Sleepless in South America
And I’m finally here! I can’t believe I’ve already been in Argentina for a week. Everything feels so new and undiscovered, but another part of me feels like I’ve accomplished so much already. The people here hardly ever sleep, despite going to the clubs (called boliches) until 7am or eating and laughing with family past midnight. Yet, they seem so awake, so alive. I find myself sleeping less, too, but thank goodness you can find café con leche on every corner. Each day is filled with sunny, 80o weather and the intriguing sites around the bustling city. It’s no surprise that nobody sleeps much with the excitement and beauty of Buenos Aires.
As I stepped off the airplane, I was bombarded by first impressions. The people here are some of the nicest I’ve met. On the plane, I sat next to a businessman from Buenos Aires, and he invited me to dinner to meet his wife and kids. On the way to my new home, the taxi driver talked to me about my future career plans and his previous travels. Men are constantly yelling “qué linda” to women walking through the city; it’s not meant in a derogatory way but rather to compliment a woman’s physical beauty. And the people here are absolutely gorgeous. Much like the United States, Argentina is a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. The city is filled with some of the best Italian food in the world. Empanadas – a famous Argentine dish of dough filled with meat, cheese, really anything delicious – were invented in Lebanon and illustrate the large Jewish influence in Buenos Aires. The European influences are evident in the historical buildings that fill the city. Yet, the modern architecture adds a unique and beautiful contrast. The city moves forward, yet clings on to the influences of the past. These contrasts define this city, and they help define ourselves. When we seek new experiences, such as studying abroad, we create a beautiful mess of the new and old, the familiar and unknown. Like these cities, our lives are melting pots of our past and future experiences.
Another first impression: dulce de leche is the best thing to exist. You’ve probably had the Häägen-Dazs ice cream flavor before, but real dulce de leche doesn’t even compare. It’s like creamy caramel that is perfectly acceptable to eat with anything, any time of day. You can put it on fruit, chocolate cake, or croissant-like rolls drizzled with honey called medialunas. Basically dulce de leche has no rules. I put it on my Corn Flakes in the morning. And I may be guilty of eating it straight from the jar. I will likely be taking another suitcase back to the US, filled with 50 pounds of dulce de leche. And I’m not even kidding. It’s that good.
Final first impression: I LOVE IT HERE. I have met so many great friends through the IFSA-Butler program and have loved getting to know my host family. I have never spoken so much Spanish in my life, and it’s amazing how I wake up feeling more fluent each day. I’ve seen the beauty of the city, recognizing that so many streets remain unexplored. I don’t know where these five months abroad will take me, but I know I’m on my way.