Our departure from Pittsburgh started our journey to Argentina which totaled close to 24 hours of travel time. While we were not jet lagged per se, the rough air on the plane kept some of us in and out of sleep which left for a long day ahead. Upon our Arrival to Argentina we were met with our guide for the next two weeks, Mariela, and we were soon off to downtown Buenos Aires, or BA as they sometimes call it. As we drove into the city, which was about a 30-40-minute journey, we got to see the outskirts of the Buenos Aires. One of the biggest things that resonated with me as we drove by the buildings was how different they all looked, many seemingly flats or businesses. However, what stuck out to me even more was that most of these buildings did not have central air and you could see the air units on the outsides of their windows. While this detail may seem so miniscule, it put into perspective how used to central air conditioning I am. Back at Pitt, in Bruce hall, the lack of air conditioning seemed like a rarity, and while they do have access to air conditioning units here in Argentina it puts into perspective the development of the country and also how old the city is.
As we began to drive further into the city we passed many pharmacies, many of which were marked with a green cross. After our arrival to our apartment stay our afternoon agenda consisted of a “snack” which ended up being a large lunch and we completed our orientation. With free time that followed lunch a few of the students and myself decided to walk to the market where I purchased two yogurts and 2L water, “sin gas”, which means without gas. What surprised me about this trip to the market though was that my total of around 120 Argentinian Pesos equates to approximately 2.69 USD. My expectation from both the presentations on culture smart and from what I read online was that things would be cheap, but I did not expect that a small purchase such as this one would amount to what typically one yogurt alone may cost. Later as the group ventured to an Argentinian steak house and ate some of the best meat I have ever tried a similar conversation arose regarding money and the high inflation in the country. Mariela, who is a Buenos Aires Native, said that even last week when she took out money from the ATM, which wasn’t much, the stack was so big it almost made her feel like she was rich or that she had more than she really did. I think that in simple stories like this you can see that someone who grew up here is now facing these economic changes first hand and what before may not have seemed like a lot has not changed somewhat drastically. Another thing that in the U.S we don’t necessarily notice as much or really experience. While this was a simple conversation Mariela also enlightened a small group of us on some of her knowledge on real estate, and I was interested to find out that if you buy real estate in Argentina you pay in US dollars.
It was small moments today that I found had the biggest impact on my view on the country because most of these small inconsistencies dealt with things that I was so used to being consistent. Whether it was the Architecture I saw, or talk about money, I think that being here in Argentina will show me a lot of what I am not used to. But for now, after a long day or so of travel under our belts and plenty of food in our stomachs I think we are all ready and excited to begin this two-week long journey! Until Next time.