5 Totally Necessary Things To Know About Buenos Aires

Isabel McCan is a student at University of Denver and an ISA Featured Blogger. Isabel is currently studying abroad in Buenos Aires on an ISA Fall 1 program.

Everyday it gets easier to fit in with the Buenos Aires lifestyle! After having been here for almost two months now I feel like I have finally accustomed myself to the city. And the more I get used to it, the more I enjoy it. Got the public transit routes down, can finally understand the dialect, and I think I have even developed a *gasp* daily routine.

But before I get into that, I want to give some brief praise to our ISA coordinators here in Buenos Aires. The past two weekends ISA has treated our group to two phenomenal excursions –the first being to Iguazu Falls, one of the 7 New World Wonders. And as if Iguazu Falls wasn’t awe-inspiring on its own, ISA planned the trip perfectly: flying us into Puerto Iguazu and saving us a 20-hour bus ride, having the group stay at a five-star resort, treating us to asado at a beautiful mate and black tea ranch, and just in all, sculpting the excursion into an unforgettable weekend. Following up Iguazu was a trip to Ciudad Rosario, the third most populated city in Argentina (it was like a mini Buenos Aires). The trip was short but sweet, and ended with the ISA students hanging out for hours on the sandy shores of the Rio Parana. The best part about these trips – the cost was included in our program fee! Talk about some program swag. And for that, I applaud ISA Buenos Aires’ excursion planning. Props guys.

I’ve finally fallen into some semblance of a daily routine here in Buenos Aires, and I’ve decided to offer up five random and completely unnecessary bits of wisdom and information I’d like to share. Gotcha didn’t I?

1. Let’s start off with the weather. It rains – kind of a lot. The southern hemisphere might be a month into spring but Buenos Aires is still confused on that fact. Luckily there have been quite a few nice days where the sun comes out to play, but still, I’m waiting for it to really feel like spring. One kind of annoying part about the frequent rain is that many of the sidewalk stones aren’t set firmly into place so water will stagnate under them and if you step on one that isn’t cemented, it will squish down and gross muddy water will come up and get all over your shoe. I learned this the hard way, on a day that I happened to wear sandals…

2. On the note of watching where you walk, it is definitely pertinent to mention that the whole “pick up after your pup” law only seems to apply in the United States. There are poo bombs on many of the sidewalks here so I have had to learn how to skillfully dodge them while walking. Although I’ve talked to my friends who are abroad in France and London and they confirm that this is not simply a South American issue, which made me feel a lot better about it. Thankfully I’ve yet to step on a landmine (to my knowledge at least).

3. Pedestrian laws don’t really apply either. Pedestrians definitely do not have the right of way and it’s kind of like “every ped for themselves” when you cross the streets. Street lanes are merely suggestions, and only the larger avenidas have crosswalk lights. Buenos Aires is a great place to exercise those look-before-crossing lessons that we all learned way back when. I usually run across the street, just to be safe and look really, really cool. Trust me though, it’s pretty easy to adapt to these minor aspects of living in Buenos Aires.

4. One of the most interesting styles I’ve noticed here in Buenos Aires is the infamous, but not elusive, “dread-mullet”. Yes, dread-mullet. What is this style you ask? Well, we’ve all seen dreadlocks, and we’ve all seen mullets, now just combine the two and there you have it – a ‘business in the front, rasta party in the back hair anomaly. TONS of people here seem to think that cutting their hair short on all sides and growing out these long, gnarly dreads on the back of their neck is cool… or attractive… or something. I really wish I could take a picture of one to post here but I do fear getting caught and then having to withstand the dread-whipping retribution that would inevitably follow. It is definitely one of the strangest hairstyles I’ve come across, but hey, I’m not here to judge.

5. Lastly, one of my favorite things about the city is the Tipas trees that line many of the city’s streets. Before coming to Buenos Aires, I had never seen trees like these. Their trunks stand dark and strong while their wavy branches rise high into the air. Every time I see them I think about how they look like a group of friends dancing with their arms flailing wildly around. If I could be a tree, I would definitely be one of these guys – they always look like they’re having a good time.

And there you go! Five things about Buenos Aires that you wouldn’t have known otherwise! Your life is thus enriched. You are welcome. Til next time folks – ciao!

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