dog walkers... its amazing how many one person can walk at once. this is the explanation for the dog shit all over the sidewalks
Reflecting on Buenos Aires
is a little difficult. For the time I was in the city I kept trying to get out. On the weekends there were so many places I wanted to go. Throughout the week we kept doing so much with the group to see the city that I felt on my free time I should go see what else was accessible. I was finding ways to go explore other parts of the country on our free time. Then after being in the city for a while I began to find my own parts that I really enjoyed. There were places that I really enjoyed being in. There were great people I had met outside of the program that I wanted to keep seeing more of. But what was it really that I didn’t know beforehand that I wish I knew? Ok, first off I knew this and acted on it, but I’m surrounded by others who didn’t and are suffering from it.
peronist youth at a kirchner speech
A happy traveler packs light! There is so little that you need that it’s not worth it to lug around 50lbs from place to place. Besides the fact that its too heavy for anyone to carry, its also not functional for the space that you are given. You’re rooms aren’t going to be suites, and you will be sharing them with other people, so to just have a lot of stuff is annoying. Your things crowd precious space. Most of the weight you carry is in readings for the class so factor that in. You’ll end up paying more to fly with it at some point, so that’s extra wasted money. If you begin in BsAs, everything that you will need is there and really cheap. But don’t think that you will be buying clothes if you are the average sturdy framed American. Clothes are made to fit smaller types and are all one size. You don’t really need that much there though because laundry services are everywhere and are so cheap. Same-day service to have your clothes washed, dried, and folded is a major treat that can be taken advantage of.
Walk, walk, walk. Ok the city’s air is really dirty and you will have soot colored snot every time you go out for a long time, but the way to see BsAs is on foot. You get to find great bakeries, produce shops, etc. on the street. This is the kind of stuff that you spend money on that adds up. In general Argentina is cheap, but I spent money there on daily things that add up, but are worth every centavo. I would take out money from an atm, which I think is the best thing to do in the city. They are everywhere and you get the best exchange rate with them. I would take out about $100US a little under a week, so about every 5 days. I would think it would last longer than it would. Traveling on the weekends is more expensive, because you have to pay for the bus (which is around $11-15US for an overnight ride) and you have to pay lodging. Depending on where you go, the room will vary, but if you are going for hostels, which are everywhere it’s about $10US. I think getting out of Buenos Aires for short periods of time is best. BA is like this pollution filled bubble that is a captivating city, but nothing like the country. And you can go anywhere in the country with your visa, so you might as well. Anyone will help you figure out where to go. Ask other international students in the residencia and ask professors. You’ll figure out what kind of place you want to see, and you will love it. But only go with one or two people. Coordinating with a group for any of these trips is my kryptonite. Just grab a person and go. Having to figure out what buses people want to take and waiting for everyone is a no no. You waste way too much time. Last minute planning is the best.
Definitely go see live music. Buenos Aires is the best for that. There are great nightclubs with live performances. You can see tango without the dancers in a small club for about $5. There is also lots of jazz. Classica e Moderna and Notorious are a must.
Taxis are cheap. You have to be wary of where they are taking you though. Only once I got the city tour to double the cab fare. But public transportation is amazing too. The buses are a little confusing, but if you go with someone who knows, or if you get to know one line, that’s a good way to go. Also the subte is very easy.
Definitely go to the weekend hippy markets. There is great stuff just to check out even if you don’t want to buy. There is little bargaining though. So don’t think that you will get something at a more discounted price than first quoted. Go for the whole day to Ricoletta market. It’s a nice walk from the residencia, so on a pretty day, go with your mate and thermos and chill out on the grass. Performers are great entertainment and there’s also wonderful people watching.
Drink lots of mate! Go to Uruguay! Uruguay is one of the best countries in the world. After being in smoky stinky BA you’ll need the fresh air of its non-smoking restaurants. The attitude is way relaxed there. You have to go check out how it works.
Your residencia is in a great location. There is so much to do right where you are in all directions.
Bring your laptop if its light. You’ll use it for working on the blogs for class and there are some cafes that you can get wireless from. You will not have wireless in the residencia unless a new administrator is hired there. That was frustrating. Do not bring a cell phone. There’s no reason to have it unless you enjoy drunk dialing. BsAs has locotorias that any phone call is cheap. Do all your dialing here because once you get to Brazil the fun is over.
So this is a major one for me and I think that it’s a possible future issue for others. At home I choose not to eat meat. I rarely would say I’m a vegetarian because I love the taste and crave it and if I cheat I don’t need others to rub it in my face. Before this trip, it had been a pretty large chunk of time since I had any meat other than fish. I expected to keep this while here. I heard the meat was amazing, and I was thinking about it, but I didn’t think it would be that big of a problem. I wasn’t even here a week and we went to our first asado. Amazing. I was just going for the social aspect, but got wrapped up in the culture of the meat. I watched the asado master do his thing and couldn’t stop saying no. I ate until there was no possible way to fit more food in by system… and loved every second of it. So if you are planning to keep a strict diet in BA, ditch that mindset. I was able to stay away from meat for most meals, but you have to make exceptions. It’s just not worth it to stay strict. Everything in moderation. Don’t try any calorie kind of crazy carb diet things either. Experience the food! The pastries, gelato, eating out, dulce de leche, all of it is too important to give up in the name of keeping a diet.
Finally, if you don’t think you can be away from home for a long time without getting really homesick, don’t go. Most people miss home every once in a while, but if it’s something that you don’t think you can shake, don’t go. Realize that if you are having an experience that will never happen again. Don’t dwell on wanting to be somewhere you’re not, because soon you’ll be back in Atlanta and wishing you weren’t.