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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A different world - Marissa's perspective

The first thing I noticed about the people of Buenos Aires was their colorlessness; the high-end fashion they wear comes mainly in shades of black, grey, black, tan, and black. Everyone wears leather shoes and leather jackets. Everyone has brown eyes and brown or black hair. Even on relatively warm winter days, when the temperature can reach about fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit, everyone is bundled up behind a thick layer of long jackets, scarves, hats, gloves, and boots. I was told that as a person of obvious European descent, I would not stand out at all here because lots of people “look like you do.” This is a lie. There are lots of white people in Buenos Aires, but there are no blonde people. I got used to heads turning in my direction when I entered the Subte in the morning, and any attempt I made to ask someone for directions was inevitably followed by “¿Alemania? ¿Inglaterra?” (“Germany? England?”). When I walked down the rows of blankets laden with artisan crafts on Florida Street or through the aisles of booths set up on Sundays at San Telmo, artisans would yell after me in English: “Hey you, come over here! I have a free gift for you!” On the few occasions that I went to a bar, men would turn to watch me pass them and say loudly, “My love!” When I walked down Florida to get back to class after lunch, the waiters who stand outside their restaurants thrust their laminated signs in my face and said, “Hel-lo, la-dy. You eat lunch here now?” I often took to wearing my leather jacket’s hood while in crowded public areas, just to give people one less reason to stare.

The fact that I stood out so much in Buenos Aires, and the attention that it often drew, did not dampen my experiences there; rather, it was merely an aspect of my trip that I had not anticipated and which played a fairly significant role in my life there. It was interesting to be an outsider for once in the sense that I could not blend in, no matter how hard I tried.

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