Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Hola familia y amigos!
Sorry I haven't written in more than a week! I just started thinking that I was probably boring you to death with my weekly updates about classes and the like, so I had to think about something interesting to write about.
Anyway, I came up with it! I'll write about some of the different things that I've noticed between our culture in the United States and things here. Granted, these are going to be generalizations - not EVERYTHING is going to be as I say it is, but this is just for you all to have a better idea of what some things are like in Argentina.

I guess I'll start with... the mornings and work my way through the day, and then just throw in some extras that don't really have a place? I just need some kind of way to order it. Haha.

1. People around here really don't eat breakfast. To us, it's the most important meal of the day (doesn't mean I usually partake in it), but here they normally have coffee/mate and some toast. Also, they use dulce de leche on their toast. Dulce, if I haven't told you before, is like a more liquidy version of caramel.
2. People have different ideas, than me, probably, of what makes a person "old." On the bus (colectivo) you're supposed to give up your seat for old people, pregnant women, people with disabilities, or women with young children. When I have a seat, I'll give it up for anyone because I don't want them to think that I'm some punk 20-year old. But when there are people who are probably 40-50 and a 60 year old gets on the bus, they don't always give up their seat unless they're asked. I don't know if it's just that they aren't sure of ages or anything, but to me, anyone older gets my seat...
3. There, apparently, is no time where it becomes 'safe' to leave if your professor is late (I found this one out today). We waited for 30 minutes for class to begin, and when a staff member came and locked the classroom door, we thought it was safe to leave. Apparently our teacher had called the school to say he'd be late, and no one bothered to tell us. So when we left as he was walking in, only 7 of us (including me) returned to the class. In the class he informed us that there is never a time when you're allowed to leave without being penalized for it; you have to wait for your professor the entire time. At USC, you're safe to leave after 15-ish minutes, in general, so it was a bit of a different experience. I think, though, that I get extra credit for being there...
4. They eat lunch later than we do. On Mondays and Wednesday, I have a 10am class, so when I get out and am sitting around waiting for my 1pm class, I always eat something. I think it shocks people when I order lunch-like food instead of medialunas (breakfast croissants). And their soda consumption has got to be much less than that of the United States because all their cup sizes are much smaller. Our McDonald's medium (that normally comes with a meal) is their large. When you upgrade to a large, you also get bigger fries, which is also equal to our medium size fries... a curiosity.
5. They eat dinner so late! (I guess I'll just stick to the topic of food because it's what I know best...) Here, in my homestay, we eat dinner at about 11pm each night. It's a struggle for me because I always do my homework after dinner, so I'm generally up late (if/when I do my homework. Other than that, I just watch movies/talk to friends). Lunch, for me, is the biggest meal because if I don't make it that way, I have to have a meal in-between my lunch and dinner.
6. At restaurants, they come and take your order, and then, generally, they deliver you food as it's finished being cooked, so people get food at all different times. Also, someone just told me that it's not really true and it's more appropriate to wait, you're allowed to eat right as you're served without asking the permission of the other people. If my meal's last, I always shoo other people on because they should eat when they're ready, but really? I don't understand the concept of serving one person at a time...
7. Argentinians are really proud of their country. It's not like in the United States where we're proud to be from our country but also have moments where we're a bit ashamed of the Nation's actions (at least I've noticed that with many of my friends). Argentinians all hate their government (which I'm always like, "yeah, but only like 30 years ago, you were living in a dictatorship, so do you really hate it?"), and they will curse politicians up and down, but other than that they all LOVE Argentina (which I can understand; it's quite the exceptional country).
8. Here in Argentina, they don't speak Español, they speak Castellano. As far as I can tell, the only difference is vocabulary, and even that differs from country to country. I was always taught that gasolina was gasoline, but here in Argentina they call it nafta (Nahuel laughs at this because NAFTA - North American Free Trade Agreement was then named after something highly flammable). Also in Argentina they use the vos form instead of (for 'you'). It's also interesting because they use the vos for everyone except people like doctors, lawyers, etc. Then they use the formal version usted, but in Bolivia (to the north of Argentina) they refer to everyone as usted and only use for friends. This, I guess, is comparable to calling everyone Miss/Mrs. in Connecticut and thinking that ma'am is really formal, but moving to South Carolina where even 40 and 50 year-old's call me ma'am. Also, the vos form, which I love for it's simple present-tense conjugation, is "Río Platanese" Castellano, aka it's only in the "river plate" of South America, which is Argentina and Uruguay. So outside of the city, they don't even necessarily use the vos form.
9. My roommate brought this one up last night when I hugged her goodbye. To greet people here, you kiss them once on the cheek. But you rarely see people hug each other. It's interesting because it's not like they're very conservative about showing feelings (i.e. parks, buses, subtes, the hallways, ANYWHERE is make-out central). You shake hands when you're meeting someone for the first time or when it's a business deal type thing, but other than that, everyone kisses. But friends don't hug. I think it's probably the thing I miss the most, too. Clearly, they aren't conservative people, but they generally dress more conservative. I've worn shorts once and was told that no one wears them in the city, and even now people are wearing layers of clothing. I'm starting to wonder how they aren't all dying from Vitamin D deficiency...

10. According to some, Argentinians are supposed to be very healthy. True, I have not noticed very many obese people, but really, this cannot be true. When I told Argentinians my story about tripping while running, everyone asked me why I was even running in the first place ("estaba corriendo y --" "¿Por qué estabas corriendo?" "...Para hacer ejercicio" OR "estaba corriendo y tropecé en una porta-bicicletas." "¿Estabas corriendo de la policía?" --- Why were you running? ... for exercise. // Oh, were you running from the police?) Then, the late eating hours make me believe that it can't be all it's cracked up to. But my other favorite thing is that EVERYTHING gets doused in oil. I frequently have tomatoes covered in oil at dinner. "Soups" can be cooked noodles with just an oil broth. And, my favorite moment, I was already biting into my pizza when Pipa walked over and dumped oil on the top -- as if pizza isn't fatty enough to begin with?

There are plenty of other different things, but I thought I'd make it a nice round-number list at 10. I'll keep my eyes peeled for other difference to report, or just for other things to write about in general.

I hope you all have a fabulous Columbus Day (it'll be celebrating 'Race Day' here), and good luck to the Gamecocks this weekend as they take on the #1 University of Alabama. My Dad, brother, uncle, and cousins will be at the game along with all of my best friends, I'm sure. So I hope you all have a great time! I won't be traveling this weekend (everyone is going to Cordoba for Oktoberfest), so I'll be watching along with you! :)

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