The second I exited the terminal, I was ecstatic to see the family I would spend three amazing weeks with in Buenos Aires. Until my foreign exchange program, Argentina seemed nothing more than a country full of soccer, steaks, and Spanish. But as I darted through the outskirts of the city to reach the house I would call home for the next twenty days, I felt that it might actually have more to offer- for once my intuition was correct.
The first difference I noticed our two cultures was the social life, specifically, the nightlife. Upon my arrival, my host informed me that there was a party everyone from my group would be attending that night, and when I asked him what time it was at, of course I expected the American norm of starting at six or seven. But to my bewilderment, he said it began at midnight and lasted until five in the morning- talk about culture shock. This was my first real exposure to real Argentinean living. As we left at 4:45am, the streets were filled with droves of people coming from and probably even going to parties. To get the true essence of what a city is like, it is essential to partake in the same activities as natives, and for Argentina that largely involves exploring the city at night. Be it a club, a restaurant, or a store, things really do change for the better after sunset.
Having sampled this modern perspective of Buenos Aires, a more traditional experience was due. I traveled to the Estancia Ranch on the outskirts of the city, where I could get a piece of Argentinean history. Walking in, the workers greeted me with freshly baked empanadas, and as I looked around, I saw masses chorizo, chicken breasts, and steaks being cooked over fire pits for lunch. Going for a horse back ride, watching performances of traditional Spanish dances, and indulging in exquisite home-cooked food all made this day trip more than worth the drive.
Another of my best memories is of Freddo’s- simply the best ice cream shop ever. During my visit, I went there around a dozen times, and each visit I tried a new flavor that I fell in love with. Among the best were the strawberry and the dulce de leche with brownies- can you say YUM! And on a quick side note, in Argentina dulce de leche is like peanut butter- people eat it with, on, and in everything.
Then as the last week of my trip was coming to a close, I paid a visit to the major shopping and cultural area- Florida Street. As I walked along the expansive pavement, I found more shops, buildings/monuments, and restaurants then I had seen in the rest of my trip. I bought a purse made of famed Argentinean leather for my grandma, some Spanish CD’s for my parents, and a bracelet that said “Argentina” for my brother. It felt like this was the Argentinean version of Universal City Walk, with tourists and shops at every visible corner.
To encompass my experience in Buenos Aires in an essay is undoubtedly impossible. But I have conveyed some of my fondest memories of this memorable trip in hopes that it will leave an impression and instill in you the desire to visit it as well. Whether it’s because of the night life, the history, the ice cream, or the shopping, I don’t know; but what I do know is that all of that adds up to create a truly unforgettable few weeks.
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