“11 Things I Thought I’d Never Miss…”

Andes, Cerro de Cristo

1.  Doing my own laundry

I never thought the day would come when I would wish I could do my own laundry. But here I am. My host mom has laundry facilities, but they are off limits to me. Instead, I have to haul my laundry bag down the street to the Chinese laundry lady. This doesn’t sound so bad either, except for the fact that almost 80% of what I own has to be hand washed or can’t be tumble-dried. This has taken a lot of explaining and our conversations typically end up being a mix of loud voices hand gestures signifying “don’t shrink this”, “air dry this”, and “do what you want with these”. My laundry lady has seemed to catch on quickly, we’ve actually become friends, but I still miss the freedom of doing my own laundry on Sunday’s – simple and easy.

2.  Understanding lectures

I will never, ever, ever take for granted another lecture given in English. The ability to listen and take notes leisurely while texting, doodling, and Facebooking is a simple pleasure that I will never have here. Understanding my lectures given at the local university is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do while studying abroad. She speaks extremely fast, sometimes very quiet, other times in weird rhythms, and her handwriting (usually short hand) might as well be written in French. It requires full attention for the entire 2 hours, which can be utterly exhausting. Without the help of my friends in that class, not quite sure what I would do.

3.  Going for a run sans harassment

Whistling, staring, honking, yelling, muttering, smiling, waving, cheering. Once, a guy on a motorcycle drove alongside me for a block and a half as I ran, attempting to have a conversation. Madison Capital City Trail bike path, oh how I miss you.

4.  Leaving my house sans harassment

Whistling, staring, honking, yelling, muttering, smiling, waving, cheering. Once, a guy stopped me while crossing an 11-lane highway to ask me if I would like to, “join him for a walk”. Insanely less aggressive men of Madison, oh how I miss you.

5.  Non-stick pans

Thank you grandma and grandpa…and mom!

6.  The Union Terrace

In reality, the Union Terrace is just a bunch of colored chairs alongside a lake. But when it’s sunny and 80 degrees out, there’s just something more to it than that. Obviously being a Badger, I will always have an appreciation for the Union Terrace but while in Buenos Aires I really miss the ability to take a quick walk to the lake to study/read/drink/hang out on really sunny days. Maybe it’s because there’s no easy water access in this bustling city, maybe it’s because I have an itch for Spotted Cow and popcorn.

7.  Shopping in the US

Anyone who knows me well knows I have a slight addiction to shopping. I have a hoard of clothing but never seem to have anything to wear. I thought coming to Buenos Aires, one of the fashion capitals of the world, would mean I could score some awesome shopping opportunities, but instead quickly realized that everything is way out of my price range. I’ve indulged in a few things since I’ve been here, but have come to miss the luxury of cheap clothing stores like Forever 21, H&M, and so on and so forth.

8.  My smartphone

While I thoroughly enjoy shutting down and tuning out, I’ve come to miss my smart phone dearly since I’ve been in Buenos Aires. I have it with me in my apartment, and occasionally turn it on just to look at it and play with the buttons, but it doesn’t work here, and taking it out of my apartment runs a high risk of being robbed. Instead, while all my Porteño friends are checking Facebook, playing games, snapping pictures, and surfing the web, I’m stuck with my circa-2000 phone that now has no back cover (long story). From what I can tell, the coolest features of my phone are the alarm clock, calculator, and text messaging capabilities. It’s truly ahead of its time.

9.  Water pressure

We have none.

10.  My car

Living downtown, I’m accustomed to not having my car, but navigating downtown Madison is far easier than navigating the city of Buenos Aires. To attempt to walk anywhere outside of my barrio is impossible, and while I have no problem taking the subway or buses around town, they aren’t very reliable. Not only are the subway system workers on strike on a regular basis (which means no working subway), trying to snag a bus without knowing exactly where it stops are can be extremely frustrating and time consuming. There are definitely days when I wish I could just hop in my car bypass all the public transit.

11.  Coffee to go

Believe it or not, taking your coffee to go is just not a thing here. Although there are cafés on every corner, the Argentine culture seems to fully embrace the idea of sitting down, relaxing, and sipping your coffee. Besides Starbucks and McDonalds, I only know of one other café that has to go cups for coffee.