Archive for September 25th, 2011
Let me start off by saying that moving to another country that is substantially different from the one I was raised in has been challenging. For starters I don’t speak the language which makes everyday activities awkward and embarrassing. For instance, I can’t go to the vegetable market and help myself, I have to be attended by a Spanish-speaking bloke who doesn’t care when I tell him that I don’t understand Spanish, he will just continue to speak to me in Spanish anyway. I am trying very hard to memorize the names of fruits and vegetables and numbers 1 to 10!
I will admit I feel very isolated and lonely. I’m a very social person so not being able to go out during the evening or have my friends over for some wine makes me sad, not to mention that I miss my dog and my cat tremendously. There have been many moments where I have thought about turning back but that would be the easy thing to do and I would prefer to take the risks and the challenges and learn something from this adventure. On the other hand I think that I have been doing well and within two weeks have found a job and made some friends, although I don’t see them as much as I would like to. When I say I don’t see them as much as I would like to, I mean I don’t see them at all.
I feel a little guilty because I’ve spent most of my time complaining about the customs and lack of organization in Buenos Aires when I should be praising it for the many wonderful things that it offers.
The other day I was accused of being xenophobic and a snob, and perhaps those are accurate judgments for me right now. I have to accept that I probably haven’t been the best guest in this country.
Canada is an extremely efficient country, and yes, like most countries it has many problems, but none appear to be as grave as the problems I see here in Argentina. On the other hand Argentines don’t seem to mind the abundance of inadequacies that are prevalent in their country and they are genuinely happy people with a little sense of entitlement that isn’t always to their betterment.
Alas, despite all this bitching I would like to present the top five things I like about living in Argentina.
1. People don’t give a shit what you do to make your living. Unlike Canada where upon meeting someone for the first time the first question they ask you is, “What do you do for a living?” Argentines don’t seem to care what your occupation is. My value as a human being is not determined by what my job is. What is important to Argentine people is character, and how we treat other people. It’s a nice change because I always felt back in Canada that if I didn’t gush about my job, no one had any interest in talking to me.
2. Argentines go out after work. In Canada, especially in Toronto, no one goes out after work. Everyone goes back to their condo or their home, turns on the television, eats dinner and then goes to bed. But in Buenos Aires, people are very social and love to entertain and be entertained. Late at night you would be hard pressed to find an empty restaurant or bar, because people in Buenos Aires work to live as oppose to live to work.
3. Sense of humour. This one I can appreciate. Canadians are very self-deprecating people who don’t take themselves too seriously. Surprisingly I have found that Argentines are very similar, although what we consider funny is different at times.
4. Quiet. I have found that Argentines, although they speak over themselves quite often, are very quiet and humble people. It’s a lovely quality. Despite the noise and the pollution of the city I have never felt so calm in the company of a group of people who have nothing to prove, are not image obsessed and enjoy spending time with friends and family to chat.
5. Argentines enjoy alcohol. Now I’m pretty sure that everyone I have met thinks I am an alcoholic. I tend to drink more than most people that is true. Argentines do not drink for the sole purpose of getting drunk, they drink for enjoyment. This is a foreign concept to me and one that I am trying to adopt, although with mixed results. However, it’s nice to see people take an interest in alcohol that is different than the WASPy behaviours of Canadians back home and if you’re Canadian and you’re reading this you know what I mean.
So there you have it, five things I love about Argentina. This list could go on and on, for instance I should have mentioned that I have had some of the best walks in my life in Buenos Aires, and the streets, despite being dirty, are beautiful and interesting and magical.
I was in La Boca yesterday and one of the individuals I was with questioned why tourists liked that particular area so much. I thought to myself, because we don’t have anything like this back home. It’s so typical to take the country we live in for granted, isn’t it? To not appreciate how unique a simple barrio is to an outsider is disappointing, but I suppose we all do it. I hope that when people visit Toronto they are filled with as much wonderment and excitement that I have been while in Buenos Aires.