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Buenos Aires 101

March 13, 2018

It’s been three weeks now that I’m here in Buenos Aires. It’s a gorgeous city with so much personality. I have only been to a small portion of the city, but everywhere I go has a different character and a vibe.

I live right between Palermo and Recoleta, in a very safe and nice area in the city. Everyone in my program lives relatively close to each other, which makes it easy for people to meet up and do things together.

My house is pretty big and my room is super nice and spacious. My roommate and I each have our own rooms across the hall from each other. More importantly, my host mom is very sweet and caring. We communicate in Spanish, in a very slow pace. She is very into Turkish telenovelas - they are pretty famous in Latin America, who would have known? - and always points out small things she noticed in them and talks about how beautiful Turkish women are, thank you thank you…

As for the food, breakfast in Argentina is not a big deal, just some crackers and cheese with coffee. But when it comes to lunch or dinner, it’s different. They eat a lot of meat and lots and lots of empanadas, which made it surprising when I found out there was also plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options. There are many cafes and restaurants with detox juices and gluten free pastries, so you can have the Californian dream you always longed for right here in Buenos Aires.

I have been really active and doing something every day. On Sundays, there are so many fairs all over the city. Last week, I went to Feria de Mataderos with IES Abroad. Mataderos is a neighborhood 30 minutes from the city center and it isn’t very well known by tourists. I tried bargaining in Spanish and got an amethyst bracelet for less than 5 bucks! At the fair, they played Argentinian folk music and locals were dancing, it was an amazing atmosphere. This weekend, we went to Feria de San Telmo, which is more famous and touristy. The area is gorgeous, with cobblestone streets and European architecture, and there are many antique stores, galleries and restaurants.

In spite of all its beauties, Buenos Aires has a 30% poverty rate and a lot of social and economic problems. It’s normal to see people sleeping in parks and other public spaces or while you are at a restaurant, someone puts a piece of paper on your table describing their situation and asking for money. The same thing happens in the subway or at a bar.

Buenos Aires is a city of juxtapositions. It is gorgeous without a question, but there are many issues that aren’t talked about and simply neglected. While I am here, one of my objectives is to learn about the realities of Buenos Aires through service learning and conversations.

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