Although travelers often refer to Buenos Aires as the Paris of South America, acculturating to Buenos Aires has been one of my more interesting processes. From the Summer heat to the mosquito bites to the lack of laundry mats—all rather menial—Buenos Aires is a city so easy to love, but has been hard to fall in love with (Above PC: Haley Smith). Check out the 10 ways Buenos Aires surprised me & some values I’ve acquired since:
1. The Fusion of European Cultures
Prior to coming to Buenos Aires, I didn’t know what to expect when it came to the people of Buenos Aires. Interestingly, Buenos Aires is an immigrant city—the diversity of European Architecture easily reflects the diverse European fusion within the population.
Italian, Spanish, and a fusion of other European cultures characterize the ancestry of the Buenos Aires population. Equally as fused, the architecture throughout the city reflects architecture I’ve seen and recognized while in Europe–exuded through the Church of Our Lady Pilar in Recoleta above and below.
2. The Prominence of Graffiti: Adapting to new sights as new normals is required when adapting to new cities and new cultures.
Initially I side-eyed the prominence of the graffiti that plastered the walls, buildings, and streets on my daily commute. When it comes to this form of expression, we tend to associate this form to crime; nevertheless, throughout Buenos Aires, the graffiti doesn’t neccessarily insinuate gang activity. Adapting to new sights as new normals is required when adapting to new cities and new cultures.
3. The Consumption of Beef & Grilled Meats
With a reported over-40 million cows, there are more cows in Argentina than there are humans. Now imagine the amount of beef that I’ve consumed in my few weeks being here—nearly once a day.
Nevertheless, it’s a nice deviation from the fried foods and often-greasy foods I consumed in China. Sitting here thinking…more cows than humans? I found that insane!
4. The Magnificence of Chimichurri: Remain open to trying and learning about the native seasonings in a new culture.
I recall during my first dinner here in Buenos Aires, my “Madre,” or homestay mother, offered me Chimichurri. Unknowing of its magnificence, I declined at first, but I decided to try it; from the first taste, I fell in love, TRUE LOVE. Chimichurri is a colorful sauce used for grilled meats, native to Argentina. Typically, the sauce is made of, “finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, vegetable oil, oregano, and white vinegar.”
5. The Twists to Some American Favorites: Explore new foods and locational remixes to your favorites!
An interesting activity I enjoy when traveling abroad is trying local twists to some of my American favorites. So far, in Buenos Aires, I’ve tried the best lemon cake icing in my entire life from Persicco, the texture of the icing captured my entire life.
Another dangerous trap are the Oreo Bañadas. I rarely eat Oreos, but when they are drowned in chocolate, I must oblige. Although I feel guilty every time I eat the whole bag, I thoroughly enjoy the deliciousness of each “Bañada.”
6. The Utilization of Traditional Keys: Embrace the traditions of the cultures you choose to embrace.
Throughout my first few weeks here, I definitely resembled the iconic “Swaggy P” face occasionally; nevertheless, with appreciation each time. One of the major moments of intrigue occurred when my “madre” handed me the keys to my place. Traditional indeed; the preservation of traditions are seemingly prevalent here.
7. The Nonexistence of Laundry Mats: Research how to access the essentials prior to when it’s essential that you need them
During my previous travels abroad, I rarely experienced culture shock because I’ve found importance in being open to new experience. However, the humidity, the heat, the mosquitos biting my face, and the rarety of laundry mats—where you do your own laundry—did shock me culturally when I ran out of clothing essentials.
8. The Amount of Walking Committed: Walk & Enjoy More of the Life You Live!
Walking approximately 3 miles a day (except for the past two days, as a taxi was most desired), I’m amazed at the newness, the awesomeness, and the surprises you encounter when exploring your new neighborhood. Residing in the Belgrano district of Buenos Aires, each daily commute is hot & humid, but humbling & heralding.
Each day, walking back and forth my residence opens my eyes to this blessing I’m living and the heralding knowledge of the place I call home.
9. My Susceptibility to Mosquito Bites: You are not invincible; investigate and invest in best practices for protecting yourself
Prior to coming to Buenos Aires, yes, I thought I was invincible to mosquito bites. I’ve been places before and mosquitoes never attacked me as they did others. Then, one morning, I wake up with two mosquito bites on my forehead—a humbling moment, indeed. I strive to keep my window (above) open to ensure some type of breeze, but most of the times its closed because my relationship with mosquitoes can be described in the first few seconds of Big Sean’s “IDFWU.”
10. Buenos Aires Black History: Strive to learn YOUR history, wherever YOU go!
(“The Slave,” by Francisco Cafferata | Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes)
When I visit a new culture and establish residence there, I typically strive to look for my reflection, looking for someone who looks like me. While in China, within my first two weeks, interestingly, I spotted a few Blacks; nevertheless, while in Buenos Aires, I’ve spotted no Blacks. I would be naive to expect Buenos Aires to be a typical destination for Blacks, but there is a deeper, historical context in Buenos Aires regarding the Black population. Historically debated, “the placement of black soldiers in the frontlines ahead of white soldiers during the Paraguayan War of the 1860s and the outbreak of yellow fever in the 1870s that disproportionately impacted poor areas where Afro-Argentines lived,” decreased the Black population throughout Buenos Ares and Argentina.