Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 11 of 13 › view all entries
Professor Bowman bumped class up today from 12 noon to 11 as we had a busy day ahead. Class today focused primarily on music, and specifically on tango and the evolution of tango. It was quite interesting. I recently went to the music store and bought bajofondo which is essentially like techno tango. Very cool, I am sure Meems will enjoy it the most.
We had class until 4 when we left to meet the Secretary of State of Argentina. Dr. Bowman gave us cab money to meet him off of Florida St. While waiting a few adorable kids came begging for money, one of the children reminded me alot of a boy that I gave swim lessons to. When I asked him what he wanted the money for he told me to get something from Burger King (right by where I was standing). Instead of giving him money I bought him a sundae for a whopping 3 pesos ($1US). He was very happy and thanked me, it felt great to put a smile to the childs face.
After the hour or so meeting, Hannah, Jessica and I all roamed around Florida street to shop. It was my first time really buying anything for myself-- I bought shoes, and jewlery. It was Jessica's 23rd birthday and she seemed a little down, I told her that she was not allowed to spend her birthday alone, and that wherever she was going, I was going to follow. It was my goal to cheer her up as much as possible.
Jessica's best friend Valentine came to Argentina to study abroad a few years earlier and met many locals. She kept in touch with these locals, and introduced them to Jessica. So right after shopping we took a cab to her local friend's house. We sat around at talked for hours, ate empanadas and picada. Picada is one of my favorites, and n fact it was my first time having it. It is essentially a plate of a variety of olives, cheese, meat, and bread. Selina (Jessica's friend) ordered all the food.
One particular thing that struck me as fascinating was that you can literally get anything delivered to your house that you want. Ranging from coffee, tea, picada, sandwiches, empanadas, etc.--it reminded me alot of Lebnanon. The funny part, however, is that the people that deliver the food usually walk by foot in a server outfit with a metal tray in their hands! Yes, this is true! You are walking down the busy streets of Buenos Aires, and you see a woman with a tray in her hand with some medialunas (croissants) and coffee. My question is, who likes cold coffee??
Anyway sitting around the kitchen table talking with Selina, her boyfriend Douglas, and Laos and his girlfriend Gisela was one of the best experiences I have had so far. Everyone was under the age of 30, and they were all extremly friendly and intelligent (not to mention they spoke great English). Selina's parents had just returned from vacation in the United States and were telling me all about their experience. I was curious to know how they viewed North Americans, and how their experience was. Selina's mother spoke French, so it was awesome to be able to effectively communicate with her. Selina's father, who is a doctor, spoke fluent English. They sat around for hours showing their pictures of their trips to California, Boston, and New York. They were such a friendly, happy, and adorable couple.
My favorite part of the night, however, was getting to know Selina, Douglas, Laos, and Gisela--being able to get a feel of their perceptions of North Americans, figuring out about cultural norms and differences from the U.S.. All of this cannot be simply captured by visiting a country, but (in my opinion) is an essential aspect of getting the most out of a trip. Everytime I travel abroad I love to ask about the stereotypes of Americans, what they envy that we have they they dont believe they have, what they think is better about their country than ours, etc. I usually do get the same typically answers: that North Americans are fat, selfish, materialistic people, but that we live in a utopia. Essentially -- it is true. We shared stories, and shared laughs that night. It lasted nearly 5 hours, but I felt like I had gained such a better understanding of the Argentine culture, one that many did not have the opportunity to have.
Although we live in a residencia with many other students I feel that it has been hard to meet locals, especially due to the fact that I do not speak Spanish well at all. I feel that this is a huge aspect and part of studying abroad, but I feel like it is one that many of us have not been able to accomplish. Tonight was an exception, and it was very exciting to chat with native Buenos Aires Argentines, and to get their perceptions of various aspects.