still asking myself if I will regret leaving Buenos Aires. It’s amazing how your views of somewhere can change after you experience it first-hand. I never imagined that I would learn to love Córdoba so much and long to come back, but it’s come to that point. Overall I found more pluses in returning to Córdoba then staying in Buenos Aires. I suppose sometimes leaving a good job opportunity behind for health and happiness is the right thing to do.

Looking forward to seeing how these next 3 months play out.

That’s it for now

First week in Argentina (Córdoba)

After an intense tiring 1.5 days in Buenos Aires, I headed to the National airport (Aeroparque Jorge Newbery) to catch my flight to Córdoba. The taxi ride there I spoke Spanish with the taxi driver and somehow understood everything! I suppose my Spanish is better than I thought. I also got a “tour” of Buenos Aires through all the barrios (districts) that I will explore on my own in a few weeks! Once I got to the airport the people at LAN airlines were so nice and allowed my 5 extra Kilos without paying! I just had to show the woman my ticket from Germany to Argentina to prove I came from Europe, and then she let it go! Something like this would never fly in European Airports. People are more chilled over here. The flight was delayed 2 hours but we finally took off! The flight was nice and short.

When I arrived, I saw on the screen that most flights to Córdoba had been canceled due to the volcano in Chile. I was very lucky that I arrived without a problem! I walked out of the gate and didn’t see anyone waiting for me. For a minute I panicked but then I got a phone call from Maria, the woman my dad will do business in the future with. She said she was at the airport and then we found each other. She was so nice, helped me out by calling my roommate, and waited with me until my ride showed up.  I finally got picked up by a man working at my agency and he took me to my apartment. My roommates are nice! They are 26 and 28 and a couple. They don’t speak any English or German though so I am forced to speak Spanish all the time which is good.

On the next day it was Sunday and they had an “Asado” here. This is a fancy word for an Argentinian BBQ. About 10 people showed up and I helped set up on the rooftop. We grilled vegetables for me, and my roommate’s mother made some delicious salads suitable for a vegetarian! But as most of you know Argentina is famous for their meat. I have NEVER seen SO MUCH meat in my life! I swear, it seemed as if 10 people ate 5 animals. The meat kept coming and coming! I have to admit it did look and smell good, but not enough to tempt me yet. It was fun to talk to people though and enjoy the sun and good food. Afterwards there was a soccer game, Córdoba vs. Buenos Aires and unexpectedly Córdoba won! After the win I heard fireworks going off, cars honking their horn, chaos in the streets! South Americans take their football very seriously I suppose!

The language course began the next day. I walked to class, it took about 30 minutes, but it was even scary to cross the street! You really have to watch out here! My class is 4 hours a day. Theoretical Spanish from 9-12 then we have a break until 1 PM, afterwards we have 1 hour of “hands-on training” This lesson takes place for example in a supermarket or a pharmacy so we learn all the words from these places. There’s one other guy in my “class” from Bielefeld. He is nice and cool, but not really interested in being social and meeting people like I am. After class we usually go to lunch together and chat for a few hours before heading home.

Life is great here though. People are so friendly, always willing to help and speak Spanish slowly to me so that I understand. They also seem so interested to know where I am from and what I am doing here. Two days ago, my shoe laces ripped, and my roommate took me to this window, yes literally a window where I asked for shoelaces, and the lady got some for me I paid my 4 pesos and then she said adios and closed her window. The supermarkets are different too. I have to ask for which vegetables I want and a man picks them out for me then weighs them. That’s the same with cheese, a lady takes a huge piece of cheese and cuts how many ever grams you want and weighs it. The Argentinians love their bread and sweet stuff. It seems everywhere I go everything is with bread or sugar. I am doing my best to keep vegetables a part of my daily diet! But to be honest, being a vegetarian here is not easy. There are options but most of the vegetarian food I have tried is not very good.

Another crazy thing I see on a daily basis is a horse carriage going by on my street. I suppose they are picking up bottles or transporting something, but its funny hearing the horses walk by every so often. To take a warm shower or a shower at all I have to turn the water on in the shower, then in the sink in the kitchen and then wait a few minutes before it works. It’s confusing!  Once in a while a “talking car” goes by, literally a car with speakers taped to the top. I assume it’s some kind of advertising, but I have never seen anything like it. Other than that there’s lots of wild dogs running around, people crossing the street in the middle of cars, and lots more craziness here. None of these are complaints, just observations I’ve made. I am most definitely enjoying myself and look forward to what’s next! That’s it for now! Adios

Some pictures:

View over CórdobaLa CatedralEn el Centro de CórdobaMi primera asado!Amazing sunset on our rooftop!