Contemplating relocating to a new country is a bit like running a coin through your fingers. On the one side, you envisage a thrilling adventure, exhilarating experiences, and lots of new friends. On the other side, you can see a language barrier, new laws to adhere to, and a completely different system to what you have been used to.
If you’re considering moving to Argentina and immersing yourself in the culture, hopefully this article can give you some tips on how to settle into your new Argentina way of life.
English Courses in Argentina
Relocating to a foreign country is not always easy. Relocating to a foreign country where everybody speaks a language you don’t understand is going to be difficult at times! So if your Spanish proficiency is not at a level which you feel comfortable with, we recommend taking some Spanish classes during the first months of your relocation. Given that Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, there is a constant demand for classes so opportunities for you to learn will be in abundance. Bear in mind, however, that Argentinean Spanish is very different to the Spanish spoken elsewhere in the world – the accent, grammar, and vocabulary are all full of unique characteristics. What’s more, there are areas which speak some indigenous languages, and Welsh can be heard in Patagonia!
A Brief Geographical Overview
As the 8th largest country in the world spanning an enormous 2,780,400 km2 and bordering a total of 5 countries, it isn’t hard to understand why Argentina’s seven regions are so diverse! Mountains, glaciers, vineyards, waterfalls, coastal paradises and a huge ecosystem are just some of the wonders that can be found within its borders.
Argentina’s Culture and People
Argentina’s modern culture, much like its geography, is very diverse. A history of Italian and Spanish immigration has fused with Amerindian and African influences to produce a country rich in music, art, and language.
The autonomous city of Buenos Aires is not only the federal capital of Argentina, but also cultural capital. In terms of culture, it boasts a plethora of museums, monuments, cinemas, beautiful shopping malls, as well as live music venues. In terms of architecture, its modern skyscrapers and urban jungle are constantly rivalled by its wide, tree-lined avenues and protruding balconies which often lead people to nickname Buenos Aires ‘The Paris of South America’.
Adjusting to the Argentina Lifestyle
Argentina has a more laid-back lifestyle than many other industrialized countries. In the capital, Buenos Aires, siestas are a thing of the past, but you will often find many natives spending hours in cafes, chatting with friends and drinking cafe con leche while enjoying medialunas. Additionally, the term, "Argen-time," refers to the sense of timeliness of Argentine natives. For example, if you have plans to meet with a native Argentine at 12PM for a cup of coffee, do not be shocked or offended if he or she doesn't arrive until 12:15-12:30PM without explanation. Argentines are notoriously late, so relax and enjoy the change of pace.
Moreover, remember that Argentina is in the Southern Hemisphere. Thus, in the majority of the country, the colder months go from May-August, while the warmer months take place from November-February. Summers are notoriously hot while winters are typically a bit more mild.
The Great Outdoors
Argentina has many different landscapes in every corner of the country. To the west of Buenos Aires is Mendoza, a semi-desert that meets with the Andes Mountains and borders with Chile. In the northwest is Salta and Jujuy, which are semi-dry regions and very close to the Bolivian salt flats. To the northeast of Buenos Aires is the huge waterfall system, named Iguazú, that creates a border with Brazil. Additionally, in the south is Patagonia and Ushuaia. Patagonia is rich in natural scenery and is unlike anywhere else in the world. If you want to push yourself to your limits, visit Ushuaia, or the southernmost city in the world.
Stay in the Loop
Argentine politics are always changing. To keep up to date on the latest news, check out the links below. Additionally, Argentine's themselves are very passionate about the affairs of their country so be sure to ask a new Argentine friend! Below are various websites, both in English and Spanish, that provide the most accurate news:
www.argentinaindependent.com - News + Culture in English
http://bubblear.com - News + Culture in English
www.ole.com.ar - Sports News
Quick Guide to Argentina Shopping
Argentina, particularly Buenos Aires, has a myriad of malls and shopping districts. Within the city, Patio Bullrich (Av. Libertador) and Galerías Pacífico (Florida y Córdoba), are two of the most impressive commercial centers in the city. What is most unique, however, are the street markets that will appear on the weekends in nearly every neighborhood of Buenos Aires and in other cities throughout the country. In the capital, the largest open air market is in San Telmo, but you can find others in Palermo and Recoleta. These artisanal markets feature handmade crafts, art, traditional foods, and many other unique buys made by locals. The markets are a must see and are the perfect way to spend the day with family or friends.
Wine and Dine Argentina Style
Within Argentinean culture, food and drink play a large role as they are regarded as a great social activity that is to be shared with both friends and family. Argentineans are very well known for their beef-centric diets, with Argentinean steaks being a favourite for foreign visitors to the country. Traditional Argentinean cuisine usually consists of grills known as ‘parillas’ or ‘asados’ on which meat, usually beef is cooked. Argentinean food is also heavily influenced by Italian cuisine, and pasta and pizza dishes can be easily found in restaurants throughout the country.
For those with more of a sweet tooth, dulce de leche is a must have. This caramel spread can be found in most Argentinean desserts and sweets, and is delicious! Continuing with sweet treats, don’t forget to try a submarino! They serve it to you as a glass of hot milk and chocolate bar which you’re meant to stir into the drink yourself. Nice and warm and very tasty! Additionally, you can't go without tasting alfajores; these sweet cookies are a national staple and are sure to please all those with a sugar affinity as they are pasted together with dulce de leche and then surrounded by chocolate.
With regards to drinks, Argentinean wine particularly from the region of Mendoza, and mate are a must! Mate is fresh leaf tea drunk through a metal straw, and is a core part of Argentinean culture. The mate is shared around a group of friends or family, and so it often seen at social gatherings.
Weekends and Free Time
In the city of Buenos Aires there is always something going on. Whether seeing the opera at Teatro Colón, taking tango lessons, watching a football match, or going to one of the very trendy bars in Palermo, there's something for everyone of every age in the city of Buenos Aires. If you plan on spending the weekend traveling to other parts of the country, Mendoza is just a 15-hour bus ride from BA and is very famous for their wine, especially malbec. Salta, in the northwest, and Patagonia, in the south, are most easily accessed by plane and each offer their own, unique sort of weekend fun. Iguazú Falls, in the northeast, is about 18 hours by bus from Buenos Aires, and features some of the most impressive waterfalls in the world!
Argentina is well-known for its sultry national dance, the tango.
Ushuaia, located at the southern tip of Argentina in Patagonia, is the southernmost city in the world.
Same-sex marriages are legal in Argentina.
Argentina has a free, public health system. Because of this style, sometimes the waiting times at hospitals can last many hours. If you are in Buenos Aires and want to get in, out, and on your way, try some of the private hospitals, such as Hospital Aleman, where English, German, and Spanish are spoken (Av. Pueyrredon and Beruti).
Written by: Voluntario Global