So, after a long flight from Tennessee to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Perú, and Perú to Buenos Aires, I picked up my bags, headed outside into the sunny day (every day since has been rainy), and gulped an excited breath of fresh winter air. Estoy in Argentina. Buenos Aires, Argentina. What the heck am I doing? I’m still not really sure, anyhow.
Therefore, I’d like to share some of my favorite memories thus far of my Buenos Aires experience, as I’ve only been here about a week. I’m keeping it short because though time seems to slow down here, there is much to do! A lot of things to see, people to meet, and travel plans to be made. 🙂
La Boca is a working-class neighborhood in Buenos Aires. It is known for its eclectic, colorful buildings of shops, restaurants, and gifts. Mate, a traditional Argentine drink, is sold on streets, gift shops sell various knickknacks and trinkets, and the pride for the fútbol team Boca Juniors (hopefully I am getting this right) is absolutely apparent. Be on the lookout for pickpockets if you do choose to come to La Boca. However, I thought it was a great mini-trip on my first day in BA, especially due to the cultural tone of the area.
Belgrano is another neighborhood in Buenos Aires that is located near the more well-known Palermo. Belgrano is known for its frequent dogs and dog walkers and urban feel. I walk around a lot in Belgrano, and typically I don’t mind this. I feel as if I am in living in the city, yet I do not have to be constantly swarmed by people. Belgrano has many parks, museums, and restaurants. Really, I enjoy the town so far, and the walk to and from my apartment and other locations gives me a chance to really soak in the Argentine climate.
EL SUBTE A LA IGLESIA (The subway to church)
On Sunday morning, my friends and I decided to go to a Spanish-speaking church that was about an hour commute from our apartments. Once we got to the San Nicolás district of BA, we had to change subtes (subways) and ended up in the Flores barrio (neighborhood) of the city. However, we discovered that our church was still a mile-and-a-half away, and the true lazy people we are, decided to trek to McDonald’s for an early lunch instead. This was my first “American” meal in BA in the week I have been here, and though it was good, it was not as good as the ñosquis I had near El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a converted theatre that is now a bookstore. (Pretty cool, check it out!)
However, I was sorta glad to get lost, because I learned how to use the subte, made some better bonds with my friends, and enjoyed the gallons of rain in this late BA wintertime. (An umbrella para agua is a necessity!)
While I miss my family a lot, I do like the homestay aspect of my Argentina trip. I can be at a friend’s house in minutes, but I have the ability to be part of a family away from home, and this offers more stability, in my opinion, than living with a bunch of partying college students. The food is great, my Spanish will eventually improve (man, Spanish is so beautiful!), and I can crash in my room and be an introvert when I want to be, or head out on the town with friends. It’s pretty easy living here.
LANGUAGE CONFUSION (hehe)
I came here speaking some Spanish. However, though I understand much better than I speak, the dialect here is much different from US Spanish, or Mexican Spanish, or Spanish Spanish. The accent is awesome, even if very hard to understand at first. I have had a few awkward encounters where I have no clue what a person is saying to me, but for the most part, I’ve been able to figure it out along the way. For example, a Diet Coke here is called a Coca-Cola Light. Also, I had some trouble figuring out how much money to use to buy some shampoo, but es la vida de the foreigner. It makes me wish to be kinder to foreigners in my own country of the United States.
I think that, in a way, the difference in language can be a good thing. I’m learning more Spanish, my homestay family is learning more English, and though it can be a bit annoying and embarrassing at times, it’s fun to learn what people are saying to you in their own native tongue.
As a result, I’ve really enjoyed my first week in Argentina. The country is great from what I’ve seen. The people are mostly friendly, though the drivers can be quite aggressive and will run over pedestrians, but I love that the culture is very family oriented. I love listening to the Spanish roll around me like music, and I like the immersion, though I know I will want to go back to the United States soon.
Therefore, though it isn’t perfect, Buenos Aires has offered me an incredible opportunity to be welcome in its city, and I can’t wait to share more of my aventuras!