Argentina has been a real learning experience for me, and it has only been a week. Although I grew up speaking Spanish, there is a small learning curve in regards to the Spanish spoken in Buenos Aires. Its proper name is Español Rioplatense. Within a group, sometimes it may be difficult to understand the conversation given that Argentines tend to speak fast, and there are certain words that I don’t know the meaning of. In addition, the pronunciation is different than the Mexican Spanish I have always been accustomed to. Here, the double L, “ll”, and “y” is pronounced “sh”. It took me some time getting used to it.
I live with my host mom, Aida, and also other students that are part of my program. My host mom is a porteña, which means she is from Buenos Aires. She has been very friendly and helpful, not to mention, her cooking is fantastic! The food eaten here is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine, given that many Argentines are descendants from Italians. Meat is also a huge thing, which is something that I love! There are some cultural differences in eating between Argentina and the United States. First off, breakfast is eaten very light here, while lunch is a heavier meal. For breakfast, it is usually toast with the option of dulce de leche, peach jelly, or butter as a spread. For that reason, lunch is usually the heavier meal of the two. Dinner is served late here, around 9 or even 10.
Given that Buenos Aires is a huge city, there are neighborhoods that divide it. I live in Belgrano, one of the most traditional ones in the city, which houses important commercial centers. The contrast between what I am used to at home and the environment I am in now took me by surprise. At first, everything seemed like too much to handle. Narrow streets, having to walk everywhere, cross busy streets, and use the subway seemed like a pain. In Lexington, I have gotten so accustomed to driving everywhere and the times I walk I don’t have to worry about getting in the way of anyone unless it is downtown. Now that it is the end of the week, I have taken it all in and I know how to work things, how the subway works, and how to go about my daily commute.
I am taking Advanced Spanish at the University of Belgrano. The class has been interesting, we have read and discussed interesting topics. Our professor, who is also a porteña, is really enthusiastic and friendly. On the first day of our lunch break, I made a vow to immerse myself as much as I could with locals. Instead of sitting with other Americans from my program, I sat next to a random Argentine. In talking to people, I have learned a lot about Argentina, ranging from its government to its education system.