Kylene Herr is a student at Missouri State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Kylene is currently studying abroad with ISA in Buenos Aires.
In my first few hours in Buenos Aires, I was blissfully unaware of the awesome lifestyle change that I was about to experience. After finally meeting my host mom, she brought me to my quaint apartment in a neighborhood called Recoleta: a relatively calm area, if I dare describe Buenos Aires with using that word whatsoever. During the taxi ride there, I wonder how I must’ve looked to this woman. Probably like a 5-year-old looking out the window to see snow for the first time. Born and raised in the Midwest, the big city hustle and bustle is unfamiliar to me to say the least. This is where the culture shock sets in. The first thing I remember thinking is that this city is so full of life. Unlike the metropolitan cities I’ve seen in the U.S., Buenos Aires is full of… trees. Everywhere. And parks. It’s like the best of both worlds.
As soon as I dropped my bags it was time for our student orientation. My host mom was suddenly frantically trying to describe to me how to use the colectivos: the city bus system here. Most people living here don’t have cars because it’s pretty much completely unnecessary. My host mom hasn’t driven a car in years and after seeing the way people drive here, I can’t say I blame her. After getting on the bus I felt a little panicked that I would get lost especially because I was extremely distracted by all my new surroundings. Unsure if I was making the right move, I went for it and got off the bus. Almost by pure happenstance, I was exactly where I needed to be which kind of sums up my entire first week here. It’s been a challenge, but only because I’m forced to learn so much everyday. I was a little overwhelmed and almost over-stimulated at first, but now I feel so satisfied with how exciting everyday of my new life is. There’s never a dull moment here!
Everything is completely beyond new to me, but in a good way! The biggest challenge for me (and I’m pretty sure everyone) has been finding my way around. We all get lost, but there are plenty of helpful, interactive websites that help you decide what colectivos (buses), subtes (subways), or trenes (trains) to take or how to get there a pie (walking). But no matter what, if worst comes to worse you can always get a taxi. We also do tons of walking, but that’s why no one here is overweight! It’s also a great way to get a good look at the city and take things in. It’s a little work to get your bearings here, but once you realize how much there is to experience here you realize that it’s totally worth it!
Nice post! I read it a month ago when I was in Buenos Aires on my (apparently annual) vacation, and I laughed in recognition. When I took a grad school course there 2 years ago, I took the colectivo with my professors, their children, and 14 other students, but I’d never taken one alone until I went to Montevideo this year. You’re right — the websites are a lot of help to figure out which colectivo to take. The only down side is being packed in like a sardine at times!
Enjoy your time in Argentina!