It can start with a simple question—el 29 para aca? (Does bus 29 stop here?)
And BAM! Connection made and possibly a new friend.
The most valued parts of my experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina are the friendships I made with the locals. Of course I value the relationships I formed with my fellow Americans—in fact, some of my best friends abroad were American. However, there was something very special about the friendships I made with the local Argentines, Bolivians, Ecuadorians, and few Colombians. These friendships challenged me in so many ways and taught me so much about the language and culture of Argentina.
A good thing about making at least one close friend is that they take you absolutely EVERYWHERE (this may be a girl thing). I met my closest friend Mariana on the bus ride home from the class we shared. We lived fairly close to each other and she asked me the same questions I was usually asked— where are you from? Why are you here? What do you study? By the end of our 30-minute bus ride, we exchanged numbers and the Friday after she invited me out with her and some of her friends.
It didn’t take long before we started hanging out all the time. Every outing—whether it be dinner with one of her intimate friends, a casual drink with people from our classes, or a birthday party with group of people from her hometown, I tagged right along with her. We shared unforgettable moments of laughter and tears. Being able to share moments such as these while being away from home made me feel safe and secure in a place which was so far out of my comfort zone.
Mariana introduced me to a lot of new people. Being the only American in the groups we would hangout with was exciting but nerve-wrecking. I had no idea who these people were, I was not a native Spanish speaker, and I didn’t know what to talk to them about. The language barrier made this a little hard but it was through the small jokes and casual conversation that prompted me to ask what a word meant or how to use a specific modalism. I knew it was the best way to learn, so I took every opportunity I could. I surprised myself and those around me with the ways my Spanish improved and by the end of my time in Buenos Aires, people could not even believe I was American.
Buenos Aires became my home away from home because of the beautiful people I met. By having one on one conversations with the locals, I formed very deep relationships which is something I never expected.
Whether it was a simple sleepover or weekly cheese fries and drinks after class, each was full of laughter and an occasion I’ll never forget.
They made the constant noise and public transportation a little less annoying and a night of dancing all the more fun. They taught me what it was like to be one of them. By this I refer to ordering a milanesa with fries instead of a hamburger at lunch, or wearing slick black calzas instead of jeans for a night out in Palermo. They taught me the custom of drinking mate—a leafy drink made to share among a group of friends. Also, BESOS—yes when walking into a room of 20 people seated around a table, whether you know them or not, you ARE expected to kiss every one of them on the cheek to greet them and exchange names.
We shared our political views and they taught me about the current and past problems od the Argentine government. Lastly, they completely shaped my worldview. I went from wondering so much about the Argentine people to understanding and thinking like one of them. Making friends not only taught me more than I could ever imagine about the language and the culture, but also helped me established lifetime connections with people all over the world.
Kaira C. is a Senior Spanish and Psychology double major who spent her Junior studying Spanish with CIEE Argentina. As a GEO Intern, you can often find Kaira at work in the Global Education Office assisting students who will be studying abroad next year. #gordonglobal