Oh, Is My Midwestern Showing?

Max Perkins
November 16, 2018

In the many conversations I've had with people from all over the world while abroad, I've learned to expect that when I tell people I'm from Minnesota they will act as if I've spent my whole life in a tiny secluded Icelandic fishing village. The backhanded comments pop out at seemingly random moments: "jeez man, you walk fast for a Minnesotan!", "oh, you midwesterners are so naive", and maybe the most offensive — "what's with the dorky tucked-in-shirt dad-look, is that a Minnesotan thing?" (yes, it is a Minnesota thing, I'm sorry the underground hipster dad look hasn't made it to New Jersey yet Darys). Even my Serbian friend throws jabs at my apparent lack of experience, and the guy wears a camo button up out to the club. 

I can't help but get a bit annoyed being tagged as a naive Midwesterner, mostly because I consider myself to be pretty savvy. Sure, I call sugary carbonated beverages "pop", say hi to people I don't know, and trust strangers in cafes to watch my laptop while I go to the bathroom, but when I get to a big city I know how to turn on that internal switch. City-mode Max walks with a purpose, keeps his wallet in his front pocket, is cautious of people, and lives under a protective layer to try to blend in. It's taken a while to develop this invisible callus, and I guess it bothers me when people from big cities can see through it and consider themselves wiser for that.

It's this stereotypical urban superiority-complex that leads to resentment of "city folk" in the States, a dynamic that is even more intense in Argentine society. A lot of locals think of Argentina as two distinct parts — Buenos Aires and the rest of the country (or porteños vs provinciales). Obviously, not everybody thinks this way, but there is a certain level of big-city superiority in Argentina that has continued throughout its history. Much like in the U.S., populated areas swing their weight around culturally, politically, and socially — a behavior their inhabitants don't shy away from bringing into conversations. And to a certain extent, this confidence is warranted; Buenos Aires is an incredible cultural hub booming with music, art, political movements, diverse populations, and so much more. But along with this incredible mesh of people and ideas exists unfortunately high rates of poverty, violence, pollution, and illnesses, things locals have to deal with every day until it becomes second-nature.

For me, a kid raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis, it takes a lot to adapt to the constant action of life in a city as huge as Buenos Aires. As much as I'd like to deny it, keeping up a wall all the time is pretty exhausting, and after a while, it starts to catch up with me. Luckily, I've been able to escape from the city a few times to seek refuge in the calmer areas of the region. After a few months inside my city shell, nothing is more refreshing than peeling it off and enjoying a few days as my apparently naive midwestern self. 

Below are some pictures from my various trips around Argentina. Later this week, I'll put up some images from my amazing time in Uruguay last weekend. Until then, Chau! 

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Max Perkins

<p>I'm a student at the University of Minnesota studying Spanish and Communications. I love traveling, seeing new things, speaking to different people, and getting outside of my comfort zone. I love music, cooking, hiking, taking pictures, and exploring.</p>

Home University:
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN
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