Today we did not hike mountains or get a surf lesson, we stayed at school. It sounds boring but today was one of my favorite days. Oh Tuesday we had prepared PowerPoint presentations to show to some 4th graders. We presented them today and it was a lot of fun. The topic my group spoke about was American holidays and traditions. Although it was a boring PowerPoint, all the kids were attentive and asked questions which made it fun. After we presented our presentations, we went outside for recess with the kids. We played soccer with this small, old, foam soccer ball that could barely even be called a ball. Nonetheless, the kids had a ball (pun intended) playing soccer with us and I had great time too. Toward the end of recess I accidentally kicked their ball on the roof of the school and we all laughed about it but we ultimately could not play soccer anymore. At some point after that I casually took out my iPhone to see if I had any notifications and all the little kids suddenly crowded around me in awe at my phone. Apparently iPhones are extremely expensive in Argentina compared to the US, especially a new iPhone 6, and very few people have them. I felt bad for kicking their ball on the roof so I let them play with my phone and they seemed to enjoy that even more. Eventually recess came to an end and it was time to say goodbye. We took a few pictures and I gave all of the kids a hug goodbye.
After that fun morning, we went to a classroom to write a short essay about our time in Mar del Plata and thank you notes to our families because today is our last day in Mar del Plata. That led to lunch, which was some sort of potato pie that actually tasted pretty good. With it we had salad and their classic alfajores dessert. After lunch we headed up to the senior library in the attic for a culture presentation. There was no air conditioning so the room was quite hot, but we survived. It was getting close to dismissal but before we left we were graced by a beautiful ceremony to say goodbye to us Americans. It was extremely sad to formally say goodbye to all the friends we had made during our week and a half in Mar del Plata. I know I will miss them a lot.
– Jack Wakeham
After school on the final day in Mar del Plata, Hannah, Vicky and I went to Guemes to go shopping! The shopping trip consisted of eating ice cream, buying gifts for friends, family, and ourselves, and strolling the streets. We headed home to get ready for our final meal with our host family at Antares, a local restaurant known for its awesome French fries! We met up with a lot of other hosts and friends there, laughed, and made the most of our last night together. We headed to Buenos Aires tomorrow and as sad I am to leave my host family and Mar del Plata, I’m so excited to see Buenos Aires and enjoy the remainder of the trip!
Today was close to a normal day at school but not quite. We were instructed into groups to create a powerpoint presentation for teaching 9-10 year olds on different American topics including food, sports, holidays, traditions and Norfolk Academy. Thankfully no bibliography was necessary!
While all of us had had a small breakfast we were craving a good lunch. However, at lunch time it was time to learn about empanadas and make them. While we all enjoyed creating our own lunch in different formations to keep the meat and other ingredients inside of the meal. Different shapes including squares and teardrop. It was very fun and as Señora was taking a photo of us she mistakenly stated for us to “show me our empanadas!” After completion of our masterpieces they were ready to cook… for 30 minutes! By the time we were served out piping hot meal our stomachs had folded in on themselves.
The rest of the day consisted of finishing our impromptu powerpoint and planning the rest of our evening! That evening I had the opportunity to go on a shopping adventure! My host Lorenzo was working out at the gym which gave me the chance to go with his mother shopping for my family. Listening to someone trying to sell you something speaking a foreign language at 100 mph is not easy…I ended up calling Lorenzo to help me translate! Eventually we found a store where I could easily purchase a gift. After a wonderful chickn lasagna dinner I had the opportunity to go to a small birthday party for Lorenzo’s friend where we played a game of billiards and got to view a wonderful 1980 BMW. The car topped off the day ending it with a taxi ride home and a quick entry to bed.
– Ryan Dixon
Hola! We began the day today with “chapel” where the director of the school delivered an inspiring address to the students about their potential and that they are able to do whatever they set their minds to. From there, the students dismissed to classes and we followed close behind, shadowing classes in the upper school. After a short break, we all ventured to the library where we dispersed into groups to work on presentations about American culture that we will present to the junior school. For my group, our topic was American food. Needless to say, we all got a little homesick from googling pictures of different American foods. Salivating from these pictures, it was time for lunch.
Instead of our typical lunch from the cafeteria, we got the pleasure of making our own lunches. This included homemade empanadas and a tasty desert. Before we were hands-on in our cooking experience, we viewed short instructional videos on how each recipe is made. Now it was our turn to try it out. For many, the folding of the empanada dough seemed to be the hardest part. After what seemed like an endless wait, we were served our hot, baked empanadas. We even made vegetarian empanadas for Haley and Megan which consisted of only cheese and onion rather than beef.
After our late lunch, we enjoyed an extended period of free time where many finished their presentations, worked ahead on homework, and played the new hit game, Dot Up (P.S. Josh holds the record with 206). As usually, we left school with each of our hosts. However, many met up later in order to either go shopping, work out, tan, etc. All in all, we had a great day together and we are enjoying our last few days in Mar del Plata. Adios!
To begin the second week of our stay in Argentina we took a field trip to “La Serranita” hills. We all arrived at school at the normal time except for Haley who we later had to pick up at her hosts house on our way to the hills. We left the school around 9:00am and got to the hills about an hour later. We immediately saw a small shack that held our food and our tour guides. We then begin our tour straight up the hill with a pre-determined path. Several minutes later 2 walking sticks chose me and Keivan. One tour guide called me Gandalf.
After a lot of walking, climbing, jumping and ninja like material we arrived to the place in which we would repel down. We would only be repelling halfway down the hill. The tour guides took groups of five to put on their helmets and hook up to the rope. We learned that one hand is used for feeding the rope and the other can be used to push away from rocks. Finally it was my turn and he hooked me up to the rope and gave me a quick debriefing. The start was the worst but once you started it was much easier. Once everyone made it safely to the halfway mark we all sat around on a rock with some shade to enjoy our two sandwiches and water. After our quick lunch one by one we where able to rock climb if we wanted to. Will Whitmore being the fastest one to the top in 60 seconds made it look easy. Indeed it was not easy. I tried and failed along with many others because the middle had no place to put your feet.
Once we were finished with that we got our bags and continued our journey back to the top where we originally started. We all made it down at around 3:00pm to give us 30 minutes to catch our breaths and buy some water. We got on the bus and arrived an hour later just in time for their school to be ending. As usual we dispersed into our families car and headed out to our host houses. ¡Adios!
– Josh Kemp
Today we ventured to La Serranita to hike and to propel down the mountain. We arrived around 10 in the morning and were all amazing by the height of the mountain, it was incredible. We started our trek immediatley while walking through a man made path through plants and rocks. The clOser we got to the mountain the steeper the steps were, but the more challenging it was the more fun we had. Getting to the top was one of the most amazing feelings I’ve had this entire trip and seeing the view was so rewarding.
After we made it to the top we hiked around the mountain and propeled around 50ft to the ground. When we all finished we enjoyed lunch and spent time together until we had to leave. Getting to experience the view and the gratitude of hiking a mountain made this exchange extremely unique and an opurtunity of a life time.
You know your day is going to be great when you’re running on about an hour and a half of sleep (and the day before you slept for maybe five hours) and you lose your voice and can’t get a sentence out without coughing or having a voice crack. But of the last 41ish hours I have been awake, there has not been a boring moment. Yesterday (Saturday) was amazing. We went to the farm and tubed and rode horses (as you probably know from the other blogs), but my favorite part was riding horses. I practically rode the horses all day, so my thighs are chaffed, the muscles that I didn’t know existed are incredibly sore, and I still can’t walk straight. All of yesterday’s activities are hitting me hard today, so getting out of bed was such a struggle this morning.
I spent the night at Leah’s host’s house, so my host mom came to pick me up with Laurie (my 10 year old host sister) at about 9am. We went straight to La Boston, a coffee shop with amazing crescents, for breakfast. Then we went to their second apartment to prepare it for the people that are renting it. They asked me to help them paint one of their rooms, which, although it may seem odd, was probably one of my favorite moments of the entire trip. We had become close enough to the point that they could ask me to do tedious, albeit incredibly fun manual labor for them! Not only did this knock something off of my bucket list (you’re never too young to have one), but it also showed how close me and my host family have become in a matter of a few days.
After that we sped back to the house to change for lunch reservations. The reservation was for 1:30, but we left the house at 1:35. My host family has a little difficulty with being on time and is always rushing and running all over town, so I felt right at home. After I ate the best pasta of my entire life, we went back home at around 4. I’d been at my host family’s house for a total of 20 minutes since Friday, so I decided that I would stay at home and just relax instead of joining everyone at the beach. I got home and rested for about 30 seconds then realized how much homework I had. So I cracked down for a few hours and then took occasional breaks to skype my parents and catch up on my social media. For dinner we had pizza and after dinner I stayed up until around 1 typing an outline due the next morning.
Hola! Today we spent the entire day on the countryside. We met at school at 9:00am and had about an hour bus ride to a ranch in Laguna Brava. When we arrived we met the owners of the house as they had tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and different desserts waiting for us on a picnic table. We then went to the backyard where we layed on hammocks, climbed the trees and relaxed while looking at the beautiful view of a lagoon with the Sierra mountains on the other side.
After about 30 minutes we all got up to ride the horses. There were two horses however, one was a little stubborn so we decided to stick to just the other one. Around 2:00 we returned to the picnic table to enjoy a well known Argentine meal, asado (barbecue). This asado was lamb. As a group we ate 1.5 lamb. We were told this was the freshest meat we will ever eat. It just died three days ago! Along with our lamb we had potatoes, deviled eggs, salad, and sliced tomatoes. For dessert, iced, vanilla pudding and postre balcarse, which is typical of the Laguna Brava area. Everything was delicious!
After lunch we retuned to our spots on the hammocks and in the grass. A few of us went out in the lagoon to go tubing, wake boarding, water skiing, and canoeing. Coralie and I went on the tube together. It was quite eventful considering it was my first time and it was with Coralie, who goes tubing on a regular basis. We were told we should wear shorts over top of our bathing suit bottoms because the current might pose a problem if our bathing suits were too lose. Coralie and I both had on shorts however, mine could not handle the current. The water not only took of my shorts, but also my bathing suit bottoms. I continued to hang on to the tube with one hand as I attempted to pull up my bottoms with the other hand and Coral tried to pull me back onto the tube. This did not work very well due to the fact that we were still going full speed. I told Coral I had to let go because I was going to lose my bottoms. I let go and secured my pants as I watched as Coral remained on the tube. After the boat came back to get me it was Leah and Hannah’s turn. They were both much better than me however they also flipped twice. Later, Coralie and I decided to go canoeing. We paddled against the current as Coral sang songs to me as if we were flowing down a river in Venice. Michael and Ethan decided they should come try to flip our Canoe. We went back and forth trying to flip the canoes but we realized we lost Coralie’s paddle. She jumped in the water to get it but the current began to blow me and the canoe away. It took awhile but we were able to meet back up and take the canoe into the dock. Keivan, Dillon, and Josh wanted to reach the other side of the lagoon in their canoe. They made it to the other side successfully but because they were forced to return against the current they were not able to do it. They flagged down the boat to bring them back.
Every now and then someone would hop on the good horse and take him for a ride around the ranch as the rest of us sat around and talked and slept. About an hour before we left the owners of the house brought us one more snack that consisted of juice, cake, and bocadillos. Today we learned that Señora Fox really likes to peel dead skin. We already knew Haley enjoyed doing this but to fine out that this is Señora’s strange addiction too, was very funny. Around 7:30 we got on the bus to head back to Mar Del Plata. We had a little difficulty getting the bus to start but we made it back safely! Over all the day was successful, relaxing and fun!
Today was our excursion to a traditional Argentinian ranch. we took a one hour bus ride to get there. We arrived and relaxed in hammocks until tea time. While waiting we all climbed a tree. At tea time we tried matte, a traditional Argentina drink. Then a gaucho, an Argentinian ranch hand, helped us ride horses. One of the bigger horses was very nice and provided an enjoyable experience for all. However, the other horse was a bit dodgey, throwing out powerful rear kicks and was unable to be tamed by any of the students.
As we finished riding, the master chef completed his masterpiece, 2 lambs, that he had roasted to perfection after several hours of hard and dedicated work. This was part of asado, a traditional Argentinean barbecue. there were multiple appetizers but the main course consisted of different cuts of 2 whole lambs. When we all finished eating and were anxiously waiting for dessert, the host could not bring it out because Will (the person) would not stop eating lamb. Finally, we were able to enjoy a scrumptious dessert.
Afterwards, most people took a nap as the hammocks provided a magisterial view of the lake and the surrounding scenery. However, the few that did not take naps took two seater kayaks into the treacherous lake where they battled against gigantic half a foot waves and violent winds to reach the other side of the lake. At the other side of the lake there was a mountain that we wanted to climb. The people in kayaks soon realized that the host was right and climbing the mountain would be prove to be a difficult task. Then when the kayakers returned and the nappers awoke, the host took turns taking us wake boarding, tubing, and water skiing. When we all returned from water skiing, the host rushed back out on his motor boat to rescue the kayakers that had gotten stranded. When everyone returned the boys started playing soccer. Then, as we were about to leave, the bus would not start. Señora had a look of concern on her face. The problem was soon solved with the assistance of the host. As we were riding back in the bus a bird came soaring into the window and frightened everyone on the bus; he bird probably did not survive. It was a very fun day.
This morning, we arrived at school at 8 and began the day with a traditional Catholic mass in the courtyard which was pretty similar to an American service, despite it being all in Spanish. We then shadowed a class of our choice, and then moved to the lobby to enjoy a tango lesson. This was definitely the highlight of the day. Every girl and boy were paired up (we were partners) and were taught the “passionate” dance of the tango. We all had tons of fun and some of us even figured out how to pick up and toss our partner. The power couple of the day was undoubtedly Stuart and Dillon, whom many believe will get married one day.
After our tango session we went to another class. We both attended different classes – Haley went to a history class to learn about Argentine history and international relations and Will went to a calculus class that would have been difficult even in English! After these classes we all went to lunch and had a rice and chicken dish. After lunch we attended one more class and an art class.
The class we attended was tailored specifically for us. We were all packed into the attic-made-classroom of the school which had a clear lack of air conditioning. Here we learned about various different aspects of argentine culture such as the Asado (a big meat roast) and various dances. One of these dances was similar to a tap dance and we had the opportunity to try it out. We clearly made quite a racket considering a few teachers in classrooms below came up to see what was going on. In the art class we learned how to paint traditional Argentinian designs. Leah and Denzel quickly abandoned this idea and created some wonderful, abstract finger paintings. It was a hot day so after school many of us went to the beach or pool to cool off.
Today when we arrived to school, many of us had one thing on our minds: exchanging our US dollars for pesos. There were so many things we wanted to get but because of the banks closing too early some days, we had yet to exchange. Many of us wanted to buy treats for our families back home, but while we stood around waiting for the bus to pick us up, we found the single greatest use for our new found pesos: chicken nuggets. When we finally left we went to a factory in Mar Del Plata that makes alfajores, a tasty cookie like snack that is very popular in South America. Hair nets on, we took a tour of the factory and saw how the “dulce de leche” was put onto the cookies, watched the conveyor belts carry the cookies all around the factory, saw how they were packaged;it was a very cool experience. These alfajores are very popular in Argentina and the ones from HAVANNA (the factory) are some of the best around. We went to the gift shop and purchased gifts and some cookies for ourselves, and then went back to the school to have lunch.
After a lunch with a severe lack of chicken nuggets (due to our mass consumption earlier) we went out to do community service. Half of us went to an elderly home and half of us went to play with children and help out a group of volunteers who provide necessities to the underprivileged. Luckily for this blog the two of us went to different locations. The elderly attendees are people that from less fortunate families who are dropped off during the day. They play games, eat, and hangout all day until their children pick them up and take them home after work. At the elderly home we sang songs in a group along with one of the ladies from the school. She sang some songs for the elderly in Spanish, but insisted that we sing some in English. Michael and I (Dillon) played the guitar a little and we all sang “wagon wheel” as a group. The abuelos loved it and the hour flew by.
Meanwhile at the other location we were debating the rules of hopscotch and preparing food for the families to take with them. Unfortunately there weren’t many kids there so we did other jobs around the building to help out. We had so much fun and may have snuck a cookie or two. Afterwards we headed to our last stop, an art museum based in a house owned by Victoria Ocampo, a famous author. They let us in before the actual exhibit opened that night, a showcase depicting works from various artists around the idea of a coat hanger. All of the art was so cool and we finished up by watching a video on the house, which seriously tested our Spanish skills. After the museum, we had to walk many blocks back to the school after a very long day…but it was the conclusion of an awesome and unique experience.
Today the students of Norfolk Academy spent the full day at Holy Trinity College, shadowing the classes of the seniors at the school. I attended mathematics for the first hour of my day and all of my companions and I were far more advanced in the math material (which was polynomials) that the students were learning. The second hour we had chemistry and besides the first 5 minutes nobody from NA understood anything that the teacher was saying nor the material that was displayed on the board. After chemistry we had a chance to meet the founders of the school by talking to them for 30 minutes in their office. They asked us about the ancestry of our individual families and the similarities and differences between Virginia and Mar Del Plata. We then ate an American lunch of hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and French fries. The best part of the day came when we got to play soccer with all the juniors and sophomores from Holy Trinity. What the Argentinians lacked in skill they made up for in enthusiasm. The students from Mar Del Plata would go into every play not caring if they accidentally injured one of the people they were playing against. After my team lost in fútbol we were given the chance to play rugby and I must say it is not the most graceful sport in the world. We just tried to tap the other players out in rugby while not being allowed to tackle them.
– Keivan Mohammadi
Today was our first full day of school. They split us up into four different groups to attend classes. My group had Literature, History, Chemistry, and Math. During the math class, we had to work Algebra problems on the board and on a worksheet. The worksheet was all in Spanish, but we were able to comprehend enough of it in order to answer the problems. After lunch, we joined the students in PE class. The guys played Rugby and soccer, and the girls played field hockey. Since I have not touched a field hockey stick since November, it was fun to play with the girls from Trinity. During the PE class we also worked on our conditioning by running and doing ab and leg exercises. Senora Fox even joined us! After school, my host mom picked me up and we drove back to our house. There, we had an afternoon snack and tea. In Argentina most families will have tea around 5 which keeps them full until dinner around 9:30. Later, some of us, with our hosts, went to Playa Grande and hung out on the beach, watching the surfers in the ocean. Before dinner, I bonded with my host family by playing with them outside, in their beautiful back yard that has a small soccer field and pool. The food here is delicious and the culture is exciting!
What a great day to spend with all the exchange students at the beach! First, we met at Holy Trinity College and waited for our bus. We were very antsy to surf and enjoy the summer weather. We weren’t able to surf right as we got there, so we all decided to play beach volleyball. Even Mr. Merklin and Mrs. Fox joined in along with the students. After about an hour, the game faded off and some of us decided to take a quick dip in the water. Finally, after an hour and a half the five-time national surfing champion, also known as Martin, helped us get a hang of the board. We had to accomplish three obstacles before actually surfing. Let’s just say surfing didn’t come natural for everyone. Afterwards, we all hit the water, and everyone got about five to ten minutes trying to stand on the board. The best part was watching your friends from the shoreline as they struggled to stand and finally bailing off the board.
– Michael Ramirez
Shortly after the surfing lessons, we ate lunch. Once everyone finished eating, we all laid out for a little bit and most of us fell asleep. When we all woke up, we realized we had been in the sun for too long: we were all sunburnt! With about an hour left on the beach, the guys went to play soccer while the girls hung out on the sand. At one point, Martin came up to all the girls and gave us all hugs; it was definitely the highlight of our day. We then packed up our things and made our way over to the bus. Mrs. Fox was very excited to give us some candy called “Bulldogs,” which was similar to Nerds in America. Once she passed those out and we took a picture, we headed back to Holy Trinity College. A little while later, some of us met up by the beach with Mr. Merklin and worked out. We did lots of running up and down stairs! Haley also led us in an ab workout. Although we were all pretty gross and tired from our day at the beach and working out, some of the girls went to watch a dance class, which happened to be taught by the same woman who will be teaching us the Tango on Friday!
After 10 hours of flying and 6 hours on a bus (with a classic stop to McDonald’s along the way) we finally arrived in Mar Del Plata late in the afternoon. Props to Josh Kemp for making it through his first flight! We headed straight to Holy Trinity where we were greeted and taken to a ceremony. There we met our host family and received our schedules. I can personally say that while the ceremony was great, I could not wait to get to the house of my host family and take a shower. A day of traveling makes for a smelly group of 19 teenagers. Our first night in our homes was really unique for each person as we got to know our host families. I knew my host, Paz, from when she came to the United States, so for me it was a great opportunity to catch back up with her and also get to meet her family for the first time. After settling in we headed over to Ivy’s house (Haley’s host) for dinner. There we met up with Mely who I hosted when she came to the U.S. I was so happy to see her again! From what I’ve heard we all ate very good meals the first night. The meat in Argentina is AMAZING. Ivy told me to try something that looked like burnt sausage and didn’t tell me what it was. I ate it and it tasted a little funny and had a weird consistency, but I liked it okay. Later Ivy told me it was concentrated pig’s blood. This immediately cautioned me against eating random meat like substances on this trip without asking first.
The next morning we woke up early to get to school. The school day began with what I would compare to our chapel at NA. The directors of the school gave their inspirational words at the start of a new school year as a band played different anthems and some students were awarded for their achievements. The director recognized our exchange group. We stood and Señora Fox had the honor of introducing such a fine group of students. She decided to state the obvious and drew attention to the ghostly appearance of our group. Surround yourself with Argentinians fresh out of summer break and suddenly you too will look like an albino. After being sufficiently self conscious of our own skin color, we learned a little bit about the history of the school. The school building is one of the few estates left from the early 1900s, protected under a law passed only recently in 1995. As you can imagine, the school is elegant and beautiful. It is also a fairly new institution, having graduated only 20 classes so far. We were taken on a tour of the school and then separated into groups to attend different classes. Since it was the first day of classes, a lot of the class was orientation material, but in math we did actually get into some polynomials. Dillon, intently listening to the math teacher’s lecture, was answering more questions than all of the students combined. And he calls me a try hard…
One thing I found very interesting was that they are taking all of their math tests and assignments online. They have recently started a Bring Your Own Device Program similar to ours at NA, and it was intriguing to see how they have incorporate that program into their classrooms. After morning classes we all reconnected to attend a class about Argentina. We learned about the 4 different regions of Argentina, the differences between them, and the unique beauty each region has to offer. After a great class, we headed to eat lunch. I did not eat breakfast, so this was my first meal of the day. Good thing they actually eat lunch at a reasonable time, 12:15, because I would not have lasted much longer without a meal. This whole let’s eat dinner at 9:00 deal is a challenging adjustment, but the food is worth the wait. After eating our semi-appetizing lunch, we embarked on a walking tour of Mar Del Plata. After having begged Señora Fox and Mr. Merklin to ditch the tour and take us to the beach instead, our tour guide pulled through and our first stop was the beach. It was very hot and sunny, but after all the snow in Virginia we all loved the natural Vitamin D. Mar Del Plata is a beautiful city, and on a sunny day with clear blue skies there isn’t much you can’t love about it. We climbed onto some rocks to take pictures in front of the ocean. Haley decided to get very close to where the waves were crashing on the rocks and was rewarded with a splash from a wave to cool her down from the scorching heat. While I wouldn’t say she was thrilled about it, she took it like a champ. We continued walking through Mar Del Plata and visited the water tower. When we think of a water tower we envision a big thing that looks like a hot air balloon with legs. This water tower, however, looked more like a castle. We ventured up the elevator to the top of the tower and you wouldn’t believe the views. It was not a bad way to see such a beautiful city. We headed down to the main shopping street in Mar Del Plata and spent 45 minutes on our own exploring. Michael waved at some younger girls, just being a friendly guy like he is, and they seemed to take a keen interest in his gesture. Suddenly we had two Argentinian girls “discretely” following us around the street. After a day of walking some of us (really just me) were not up to walk 30 minutes uphill back to the school. Thankfully, a bus came and got us. We met back up with our hosts at Holy Trinity and headed home. A lot of us went to Denzel’s home with our hosts for a pool party. We were all in need of more sun to take away our pastiness, but unfortunately I ended up looking more red than tan. Around 7:30, after bonding at the pool party, we headed home to spend another night with our hosts. So far the trip has been fun, the food has been great, and the company has been even better! Looking forward to the weeks ahead!