On one of my last afternoons in New York, I was sitting on the edge of my friend’s bed when she handed me a pair of black platform heels. “Just trust me. You’ll need these.” I rolled my eyes but took them, because she seemed pretty confident that I would make use of the borderline-gothic shoes. She was right.
Before leaving the US, I welcomed a multitude of tips with open ears.
“Always wear your backpack in the front of your body.”
“Make friends with the locals.”
Some of the things people told me weren’t even pieces of advice, but rather just sure statements of how my time would be spent.
“You will fall in love.”
“You will gain weight.”
Of course I appreciated and took these words with me on my journey, but I have to say— most of the advice and predictions I got didn’t apply to my time here. I was not swept off my feet by a suave latin lover, and as far as I know, my jeans fit the same way they did before I left. Luckily, I’ve also never been robbed or felt as if I was in any danger. So, feel free to take my advice, or not, but if you do, take it with a grain of salt because your experience will be mainly comprised of what you choose. Here’s what I have to offer:
- Live in a homestay. This year, NYU made dorm living an option, and I know it sounds tempting, but homestay is the way to go. I spent 120 mornings opening my third floor balcony doors to the view of a beautiful, sleepy little courtyard. My castellano is undoubtedly better because of our nightly family dinners, and I am grateful to have had structure and support in my routine. If none of that is enough to convince you, I also live with the cuddliest golden retriever ever.
- It’s easy to fall into patterns, but try to go somewhere new in your free time. Wander. There’s a grungy little live music/gallery space in my neighborhood called Multiespacio Korova I stumbled upon one night. Definitely check it out. I know it sounds corny, but that night I was sitting in this little acoustic room draped in boho fabrics and doused in colored lights. I was listening to a singer/guitarist who lacked in talent but had a whole lot of soul, and I thought, “damn, I really hope I remember this exactly as it is 20 years from now.”
- Pronounce Buenos Aires correctly. It’s normal to feel a little awkward imitating an accent that doesn’t come naturally to you, but do it anyway. It’s also funny to come back and hear your family and friends shy away from rolling that “r”. Also, the porteños speak using their own set of slang, and it’s helpful to know some of the words before you arrive. Having the correct accent and vocabulary makes integration easier.
- Travel, but don’t treat the city like a home base. Treat it like home. I think it’s easy to forget that we chose a site for the site itself, and not the places we can travel to around it. Buenos Aires has incredible days and nights to offer, and I guarantee you won’t check everything off your list, so stick around on the weekends! Four months has gone by more quickly than I ever could have predicted, and I’m still absorbing so much.
- Roll with the punches.
- Take the bus.
- Keep your windows open and your earbuds out. I could listen to Buenos Aires all day. (I guess I do but you get what I mean) Whether it’s people crying/screaming over a soccer game, a drum performance in a nearby park, or the local people out just living and being, I’ve grown quite fond of the city’s soundtrack.
And there you have it. It’s easy to be happy here.