Monday, May 31, 2010

Real Person Anniversary

One year ago today, I graduated from college. Back then, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, except move to Argentina. I had no clue what to expect, and at that point, I was semi-sure that I would be moving back home within 6 months (HA).

I have been a "real person" (as college grads like to call themselves) for a whole year. 12 months ago, when I left the life I had known and loved for 4 years, I was nostalgic and anxious about the future. I had a plan (buy ticket, get on plane), but other than that, I had no clue what was in store for me. Being a "real person" was scary and exciting, feelings which were only intensified by the fact that I was going to have to make the transition from raging college kid to reality in a different country, miles away from anyone I knew.

I am oh so happy to say that so far, being a "real person" has been amazing. In the past year, I have done things I never imagined. I have learned so much about myself, about life. I've learned how to make friends in a foreign language, how to cope with the loss of a pet, how to deal with being unemployed. There have been some hard times and drama, periods of success and moments of failure. But on the whole, being "real" has been awesome.

The one thing I've learned from all this realness is that life is unpredictable. Things happen when you least expect it, and all you can do is go with it and seize the opportunities that land in front of you. Having a plan is all well and good, but it only gets you so far. After a certain point, you just have to give it up to life and let it all happen.

I had a plan, and it got me here. Since then, things have just kind of fallen into place and I couldn't be happier about it. We'll see where I'll be in a year!

My two best friends and I, back before we were real...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My 4 Day Weekend

Well, it’s been a while since I updated, but never fear, I haven’t given up yet. I haven’t been doing much, due to the current lack of expendable funds, but life is good nonetheless. Turns out lots of money isn’t a requirement for having fun, being with friends, and generally living richly.

The past weekend was a four-day weekend, thanks to the bicentennial celebrations here in Buenos Aires. 200 years ago, Argentina began its revolution for independence, which was won by General San Martín 6 years later.

I didn’t actually go to any of the festivities that were held in the capital, but I watched plenty of the parades on TV. The largest street in Buenos Aires, 9 de Julio, was closed off and there were various displays, attractions, exhibitions, and shows throughout the four days. Millions of people turned up to celebrate, congregating en masse in key areas throughout the city, which I avoided like the black plague. Milling throngs of humanity is just not my cup of tea. The effects of the celebrations were felt though, specifically in the fact that we didn’t have to pay bus fares on Tuesday (SCORE), in honor of the bicentenario.

I did have a good weekend though, despite my lack of adoptive country patriotism. Saturday was a going-out night, featuring a goodbye asado for a Danish friend from soccer followed by a late-night birthday party for another good friend. A bottle of wine may have been consumed solely by yours truly, but who’s judging. Topics discussed at said asado and party include: most Argentines’ lack of tolerance for spicy foods, brought on by my addition of a tiny spoonful of spicy salsa to the meat I was sharing with my weak-palated boyfriend, who proceeded to declare that his tongue was numb; the World Cup (of course); the origin of the word hydrogeology and whether English is more of a Germanic or Latin based language; and the efficacy of various pick-up lines in both Castellano and English, and the chances of scoring with the line “Would you like to come to the party in my pants?” Wrapped up the erudite conversation around 6 am and headed home, slept til 2 pm, woke up to rain, then did nothing for the next 36 hours.

On Monday the BF and I watched Argentina destroy Canada 5-0 in the last friendly match before the Mundial starts in a few weeks. Then on Tuesday, I went to meet my boyfriend’s family. Always a sweaty affair for me, sufferer of intense meeting-the-family-itis, the afternoon was lovely and no one ate me (which is always a fear). I met several aunts, lots of cousins, an uncle, a PRECIOUS six month old baby who unfortunately did not belong to the family, and Sergio’s mom. Everyone was very welcoming and kind, and the majority eventually got my name right, Amy being kind of difficult to pronounce correctly with a Castellano accent. Some of them might still think my name is Emilia, but oh well. After 10 months here, I respond to pretty much anything that even sounds close to Amy.

I don’t normally compare things from the States to things here, but as this was my first large family gathering of any nationality in months, I couldn’t help but think about how things were different and yet exactly the same. The food was different of course, most notably in the lack of vegetables here (besides potatoes). The customs were different—everyone kisses the birthday girl (or boy) after they blow out the candle, etc. But underneath the superficial stuff, it was quite similar to any of my family gatherings back in the States. The dynamics between siblings, discussions that begin lightly but degenerate into debates about politics or education, questions and catching up, kids in one room with the computer and older folk in another…it all seemed familiar, despite the fact that it was so different.

I’m still working from home as a writer, although I’m planning to start going into the office 3 days a week starting next week, just for a change of pace and to get out of the apartment for a few hours. I’m also still planning on coming home at the end of June for a 2 week visit, but have yet to actually buy the ticket. I’m loathe to part with 1200 USD, to say the least, but I think a visit home will be good for me.

And now some photos:
 Soccer crew at the asado

Group...getting late

Me and the birthday girl!

Sleepy time

Friday, May 14, 2010

Girl Power and Food Censorship

Costa Rica just elected a female president. While I am certainly no feminist, I think it’s pretty cool that having women in positions of power is no longer such an “OMG” issue. Laura Chinchilla (yes, like the animal) joins several other women who currently hold leadership positions in their countries, including Argentina. The highly controversial Cristina Kirchner has been president since 2007 when she took over from her husband, Nestor Kirchner. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has in strengthened her country’s economy and is a leader in the European Union. Other countries with female presidents and prime ministers include: India, the Philippines, Ireland, Finland, Iceland, Switzerland, Croatia, Bangladesh, Lithuania, and Liberia. Interesting, no? Girls Rule!

At the beginning of May, the Secretary of Commerce in Argentina declared that starting June 1st, all foreign-produced food products that have an Argentine-produced equivalent will be banned from the country. This means that products made in Brazil, Europe, the US, and any other country will no longer be allowed to be imported, if there is an Argentine equivalent. This includes many foods, such as pastas, oils, cereals, beer, chocolate, and deli products like ham and cheese.

The announcement was made to all supermarket chains, who will be required to comply with this new decision starting June 1st. The Secretary, Guillermo Moreno, says that this measure is being taken to protect national industry…after all, why should we Argentina import products that it makes itself? He cites the weakness of the Euro and the impending financial crises in Greece and Spain as possible threats to the national economy, and claims that prohibiting the importation of foreign-made food products will strengthen Argentina’s own manufacturing and agriculture industry.

The protectionist measure will affect larger and more international supermarkets such as Carrefour and Jumbo, both of which carry a wider range of imported and foreign goods. Apart from Argentines (and foreign people living here, ahem ME) not being able to buy Swiss chocolate or German beer, many supermarket owners have complained that this ban on foreign products will cause national producers to raise their prices, which will ultimately affect buyers. This, coupled with the current inflation problem, could make buying food a (more) expensive endeavor. LAME.

Monday, May 10, 2010

No Hot Water But It's OK, I'm Good at Bowling

Today I celebrate my 6th day without hot water. Apparently the thermo-tank thing in my apartment building broke, and we have yet to find/install a replacement. Which, considering that this is Argentina, could take another three weeks. I've been showering like they did in the olden days, heating water on the stove and then washing one part at a's surprisingly effective but takes FOREVER to heat up the water, hence showers have been few and far between (overshare? maybe). Now I know why people used to bathe only once or twice a month...they just couldn't be bothered.

Also in the line of updates, I have a sprained ankle. Some large Australian who thought we were playing rugby instead of soccer tackled me a week ago and destroyed my ankle. It was puffy and blue for days, and is only just beginning to get better. I'll probably have to skip another week of soccer before I can play again, bloody Australians...

Other than these two minor issues, life is good! I had a submarino this past weekend, which I had been dying to try...chocolate bar melted into hot milk = YUM. Also, I went to this place called Acatraz in Almagro with the boyfriend and some soccer people on Saturday night, which was lots of fun. It's kind of like a giant sports bar, with food and drinks and table games like pool and foosbal. Plus, they had bowling!

 Boyfriend posing...

Don't ask about the hand gestures...I have no idea.


Bowling fashionably (check the boots!)

For some strange reason, I'm actually pretty good at bowling. I don't know how or why, considering my arm strength is about nil and my hand-eye coordination isn't top-notch. One of life's mysteries. On the plus side, I did learn how the scoring works. I was always confused about it, but knew that there had to be some kind of logic behind the random numbers that appeared sometimes. The key is that every time you bowl a spare, the first bowl of your next turn counts double. And when you bowl a strike, both bowls of your next turn count double. I think.

Anyway, that's my life at the moment. Weather is getting colder day by day, so tomorrow I'm going shopping for a new coat. I'm waiting to hear back from a job offer before I buy my ticket home to the States for my visit in early July. I need a haircut. And that's about it! Isn't my life wonderfully thrilling. Hopefully I'll be doing some fun stuff soon...the only problem with doing things is that it requires money, which I don't have a lot of at the moment. Oh well. Positive thoughts!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Since I've been doing this blog, I've gotten a bunch of comments saying how helpful it is and how great of a resource it's been for people who are considering or planning to move down here to the lovely Buenos of Aires. Which is nice to hear, because it's always been one of my goals to help out other people who took the plunge just like I did (see first post ever).

That being said, there are lots of resources out there that contain a virtual goldmine of information and opinions about everything from the current inflation problem to the best place for pizza. I used some of these myself before coming down, and they helped immeasurably. Others I discovered after being here for a while.

In this post I'm going to list some of the different resources available to tourists, permatourists, expats, exchange students, and anyone else who has been drawn to this country. Because I'm super organized, these will be in categorized list form...I know how happy this will make you all. Oh wait, that's me.

GENERAL RESOURCES forum for expatriates in Argentina; incredibly useful information combined with lots and lots of different opinions; use the search function for a more focused approach, or just browse the different categories and topics to see what people are doing, thinking, planning, asking

landingpadBA- another general information site, geared toward a younger crowd general information about moving abroad; some useful links and information, be aware that some of it might be dated (Spanish) (Spanish) - list of bloggers in Argentina (including me!); click randomly and get a fresh new perspective on the country


The Argentimes (English)- excellent source of current events, cultural activities, social issues, travel ideas (English) (Spanish) (Spanish)

COMMUNITY PROJECTS worldwide community of travelers; concept = people travel the world by crashing on other people’s couches; join the Buenos Aires community, and you’ll see lists of events, activities, trips, and general get-togethers with both Argentines and foreigners living or traveling through BA World Wide Opportunity for Organic Farming; concept = you live and work (for free) on an organic farm performing whatever duties the owners/family require, and you get a place to live, food, and a great experience (for free); check out the list of participating farms in Argentina and see what kinds of things you could be doing outside of the big city

ONCE YOU’RE HERE (Spanish)- search for and purchase long-distance bus tickets to anywhere in Argentina and several cities in Chile, Brazil, and Peru

guiaoleo (Spanish)- highly used diner’s guidebook; lists most restaurants in Buenos Aires, and you can search for what you want by name, type of food, barrio, price, etc; also features descriptions of the resto, pictures, and reviews by customers (Spanish)- enter in your current location and final destination and figure out how to get where you want to go (Spanish)- diario deportivo aka sports journal, detailing all the happenings in Argentine and some international sports; because this is Argentina people, the site features mostly football

taringa (Spanish)- Argentine site for downloading or just browsing different things on the internet; features music, videos, programs, etc

compumap (Spanish)- downloadable program that is seriously awesome; similar to comoviajo, you can enter in your current location and final destination and find the exact bus route to get you there; also allows you to search for hospitals, fire stations, police stations, and government buildings; incredible map also shows all of Buenos Aires province with all the street names, train lines, parks, etc; there’s also lots of other functions that I haven’t figured out yet, but will ASAP—download this from taringa and play around!
Tourist2townie- great perspective from a guy who is attempting to go from tourist to local; he describes some of the more interesting aspects of Argentine life (ie the Man Kiss)

Saltshaker- blog by the owner of a closed-door restaurant here in BA; in his words “casting a little flavor (and a few aspersions) on the world of food, drink, and life” in Buenos Aires

The Argentine Post- one of my favorite sources for Argentine current events, presented clearly and concisely

So there you go! Hopefully some of these links will be of some use to someone out there! Oh and you can also check out my how-to posts for some explanations of how to navigate life in BA (section on the sidebar). Suerte!