In July 2016 I had the amazing opportunity of studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a month. And let’s just say it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Read below to get the details!
I can’t believe it, but I’m leaving in 3 days. TRES DIAS?! I remember my mixed emotions when I was first boarding the airplane that would carry me so far away from home less than a month ago. And now after spending four weeks here, it is time for my departure. I don’t really know how I feel about my time spent here. I just know I’ve been tired more than ever before, I’m sick of the cold, and I don’t think I can spend a lot of time in one place for a long time. The majority of my week was spent in a five hour intensive advanced Spanish class with other Americans students or as the Argentinians like to call us – “Yanquis.” Every morning, Monday through Friday, I would catch the “subte” at Pueyrredon heading towards Congreso de Tucuman, get off at Olleros and walk about 20 minutes to get to the University of Belgrano. Every afternoon after a long day of class, I would catch the “subte” at Olleros “a Catedral” and get off at Pueyrredon. Monday through Friday – four weeks. I don’t know how I did it, but I did.
And as for the weekend, all of my time was spent with Gian. Or Tommy – as others like to call him. Honestly, he has helped me experience so much of not only “la capital” Buenos Aires, but as well as all that is beyond this grand city. Although, my time spent here was short, my most fond memories are with him. As I’m writing this it is hard for me to control my emotions. I’m going to miss him too much. I remember our first time meeting face to face. I didn’t feel nervous, I was just so happy to see him. We met each other in front of the McDonald’s on Avenida Cabildo just a couple of feet away from the Olleros subte. From there, we took a taxi down Cabildo until we reached the starting point of Palermo. Our first date was at the oh-so-lovely Choripoint restaurant. I ordered the infamous Choripan con panceta y huevo frito, whereas, he ordered dos empanadas. The night went so well. I couldn’t help but touch him. He was a little nervous. I couldn’t stop playing with his fingers and holding his hands. I guess I couldn’t believe that almost after a whole year of knowing each other through the internet, we would finally be in the presence of each other. From that point onward, I spent every weekend with him exploring Buenos Aires and getting to know his provincia of Ramos Mejia – about a 40 minute colectivo ride out of the city.
You know, yes, other extranjeros can say they’ve danced the night away at all the boliches in Palermo or spent the majority of their pesos at touristy spots, but who can actually say they got to eat a traditional asado with a real Argentinian family. I can. And I’m very grateful for that. Carne from Argentina is to die for! Es muy rico and more and of course empanadas con carne are my favorite. Argentina is the land of bread and meat. I swear I’ve gain all my weight back, even with all the walking. If you don’t have meat, you have bread, and the majority of the time its bread and meat all-in-one.
I also got to see what was beyond “the place where rich people live,” as Gian likes to say. I went to the provincias of Argentina. And honestly, they were nothing like the city. They were more…grimey, but also much calmer. There was trash strewn throughout the streets and graffiti on every corner. Ha, I was always told to be careful when I went out onto the streets of Ramos Mejia, even by Gian’s mother. Because this was the place where he was stabbed and stomped almost to death and strangely, I felt at ease. Perhaps, because I was in his presence at all times. Whether we went out to the boliche or we walked just a block down to the corner store, I felt alright. Or perhaps, it was because the streets of the provincia were much calmer then the crowded streets of the capital. Even taking the train was much more tranquil than taking the subte. A lot slower, but a lot calmer. From the train, you can see any and everything. The elaborate graffiti under the bridges, the extravagant cardboard houses built by the poor in order to lay their head somewhere they can call home, and the litter that is strewn so carelessly upon the streets. I took everything in and I enjoyed the moment. I guess you could say those were my breaks from the stressful environment of living in the city. But that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the city.
Everything in the city is “go, go, go” at all times. Even into the wee hours of the morning, the city rarely takes a break. I’ve been woken up at least two times in the early hours of the morning by the haughty laughs of drunk porteños. That’s city life for ya. By the time the 3rd week rolled around, I was getting used to the hustle and bustle of the city. The crowded subte at 8:30 in the morning – literally so crowed at times that you have to push yourself through, watching my steps as to not step in dog shit every 5 seconds, and the “walk as you please” attitude of the porteños into traffic. I think I would’ve almost become a pro if I stayed a little while longer. Buenos Aires is a city that is very connected. There are 5 subte lines, but I mostly stayed on “Linea D.” Basically this line contains all the major hotspots of Buenos Aires. And if you don’t feel like catching the subte, head right on over to jump on the “colectivo.” The bus will take you further out than the subte and also the colectivos run all night, whereas, the subte comes to a halt around 10 pm. But honestly, I don’t like riding the colectivos. The colectivo drivers are known to pull off before passengers can even board properly and in order to ride you need to know where you’re getting off. Basically let’s just say the colectivos take a lot of time to get used to.
Of course, my last weekend in Buenos Aires was spent with Gian. Saturday night, the night before my departure, I spent with Gian and his friends for a belated celebration of Dia Del Amigo drinking cheap beer and Gancia mixed with sprite and lemon. I had to let loose just a little bit. The plan was to do a “previa” at his friend’s place and afterwards hit the boliche. Well, it wasn’t really a “previa” because we ended up staying in due to a first timer who couldn’t handle his drinking. Let’s just say there were day old “fideos” spewed projectile across the kitchen floor and bathroom. I know right, what a bummer. It was time to call it a night. Gian and I hailed a taxi back to the comfort of his bed. I set an alarm for 10 AM because I needed to head back to my homestay in order to pack for my flight. That Sunday was cloudy and cold. That day a certain feeling of sadness followed Gian and I. We were quiet on the colectivo ride back to my homestay. I ran up to my room to haphazardly pack my suitcase because Gian was waiting for me down at one of our first meeting spots; the galleria about three stores down from my apartment. After about 30 minutes of throwing clothing and souvenirs into my luggage I ran back downstairs to Gian. We ended up eating at the restaurant where we had our first date, Choripoint! Ahh, the memories! We sat where we sat each time we ate there, the second table on the left. We ordered empanadas. Jamon y queso for Gian and Carne para mi. The usual. We sat in silence. This was it. After spending time with each other for a month, it was time for me to go. We couldn’t help but be sad. I tried to keep it together but tears started to slip from my eyes. His too. It was hard. We sat in silence with half eaten empanadas and overflowing tears.