Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

The struggles of Jess

Hola amigos! Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve written. It’s been so busy these few weeks with orientation each day. I’ve been having such an amazing time meeting friends through my program and getting to know the argentine way of life. Even though my first weeks in Buenos Aires have been absolutely wonderful, some challenges are inevitable with living a new country. So here are just a few of them I’ve experienced:

 the subways

The subway system, called the subte, is absolutely wonderful! There are six lines that run throughout the entire city, so it isn’t too complicated to figure out which subway to take. Well, it shouldn’t be too complicated, but I took the subway the wrong direction the first time I tried (and also a few other times, but we’ll just pretend those didn’t happen J). Thank goodness the subways are entertaining: people bring speakers on wheels so they can sing, play guitar or drums, or perform really anything just to earn a few extra pesos. Some of them are actually pretty talented! So in all, maybe an extra half hour on the subway isn’t the worst thing.

 the smiles

As a pretty smiley girl, I would walk down the street, smiling a big toothy grin at the men and women I would pass. Some of them would give me a strange look, and I obviously assumed they were just having a bad day. About a week into our orientation, our advisors explained that smiling at complete strangers often has a sexual connotation. Oops, learned that fun fact a little too late. The people here are genuinely some of the nicest individuals I’ve met, but they have different ways of showing their affection. For instance, most people kiss friends, family members, co-workers, or even teachers on the cheek when greeting one another. It’s such a sweet gesture and wonderful aspect of the Argentine culture.

 the hair

In my past Spanish classes, we never really focused on adjectives to describe hair types. I know the basic colors, but not too much about describing straight or curly hair (I mean there are way more useful vocabulary words, right?). I got a keratin treatment this week to tame my frizzy hair (and to fit in more with the native argentines with beautifully smooth hair), and I googled how to tell the hair stylist that I wanted straight hair. Pelo lacio. I kept repeating this to myself as I walked to the salon. However, I accidentally told the stylist that I wanted pelo de lucio. She gave me a weird look, then smiled and nodded. My hair did turn our perfectly straight, but I suddenly remembered that the word lucio means pike, like the type of fish. I TOLD HER I WANTED FISH HAIR. So embarrassing. Thank goodness she knew what I meant. I probably wouldn’t look the cutest with pike hanging from my hair.

 So those are the struggles for now. And yes, I know there will be many more to come. As I go through these first weeks in Buenos Aires, I keep thinking of the words of one of my high school teachers: “Fail faster to succeed sooner.” Even though my first few weeks in Argentina have been a crazy mix of complicated struggles and unforgettable excitement, I know everything will get much easier with time. And at least these struggles make for great stories.

 Hasta luego,





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