I have been here in the dynamic city of Buenos Aires for three weeks now, which is very hard to believe since my days have been so busy…time is flying by! I figured now would be a good time to fill you all in on my initial impressions of the city itself.
First, Buenos Aires is definitely not what I was expecting. Some of you have probably heard it referred to as the “Paris of the Americas”. One of the reasons for this name is that much of the architecture here has a strong European influence, but you can also find various other forms of art, such as murals and graffiti. I find the city to be quite charming with this mix of Italian meets French meets classic Argentine. There is always a TON to look at, and I definitely want to spend more time just wandering around and exploring. There are also many great cultural venues in the city, including museums, concerts, outdoor markets, and large parks, some of which are free or offer reduced entry on certain days of the week.
The city also has a very vibrant nightlife with plenty of bars and boliches (dance clubs). However, as someone who likes her sleep, adjusting to the rhythm of nightlife here has been a little bit of a struggle. On a typical night, people grab dinner around nine and then head out to chat at a bar for a few hours. Around midnight, some of the boliches open but most of them don’t fill until at the earliest 2am. Prime time at the clubs here is between 2am and 5am. So far, I haven’t stayed out past 3:30am (which is considered early!) and some people even stay out until 6am and then go grab breakfast before heading home. Yeah….very different from the U.S. where everything closes by 2:30am.
One of the other aspects of the city that I have enjoyed is that the people here all look very different. Blond hair and blue eyes are almost as frequent as dark hair and eyes. On the street two weeks ago I was mistaken for an Argentine when someone asked me for directions! My encounters with Argentines have been mostly positive, although I have noticed a bit of the machismo that still exists within the culture. I also really enjoy the fashion here, and people always look well put together when they are out and about. Side note: platform boots are the latest trend.
However, there are a few aspects of the city that can be very frustrating. Recycling is not widely practiced and there are often piles of garbage sitting in bags in the streets. While the city does have some awesome green spaces, they are typically surrounded by major roads, and it is hard not to notice the air pollution as I run. Begging and homelessness exist here just as they do in any other large city, and pick-pocketing is one of the most frequent crimes. Also, on a more minor note, people do not know how to walk in the street here. Argentines take their time moving from place to place, often stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to look in a shop window or greet a friend. I have three speeds: fast, faster, and fastest. Therefore, I get annoyed with constantly having to move around people…but I supposed being forced to slow things down will be good for me.
Yet, overall, I am amazed by the beauty and vibrancy of Buenos Aires, and I am looking forward to having many more months to explore its many neighborhoods and attend as many cultural events as possible. I picked a great place to spend a year abroad!