How to Act Like a Local in Buenos Aires

After adventuring around Buenos Aires for almost two months, I feel confident in my ability of trying to act like a porteño, with an emphasis on the word “trying.” In this post you will find 6 things to do if you want to fit in with the locals in Buenos Aires.

  1. If you need to get someone’s attention, say “Che!” In addition, “che” can also be used as a way to address a friend, similarly to how people in the United States would say “dude.” It is also interesting to note that Che Guevara, the famous Argentine political figure, got his nickname of “Che” because of how often he used this phrase.
  2. If you’re ever bored during the afternoon, send a message to your friends asking them to meet you at a park to share some mate, the national drink of Argentina. If you visit the beautiful parks of Buenos Aires in the late afternoon with mate, you will fit in with countless groups of friends, couples, and families passing around their mate and eating snacks.

    Mate in Park: These are my friends from ISA and I drinking mate in Barrancas de Belgrano after school!
  3. If you want to seem like a true porteño, it is important that you choose to eat dinner after at least 9pm every night. With my host family, I typically eat dinner around 9 or 9:30pm. However, the best thing about eating a late dinner is that you always have a little extra room in your stomach for an extra empanada, milanesa, or alfajor!

    Argentine Steak: “This is a typical Argentine dinner with a steak and potatoes!
  4. Although intimidating at first, it is important to use the bus system to be a true porteño. To wave down a bus, you must stand at the bus stop which is often marked by a small sign on a building or light post and when you see the number of the bus coming your way, you get the drivers attention by sticking out your arm. When you first arrive in Buenos Aires, the public transportation system will likely seem difficult to navigate, but once you venture out to try, the opportunities will be endless!
  5. A true sign that you’re becoming more Argentine is when you lose your spice tolerance. It is important to note that if food in Argentina is listed as spicy, it means that it possibly just has a pinch of cracked pepper! If you love hot sauce and spicy foods, I would recommend venturing into a grocery store in Barrio Chino (Chinatown) to find some of your favorite sauces from Sriracha to Tabasco. You can purchase mini bottles to carry around with you in case you want to add some additional spice to your tasty Argentine food!
  6. Lastly, if you want to be a true porteño, you need to remember to kiss everyone on the cheek. If you see your friend at school or when you return home to your host family after a vacation, don’t forget to give them a sweet kiss!

Stella Roth is a student at Seattle University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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