Palm Trees, Pesos, & Pictures – My First Week in Uruguay!

It’s been a little over a week since I’ve arrived here in Uruguay! After traveling for nearly a day, I finally landed in Montevideo, the capital of the country. I can’t complain; the whole traveling experience went really smoothly. Even better, we were met by Juan, a student at the University of Montevideo and our “buddy” for the trip, as soon as we got through customs at the Carrasco International Airport. Juan and the University of Montevideo actually had a ride arranged to take us to our hotel from the airport (super helpful for an exhausted bunch of Pitt students). For the entirety of the bus ride to the hotel, my eyes were fixed on the view outside the window: palm trees galore, beautiful architecture, and colorful wall art. When we arrived at the hotel, Juan helped us navigate checking in (most of us aren’t very fluent in Spanish) and we headed out to grab a bite to eat.  The first day in Montevideo was amazing, as has been every day since. 

The area we are staying in provides a lot of convenience, with a large mall and several grocery stores just a walk away. There are countless currency exchange services as well, allowing us to exchange USD for Uruguayan Pesos whenever needed. Additionally, we are in walking distance of the University of Montevideo’s Engineering Campus, where our class takes place. We’ve been walking a lot but its been great to experience the city in this way! 

My daily routine usually begins with breakfast, which is provided by the hotel we are staying at. When early afternoon hits, we make our way to class, which starts at 2 p.m. The class we are taking is called Global Supply Chains and Manufacturing Culture in Latin America. The class is taught in English, yet there are students from all over the world taking it: Greece, New Zealand, Germany, as well as Uruguayan students. It has been so interesting to get to know them and learn about their backgrounds. 

When we’re not at the hotel or in class, we’ve been venturing around Montevideo quite a bit. We’ve been on two site visits so far, acting as complements to the class we are taking. We visited El País, one of the largest Uruguayan newspapers and printing companies. Keeping with the theme of logistics and supply chains, we talked a lot about how the newspaper gets delivered throughout the country. The newspapers are printed and loaded on to trucks, which leave the El País plant every night around midnight, driving on ten different routes to deliver to all areas of the country! We also visited the Port of Montevideo, which is one of the major ports of South America. Being on site, we had to wear hard hats and safety vests, as forklifts and cranes are constantly maneuvering with very heavy loads. The complexity of the port is very apparent, yet all moving parts work together to make everyday operations smooth. Juan also organized a trip to Colonia del Sacramento, which is located on the southwestern coast of Uruguay, about two hours from Montevideo. It is an extremely old town, complete with cobblestone roads, antique cars, and colorful buildings. I’m not a professional photographer, but I really enjoy taking pictures. Colonia was so fun to photograph because of the colors, flowers, and charming atmosphere. My favorite part was walking up to the top of the Colonia del Sacramento Lighthouse. The view was amazing and if you looked close enough, you could actually see the city of Buenos Aires across the water!

I have no doubt in my mind that the next two weeks here in Uruguay will be just as amazing as the first. And I can’t wait to tell you all about it! 

Until next time,

Rachel Hannum