Chris Victorino reflects on his time in Argentina

My time in Argentina felt both short and long. In my last days, I both wanted to leave and wanted to stay longer. Buenos Aires is an amazing place to visit, but unless you know some Spanish, I would deter you from going. The people in Argentina speak English, but Spanish is definitely their preferred language and they talk in Spanish regularly, so you will have a very hard time if you don’t understand what they are saying.

One of the biggest differences I noticed between Argentina and California was how open people were to talking with me, even if they didn’t know me. People in Argentina are all around much nicer people.  There was very minimal bullying at both of the schools I went to. Almost all of the classmates were very close friends and treated each other kindly. Another thing I noticed was the difference in food. In Argentina, people eat much more beef and meat. My favorite thing to eat there for dinner there was empanadas. They are basically folded bread with something inside like meat or cheese. In Argentina, laws for driving are more like recommendations; oftentimes, you see people swerving past other cars, driving in the middle of the road, running red lights, and honking constantly. The police seemed nonexistent. In my eight weeks in Argentina, I think I saw two police cars. Despite all of these differences, Argentina was not very hard to adjust to.

I found my host family extremely welcoming. They had a poster in my new room that said “Welcome Chris,” with pictures of my family surrounding it. They were all very nice, and when I didn’t understand, could translate (roughly) into English. My exchange partner, Dante, attends a school called Colegio Norbridge. They have English in the morning Monday to Thursday and Spanish in the afternoon Monday to Friday. Friday morning is “gym,” where you play sports or run. The class was small, only about 25 kids, and they were all super nice. Within the first couple of days, I had made friends, both inside and outside of school. The question they all asked me was whether or not I supported Trump. 

One of the biggest challenges was adjusting to the food schedule. In Argentina, people do not eat dinner until 9-10 pm. Between lunch and dinner, there is the merienda, where people eat something small, such as toast with tea. Another challenge for me was the school. Their school day is from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. Compared to our school day, this was impossible. The first couple of days of school, I came home and slept until dinner. The number of hours sitting in the same classroom made my brain hurt. I didn’t understand how people could concentrate for nine straight hours.

My favorite parts about going on exchange in Argentina was being able to experience a different part of the world without my parents, meeting new people, and being able to live a completely different life and see the cultural and social differences. I also loved the people; everybody was super nice and inclusive, which made it easier to adjust.

Overall, I would recommend coming to Argentina on exchange, but only if you have taken some Spanish. Without Spanish, it would be extremely hard to make friends and communicate with anyone.