6 March 2013
The dark of the night sky of Newark, New Jersey, turned into the light of day as the plane flew entered the skies of Argentina. Stepping of the plane, as with any change of location via flight, the smell of Argentina fills my nostrils, reminding me that I am no longer in the United States.
I have taken some time to sit myself down and write this blog post. I arrived in Buenos Aires during the late morning of 25 February, was immediately transported to my home stay via taxi, and ever since, my days have been filled with orientation obligations, meeting new friends, and exploring and experiencing Buenos Aires.
Before this program, and even while still in Nicaragua, I was told to enter this program with the knowledge that Argentina and Central America are two entirely different programs, as well as realities. Many times last week, I continually reminded myself that I could not keep comparing my experiences in Central America with the reality that I am now living in Buenos Aires. Argentina is more developed than Central America, and with that economic and social progress comes vast differences.
I have come to meet many people on my program. We come from all walks of life, all parts of the United States and world, and are all here for different reasons and interests. This diversity of students and people, among the 108 of us, makes for a group of people whom are hungry to experience the reality and culture that exists in this foreign country. I have come to connect with a number of people, spending time in and outside of class with them, and learning of the ways in which our lives have crossed back home. Mutual friends, similar home areas, similar past trips and experiences, and the list goes on.
Buenos Aires can be described in many ways. For me, life here is entirely different than my life back in good ole’ Galway, New York (cue the photos in your mind of cows, farm land, and a one-stoplight village). Here though, I am confronted by sidewalks and mass transit, exhaust fumes and some sort of noise at any moment of the day, and the most basic of differences: speaking Spanish. Argentina is a unique country in and of itself compared to much of the rest of Latin America. It’s the largest country in Latin America, and also has a very distinct accent. When to L’s are next to one another in Spanish, they typically create the sound of a ‘Y,’ but here in Argentina, they create the sound of a parent attempting to quiet their toddler… Shhh. Adapting to this new accent, and to speaking Spanish again, took me a few days. Still though, I am forced to request that my host mother repeat herself in case I did not hear her correctly.
I am living with a widow named Silvia. She is a kind soul, warm and caring. The first day I arrived and she returned home from work, she immediately pulled me into her arms for a large hug and a kiss on the cheek. She then continued on to pepper me with questions about my trip from New York, my family, my life back at home, etc. Silvia lives with a man named Gustavo, who cooks and cleans for her. I’ve never lived with someone who’s job is to serve me, and still to this moment, it makes me feel uncomfortable. While yes, there are times where it is certainly convenient, if I were to have to cook myself meals, I would be perfectly, if not more, content.
This first week has been filled with new people, friends, and experiences. Playing guitar on he side of a street and in a park, dancing with friends at a night club, experiencing the café culture of Buenos Aires, and throwing oneself into the midst of a new culture. I look forward to learning and experiencing the personal growth that I hope to encounter during this semester in Argentina. For now though, I’ll follow the wisdom that was told to me last semester, and be present to the situation at hand. In the moment. The present.
My new friend, Julia, and I with our new 6-strings.