The incredible fans at the Boca Juniors Stadium
So the time
has come, my time in South America for the
Argentina/Brazil Program 2006 has come to an end. Sadly, this means that my
blog entries on Travbuddy have also come to an end…. well at least for a while.
Anyways it’s very difficult for me to sum up everything in one blog, but I will
try. And to make it easier, I have formatted in a list…a special list. In fact,
I’ve configured my thoughts and feelings into a top 10. So here we go…
Top 10 Moments of Hannah’s Study Abroad 2006
This was not the most fascinating trip of my life, but for some reason I really,
really liked Colonia.
Rio Plata in Uruguay
It was very relaxing and just what I needed to get away
from the Buenos Aires
pollution. Colonia was a great break from the hustle and bustle of the city. I
got a chance to relax and gain perspective again. My favorite moment was the
time I got to spend alone walking and sitting by the river. I walked along the
cobblestone road to the Rio Plate and got to sit on a rock beside the river and
just be still. It seemed like so long ago that I was able to just sit and
think. All the activities and noises of Buenos
had left me feeling like I could not afford the
time to be still and just gather my thoughts. Afterwards, I went to a local
heladeria and had some of the best gelato of my life.
9. Hélionopolis: The favela visit in Brazil had a profound effect on me.
Flamenco dancer at Cantares
All the activities of the day such as talking to the various people, meeting
the children, seeing the houses, visiting the schools, etc. left me emotional
and deeply pensive. This site visit reminded me of my times in shantytowns and
other poor communities that I have visited in the past. It made me think about
all the other children and people I had met in other countries such as Guatemala
etc. I reminisced about my times in those countries and the profound effect
those visits had made on my life. Going to Hélionopolis was a huge blessing to
me as well because it reminded me how lucky and privileged I am to have the
life that I do. Often times I forget how fortunate I am to live in a nice
house, have parents with steady incomes, possess luxurious items such as ipods,
computers, jewelery, cars, etc. The favela visit reinforced this concept to me
and made me realize that not everyone lives like I do and that I should always
count my blessings.
Scenic view of Paraty.
8. Restaurants Galore!: When Kirk told me that he gained 15 pounds on
last year’s trip, I wondered how that was possible. Typically, I have always
lost weight when I went abroad. Well let me tell you, I have certainly not lost
weight on this program. I honestly don’t even want to know how much weight I
have gained. Anyways, this weight was not gained in vain. I have had the honor
and very fortunate opportunity to eat at some FINE establishments. In particular,
here are some of my favorite outings:
This is an Indian restaurant in Buenos
Aires that serves mainly Northern Indian food.
Incredible waterfalls at Iguacu
here with Ivan one random night and the food was GOOD. Ivan & I had both
been craving spice so we went to the Indian restaurant ready for the spiciest
food they had. We asked for hottest spice they had, but when we received our
food, the spiciness was at a minimal level. Our waiter kept asking us if we
needed water and was shocked when we always answered no. In Buenos Aires
, it is not common to eat spicy
foods. In the words of one of my fellow study abroaders, “Argentines can’t
handle spice. They’re genetically not able to…. I guess they’re kinda wimps.”
Hahaha… okay Argentines aren’t wimps, but they do have a difficult time with
spicy foods. Anyways, I highly recommend this restaurant for all of you who
will crave spice when you are in Buenos
. On top of the great food, I really enjoyed
spending time with Ivan. We talked about our lives and I got to hear about his
life and more about the Indian culture.
Children of the Helionopolis favela
It felt good to talk to another person
who came from an immigrant background and it was nice that I could relate to a
lot of things in his life.
For Jessica’s birthday, we went to a Greek restaurant called Mykonos in Buenos Aires. My dear
friend Johnny is of Greek heritage and thus he knew all the foods. Johnny
ordered a variety of foods for us and the rest of us had a great time sampling
and eating different types of Greek cuisine. This restaurant also had some
cultural dancing and customs.
One of the many beautiful beaches in Florianopolis
In particular, we all got to smash/break plates
at the end of the night. It was a lot of fun to break plates together and watch
some people from our group get up and join the Greek dancing.
Sushi in Brazil: The largest population of Japanese
people outside of Japan is
Consequently, this means GREAT sushi. I had the very fortunate opportunity to
go to restaurants that had all-you-can-eat sushi.
Sunset at Pao de Acucar
My favorite sushi place was
the restaurant in Florianopolis
This restaurant brought us all kinds of sushi as well as other Japanese cuisine
such as yakisoba and gyoza as well. I honestly ate till I could eat no more and
went to sleep very content.
7. Luz in São Paulo: We went on many site visits to
immigrant places in São Paulo.
However my favorite place was the Luz neighborhood. I traveled around with
Felipe and Johnny to the various streets and shops of the immigrant
neighborhood. We stopped a Greek restaurant where Johnny spoke in Greek to the
owner and he reminisced with Johnny about his homeland. After conversing for a
while, Johnny discovered that the man and Johnny’s family were from the same
town in Greece.
Me & JB at a club in Curitiba
Johnny’s face lit up with excitement and I really enjoyed watching Johnny
interact with the Greek man. I also had a chance to talk to the many Koreans
who lived in Luz. Many of them were like me in the fact that their parents
emigrated from Korea
but they had grown up living in a foreign country. I spoke with one girl who
had left Korea
when she was 3 years old and had not been back since. She spoke perfect Korean
but could not speak a lick of English. She also talked to Felipe in Spanish and
they conversed about living in South America
and such. I was fascinated that someone that had a background so alike me lived
such a different life. All in all, the excursion to this neighborhood was very
pleasant and enlightening.
beaches in Brazil
were unbelievable. I honestly felt like I was in paradise. The views from the
beaches in Floripa and Paraty absolutely took my breath away. I really enjoyed
relaxing and taking in nature’s beauty. I particularly liked the boat trip
island hopping in Paraty. However I must say that my most memorable moment on
the beach was my accidental excursion to the nude beach in Floripa. (You can
read my week 5 blogs for that story). Spending time at the beach as a great
break from studying and a great place to relax and have quiet time. My time
spent at the beaches were a good balance between the visits and stays in the
Me & Ivan at the 2006 Argentine World Cup National Team Exhibition Game
5. Foz do Iguaçu:
I like to think of myself as an experienced traveler. I have been to five continents
and traveled to many countries.
Tango dancers at Senor Tango
Hence, I have seen many beautiful natural
wonders. However, I have seen none like Foz do Iguaçu. These waterfalls
absolutely took my breath away. I was in pure awe of the beauty and wonder. It
was mind boggling to think that the waterfalls were not even at their full
capacity. The day we visited, there was a rainbow that overlooked the entire place.
It was as though it was a sign that we should be there. Besides the gorgeous
views, my favorite moment was the boat ride under the falls. I got soaking wet
on that ride! When I say wet, I mean wet. My entire body was wet from being
trapped underneath the waterfalls. At one point when we were going down the
river, Vicky shouted, “Danger Will Robinson!” I laughed at her. About 2 seconds
later, I was covered in water. The only part of the trip I did not like were
those damn kuatis!
4. Corcovado & Pão de
Açúcar: When people think about Rio
de Janeiro, they usually think about Copacabana, Samba
and of course the breath taking views from places such as the Christ Redeemer
The Cristo Redemero Statue
Accordingly, I was very excited to visit these places. I prepared
myself for the long ride up and how amazing the view would be when I got on
top, but the actual view exceeded my expectations. I was absolutely
flabbergasted when I saw the statue up close and personal. I marveled at it and
looked all around to see Rio
from up top. I
was in denial that I was actually on top of Corcovado
right next to the Christo statue. I had seen the statues in movies, books,
pictures, but I never thought that I would have the opportunity to actually go
see it. The stunning views were also prevalent in Pão de Açúcar. I took the
cable cars to the top and saw another breathtaking view of Rio
We stayed up there long enough to watch the sunset on Rio
I was taken aback by the beauty and wonder of the view and sunset. Being up so
high made everything else seem so small. It made me think about different
things in my life and their importance to me. My visits to Corcovado & Pão
helped me clear my head and put things in perspective again.
3. Fiesta/Festa!: Now I know that I’m pretty much the most
well rounded person you all know (haha), I’m not going to lie, I had a lot of
fun going out and spending time with my fellow study abroaders as well as the
Argentines that came along with us. I really enjoyed going out with everyone
and having some down time. There were many funny moments throughout the various
nights. It was really nice having “down” time with my fellow students. We got
to get away from school and unwind. In particular, I was very thankful that I
had the opportunity to spend quality time with the Argentines. I don’t think I
was able to quite keep up with them, but I sure did try and I absolutely had a
blast going to various places with them.
2. Shopping: I have
lived most of my life trying to fight the stereotypes of many things. However,
one stereotype that I am is that I am a girl that loves shopping. This doesn’t
necessarily mean that I buy anything, but I LOVE going out and looking at
things. One of my absolute favorite times during this program was going to the
various malls and markets looking at the local merchandise and products. I
loved looking at the local designer clothes at the malls. I found it very
interesting to see what fashion and trends each place I visited was into. I
also enjoyed going out to the markets and stores with other people. My most
memorable moments were shopping with Gigi in Argentina
and JB in Curitiba.
It was quite lovely seeing the various products that they bought and being part
of the experience. Shopping is always a fun activity and it never gets old.
Plus in the end, I went home with a lot of gifts for everyone back home.
1. Dance & Futebol: I couldn’t decide which of these two
were my favorite, so I decided to tie them for first. One of my absolute
favorite activities is dancing. I love to watch it and to participate in it.
Thus, I was completely fascinated by the cultural dancing in both Argentina and Brazil. In particular, my favorite
excursion was to Cantares in Buenos
Aires to watch and listen to Flamenco. I drank the
BEST wine, San Felipe Malbec, with my buddy Ivan and was totally enthralled
with the music and dancing. I enjoyed watching samba and tango, but by far, the
group excursion to Flamenco blew my mind! (The food was also good).
There is nothing like watching a
soccer game in Latin America. Talk about
enthusiasm! My favorite moments were going to the Boca Juniors and Argentine
Team Exhibition Games in Buenos Aires.
I was enthralled by the chants, music, dancing and people. These people
seriously put their heart and soul into this sport. To top it all off, the
World Cup fever really hit everyone. Businesses would shut down, schools would
dismiss early, and people literally would stop what they were doing to watch
the World Cup games. I even got into the fanaticism and felt myself getting
emotionally involved with the teams and players. The soccer games were
incredible and I don’t think I will ever see anything quite like them. I wasn’t
that big of a fan before, but after this program, I am a huge fan. ¡Viva
So there you are folks, that is my top 10 list of this
program. Now there are many more moments that are honorable mentions that did
not make it onto the list. But those are some of the most memorable times I
have on this trip. Saint Augustine
once said, “the World is
a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” After this
program, I feel as though I have added a chapter to my book. Here are my
-To Dr. Kirk
Bowman: Thank you so much for everything you have done for the program.
I know you have put in countless hours and effort to ensure that we had a
wonderful program and trip. Also thank you for showing kindness to me during
the times when I was ill. In particular, thanks for being so helpful when I had
my spider bite epidemic in Buenos
Aires. Also, thank you for sharing your thoughts and
feelings on the various topics we discussed throughout the trip. Besides your
lectures, some of the most profound moments I had were talking to you about
different subjects in personal conversations. You are one of the most
interesting people I have encountered in my life and I am honored that I got to
be your student this summer.
-To Dr. Felipe
Arocena: You are a wonderful person and someone that has made a great
impact on me. Your kindness, wisdom and openness never cease to amaze me. I
look forward to reading your book and anxiously await the day that you visit Atlanta or that I adventure back to South
America to see you again. Thank you so much for your time and I
will take the many lessons learned from this trip with me for the rest of my
-To Gigi, Mary
Beth, Lynn, Rachel & Nicole: I really enjoyed rooming with you
girls and I am really glad we got to know each other better. All of you are
amazing women and I feel honored that I can call you all my friends. I had a
lot of fun living with you all and I will always remember the many laughs and
-To Dillon, Brent
& Derek: I never thought that I would end up rooming with you guys
but I’m glad that I did. You guys are all terrific and I had a lot of fun
spending time with you all.
-To Phil, John
Winn, Ryan, JB, Ivan, Sohmer, Divya, Brice, Vicky, Shannon, Eric, Johnny &
Jessica: I really enjoyed going on this program with all of you and I
think that you all are wonderful people. Each of you has meant something to me
and I will always think about all of you fondly. My trip wouldn’t have been the
same without all of you and I hope that our paths will cross again in life.
Daniella & Santiago:
The three of you are very near and dear to my heart. I have greatly cherished
our time together and I hope that this is the beginning of my friendships with
all of you. I will definitely keep in touch with you guys and hope to see you
So to all those of you who have followed my blogs and come
with me on my journey, I thank you. I hope that all of you will take the
opportunity to travel to South America and
experience the incredible memories like I have. As I leave South America and
travel back to the US,
I am grateful for all the opportunities that I have had on this program and I know
that I have become a wiser and more well rounded person because of them.
Although the memories from this summer may fade, the impact will not and will
always stay with me. I now end this blog with this quote by Marcel Proust: “The real
voyage of discovery in life consists not in seeking new landscapes but in
having new eyes.