Buenos Aires was a city I knew I would visit the moment I was accepted and enrolled to this program. I had no idea what to expect but I really wanted to visit my friend and that I wanted to continue exploring South America. When I told my host mother I would be leaving for Buenos Aires for the weekend she was insistent about how beautiful and amazing the city was and that I would have an incredible time – the only advice she did give me was to only buy food because everything else was too expensive (advice I can vouch for, I definitely went double over my budget...yikes!) and to just walk around the city and enjoy the cafes. I adore my host mother, but I was left thinking how could I ever find a city I liked more than Rio de Janeiro. Even as I walked off the plane, I was unimpressed with my surroundings (not knowing I was nowhere near the city, but we’ll get to that) and made an awful “More like Malos Aires to me” joke. Just as I had said one of the most horrible and cliché jokes in Argentinean history it felt Buenos Aires decided to play some hilariously awful jokes on me. Here is my list of tips and lessons from the beautiful city of Buenos Aires.
Accents: Argentinean, and more specifically Buenos Aires accents, absolutely swept me off my feet. They’re so cute with their “sh” instead of “y” noises in words like calle that they insist on pronouncing ca-sh-e, I swear I thought they were asking for my cash not my street. Italian heavily influences the Argentinean accent, and it seems as if two different parts of two beautiful languages are coming together. My friend was also educating me on Lunfardo a semi-slang/semi-dialect that still lives on in tango music. Lunfardo has a rich history I would encourage reading up on it.
Elusive ATMs: Bank ATMs are closed on the weekends and other ATMs tend to run out of money since they are not restocked for the weekends. This wouldn’t be a problem if everyone in Buenos Aires accepted credit/debit cards - but souvenir shops won’t, some food places won’t, and of course the taxis won’t. Stopping by the ATM I always found myself hoping there would be money left inside.
Adjusting to the Currency: Since the year has started I have used 5 different types of currency. We’ve dealt with the Brazilian Real, the Peruvian Sol, the Chilean Peso, the Argentinean Peso and of course the good old US dollar we’re very used to. I found the Argentinean peso the hardest to adapt to because although the conversion is 1USD to 14 Argentinean pesos, everything was expensive, the dollar definitely does not go as far in Argentina or Chile as it did in Brazil!
On trying to find Ubers: We have become reliant on Ubers since Brazil, they’re cheap, safe and always easily available; except not in Buenos Aires! Finding an Uber for me was about as easy as capturing a unicorn, nearly impossible. I hardly ever had enough cash for a taxi and could never catch an uber – needless to say I did a ton of walking! Not that I regret it, Buenos Aires is a safe city to feel comfortable walking through while enjoying the beautiful architecture.
Eat all the empanadas!: Have empanadas for every meal here in Argentina. They’re hot, delicious and readily available, and the absolute best empanadas in all of South America!
Airports: My final lesson is a big one, the larger airport in Buenos Aires is about an hour and some change away from the city. You need to buy a bus ticket or call a van but either way the destination is far. I absolutely recommend booking flights to the smaller airport inside the city, if possible. Otherwise you end up on the street at 4am frantically trying to call an uber or find an ATM that’ll take you the shady bus station that will transfer you to the larger airport. But what is study abroad for if not to challenge ourselves in positions we would never have in the US?
Don’t let this blog sway you into avoiding Buenos Aires. I could have easily written pages on it’s abundance of incredible architecture, free Wi-Fi sporadically throughout the city, and the vast amount of rich Argentinean culture, Buenos Aires is a city I strongly recommend that you visit because you’ll absolutely fall in love. The empanadas alone make the trip worth it!
Talking to the city about my feet on their cobble streets.
Thinking about where my arms have held passions and dreams,
I'm lost and complete.
The smoky air of sixteen has cleared a path for me.
I’m sitting on a hill with familiar company,
looking down at the streets discussing how hard it must be -
hard to climb the hills that look like mountains from underneath.
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<p>My name is Angie, I'm a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I'm majoring in Sociology and minoring in Linguistics. I love learning about people and cultures around the world through music, art and literature.</p>