Do they ever sleep?!
So far in Buenos Aires, I have noticed a multitide of similarities and differences between the Porteño and American cultures. The most noticeable differences revolve around the daily schedules. Porteños are people that don’t sleep. They go to bed late, if at all, and wake up early in the morning to attend classes or work. On the weekends, the lack of sleep is exaggerated. The people go out for dinners no earlier than 10, go to bars, cafés, or friends’ houses around midnight, and then they go out to party and celebrate the weekends at the VERY EARLIEST 2 am. Once they finally make it out to the boliches or bars, they are up for good. As I walk home from bars or boliches after what I believed was an incredibly late night, I see people eating medialunas and café as the sun is rising, just having left the bars. The culture is incredible… very little sleep, lots of time socializing, and enjoying every last second of the weekend. As for their eating habits and schedules, porteños eat much less and at different times, compared to Americans. For breakfast, medialunas and café is the small meal of choice, and lunch isn’t much larger (or healthier). Dinner, in general, comes much later than in the United States, and it is the largest meal of the day, although it does not compare to the size of traditional American dinners. The way that these people function during the day is as follows: lots of café, yerba mate, and junkfood high in sugar. I still haven’t gotten over how incredibly different these daily habits are, and it definitely takes some adjusting in order to fit in with the lifestyle here.
The week is hectic, Saturday seems to pass in a blur, but all of a sudden when Sunday rolls around, everything seems to come to a screeching halt. On Sundays, porteños relax. Hundreds and thousands will migrate to the closest parks within the city, where people lounge around with family and friends, drinking mate, eating snack food, kicking around futbols, and just enjoying life in general. Unlike in the United States, Sunday is not another day for progress, but rather a day to be with family and socialize. Very few stores are open (I tried to do my laundry, but failed to find any laundromat open anywhere around my apartment), and the people truly just enjoy their time with one another. One may think that in a Latin American country, church would dominate the life of the people on Sunday, but in fact, only about 30% of self-described Catholics attend church. It really is much much different than I expected, and I love almost everything about living here in Buenos Aires that I have encountered to far
Having said that, there are a few aspects of life here that are not so appealing. The first that comes to mind is related to crime. While walking around, taking public transportation, and pretty much in every aspect of life in Buenos Aires, one has to be completely aware of his or her surroundings, as petty crime is absolutely rampant. In our IFSA-Butler group, several people have been pickpocketed, have had cameras stolen, have been grabbed and violated, and it’s really a part of life that is hard to get accustomed to. Just the other day on the colectivo, a little boy jumped up to the open window from the street and tried to grab a Blackberry that was in a girl’s hand. Absolutely crazy! Other than that, the city is HUGE, so learning the colectivo routes is a daunting task. Aside from these things, I haven’t encountered much that I haven’t liked about the city.
This weekend, I’m going to be traveling 5 hours South of Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata, one of Argentina’s few beach resort cities. I will be staying in a hostel with 10 friends from the program, and we leave for the bus at 4 am! I’m so excited, and I’ll definitely be back with an update when I return.