Starting a new life in Argentina Buenos Aires
I come from a small, modest city in the north west of England called Preston, whose main claim to fame is that it is home to Europe’s second largest bus station and we also used to have the National Football Museum before it was begrudgingly relocated to Manchester.
When overseas, if someone should ask me where I am from, I will probably answer by saying that I’m from Manchester, because Preston is not a city which anyone could easily place on the map. Having an estimated population of only 140,000 people, I think it is fair to say that Preston and Buenos Aires are two very contrasting cities.
Besides language, since living in Buenos Aires with my Argentinian girlfriend I have had to make some very drastic changes in my daily life. I have waved goodbye for now to English Breakfasts, fish & chips, the rain, Yorkshire Tea, the BBC, Amazon, the Royal Mail, Sunday roasts, more rain, the NHS, James Bond and the Queen.
There are however many more subtle lifestyle changes that I have accommodated due to living with an Argentine, which might not be immediately obvious.
Firstly is the eating schedule. In the North of England we have breakfast to start the day, dinner (you might know it as lunch) at mid-day, and then tea (the main meal of the day) at around 6pm, and then maybe you have some supper before bed, but it depends on the person.
So when I started living with an Argentine I all of a sudden found myself very hungry in the evenings, having to wait until 9 or 10 to eat the main meal of the day! I still stand by the fact however that the UK schedule makes a lot more sense…
What’s more, now after eating we have ‘’Sobremesa’’, which is actually one of the most positive additions to my life. After eating, Argentines don’t just immediately stand up and continue with their day. Everybody stays seated at the table for a while (a long while, it has to be said) to talk about what is going on in their lives. It is pretty rare these days in England that a family will all sit together around a table to eat and talk like that, which is something I feel is a real shame.
One thing I didn’t expect to be a big deal but in actual fact it is, is that I really miss sleeping with a duvet! Stacking up two, three or even four thin little sheets just isn’t providing the cosy, supporting sleep environment I need to be fresh each day for four hours of intensive Spanish. There isn’t anything better than it being freezing cold outside but being snug in bed with a nice heavy duvet.
The concept of being late is another point of contention between the UK and Argentina. In England if you say we will meet at 8, we will indeed meet at 8, no further discussion. Whereas, I have been told that, in Buenos Aires, it is almost considered a little rude to arrive on time to an event, because by being late you are giving the hosts more time to prepare. Check the cultural DO’S AND DON’TS in Argentina
Sticking with the theme, how do Porteños go out so late at night?! The way it generally works where I am from is that you will start pre-drinks at a house or bar at around 9pm, leave for town at 11pm and be back home in bed at 3am. Argentines sometimes only leave for the venue at 2am and stay out until sunrise. It is really no surprise that I am always falling asleep where I stand.
After returning so late (or early depending on how you look at it) after a night out, the idea of an almost religious weekly Sunday afternoon feast at the grandparents isn’t always the most appealing thought. The family of my girlfriend, like many in Argentina, are war time immigrants from Italy and food is a BIG deal for them.
It was just recently, after many an afternoon being sat at the table disheartened at my inability to understand conversation whilst eating the 5 course meal, that I realised just how much Italian language they intermingle with Spanish.
The only way I am dealing with the loss of spicy foods and curry in my diet is my newfound love for abuela’s artichokes.
There are surely many other adjustments I have made to life now living with an Argentine, many of which I am still just starting to notice. It is an exciting opportunity to be able to experience a different way of life like Learning Spanish or even down to the small details, in another country. Just as I have brought my customs, experiences and culture from Preston to Buenos Aires, if and when one day I return, I am sure to bring back some of Buenos Aires with me then too.