When living in a certain place, despite its differences and originality, there is a point where we all fall into a routine. We get used to the things that use to annoy us and stop noticing situations that surprised at the beginning. It is thus not surprising that among the daily routine, university life and traveling I stopped noticing the passage of time. It only hit me when preparing for Halloween, the 31st of October. After which I would only have three more weeks left in Buenos Aires. The proximity of the end of my semester abroad made me think about the city and country I have now been living in for the past three months.
The first month in the city was not easy. I would often jokingly say that Argentina rejects me. From the nightmare trip that got me to the country, through being constantly lost and angry to getting my credit card copied and stolen at an ATM. I had a feeling of constant struggle. But then, with time, all those feeling passed and I learned to love Buenos Aires despite its hardships. Sure, there are still times when I feel like being here is a battle I keep fighting and loosing such as when I was almost not allowed to come back to Argentina because of not having a return ticket out of the country (a screenshot of a random flight did the trick). Overall, however, Argentina became my home.
The things that surprised me at the beginning now are just a reality. I got used to not being able to take out money out of the ATMs due to insanely high fees. Twice I month I simply go to the office in the center to pick up the wired cash. I look to check the road hundred times before I cross because I simply know that no car will stop to let me pass. I always add extra time when planning to get someplace because the metro can be late and buses can surprisingly change their routes.
I learned to love our tiny but warm apartment even with its leaking bath tube that creates a tiny swimming pool in our bathroom every time we shower for longer than 5 minutes. I like the little chats with an old lady from our floor who has a very busy and loud social life, even at 7 in the morning on Saturday. Even after all this time, every time I walk on the street I can’t get enough of the cities incredible architecture.
I love that despite being a big city, life in Buenos Aires is slow. Because everyone is aware of how the public transport works I don’t stress if I get to a place late. An Argentine will probably be even later. I’m enjoying sitting in cafes for hours and not having a water give me furious looks or simply bringing a check to kick me out. I love that the city is always alive, flea markets in every neighborhood and squares full of restaurants. Above all, I love the culture. I love that people in Argentina kiss to say hello, smile to each other on the street and will always make you feel welcome. How at any time of the day there are people sitting at the parks drinking yerba mate and catching up. I even love their passionate proud of being Argentine which some would call arrogance but is actually a result of simply being in love with their country. This appreciation of their country’s originality, cuisine and culture is something we could all learn.
I’ve also learned to hate some things about living here. For the first time in my life, I was really angry with the political and economic situation. Sure, we do have problems in Europe. Bigger or smaller social tensions, economic struggles, and annoying paperwork. But it’s nothing in comparison with the polarization of society in Brazil, the scale of the economic crisis in Argentina or the standard of living in Bolivia. I will never forget not being treated seriously just because of being a woman in Buenos Aires, seeing the luxurious hotels just next to favela in Rio de Janeiro and traveling through villages in Bolivian Altiplano. And I don’t want to. All these things made me angry that things that for me are a simply a temporary inconvenience are a daily struggle for lots of incredible people I have met here. They made me fully aware of how privileged I am and grateful that I got to experience that and learn.
All the experiences I had made me fall in love with South America and Argentina especially. I’m going to miss the slow pace of life, hearing Spanish on the streets and mate. I am incredibly grateful for being able to live in one of the most fascinating and diverse places I have ever been and meet people from completely different backgrounds than me. And for the next three weeks, I am planning to get the most out of living here before coming back to cold Europe. Eat dinner with my friends for hours, stuff myself with empanadas and wine and enjoy the amazing city of Buenos Aires.