My Impression of the Culture After Five Weeks

ImageI cannot believe that today marks five weeks since I arrived in Buenos Aires. I expected time to fly by, but not this fast! I really like it here and I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever experience the culture shock or severe homesickness that we were warned about as part of orientation. I have only felt homesick twice: the first night I was here when I had an “Oh my god what am I doing here?! I can’t spend five months this far from home!” moment, and the day that I got back from my trip to Córdoba, when it felt kind of nice to come “home” to all of my things, but it didn’t feel so nice to not be home home. Luckily for me, Dan is an awesome source of support; I skyped him both times and he cheered me right up.

Speaking of Dan, I was lucky enough to spend last week with him here! He arrived last Saturday, and we had the best time. It was so much fun! We crammed a lot of sightseeing and eating delicious foods into the week. At some point I will write more about all the awesome things we did in case any of you wants to spend a week in the city and want some suggestions of things to do (that’s a hint, by the way. I’m still here for four more months! Come visit me!). His coming after only a month was necessary because he had to come during a school break, and it actually worked out well because it was really nice to know that I didn’t have to wait long to see him if things started feeling hard, and now I’m used to living here so I feel confident that I’ll be able to make it through four long months in this crazy country! It was hard to see him go, but it was so awesome that we had this time together here. We will definitely reminisce about this week forever. 

Anyway, I think that part of the reason that I haven’t feel too much culture shock (yet at least) is that the culture isn’t that different from the United States, which is really surprising. The main difference I’ve noticed are: lack of punctuality (even my professors show up late), a seeming lack of any rules for drivers whatsoever, and pedestrians walking reeeeeeally slowly and not always on the right (which I assume is related to the lack of pressure to be on time places and a general sense of laid-backedness that I am trying to discover in myself). 
The punctuality thing doesn’t bother me; I’m starting to understand what I call Argentina time (as in: are we meeting at 9 o’clock, or 9 o’clock Argentina time?) which means show up places or expect others to show up around 30 minutes late. I am really neurotic about punctuality, so while others showing up late doesn’t bother me anymore, I am struggling to not leave my house too early for things because I’m kind of a freak. I was annoyed the first couple of times my professors showed up late, but now I’m used to it and am just considering it part of the experience.
The lack of rules for drivers took a little getting used to (you can’t just cross a street here and assume you have the pedestrian’s right of way. You will die.). Once in awhile it’s still irritating, like yesterday when I was crossing the street on a walk signal and a car laid on their horn and drove up really close to me. I mean, seriously? But I’ve gotten used to being extra careful crossing the street and now I’m almost positive I’ll make it out of this country without being flattened by a bus :). 
The pace of pedestrians is the only thing here that I find really irritating, and I think it’s because this is one of my pet peeves from home. In the US, I hate it when people are inconsiderate and walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk or hallway, or walk in big groups that take up the entire thing, because life is so much easier for everyone if we all just walk on the right and try to keep some sort of awareness of others. I think that there isn’t that social custom here, though, because people walk on whichever side they feel like and often in groups three or four across, blocking the entire sidewalk. I am not sure if I’ll be able to overcome my annoyance at this here since I’ve never been able to at home, but I’m trying!

Besides those three things, I can’t really think of anything that’s too different from the US (besides language, obviously). Since BsAs is such a big city, it’s really easy to find anything I need, so I haven’t had to struggle without anything. I think you can’t buy peanut butter (I keep forgetting to look) but that’s no big deal to me. Except that I don’t think you can buy Reese’s PB cups either, and that is kind of a problem :). I had Dan bring me some Reese’s eggs to hold me over.

Next week I’ll write about the awesome cuisine here! 

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