William and Mary Law School

El Tiempo Vuela!

It's the same in both languages: time flies! And boy,  it's the truth! As of today I have been in Cordoba, Argentina for three weeks. On the one hand I can't believe twenty-one days have already passed, but on the other hand, I feel like I've been in Cordoba for a long time. It's funny because this is the same feeling I had with regards to my first year of law school. Anyway, let me get right into filling you all in on what I've been up to down here in La Argentina.

So far, my time with CEDHA has been mostly about educating myself. I'm working with the program called Corporate Accountability and Human Rights, and as I don't really know anything about Corporations or Human rights, it's been a little difficult for me. I am supposed to be doing a "diagnostic" of this website whose goal is to promote access to information regarding the various types of non-judicial mechanisms that can be used to address grievances between companies and stakeholders. Sounds like a mouthful, huh? So just imagine how I felt when I was assigned that task. Luckily, I was able to get a bit more clarification before beginning, but I still feel like I'm kind of walking blindly. Plus, it's kind of hard for me to explain to everyone here how law schools work in America and why this job is a really important step in my law career: law is a graduate degree, not a "major"; grades are done on a curve, so it's not passing the class that's the hard part, but rather, getting good grades that will lead to a good job, etc.; coming out of this summer with a great recommendation and writing sample is crucial, etc.  En fin, I don't want to sound like I'm not having a good experience, because overall, I am. And I think it will get better as I finally get some more focus with what I'm supposed to be doing and hopefully, undertake a research project. One thing I'm learning is how difficult it is to just kind of drop into an NGO for ten weeks and really hope to make a significant contribution. Now I'm trying to change my focus to making as many small contributions as I can to help CEDHA achieve its goals. Overall, I think this summer is going to be an extremely rewarding experience, and I'm excited to keep you all filled in as I delve more deeply into the human rights and environmental work going on here.

Whereas adjusting to the Argentine style of work has been difficult, however, adjusting to the style of life has been nothing but fun! There are always people in the streets any time of day, street vendors selling everything from sweet roasted nuts to pan rellenito (soft bread filled with cheese, ham, beef, tomatoes, etc.), to churros filled with dulce de leche (which will be the death of me...or at least my still semi-athletic body, I swear), and stands selling beautiful jewelery, scarves, and artwork. Plus, how can you complain when you can go to a restaurant in a HUGE city like Buenos Aires and eat salmon raviola covered in shrimp cream sauce and drink two glasses of wine for less than $20?  One thing that is kind of tough is the fact that nearly all of my friends here are students, so they don't have to maintain the 9-5 daily schedule I do. Just last night I was called an "abuela" (grandmother) for leaving the bar at 1 am!  Originally, I thought there were going to be other foreign interns here like me, but it turns out that, at least for now, I am the only one :(. On the one hand, this kind of sucks because I don't have anyone to travel with (most young Argentines can't really afford to jet away for a weekend trip). On the other hand, however, I almost NEVER speak English here, which has definitely made learning the unique Argentine slang (known as "lunfardo") a quicker process, and forced me to really make an effort to get to know other people.

Last weekend I went to Buenos Aires because Monday was a holiday here. One of the best things about travelling in Argentina is the fact that you can do so relatively cheaply--and extremely comfortably--at night. There are 3 different kinds of buses: coche semicama (like airplane seats), coche cama, and coche suite. Even though cama is really comfortable, I chose to pay the extra 40 pesos (about 11 bucks) to travel in a coche suite, where the seats recline all the way flat, like in first class on international flights. IT IS WORTH IT. I slept for about 8 hours straight, and arrived in Bs As ready to go. Buenos Aires is an incredible city, and it actually reminded me a lot of New York. There are tons of tall buildings, green parks, and more restaurants than you can imagine. Plus, the people have a bit of that snooty attitude that makes New York, well, New York. Oh yeah, there is also a Hooters (which excited my friend Enrique more than it excited me). Even thoughI had an awesome four days in the city, when I got on the bus to return to Cordoba, I had the feeling that I was going home. I know that probably sounds corny, but it's true. I have met some really great people here who have made me feel so welcome, and I love the fact that there is one Empanadas restaurant that knows exactly what I like to order :). Cordoba reminds me a bit of Seville, the city in Spain where I've spent more than 15 months of my life, because it's big enough to offer everything great about a true city, but small enough to randomly see your friend as your walking home from work. I love that.

By the way, Happy Friday! I don't have anything super exciting planned for the weekend, but I think Sunday I will be going to a typical Argentina asado (barbeque--but not really because no bbq sauce is use). If you didn't know, the beef here in Argentina is amazing, and a top-notch stake is never going to cost more than about $12. Pretty sweet, huh?

That about brings you up to date. I hope you're enjoying my time in Argentina with me!

Hasta la proxima,

Kate