After six weeks of being in Argentina, my semester of school has finally begun! I am extremely excited about my classes! It looks like this is going to be a great semester of learning! Now I will be able to follow a set schedule for the rest of my time in Buenos Aires.
While my classes begin at different times of the day throughout the week, I usually try and make sure I am awake by 8:30 AM so that I can eat breakfast. Unlike in the United States where big breakfasts are the norm, most Argentines eat very light breakfasts that often consist of little more than a croissant (or medialuna as they are know here, which is Spanish for “half-moon”), a piece of fruit, and a cup of coffee or tea.
Once I finish eating I usually head out to the first of my classes. As I live a considerable distance from where I study, I take the subway every day to my classes. While for you New Yorkers this may not seem like much, for me it is quite an adventure! I have been working hard to learn the various subway lines and where they go. Earlier today I was really excited because a man asked me for subway directions and I did not even need to look at my map to tell him. I felt like a local!
After my classes, I like to run errands. One thing that I have found interesting about Argentina is that the vast majority of stores are very focused on selling a specific type of good. Unlike in the United States where most people go to one store to buy pretty much all they need, people in Argentina tend to visit various family owned stores when buying whatever they need. For example, there are stationary stores where I can by pencils and notebooks for my classes, butcher shops where I can buy steak to cook a traditional Argentine barbecue called asado, or bakeries to buy bread or perhaps a tasty cake or doughnut. Down the block from where I live, there is even a shop that only sells pasta!
It is quite difficult to walk more than a block or two in Buenos Aires without seeing a produce shop that sells seasonal fruits and vegetables as well. Do you know what seasonal means? Seasonal foods are locally grown, and their variety depends on the season. In the U.S. we import so many of our foods, we are used to getting any type of fruit or vegetable that we want, regardless of our local season. The vast majority of produce eaten in Argentina is grown within the country. So, depending on the season, you will find different fruits and vegetables.
This is not to say that there are not big supermarkets here in Buenos Aires though. One of the largest chains is called Coto, which can be found throughout the country. Minus the signs in Spanish with prices in Argentine pesos, such supermarkets are nearly identical to those that are found in places like New York or Indiana.
After running my errands, I usually get home in the late afternoon. During this time I do my homework. If I don’t have homework I am free to play with my host family’s cat, Bonbon.
Dinner in Argentina starts later than what I am used to in the United States. Usually, people here do not eat dinner until 10:00 or 11:00 PM! Many restaurants do not even open for dinner until 8:00 or 9:00 PM. Many visitors to Buenos Aires, including many of my fellow American exchange students, often complain that this is one of the hardest things for them to adjust to.
There are, however, many perks to having such a late dinner. One of the most important being that it allows time for the entire family to come home and eat together. As I believe I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I am currently living with an extended family here in Buenos Aires in the neighborhood of Almagro. Every night for dinner, three generations of family members, plus me and another visiting student from Poland, eat together. For Argentines, family is very important and most families live nearby each other. In fact, it is not uncommon for children to live with their parents into their late twenties or thirties if they are not married!
Well, that is all for now! If you have any specific questions that you would like to ask me about this journal or just about life in Buenos Aires in general, do ask your teacher to contact me so I can respond to you the best I can
Until next week!