13. What was your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
Buenos Aires is HUGE. Early on I learned I enjoyed my evenings more by seeking out eclectic bars and funky scenes than going to classic boliche (dance club) every weekend. (Boliches are also exhausting; you don’t go until about 3 am and you dance till sun up). So I spent my week researching fun, new places and tried to see as much as I could on the weekends.
However I did play soccer with the team at Universidad de Belgrano and our games were quite early on Saturday mornings… So many times I saved my wild escapades for Saturday night and tried to get a decent rest on Friday night.
14. When did you start to feel more “at home” in your host country?
I think I had really expected Buenos Aires to feel exactly like Europe, which was silly as it is in South America. When I first arrived I was so overwhelmed with the Spanish, the enormous city, and this huge douse of change that had been dumped on my head that I was shock. At first all I could notice was the differences between BA and any city in Europe or the United States; tons of trash in the streets, broken tiles on the sidewalks, a whole lot of dog poop, ALWAYS sticking out and a customer service level at restaurants that would get you fired in heartbeat back home. However after about a month in, the shock finally wore off and all the sudden every time I stepped outside my door I would notice all these beautiful things I didn’t see before. I became adjusted to being a part of my host family, school, soccer and my free time. After about a month, I would say I started to feel a bit more at home and thoroughly enjoy living in that incredible place.
15. Who did you wish would visit you abroad so that you could share the experience with them?
I got really lucky as my sister, parents and boyfriend all visited me in Argentina. My boyfriend and I spent two weeks together in BA and a week in the Salta region in Argentina. With my family we spent about a week and a half in Peru and Bolivia and the final week in Buenos Aires (MY final week in BA as well!). It was perfect because I got the chance to show them my favorite restaurants, bars, neighborhoods, sights and introduce them to my host family and friends while also getting the chance to explore a new place with them.
I really do wish however I could have taken my dad to Mendoza. It would have been a blast to get to share that moment with him; who has an equal (or even greater!) love for wine than I do.
16. What was the best present you brought back for a friend/family member?
My aunt was a 6th grade English teacher with a deep love for poetry. While I was down in Argentina she posted on Facebook that she had just discovered Pablo Neruda (a very famous Chilean poet) and how incredible she thought he was. In Valpairiso I got the chance to visit one of Neruda’s houses (which was INCREDIBLE) and while I was there I bought her a bilingual version of his poetry book, Odes to Common Things.
17. Did you have the chance to see live theater, dance, or music performed?
Yes, yes! Lots of times! One of my favorites was a couple of friends and I went to see the National Folkloric Ballet perform. They were incredible! Lots of folk dances with funny stories and THE MOST incredible tango performance I have ever seen. It was a fantastic night.
We also attended the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra at Teatro Colon. I am not sure if I was more impressed by the orchestra or teatro colon… It was a very classy-pinky-in-the-air type of evening.
With my parents we attended the stereotypical tango show. We opted for one without dinner included (much cheaper) and it was great! Again, incredible dancing – could make anyone fall in love with the tango.
18. What was your first impression of your teachers?
Each of my teachers varied as much as teachers vary in the US. I had a couple that were tough, stern, yet incredible teachers, one that hit on me and offered me private dance lessons, and one that I don’t think really enjoyed teaching, instead preferred sharing her personal life to the class and passing everyone.
19. What was the best photograph you took during your stay?
What a difficult question… I have so many photos from my trip that I LOVE. Some are amazing just because of the beautiful scenic views, some because I am in a location I have looked at in pictures for years, some because they remind me of a special moment and some because they truly portray my interpretation of the culture of Argentina.
20. What was the biggest change in your daily routine?
Dinnertime!! Argentines eat dinner LATE. My host family ate dinner at 9 pm every evening, which was considered somewhat early on their time standard. Many times I would be walking home on a Friday night at midnight (lame, I know) and would pass all these families (with 2 year olds!!) sitting down for dinner. Craziness. However due to the late dinnertime, I didn’t go to bed usually until about 1 in the morning. I think I went to bed before 12 am about 5 times throughout my entire 6 months in Argentina.
But the entire wacky schedule continues, bars don’t open until midnight and clubs (boliches) open at 2 am. Therefore you start your pregame at 12 am, get to the bars at 3 am and dance until 8 am. Going out at night was a full next day commitment! Early rising is a rarity in Buenos Aires, many times my host siblings would be getting up at 2 pm on a Sunday… even if they didn’t go out the night before.
21. Why did you choose to go on a program to your host country in the first place?
As I said before, a Spanish speaking country was my number one requirement. I have been to Spain and really wasn’t looking for a European experience. Since I was little kid I have always been drawn to big cities, this seemed like the perfect experience to try one out! So at this point I was debating between Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina. I honestly think the final decision was made because I love Malbec wines, which Argentina is famous for. Buenos Aires it was!
22. What was the place you missed most in the US while you were abroad?
I missed places where I was 100% comfortable. In Argentina I had to create a new comfort-zone… Because nothing I did existed within my real comfort-zone. I would have given almost anything to sit down with my parents for dinner or snuggle up to my boyfriend to watch a movie. I also missed the country-side, small town feel. Buenos Aires is an enormous, never-sleeping city. I missed where I am RIGHT NOW, on my parents’ deck, listening to a river and the birds chirp.
23. What was the thing (food, clothing, activity, etc.) you missed most while you were abroad?
PEANUT BUTTER! Luckily with time I located it, but that first couple weeks without it (and the amount of bread that they eat!) I was really craving it.
The main thing I missed however was the variety of food that we eat here. Arriving to Argentina I didn’t think their food was THAT different, everything I ate on occasions back home. What became hard was many ethnic foods I eat often (Mexican, Thai, Mexican, Burgers, Mexican …) were completely eliminated from my diet. And you can’t just make them at home because they don’t sell the ingredients at the grocery stores!!
25. What is the most special item you brought back from your host country? Why is it such a treasure?
I love my maté. Everyone in Argentina drinks yerba mate and therefore almost every street vendor is selling some type of mate. As time goes on you start noticing and looking at all of them, and I found THE perfect one. It’s beautiful and will always remind me of the culture and of my time in Argentina.
If you’re thinking of studying abroad in Argentina – please give me a shout with any questions! I’d love to share my experience!