Non-stop is perhaps the best way to describe my first week in Buenos Aires. I’ve experienced the usual ailments of a traveling student, like culture shock, homesickness, and getting lost. But these past seven days have also been incredibly exciting, despite getting a lot less sleep than I could have ever imagined (Argentineans are apparently nocturnal).
Other than busy, orientation is the word that comes to mind as I reflect on my time here so far. We’ve had numerous program-related activities, which are (for the most part) immensely useful. However, they are also super time consuming, especially when there are a million other things I feel like I have to do. Still, slowly but surely I’ve been checking things off my list as I adapt to the place where I’ll be living for the next four and a half months. I’ve bought an Argentinean cell phone, exchanged money, and even went to the supermarket—all things considered, I’m settling in quite nicely.
Conversely, I’ve been a little less successful at orienting myself in the literal sense of the word. I have a terrible sense of direction, and at the end of the day Buenos Aires is an ENORMOUS city. I’ve been trying to walk everywhere, but that often leaves me not entirely sure of where I am. However, my neighborhood is definitely starting to become a lot more familiar; while this seems like a small feat, it leaves me with confidence that eventually I will gain a better grasp of the city.
Obviously, I’ve also had to orient myself to certain distinct cultural differences, especially the nightlife. The bigger clubs here, boliches, are not popular until around 3 am, so the social scene that I’m used to, which normally ends at 2 am, is nowhere to be found. Going out has been really fun, but indescribably exhausting, particularly when waking up the next morning after a mere two hours of sleep. I’ve made a valiant effort to live the Argentinean “stay up all night and then get breakfast and then start your day again” life, but have fallen short by a few hours. Have no fear readers, because in a few weeks I will undoubtedly adapt to all this nocturnal nonsense.
Despite all the changes, there was a moment this week when I realized that this initial orientation period won’t be as overwhelming for long. I joined a gym down the street from my apartment, where I both exercise and people watch (Argentinean men and women are seriously attractive). One man happened to be stretching in my line of view, and the first thought that popped into my head, stupid as it may be, was that everyone stretches the same way. It was such a minor moment, but a reminder that although there is a lot of “new” in my life right now, and I’m going to have to get used to getting lost everywhere I go for a while, there are enough similarities between people of different countries that being twelve hours from New York doesn’t really seem that distant. Soon enough, everything will feel far less new and the real “Aventuras en Argentina” can begin!