April 27, 2015, by Rachel Bainbridge

Living like an Argentine

Living in a foreign country is exciting, adventurous and inspiring; pushing yourself and the boundaries to places and experiences previously unknown. But it can also scare the pants off you. Having chosen to relocate myself to Buenos Aires, Argentina, over 7391.32 km kilometers from England, I would be kidding myself into thinking that life would be the same routine as back home. Learning to live abroad is so much more than improving your language skills, settling into the office, trying different foods or exploring the city. It is where expectations and reality finally meet, and you must learn to accept your new home, on its terms – not yours. And learn to adapt to the grooves – or cultural challenges – that are present in order to really start enjoying your time. That said, there are still a few things that I find frustrating.

For me, the public transport was a big cultural challenge. I like to think of myself as fairly organized and firmly believe in punctuality. However, the transportation system seems to be the polar opposite of me and is never, ever, on time. No matter how much earlier I leave in order to make it to work on time, the bus or the tube will always find a way of delaying me. Instead of getting agitated as I used to, I now take it as a chance to take in my surroundings – and even utilize the time for a quick power nap if I am tired. I’ve realized that if the transport makes me late, it is making everyone late, including my boss! So I may as well get used to the not so punctual Argentine lifestyle.

Another cultural challenge which still plays on my mind is the currency. In Argentina, the peso is the local currency. Approximately $1USD is equivalent to 12 pesos – which makes it about 80p. When I first arrived I was the ultimate tourist with a mixture of sterling, dollars and pesos shoved in my pocket, alongside little idea what I was doing. Within my first week I embarrassingly, even managed to pay a taxi man with a generous amount of dollars instead of pesos – no wonder he drove off so quickly with a huge grin on his face. Although I haven’t made such a stupid mistake as that again, I do still take a few seconds to do quick calculations in my head when I am paying for something. Pounds to dollars to pesos, pesos to dollars to pounds.

Although I am sure I could go on with a few more cultural challenges that have struck me along the way, my point here isn’t to complain about these things, in fact, these differences are precisely the reason I like Buenos Aires and what will trigger my memories of this amazing city for years to come.

Posted in Cultural challenges