I wouldn't say I'm completely settled into life in Mendoza, but some things are becoming familiar, I can recognize some streets and know which buses to take (most of the time) but I still get nervous when I have to wait more than 10min for the bus to come. My host mom continues to amaze me with wonderful hospitality and cooking skills :)
We've been having orientation at Universidad Congresso with the other exchange students every day this week. We were sorted into groups with about 3/4 exchange students to one Congresso student and in these groups we were taught about the art and customs of mate, their version of tea. Most foreigners don't care for it, but I like it! It's served warm, in a tiny bowl/cup with a straw and everyone shares the same cup, passing it around in a circle. Sometimes sugar is added and that's good too :)
Our group attended the Repeticion de Vendimia this past week. This performance was in a ginormous stadium on the biggest stage I've ever seen! The show began with a group of folkloric singers with flute and drum playing then a group of popsingers. Following this was the main event that depicted the change of seasons along with the harvesting of grapes in a combination of traditional, modern, and cultural dances and songs. It was absolutely amazing. Hundreds of dancers with so many costumes, and we were two rows away from the stage! Literally a yard away from the dancers!
Three other friends and I went on an excursion this weekend which included horseback riding and rafting with lunch included. We had a driver, and assistant driver, a trip guide, a horseback-riding guide, a rafting guide, and 3/4 other random Mendozians that joined us! The Horseback riding was so beautiful and calm. It was a cloudy morning perfect for riding and we rode up through a ridge onto and across a plain in front of the mountains. Who know a desert land/city could be so beautiful?! We had an asado, or bar-b-que, for lunch. A typical asado last for hours and has much food and drink. I ate the best meat of my life along with the worst food of my life, which included a taste of intestines. yuck! But I had to try it! We also got to try chorizo and blood sausage, which weren't too bad.
After food, drink, and many laughs, we headed out for rafting! By this time the sun had come out and it was perfect weather for rafting, the air was warm, the water cool and clear, and great company. I tried using my off brand GoPro during the ride, but I'm a novice and need more practice so didn't very good quality footage. Nonetheless, we went over some easy rapids, tried to surf a set of rapids, attempted to rock the raft with the result being me falling off the raft, and swam through the rapids. It was a great trip! Our crazy trip guide, whose nickname is pollo (chicken in english) was waiting for us with his drum and we joined him and a group having asado for a few minutes to try the food and take a whack at playing the drum.
We all nearly fell asleep on the car ride home as a result of too much fun in the sun! (we were all burnt despite only being in the sun for 2 hours of the day) That evening my stomach decided it didn't quite agree with the new foods I'd tried that afternoon and that night and the following morning were spent in discomfort. However, after sleeping and reading the day away I felt much better.
Tomorrow's my first day of school! Though the classes I'm interested in taking don't start til 5pm at the earliest! The 'Study' of Study Abroad is about to begin!