First Day of School

Hello, gringos.

Sorry, but I didn’t feel like translating my last post about arriving here in Tucumán and I still don’t. To make it up to you, I am going to write this post only in English and whoever doesn’t understand it will feel the same way y’all did upon looking at Una Tucumanita Nueva. Lex talionis: an eye for an eye. No, that’s not Spanish, it’s Latin. Super biblical.

Today was my first day of Argentine school. I’ve been on vacation since late January, when I finished my midterms at Lower Merion High School, home to the phrase “chalked,” girls who pair a full face of Sephora makeup with sweatpants and tees, token stoners, more than a fair share of Jews, a Rockefeller grandchild, other J.E.R.K.S. (junior “educated” rich kids), future Ivy Leaguers, current trust fundies, and a few Hondurans. Oh and the alma mater of Kobe Bryant. Minor detail. It’s also an institution that spends over $20,000 per student, courtesy of Main Line taxpayers in their mansions or driving their Range Rovers. Oh, the glory of life in the 610.

Anyway, today was my first day of elite public school in Center City San Miguel de Tucumán. Yes we have a uniform. It is supposed to look like a lab coat, perhaps because the school excels in sciences (and languages), but in actuality it makes me look like the Michelin Man. The school has the unofficial title “La vieja y gloriosa Escuela Normal de Lenguas Vivas” or “The old and glorious Normal School of Living Languages.” I have assigned the uniform an equally pulchritudinous title: “El grandote y fiero delantal de malvoviscura,” which translates loosely to “The gargantuan and fiercely ugly uniform of marshmallowosity.” There is even a specific type of obligatory socks. I suffered through a day with this uncomfortable footwear, but tomorrow I will be wearing my Darth Vader socks. #NoShameNovember. Also, I don’t like the way the girls button their uniforms. It’s sort of a French Maid style, with a Peter Pan collar and two ascot-ish danglies. So I’m sporting my starchy in keeping with the Mad Scientist aesthetic that the boys have going on. I’ve never been one for conformity. Luckily one of my friends feels the same way, so I’m not totally alone. And I didn’t get more weird looks than I normally would for being a gangly gringa among the mostly ochre Argentinos.

I’ve already been incorporated into my sister’s friend group, but today I made some new pals in Sociales, the track which I’ve chosen that consists of Economics, Culture, Psychology, and other things I’ve yet to discover. I also will be in an ESL class (I didn’t want to tackle French and confuse myself), something related to calc, and gym. For gym you can pick one of a variety of options and skill levels. I’m going to be taking advanced volleyball, which should be fun for this crazy Varsity middle blocker from the USA. Anyway, this morning my friend Anita who’s also in Sociales didn’t get to school until second period, so a girl named Belkys let me sit next to her. She was patient in explaining a few words to me, giving me the run down of how certain classes work, and replying to my sarcastic comments with a few of her own. Most of my classmates asked me interested questions, but especially Julieta, a super sweet ginger, and Gonzalo, a tall and mischeivous type. He wanted to know about my taste in music– “thumbs up or down for ‘Mar-oan’ Five?” (Thumbs up for their first album, thumbs down for their recent sugarcandy bubblegum pop nonsense) and a bit about politics– “Trump or Hillary?” (Neither.) We started passing notes via paper airplane in Tutoria, which is the equivalent of Advisory or perhaps LM’s AR and Harriton’s RAM from last year. Apparently, the word Tutoria means “nonessential information that makes everyone die of boredom.” Anyway, I met some other friendly people and will continue to do so. I’m pleased to say those enrolled in la Normal are a lot more welcoming than the Lower Merion crowd.

I say “those enrolled in la Normal” so as to exclude myself, as my dear AFS representative had not filled out the necessary paperwork nor even visited the old and glorious institution. This was her responsibility, but, as she put it “you must bear in mind that you arrived only just recently and these things are going to be adjusted or adapt with the passage of time.”  Which is a lovely way to say that 10 days isn’t enough for the local AFS personnel to enroll me and the two female  exchange students. At least Mamacita had paid the insurance fee, so we were able to convince the secretaries to let me stay the day so I’d get to know my classmates and my profes. We actually had to get the principal involved. He freaking escorted me to my classroom. Later on in the day, a woman came to the class to check in on me. I had to explain the lapse in judgement or perhaps slight incompetency of my study abroad program in respectful terms and promise that I’d get it taken care of that day. When she left the classroom I blew her a kiss. Maybe I’m not funny in Spanish yet, but at least I can get a few laughs using universal signals.

Another thing is that I’m sick. I already had a cold when I left Miami but with so much conversation it got worse and I almost lost my voice. I took cough drops and throat spray, I drank water and tea, and it is finally coming back. However, yesterday I ate something that had been out too long and now I have food poisoning. I’m not going to get graphic. Suffice it to say I am not feeling well and what doesn’t go up, must come down. Don’t tell me I never learned Newton’s laws in AP Physics. If you are a prayer, please pray for my health.Otherwise just hope for the best, keep following my blog and contact me with any questions, comments, joys or concerns. My argentine number is  +54 9 381 667 9748. Add it to your phone contacts, download the application WhatsApp and send me a message. Alternatively, you may comment below or email me at carlinacgreen@gmail.com.

Oh yeah, and look at the photos I posted in the blog entry “Una Tucumanita Nueva,” which I linked to above. More photos and stories to come. From Argentina I send you lots of love.

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