I have been living abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a good two weeks now, and – wow – so much is different here. At first it took a lot of getting used to. Here, I take public transportation everywhere, and it is not uncommon to have to walk over a mile to get to my destination. I don’t really eat breakfast – the United States is seen as eating a gloriously huge breakfast in many parts of the world, if you wanted to know. I don’t eat dinner until 10pm, but every dinner is the size of a Thanksgiving meal. And, perhaps most shockingly, if I want to go out on the weekends, that means I am getting to the club at 2am and not leaving until 5.
One thing different here that I particularly enjoy is the insane amount of political involvement everyone has. I bet the average porteño (that’s what the people of Buenos Aires call themselves) knows more about United States politics than you do! Within the first weeks of me being here, there was a nationwide strike demanding the government do something about the nation’s poor economic conditions; the whole city shut down, shops closed, public transportation was unavailable, and the streets were eerily empty. That’s something you just don’t see in the United States – although I will say the average American’s political involvement seems to be increasing exponentially over the past few years. Mine certainly has!
Along with politics, everyone here seems to be extremely passionate about everything, and they are more than willing to share their opinions. In the spirit of heated discourse, I decided to ask my host parents a loaded question at the dinner table one night: your city has such a beautiful culture, what do you think about these McDonald’s and Starbuck’s popping up around your neighborhood? Do you feel like aspects of American culture are invading yours? I braced myself, ready for an explosively passionate answer… and I got nothing.
“What do you mean, invading a culture?” I was surprised. This is a very heated topic in the US right now, and it seemed for once my host dad was indifferent. He went on to explain how Buenos Aires is full of all types of people; people have been immigrating here from all over the world for years. These stores, to him, were merely another additional place to get coffee or a quick bite to eat.
Most importantly in his response was the idea of “additional”. None of the things finding their way to Buenos Aires were viewed as taking away from what was already here. Although he is only one person and can’t represent every person from Buenos Aires, he did make me think: where did we, in the US, get the idea that things coming into the states are invasive? Why are they seen as a subtraction from what we already have and not as something additional?
Sam Nelson is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Psychology and Economics with a minor in Spanish. Sam will study abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina during Summer of 2018 with hopes of improving his Spanish language skills. He is a member of Pride Alliance and several other student organizations. After Sam completes his degree at UMKC, he plans to attend graduate school and earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.