Majors: Accountancy and Spanish
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Spring 2017
Going to Buenos Aires, I had no idea what it would actually be like. Of course I had my expectations, but there was no way to be certain when I actually arrived. For example, upon arrival, there was far less water than I expected. Also, the amount of parks in Buenos Aires was vastly understated. There is a park on every corner, with trees of all kinds. Some trees are as a big as cars, reaching with limbs here and there. Some trees (palm trees) seem like a tube stuffed with feathers, with their foliage all being at the top. However, with all these surprises, my favorite would have to be the unexpected differences between Kalamazoo and Buenos Aires.
One big difference is how their dogs are treated. Buenos Aires is a very dog friendly city, with people walking their dogs on every corner. However, unlike Kalamazoo, these dogs are not always on a leash. This is not a problem though, because the dogs are not misbehaved. Most dogs obey their owner’s orders explicitly, and will stay close to them. Even if they do wander, its only to poke a nose in to say hello, or to investigate a strange smell. Only today while picnicking in a park, we were visited by five dogs that wanted to join in as well. They were a dog walker’s, and were very well behaved, minus trying to snatch some food from us!
Another large difference is in the way that they speak their Spanish. For example, in Argentina, they have a slightly different dialect where they pronounce their “y” sounds as a “sh” sound. So a common sentence such as “me llamo Jack” (I am called Jack) is changed. This caused a few problems early on, but now has just become a normal part of speech. Also, they use different words than I have learned for the same thing. For instance, to say something is pretty, I had learned “bonita”. However, in Buenos Aires, they say “linda”. This is just one example of many about how different conversations can go in Buenos Aires.
One last difference here would be how they eat. Before arriving, we were warned that they ate at a different schedule. They eat dinner around 8:30pm, and have much smaller meals throughout the day than we were normally accustomed too. However, the difference that I found more interesting would be the relaxed pace with which they eat. Asking for the bill and staying at a restaurant is normal, as eating the same meal for a few hours. Furthermore, they eat as a social interaction, as opposed to the chore that it is sometimes seen as in the United States. It has been nice to sit down for dinner with my host family and talk about our days, or hear her opinion of some of the locations that I have visited. She does not mind to just sit around with us, even after finishing our food, just to talk a bit more to us.
All in all, Buenos Aires has been an eye opening experience. From the beautiful sunsets, to crowded buses and streets, everything a wonderful experience so far. I enjoy being able to try and immerse myself in this new culture, and learn as much as I can about how they spend their lives.