So lately I’ve been feeling a little culture shock…of US culture that is. If this makes any sense, I almost feel as if I haven’t yet left the US at all, but am rather on some sort of extended orientation program still preparing to live in Argentina.
To explain, it’s still summer vacation here for Porteños, so the Argentine students haven’t returned to school yet, so the university I’m studying at is basically just full of North American students taking Spanish classes on study abroad. Not that I hate North Americans, but when you embark on a semester abroad expecting a new cultural experience, being constantly surrounded by white English speakers is a little disappointing, to say the least.
But anyway, I’m sure things will be better once the real semester starts. In the meantime, life in general has been great. Spanish class is actually really fun and I feel like I’m learning and remembering so much more everyday (which, considering the class is 5 hours a day, better be the case). I learn more about life here everyday too, for instance:
1) Jogging on city streets is a great way to make a spectacle of yourself (everyone here subscribes to gyms)
2) The old scientific law that says “two bodies cannot occupy the same space” is continually being challenged here in the realm of public transportation. Each morning when I ride the Subte (subway) to school, the train pulls up bursting at the seams with passengers, and yet ten more people manage to squeeze into each car. And when I say squeeze, I mean it. Thank god for the boundary of purses and backpacks, because the concept of personal space is ALWAYS secondary to someone’s desire to find room.
3) When it’s hot and humid and you think things couldn’t get any more uncomfortable, just wait, because it’s at that moment that it will begin to rain. I have never before opted NOT to wear my raincoat because it was just too darn hot already.
4) For a woman, clothes are magical. If you wear a skirt, you will get checked out by almost every guy that walks past (regardless of how pretty or not you actually are). If you wear a skirt and a tank top, you will get cat called (this is where the language barrier is nice). But, if you wear pants and a tshirt, you might as well be invisible (which is also nice).
5) And finally, pedestrians NEVER have the right of way. Never. Not even old ladies. Interestingly, the traffic lights here don’t just go from green to yellow to red and back to green again, but rather green to yellow to red, back to yellow and then to green. This can either be good, in the case that you see the red light turn yellow and know the oncoming traffic is about to kill you, or bad, in the case that a yellow light might as well be a green and if you’re already in the middle of the crosswalk, you’re screwed.
All in all, though, I’m having a wonderful time and pictures will be posted as soon as the rain permits some decent picture taking.