Adjustments and Explorations in Buenos Aires
Going to a new place always requires an adjustment, but I was surprised by what felt completely normal and what I’m still getting used to here in Argentina. When I first arrived, Buenos Aires was in the middle of a heat wave. From my first step out of the airport until the miraculous day a week later when a storm hit and the heat broke, I could’ve sworn the climate would kill me. (Side Note: I should’ve packed more dresses. All the pants I have caused me to overheat.) After a week of normal temperatures, while my home in Minnesota goes from a tornado, to snow, to sun, I know I will enjoy Argentinian weather.
Another difference I’ve had to adjust to here is the scheduling. While at home I’m used to having a strict timetable with every hour full, Argentinians do not believe having a full schedule is the same as having a full life. If you arrive late, it’s no big worry. When sitting down at a café, make yourself comfy, stare into space for a while – you aren’t in any rush. Sleep also seems to be for the weak. Dinner is around 9 PM and people go out at 1 AM and come back at 6. I’m not sure how they survive.
While the timing still throws me for a loop, moving through this city feels like the most natural thing in the world. There’s a rhythm to walking city streets, a unified sense of motion as we stop and start to the walk signal. I love leaving behind the subway to walk the last few blocks to my host mom’s apartment. I pass by flower kiosks and ice cream shops, a bustling plaza and cute boutiques. People laugh and play and talk. Dogs are everywhere. After a day of orientation, Castellano (Spanish), and history classes, this walk makes me feel plugged into the city.
I have always loved walking and it is also my favorite way of exploring a city. A group of students and I, guided by the director of the program here, did a walking tour of the palaces of Avenida Alvear. Through this walk, we learned about the history of the city and how it has changed. We also got to see Recoleta, a neighborhood I hadn’t been to yet. Our tour ended with a visit to the Palacio Paz, the ornate home of the Paz family. We walked through the main rooms, each more ornate than the last. It’s hard to reconcile that example of old world luxury with the bustling city Buenos Aires is now.
I still have so much to explore in this city and I know walking will guide me though the many different parts of Buenos Aires. By the end of this semester I hope to have visited almost all the neighborhoods and to make mine as familiar as my hometown. Next weekend we will be visiting Uruguay and I am excited to see this new place, but I am also equally excited to get started with classes and put a little order to my schedule.