Monday, 12 December 2016

26 days left

Hey everyone, so I know I have been super super super slack with my blog. So much has happened since I last wrote.. I went to Peru with my family, we won UBES in the dance section (which I performed in) and we also won in the girls soccer section too (which I competed in), we had the day of the student, I went to Cordoba, Alta Gracia and Carlos Paz for a week and turned 18, I met all the new exchange students, I went on the South Trip and then I went on a trip to Iguazu falls with Luisa. All of these big things that have happened are among the everyday normality of living in Argentina.

I was going to try and write a piece for each of these things that had happened but too much time has passed now. Basically I love all the new exchange students so so so much and have connected with them ridiculously well and will miss them so much and also I have had some of the most incredible experiences here but also some of the hardest.

This piece that I am writing now is more about exchange, about how I am feeling now with 26 days left.

I don't know if you guys have seen Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but I feel exactly like Hermione says Cho feels when she goes on about the mixture of different feelings she must be having (after she kisses Harry) and then Ron makes some comment like wow , she can't possibly be feeling all that but I swear, I am relating to Cho Chang right now. I have so many mixed emotions bubbling around in my body that I don't even know where to begin to explain it all.

I'm so excited to go home, I see photos of home life and it makes me want to be there so badly and yet I know I am going to go home and just miss exchange so so so much, the exchange students, my school friends, Argentinian culture and food, my families.. It's a lose lose situation. I am not someone who generally gets homesick and yet more recently I have found that I have been relying on my exchange friends a lot as I have had moments of really wanting to go home and I think it is because the end is so so close and I am on summer holidays and so am not doing so much.

Something incredible, has been that I am now very very competent with my Spanish. This for me is very very cool.  I would say I understand practically everything now, if not absolutely everything and have not used a translator in SO long. This was a goal that I had since the very beginning of exchange and so for me this is definitely super incredible.

Another thing I have found, at least here in Argentina, is that they like to party a lot and especially in this last year of school it is very much the culture. They also all grow up looking forward to their last year of school and so sometimes it is difficult for them to understand that maybe I don't want to go out that night or that partying isn't the sole reason that I came to Argentina.

Something else that nearly all the exchange students and I have discussed and agreed upon is that it is very common to become what I would call the "trophy friend". This is where people like to show you off (often without meaning to) and so they will always introduce you as from NZ or the girl from another country. While this doesn't mean they don't love you and appreciate you, it just means the relationship you have with them is different. I love my school friends very very much, however I am looking forward to going home and not being different.

I have changed so much this year and I can feel it. I can feel it in the way I deal with things, in my ability to talk to anyone, in my appreciation I now have for New Zealand and in my maturity level. I think this may make it harder than I think to come home. Although I know I will be starting a new life with university and all that so hopefully it won't be so difficult. I have hope.

I can't believe I only have 26 days left. That's just under 4 weeks. I swear yesterday I had 100.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Mini UBES, changing families and general update!

I haven’t written in ages, just basically because I have not had time. I am so crazy crazy busy and I can’t believe that I started off writing 1 per week. The weeks are flying by and I can’t believe that my family from NZ arrive in less than a week!!

I guess I should start with the fact that I have changed families. I was really nervous about moving and felt a little bit apprehensive but now that I am here with my family and we have had over a month together, I love them so much. They are honestly just such great people. I am living with a couple who are quite a bit younger than my previous host family and they have 2 sons although neither of them are living in Bell Ville. One of these sons is in NZ in Tauranga on exchange (it’s so crazy talking to him over Skype and having him experiencing the things I’ve grown up accustomed to, and hearing how he is seeing them, as an exchange student in a completely different light, and I am sure vice versa) and the other son is living in Cordoba although he often comes home on the weekends. I really love my brother who lives in Cordoba and we are honestly already like siblings, like we are always joking around with each other and like after the boliche’s if he is there, he will drive home with me. My host mum is diabetic and so being gluten free is a lot easier as she doesn’t eat a lot of carbohydrates, so for me that’s really nice as I feel less of a burden in that respect! My family are also super social and always doing things which is nice! We always have people coming in and out of the house, whether it’s family or friends. It’s so weird because I can’t compare my two families (which is probably a good thing) just simply because they are so different and I love them both for very different reasons. 

Honestly with my school friends, every week just seems to get better and better. I think I have been so lucky though with my group of friends as I have been talking to some of the other exchange students here and it seems quite different for them and a lot of them are really struggling with having real friends. While it’s easy at the start of exchange to make friends as you’re the new person and everyone wants to get to know you because you're interesting as you’re an exchange student, often the hype fades after about a month. Then you also have the rotary trips and you miss school and miss spending time with them. Also here it’s interesting because the majority of the students have known each other since they were in pre school and so not only are you fighting with the language barrier but also to fit into a very tight knit group of friends. I remember before I came here everyone said to me that Argentinians were really open and that it was really easy to make friends, I think that is true to an extent. I think it is really easy to make friends but really hard to be 100% integrated and apart of the group and you really have to push to get there. I think the fact that I always say yes to doing things with people really helped for me, and also my willingness to try and talk to people, one on one or in groups, without really worrying about if I made mistakes with my spanish. I think now I am starting to feel as if I am really apart of the group and like I am always considered and not just an after thought. An example of this is that people will now call me to ask me if I am coming out or to so and so’s ouse and invite me to come early to go with them to another place. It’s honestly such an amazing feeling to be apart of it and not just looking in from the outside.

The weather here has just taken this awful turn for the worse and it is so ridiculously cold, although I have heard that it is like that in NZ at the moment as well! Everyone is wrapped up in massive jackets and polar fleeces whenever they go out and the streets are often empty as people don’t want to leave their houses because it is so cold! This is so different to summer as I remember that when I arrived their was always people in the streets and the cafes were always filled with people. I already can’t wait for spring to come and just for the weather to warm up a little bit.

School has been quite stressful recently as I missed 3 weeks for the north trip and here I am so involved in school and with some teachers especially I am treated as a normal student and have expectations of doing all homework and tests (right from the get go, even when I was struggling with my spanish). This meant that I got back and had missed a whole load of tests and had to catch up on it all. So I have had quite a hectic time since being back trying to catch up on everything, however it has also been good as I have really missed learning. I was talking about this today with my friend and last year I had so much pressure to do well and study heaps that I didn’t think I enjoyed learning, but now that I am here and before this week haven’t really been studying a lot or doing much in class, I’ve realised how much I’ve missed learning. Like obviously everyday my brain is being exercised as I learn more and more spanish but it’s more just learning in school by studying that I miss.

I also had one of my best exchange student friends come and visit me one of the last weekends. It was so lovely as I got to show her around my town and introduce her to all my friends and it was just great to spend time with her. It’s weird because there are people who spend so much time with their exchange friends as they have so many in their town and for me I think it’s better that I didn’t have any in my town as I had to integrate myself and couldn’t rely on the exchange students to be my friends. It also means it is such a treat whenever I get to see them! However on the topic of exchange students, I have 3 new exchange students coming to my town in July/August. One is only coming for a month, but the other 2 (an American boy and a German girl) are coming for a year! Neither of them are going to my school but I am already so excited to get to know them. It will be cool to be the “oldie”, showing everyone the ropes hahaha. We have also made a group chat now with all the new exchange students coming to my rotary district in July/August and I honestly love them all already!! They are so so funny and I just know that we are going to have such an amazing time on the South Trip together.

Another exciting and spontaneous thing that happened, was that I got a chance to go up in a private plane here in Bell Ville! I was with my current host family and they were showing me where Fede (their son in NZ) played rugby and right next to it as an aeroplane club. We saw that their was a party type thing going on and so we went over to have a look and bumped into one of my host dads friends who is a pilot. Next thing I knew he was asking if we wanted to go up in a plane and go for a little trip to have a look at Bell Ville from above! It was so so cool and he showed me all the mechanisms of the plane!

I also had a rotary conference in “La Falda” with all of the exchange students and a lot of important rotary people. The conference took place on the Saturday afternoon but we got the chance to meet up with all the exchange students early on Saturday morning and then spend all day Saturday and then Sunday morning together. This was super great as it was like a final weekend for us all to spend together before all the oldies went home! The rotary conference itself was held in this old historic building on the top of a massive hill and it was a super gorgeous setting! We listened to loads of speeches and then got up and sang a song for everyone, and Caro (one of the exchange students from Mexico) spoke in front of everyone. It was a really nice afternoon and a really great chance to get to know a whole bunch of Rotarians! The only thing was, was that it was very very very cold without any heating. Other than the conference part during the afternoon, we basically all just hung out together, played games and generally just enjoyed each others company! It was a lovely weekend. 

Something else very exciting, is that we had mini UBES! UBES is the massive inter school competition (that only exists here in Bell Ville) where we compete to win a cup with sports, dance, singing, theatre, chess etc and that is in August/September. Mini UBES is basically UBES but for those from primero to tercero año (year 8-10), and it’s only sports. So the first weekend we had basketball and football. We lost in basketball with both the boys and the girls but with football we made it to the final. The second weekend we had handball and volleyball! The Saturday of volleyball was probably my favourite day as I was there all day and we ended up winning with both the boys and the girls! With handball (the final day) the boys lost in the third round but the girls won the final, and because of that we won UBES with the females!! The vibe at UBES is so so crazy! We all dance, scream, shout and sing until our voices are hoarse, supporting our school. It is also very very competitive between schools and many friendships become strained because of UBES. After we won with the girls we went and took photos outside the schools with the cup and it was such a big deal... I can't even imagine how UBES is going to be, as I am told it is 100000000x more important.. Crazy Argentinians!

This last weekend was a long weekend and both Friday and Monday were public holidays (we have a lot of public holidays here) and so on Friday we made the most of the nice weather and went to my families farm. We went at about 12pm and I spent the afternoon riding horses, getting to know the farm and it’s different aspects (where the cows are milked, where they have corn, soy and wheat etc.), spending time with the 4 and 8 year old nieces of my host mum, eating an asado (bbq) and just spending time in the fresh air. It was super great and we didn't return home until about 8:30pm. 

I think that's about it for now. For those who are still reading my blog, I hope it's not too boring and same old same old! <3

Monday, 30 May 2016


Here is my post from the 2 and a half week trip with Rotary I went on around the North of Argentina! It was honestly so incredible to get to know the exchange students and get to see more of this gorgeous country that I am in!

I travelled to Cordoba at about 3:30pm and spent a nice relaxing 3 hours on the bus. I really do love bus rides, looking out the window, enjoying the scenery, thinking, listening to music. I was more than occupied! I arrived just as the sun was setting as you can see on the left.  I met Vir at the terminal and together we caught a taxi to the apartment. I unpacked my things and then we went out and grabbed a bite to eat. We also then went to this funky art deco kind of bar and ate ice cream (obviously dulce de leche :P) before returning to bed for an early night as the next morning I had to be up really early to go and meet all the inbounds at the bus station.

Next day I had planned to meet Amy at Starbucks in the morning, however I managed to get myself very lost as I went to the wrong one hahhahhaha. Eventually however, after running down some random street with my suitcase trying to find the other Starbucks and asking everyone who I passed where it was, I finally made it. We then took a taxi to the bus station (Amy, her host sister who's an outbound and I) and met everyone. That was quite overwhelming and I was quite quiet and chilled and everyone said that their first impression of me was that I was very relaxed and even reserved. We all laughed about this afterwards hahahaha. 

I sat with this girl Sarah (from the USA) on the bus to La Falda and we spoke in Spanish the whole way which is so weird now to think back as now we always speak in English and she is one of my best friends. Once we arrived we had the orientation and played games all together,  it was quite hard to integrate at first as everyone was so close, however I spent a lot of time with Feli, Amy, Luisa and Sarah. We also got put into rooms and I was with this really lovely outbound called Loudres. We then went to eat lunch and every single meal we ate that weekend, we had to divide up into allocated tables so that we could get to know outbounds and inbounds. For the first meal I was with Amy and Luisa (my fellow amigas from down under, (Australians) haha) but then for dinner I ended up being at a table full of boys? But that was cool to get to know them. Then after dinner we all went and got ready and then came back and had a fiesta (party) which the Rotarians had organised. Amy and I especially were rocking it on the d floor. It was super fun. Afterwards a lot of people came back to my room and we were all just chatting for ages, I was mostly with Lotte (a girl from the Netherlands and someone who became I very very good friend of mine). In the end I got a solid 1-2 hours sleep (and that was the start of a very minimal few weeks of sleep).

Next day we went out with the inbounds to explore La Falda and we were all so shattered but went and did this tour of some ancient building and in all honesty I was so so tired and gone by this point that it was ridiculously boring however I did get this great photo of me kissing the pope haha. It was nice though to get a change to speak to just the inbounds and I especially bonded with the other new girls. This included the two new Brazilians (Monyk and Katarina) although they weren’t going to come on the trip. After that we all just chilled, had lunch and then got everything all packed up etc. I also got my new rotary polo shirt and my new rotary jumper which I love to pieces and ended up wearing nearly everyday on the trip!

A bit later we all went downstairs and all the outbounds left with their families and we all wished them the best for there upcoming exchanges. Then we all packed up our suitcases and then hopped on the gorgeous double decker bus that was going to our home for the next 2 weeks and a bit. I was sitting up the front with Luisa and then in front of us we had Amy and Sarah. It was crazy as the start of the night, we were the life of the party. There was this rebound guy named Javier travelling with us to Cordoba and we just had the fricken best conversation and were all laughing so much that everyone was coming up the bus to chat with us. It’s interesting cause my group speaks english with each other as we are all native English speakers and we are all at different Spanish levels so it’s easier to speak in English and yet if someone joins our convo who can’t speak english so well we automatically will change to spanish for them (although majority of the exchange students speak nearly perfect english). Anyway we then picked up the kids from the Santa Fe district that were coming on the exchange and on we went. We had like a mini dance party on the bus that first night and were all dancing and singing and laughing. We made a quick stop for dinner at about 12am and I remember being so shattered I was sleeping on the table. We then slept the night on the bus (which luckily for me/everyone else I managed to sleep reasonably well as otherwise I would not have been a nice companion the next day haha). 

We then basically spent the whole next day travelling and while that sounds tedious right? Over 24 hours on a bus (with stops), the people you are with can really change this. We were actually supposed to arrive in Chile mid afternoon, but we had some problems with the bus and so when we stopped to eat lunch, we ended up having to wait for about 4 hours there so someone could come and fix the bus. I ended up playing a lot of cards and chatting with a lot of new people which was really nice. Then we carried on to Chile. When we did carry on, the landscapes were so so beautiful, this was due to the fact that we were travelling through the
Andes and it was pretty incredible, as you can see in the photos to the left. We then passed through migrations and hit Chile. From there we had another 3 hours ish until we got to Reñaca which is where we were staying the night. We arrived very late and had a quick dinner at 1am and then all departed to our rooms. We got assigned to rooms and I was lucky enough to end up with Caro and Heli who were people that to me had always seemed so so lovely but I hadn’t really had a chance to get to know them too well and boy was I right. They were honestly so so amazing. We chatted for awhile and a few people came into our room to chat for a bit and then we all finally went to bed at about 3ish.

We woke up early , at about 6:30 and then went downstairs to breakfast. We then all hoped on the bus and began the day of exploration of Chile. We started off with a trip to Valparaiso where we wandered the markets along the port and I remember that 6 random guys stopped Sarah, Luisa and I and asked us if we would come with them back to the university as they had a few questions for us.. we quickly made our excuses that we were part of a group and didn’t have time and left that conversation as quickly as possible. The photos from Valparaiso are both on the left.

 We then got back on the bus and drove along the water front, admiring the views and then continued our journey on to Santiago. I slept on the way to Santiago and then when we arrived in Santiago we went to this gorgeous restaurant with one massive long table in a private room for lunch. After lunch we headed out into a big square and spent time exploring gorgeous churches (as you can see below), taking photos with random horses (as you can see below), perusing the shops and then we hit the bus again and went to a shopping mall as it seemed everyone else was keen to buy things. Amy, Luisa, Sarah and I just chilled in a little cafe as we were tired and wanted to save our money for the more authentic things we could buy in the north. After that we got back on the bus to drive back to the hotel.


When we got back to Reñaca we all went straight to dinner and I remember that dinner being so so funny. I sat with Amy and Zoe (she’s from America) and literally had tears rolling down my cheek the whole night). We then went upstairs, packed and then spent some time together playing “lobo” which is basically a form of the game Mafia and then all went to bed around 4ish.

The next day we woke up early, breakfasted and jumped on the bus to make the long journey back over the Andes to Argentina. This was another long day on the bus but we broke it up by stopping twice to jump around in the snow and take photos as you can see to the right and underneath this paragraph. That was very fun and also quite funny to see Amy and Luisa touch and see the snow in real life for the first time ever. We arrived at migrations really late and there were so many people there. This meant that we stood in the freezing cold for no joke, about 3 hours waiting to get into the country. We occupied ourselves by playing “Bang” (which of 
course I won :p) and “Whizz”. We then finally got back on the bus stopped for a quick dinner and made the 2 hour descent to our hotel in Mendoza. Upon arrival my only coherent thought was that it was a gorgeous and very big hotel before we all got assigned our rooms and went straight to bed, shattered.

We woke up in the morning at about 7:45am (which for us was basically a sleep in) and then spent the morning playing games in this games room. I played foosball with Bela (gorgeous Brazilian girl) and some of the boys and then table tennis with Oskar (Danish pal) where he managed to convince me that he was a table tennis champion in Denmark and that he would go easy on me.. gullible me believed him ahha. Then spent the rest of the time just chilling with Sarah and Amy while some of the other people went out to explore the grounds of the hotel.

After that we all had lunch and then all got on the bus to go on an excursion into the town centre. Firstly we visited un bodega (a vineyard) and learnt a lot about the wine culture in Mendoza (a town famous for it's wines). We got to taste a little bit and it was honestly so delicious and so nearly all of us brought wine to bring back to our host families.

We then all piled back on the bus and went to the "Cerro de la Gloria" and climbed up many stairs, taking videos and photos as we climbed up. We walked for about 45 minutes and eventually got to the top. Yet again we took a ton of photos and listened to the guide talk a little bit about the war between Chile and Argentina and how it was represented in the statue at the top. We also enjoyed the 360 degree views around us. We then quickly descended, to gorgeous sunset views and travelled to this square in the centre of town. It was gorgeous and had little artesenal type things to buy. I brought this gorgeous 
Argentinian necklace with a sun pendant on it.

After that we went to the centre of the square and there was these freestyle rappers, so of course I 
was dancing with them (I definitely had the crazy reputation in the group, probably shared with my best pal Luisa).

Back we went to the hotel for dinner, I remember they only had pepsi at the table and we had a massive pepsi versus coke debate (as you can see on the right. After that we all showered and got changed before heading over to a salon in the hotel where we had a planned party.  Luisa and I danced the whole time and then at about 1:30 am Luisa and I and a group of others all went back to one of the rooms and were just chatting and hanging out. We didn't go to sleep until around 6am, and were up at about 7:30am, dead.

In a sleep hazed blur we ate breakfast and jumped on the bus to travel to Valle Fertil. We slept all morning on the bus and woke up when we were stopping in San Juan. I awoke to gorgeous views of a gorgeous lake surrounded by orange mountains. We got off the bus and took photos and wandered around exploring a little bit. As you see to the right.

After that we went to a nearby mall to have lunch and then continued on our journey to Valle Fertil When we got there, I remember that it was fricken freezing but I was excited to see that the cabins we were going to be staying in were gorgeous. We all wrapped up in an insane amount of layers and then chilled together outside at a table. I remember being very stoked as I was in a room with Luisa and Sarah (the coordinators chose the rooms each night). Amy also put braids on half of my head and I looked really bad ass (as you can vaguely see in the picture hahah). We then hiked up this massive hill to get to the restaurant and the place we were going to eat.This dinner was super fun as Lotte, Luisa and I made up a rap hahahaha. After dinner we all met up in a room and were playing cards and chatting. It was a really great bonding night and of course we all only ended up getting about 1 hours sleep!

The next day we were up at 7am and I really really struggled getting up that morning I remember haha. We dragged our suitcases up the big hill, breakfasted and then lumbered our way into the bus. Ofcourse we slept all morning until we arrived at this gorgeous place called "Valle de la Luna" which translates to moon valley. We all hopped off the bus and got into these small vans and went on this drive through the national park stopping at 5 different places on our way through. It was so so so cold and so we were all wrapped in multiple layers. Oskar, David, Luisa and I befriended some really authentic looking
Argentinians who were dressed in ponchos and
carrying mate (Argentinian herbal drink). We took photos with them and chatted about the lingo from the north.


After this trip we drove for another half an hour to another national park which we proceeded to travel through in the same way, in small vans. This place had different landscapes with dominating red rock cliffs. When we finally got back to the start we found our Argentinian friends again and all sat around with them and their guitars singing songs from Argentina and also I'm yours (which is a crowd favourite that everyone knows and you can see in a photo underneath). After this we got back on the bus with the now setting sun and proceeded on our journey, stopping for dinner in Tilcara centre but only for a short stop and then we were on the road for the night, sleeping like babies after little sleep the previous two nights.

We arrived in Tilcara about 10:30am and all went to our rooms and chilled. Luisa and I then decided we were keen to explore the city a little bit and so we asked Jorge's (one of the coordinators) permission and we went out exploring. It was probably one of the coolest places I have ever been. The streets were all cobblestoned and old fashioned with gorgeous old school buildings. The first place we found was incredible! It was lined with alpaca wool jumpers that cost less than $20, they had mate cups galore in loads of different styles, scarves of all colours, shoes with all kinds of fabric, alpaca wool socks, key chains, table cloths, blankets. You name it, they had it. It was just overflowing with things. While we were walking around that morning I brought a jumper, a pair of Argentinian typical style trousers and a poncho. It was so so cool. Another surprising and unusual thing was that it was so hot (literally the only place where it was hot the whole trip).

At about 1 we headed back, ate lunch and then got ready to go out. We went on this walk up into the mountain where we were going to visit this place called Pucara but we got there and it was closed (because it was the day of the workers). It was a long walk and so it was a bit frustrating to find it closed, but we admired the views nonetheless and took a photo expressing our sadness haha (as you see to the right). After that we continued the walk and finally ended up back in the plaza. We shopped a bit more (although I didn't buy anything) and then all headed back to the hotel.

Out the back of the hotel there was this massive plaza (with a horse in it) and we all went out there (wrapped up in jumpers as now it was a lot colder) to play games together! It was super fun and played games like octopus/ballrush although it was a touch violent and Matis ripped his rotary jumper and I felt super bad as it was hell expensive and I would have been quite angry had it happened to me! After that we all went back inside and had dinner! I sat with Luisa and David and David crafted me a wooden ring. I was so stoked that night as they gave me gluten free empanadas and pasta and I hadn't had anything other than meat, salad and eggs during the whole trip! After dinner we had a lovely girls night with Lotte, Sarah, Amy, Eli, Luisa and I and stayed up chatting.

The next day we travelled to this awesome village called Iruya in 2 vans. It took about 3 hours but on the way we stopped at this viewpoint at 4000m. It was so incredibly gorgeous! After that we continued on our way and finally got to Iruya, which was probably my fave place from the whole trip, I mean they had donkey's in the middle of the streets?!?! We ate lunch in this gorgeous little quaint place and then afterwards, Luisa and I went on this walk with a bunch of others up to a viewpoint! Following this we all walked down together and I was singing musical theatre and annoying Luisa and Aaron. We then met up with the others who didn't climb up and then travelled back to Tilcara. I felt so bad because Heli got a bit of altitude sickness and it was quite scary. I sat with Luisa (obviously as always haha), Oskar and David and we had super great chats. We stopped at a square on the way back and I brought some gorgeous comfy alpaca wool socks and also this gorgeous woolly scarf. It sucked though because we arrived quite late so everything was basically closed (although this was probably good for my wallet).

After that we all got back, ate dinner and then all sat around in a circle. We then all sang a song for Auke's grandmother who had recently died which was very sad but also really beautiful. After that spent the night talking about the things we liked about each other which was super cute and at the end nearly everyone was crying and we were all hugging each other and it was very cute but also sad. Following that we went and met all together in a room again (obviously as always ahha).

The next day was a day that I was super excited for! We woke up super early and ate breakfast quickly and then got on the bus to travel and visit the "cerro de los siete colores" (as you can see on the left)! It was so pretty and unlike anything I had seen before. After this we got back in the bus and drove to the "salinas grandes" which is the salt plains. We put our feet in this freezing cold salt water and then went to take photos. We all did the stereotypical exchange student photo without bras facing away and it was super cool. It was also funny but also a bit weird because there was this old couple who were tourists and walking towards us and they took photos of us. Also we all took time to admire the gorgeous each in our own time.

At about 12pm we all got back on the bus and drove back to a small town next to the"cerro de los siete colores" called Purmamarca where we stopped for lunch. It had live music and I sat with some of the girls from Santa Fe; Gloria and Madeleine (and obviously Luisa), which was really nice to get to spend some time with some of the girls who I hadn't talked to quite as much! We all ate lunch and then got to go and spend some time shopping in what was just another typical north village (so ofcourse I loved it)!! I brought another alpaca wool jumper and then my secret santa present for my person (who was Choco, one of the coordinators who was so loveable
and like a cuddly bear).

After this, at about 4:30pm we all got back in the bus and travelled to the city of Salta. We arrived quite late but to the good news that we could choose our rooms!! The bad news however that it was in groups of 3! So Amy, Sarah and Luisa went together and I went with Zoe and Cata but then moved my suitcase into the room with the other girls and slept with them (making Sarah and Amy share a bed hahahaha whoops :p). We had a little bit of spare time to shower and get ready and then we were walking through the streets of Salta, crossing the square and arriving at a gorgeous little restaurant. We ate dinner, all chatting and laughing as always and then at about 11pm basically crawled our way back to the hotel dead with tiredness. The girls turned on a movie but I was asleep by 11:30pm (the earliest night I slept the whole trip).

I awoke up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. We went downstairs, ate breakfast and then set out on foot to do a city tour. It was a bit frustrating because our guide was making us walk for literally half a block and then stopping us to explain things but it was very informative and we saw some truly gorgeous churches (as seen to the right), and also talked to some Irish, English and Australian girls! We continued walking and came to the bottom of what was basically a mountain and from there we climbed into a cable car and ascended. When we reached the top we had panoramic views of the city which was so so gorgeous, however we were quite tight for time so were quite rushed. However there was this quite hideous green man made waterfall at the top and we were all laughing and joking about how it was our "Iguazu falls" (Iguazu falls is a wonder of the world and is this incredible waterfall in Argentina that we weren't allowed to go to on the trip, because an exchange boy went there and caught dengue (an awful virus)), as you can see in the photo below haha. We then descended once again in the cable car and Luisa and I went with Alice which was really nice (she's a lovely French girl).

Powering on, we headed to lunch, which I was really excited for as in the itinerary it said that we were going to this restaurant called Peña and we were going to enjoy "a traditional folkloric show". It was a bit disappointing as we only got live music but like I'm definitely not complaining as it still had such a cool vibe! I also sat with Auke which was nice as it was a chance to get to know her better (love her!). I also chatted for ages with Sarah about veganism and it's got me really interested to try it when I get back to NZ, although here in Argentina it would be nearly impossible, as being gf is hard enough and they eat so much meat here.

We then went to a museum and headed then finally headed back to the hotel for free time. Sarah, Amy, Lotte, Luisa and I all went out and went shopping for secret santa gifts (for the others haha I was already prepared :p) and then came back at about 7 (just before it got dark). When we got back Lotte decided she had too many split ends and so Amy gave her a hair cut in our room and it honestly looked so so good! I was so surprised hahah and then Amy plucked my eyebrows and it was just like Amy's beauty salon. We have the catch phrase now #amydidit, so that whenever anyone complimented us on something, whether it was braids, haircut, eyebrows, make up, Amy got the credit haha. We then had dinner out at the same place and I sat with Amy and we honestly had such a great bonding night together, she is honestly the fricken funniest person ever. Then after that we all went back to the hotel and sat down together in a circle and gave out our secret santa gifts as it was the last night in a hotel that we had all together. It turned out that Luisa had me!? I had no clue but her message was so cute and I have so much love for her. Ofcourse as it was the last night we all met up and it was hell fun! We were all dancing, singing and chatting! We got told off a few times for being too late and only had an hours sleep (yet again).

The next day we had to be up early as we had a super long trip back to Cordoba and so we quickly got ready and then got on the bus and all just crashed, straight to sleep. We spent basically the whole day onboard with very few stops. We had one at this awesome rock place where you could enter like a cavern and there was a man sitting on a rock singing and it was a really cool vibe and then another vineyard where the wine was super cheap and so a lot of people brought wine for their respective host families as well and finally we stopped at a museum, which in all honesty I have no idea what it was about as I basically chilled outside with a whole bunch of cactus', beyond tired (and took some photos as you can see next door to this text haha). After that we just spent the rest of the time travelling in the bus, all the way through the night, although we did stop for dinner on the way through.

We awoke in the morning at around 7:30 to Choco making his silly alarm clock noise and it was really sad it was time to say good bye to everyone. Off the bus they all went, each to their own kissing us goodbye on the cheek and giving us hugs, until we were down to only 18 of us, cut in half. This was the group that was doing the extension and going to Buenos Aires. Luckily for me, majority of my closest friends were doing the extension however nonetheless we were all really sad to say goodbye.

From there we continued on along the road and stopped at a service station to grab breakfast. Amy was really indignant because we forgot about her and left her sleeping on the bus ahhahahaha. Shortly after we had breakfasted we arrived in this gorgeous little hotel about 10 minutes from Carlos Paz and nestly in the Sierras (a small mountain range just outside of Cordoba). Once we arrived we were so relieved to hear that we basically had the whole day for us to do what we wanted. Luisa and I were sharing a room and so after we arrived we went exploring with Lotte and lay in the grass and enjoyed the sun which briefly broke through the clouds for us. We then had lunch at about 1:30pm and afterwards we all got changed and then went on a walk up into the Sierras. We went for the whole afternoon and arrived back when it was dark! It was honestly so nice to be doing some physical exercise and we even scaled a few mountains. The destination of the walk was  a gorgeous valley with a river running through it. I really wanted to swim but the coordinators wouldnt let me, so instead we played some crazy games (ofcourse my group won haha) and then walked back. I walked a lot with David and Oskar but also with Lotte (I love walking and talking and really miss it).

I remember being in a bit of a weird mood when I got back and just a little bit over people so I went into my room to just get a bit of alone time and ended up falling asleep. I woke up at about 9:30 to Luisa's phone going crazy with calls and someone knocking on the door, as she had come in and gone to sleep as well (as she was quite sick) and we were both super late for dinner (which was at 9). A bit disorientated we trundled downstairs to laughter and and snarky comments from the others for our late entrance haha. After dinner a lot of people were very tired and also sick (I was one of the few lucky ones on the trip who didn't actually get sick) and nearly everyone just went to bed. Luckily I had my gal pal Amy to hang out with me and we had a super cute girls night, just
talking and being generally stupid.

The next day we woke up quite early and went on our way to travel to BA with many pit stops along the way. Firstly we stopped in Alta Gracia and went to the museum of Che, which was super interesting! Then afterwards we went to yet another gorgeous church! Hopping back on the bus we then continued our journey towards BA. We stopped in this absolutely heavenly place for lunch called Villa General Belgrano and it was a place that had such a German influence and so we all ate typical german food like Sauerkraut for lunch. After lunch Luisa and I went and lay down in the grass in the sun while the others had a look around as we were very tired and knew that we would end up spending all our money if we started shopping as the things were so quirky and quaint.

At about 4pm we all hopped back on the bus and continued the long journey to BA. We stopped in Villa Maria for dinner and we met up with a friend of David's at the service station where we ate dinner. That was quite nice! We then all got back on the bus and had a little dance party in the back. Amy was rapping with Aaron while Luisa and I danced. Amy, Oskar and I stayed up talking for quite a while which was nice and then at about 2 am we all decided it was probably time to get some sleep.

In the morning we were woken up at about 8:30am by Choco with breakfast. There wasn't really anything for me so I went back to sleep but then was woken up at 9:50am to everyone already having got off the bus and I was still in my pjs. I rapidly scrambled to get changed, put my contacts in and get off the bus. It turned out we were at a zoo which was where we were going to be spending the day. I was a little disappointed by this as it wasn't on the original itinerary and I could go to the zoo if I wanted to in Auckland. In the end though it turned out to be a really good day and Luisa, Amy, Sarah and I all went around together (at first they were going to make us go around in a big group but we weren't having any of that haha). We had lunch and then afterwards us girls went and got ice cream (as we were getting a bit sick of the zoo by this point) and it was so delicious! We then went to the aquarium and afterwards split up so it was Luisa and I and then Amy and Sarah as they wanted to go to the bird enclosure and we wanted to do nothing haha.

Finally at about 4:30pm we all met up and got back on the bus to travel the last hour or so to BA. When we arrived the traffic was super bad but we were all peering out the windows trying to get a glimpse of the famous capital city. It was a bit of a mission trying to get all our suitcases out of the bus when there wasnt a parking space... we literally just stopped in the middle of the road, put our hazards on and then all got off the bus. Sarah, Amy, Luisa and I were all in one room which we were stoked about and we were on the top floor basically next to the boys which was nice! Then we all got changed into warmer clothes and walked half a block to a super gorgeous little bar where we had dinner. It had a really cool vibe and we had a really good evening. At about 11:30pm we walked back to the hotel (with haste as it is quite dangerous at this sort of time in BA) and then all went upstairs. Then we all went to bed, quite early about 1 am so that we could be refreshed for the next full day in BA and so we could enjoy our last night (the next night).

In the morning we all woke up and were downstairs by 7:30 am. Rapidly we ate breakfast and then out we went with a guide. We walked a few blocks and were down on the waterfront ! It was gorgeous and we were surrounded by buildings around the water. From there, we got in a private boat and began our way through open water and then up through canals, passing houses along the water. It was honestly so nice and Oskar and I really wanted to go outside onto the deck out the back and soon everyone was out there (despite the freezing cold wind). We were travelling to the district that was called El Tigre. We arrived after about 2 hours and all hopped off and walk for a while until we reached a place for an early lunch. It was a lovely place and we all sat outside in the weak sun and ate. I remember that we got vanilla ice cream for dessert and Amy was so determined on getting dulce de leche to go with it that she waited for 20 minutes (as the service was quite slow) and then by the time she got it, the ice cream was basically melted hahaha.

 After lunch we got back on the bus and then went to visit different points of interest in BA such as the plaza 25 de Mayo, teatro colon (a massive well-known theatre), la casa rosada (the house of the president), the cathedral, Palermo and then finally we went onto the Boca district. Boca is a district that has a whole load of houses all super close to each other all in arrays of different colours and has loads of culture. There are tango dancers on every corner, authentic markets lining the streets and argentinian cafes with people spilling out of them blasting spanish music, each cafe's music overlapping the others. It is also home to the stadium of the football team; Boca.

After a few hours of snapping pics and wandering the streets (basically being tourists) we hopped back on the bus and returned to the hotel. From there we then got ready and went out to dinner, for our final dinner together as a group. We went back to the same place and everyone else ate pizza (while I got my usual meat and vegetables) but I didn't mind as we had such a cool vibe going on. After that we all went back to the hotel and then met downstairs to sign flags and get together to chat. We all sang songs with the guitar until about 2am and then all went upstairs and got together in my room. It was so nice and we were all just talking and dancing around to music. We finally went to sleep at about 6am to get up a few hours later.
Downstairs we all traipsed in the morning with our suitcases and ate breakfast and then jumped on the bus. We all slept until lunch as we were so shattered and basically everyone was sick by now (me only a little bit). We stopped for lunch at macca's in Villa Maria (:D) and then started the goodbyes as we said good bye to Madeleine, Gloria and Aaron! It was very sad and afterwards I only had about 45 minutes until I had to get off at Bell Ville and say good bye to everyone!! :(

The last 45 minutes went so quickly and I sat chatting with Sarah, Luisa, David and Amy. When we arrived I said goodbye to everyone and then got off the bus with Tessie at the bus station (one of the coordinators who lives close to Bell Ville). I waved goodbye to the others with the reassuring comfort that it was okay as in 1.5 weeks we would be back together for the conference.  I then called my host mum to come pick me up and within 15 minutes I was home. I got a big welcome home from the dogs ahahaha and ate dinner and went up to sleep super early. I slept 14.5 hours as my body tried to recover from the lack of sleep, bad diet and partial illness of the weeks before.

It's honestly incredible the connections you have with exchange students right from the get go. I wouldn't have changed the trip for the world and miss them all so much already.