The Argentina Effect

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 1. Introductions, Buenos Aires by KianaLeave a Comment

People keep commending me for coming here. I think it’s because when they think about Argentina, a nondescript jungle littered with Evita scripts comes to mind. I’d like to take this time to officially settle the matter- Buenos Aires is a large city, and in some ways much like New York. In fact, I live in a sub-section of the city in Palermo known as Soho. And just like New York Soho, every street corner is either a boutique clothing store, or a coffee spot that’s never served a regular coffee, and it’s impossible to get a table for brunch on Sunday’s. These parallels to a city I know make life in South America feel a little more grounded. Next, there are the small adjustments. 11 peso empanadas fill the void of dollar slices, and the 39 line replaces the 4-5-6. 10 pm sobremesa (long, nightly family dinners to debrief on the day) instead of 9 pm post-mates delivery to Bobst library. The acceptable time to ‘go out’ may be 1 AM, but the women here still adhere to a strict dress code of black, tight, and tall. The biggest difference I have encountered is, with no sarcasm, nothing short of dazzling.

My roommate has a family friend who lives here, so our first weekend in the city we were invited to a “premia” (pregame) at the apartment of a local university student. I had my reservations about walking into a stranger’s 10-person premia, and here’s why. The American College Pregame, in all its glory, is a time to communicate in the form of inside jokes and drinking game rules. It is not a time to bring your parent’s foreign friends’ daughter, along with her roommate, into your friend’s home. I was nervous. However, my cautious entrance was immediately reciprocated with the warmest, most nonjudgemental, and most electrifying energy I have come across. My roommate and I would have probably been perfectly content taking it in from a corner of the room, but our hosts treated us like old friends who had a lot of catching up to do. These total strangers pulled us in and quickly broke down barriers of unfamiliarity and language.

There was nothing special about that night. If you were there the setting wouldn’t have phased you. Once outside the elevator, you would have heard the bass from the music and muffled voices. You would have stepped into a studio apartment with student-budget alcohol cluttering a scrappy table. It was so incredibly ordinary, but I wish I could put the night in a jar without the smell of shitty vodka and body odor. The quality I’ve quickly fallen in love with is how alive and present the people are here. I’m peering into a culture of blissful moments strung together into days and nights, and I don’t think I’m going to want to leave anytime soon. I didn’t see a single phone out that night.

A little bit about myself: I am a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences double majoring in Politics and Environmental Studies. For the longest time I was sure I would end up in law school, but I’ve been having doubts about spending my career in an office. I was practically raised in the trees of Northern California, and as a result, my professional and recreational aspirations circle around the outdoors. My choice to study in Argentina is no exception. In part, I wanted to avoid jet setting every weekend. I figured living in a larger country, with less accessibility than a location in Europe would help me dive deep into Argentine culture. In addition, South America has a staggering diversity of climate and terrain, and I plan to explore every mountain, glacier, and river I can get my hands on. I have some fun adventures booked for the coming months, and can’t wait to share!

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