Last week I got on the wrong bus while exploring the city after class. I ended up on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Here in BA, when you board the bus you tell the driver your stop, pay with your SUBE Card, and try to find a place to stand on the extremely crowded Collectivo (Argentine word for Bus). As I've done countless times before, I did just this. Ten minutes later, after reaching the end of the line , I was confused because I didn't recognise any of my surroundings. The bus driver told me it was the end of the line and that I needed to get off. I told him that when I got on I told him what my stop was and he nodded and let me get on. He pointed towards the opposite side of the street and said I could get on the other bus.
After getting off the bus, I was pretty upset with myself for not knowing the city well enough to avoid this type of situation, not being able to better problem-solve in Spanish, and for walking off the routine path in the first place. I was upset because I've been here for what feels like so long but still struggled to find my way sometimes.
While studying abroad, there is no magical moment where you've become fully accustomed to the new culture. Each day brings a new set of adventures and challenges. Three months into my time here in Buenos Aires I am still learning so much about life here and the people around me. After being here for some months, its easy to fall into a routine. I know what my favorite restaraunts and cafes are. Some days, I find it easy to just stick to this routine because it's comfortable. This is especially true after challenging moments.
However, I have to remind myself that there's still so much more to see. In a city of millions of people, with an enormous amount of restaraunts, cafes, museums, and parks. There's always more new people to meet and new experiences to have. Because the challenging moments teach me that I don't know everything about the city, they also remind me that I still have so much to learn and see.
During moments like this, I often flash back to my first new experience here: trying Mate, a bitter and highly caffeinated tea that's one of the national drinks here. Mate is a social experience here because there's one cup and one straw and everyone in a group shares it. You take a few sips and then pass it to the next person. At first, I was a bit thrown off by it and avoided it because it wasn't something that I was used to. However, I reminded myself that day that it was part of the experience and the new culture that I am embracing here, tried some, and actually really enjoyed it.
To me, Mate symbolizes a lot of the differences I encounter her. That first day, and everyday, I must remind myself to Stop, Sip, and Pass the Mate.
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<p>I love coffee, friends, and exploring new places. I would love to write and publish a book where I learn more about some of the most unheard voices in places around the world. Hearing new stories and visiting new places are two of my favorite experiences.</p>