Vacation to Uruguay

Well, its mid-term exam time here in Argentina….its very funny because all my friends back home at PITT are going home for the summer vacation this week. I am thankful that the school system (and life in general) here is slow-paced. Teachers are easy going and rarely impose strict guidelines or due dates for papers, and no teacher follows a syllabus. The grading system is also different here than it is in the US. Everything is graded from a 1 to a 10 with 8, 9 and 10 being an A. Something that is very nice about college here is that textbooks are so cheap! At home a textbook is usually around $100 but here they are less than $20.

In preparation for the stressful week of exams to come, some friends and I decided to take a little vacation last weekend and head to Uruguay. We took a ferry across the Rio de la Plata and were in Colonia in 3 hours. We all have Student Visas now from the Immigration Office so we are considered residents and can travel throughout South America without any hassle.  When we landed in Uruguay it was 87degrees and sunny and all we wanted to do was go to the beach. It was the first time I ever stayed in a hostel and it was such a fun experience. It is very different from a hotel in that you sleep in a dorm with the people you are traveling with and share a bathroom with the other people staying in the hostel. The place we stayed was a no-frills sort of place with only 4 bunk beds and lockers in each room. Spending the night was only $18 per person.

Life in Colonia Uruguay is far more relaxing than the noisy city of Buenos Aires. Colonia is the oldest city in Uruguay and is very historic and beautiful. The original Barrio Histórico has original buildings, the wooden drawbridge and cobblestone streets built by the Portuguese in the 17th century.  The city changed hands many times during the 17th and 18th centuries between Spain and Portugal.

Uruguay is famous for it Chivito sandwich, so of course we all had to have one. The sandwich is stacked high with steak, fries, egg, cheese and veggies (not the most healthy sandwich, but definitely one of the best).

Even though we only traveled 3 hours from Argentina, the language is a little different in Uruguay. ‘Vos’ is not used very often, and the double L is not pronounced as a ‘sssshhhh’ sound like in Argentina. So, it took us a few hours to figure out the differences in the language and then a few more hours to figure out the Uruguayan Peso. Imagine going to an ATM and receiving a bill that says 5,000 on it! Turns out that 5,000 Uruguayan Pesos is only $250US dollars so my excitement was short-lived.

Here are a couple cool pictures from the trip!

Our first view of the beach in Uruguay
Another beautiful view from the beach

Part of wall from the original Portuguese fortress
A pretty mural in Barrio Histórico
A street in Barrio Histórico
The sunset on our last night in Uruguay

Sara Smoter
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Spring 2012

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