At this point in my Spring study abroad program, I am starting to get into the swing of my new-normal. Throughout this semester, I will be living with a host family in a central Buenos Aires neighborhood called Recoleta, which is known for the famous Recoleta Cemetery that houses the grave of Eva Perón.
My homestay format is definitely unique, as it is just me and a spunky grandmother named Bibi. This situation has been a very interesting transition, especially considering the fact that I have been living with other college students for the past two and half years. With that said, this unique homestay format has added a very special touch to my whole study abroad experience. Living with someone who has been in Recoleta for over 40 years has been such an important resource for me. It is very interesting to get her outlook on the current state of Argentina, and learn about some of the ways in which the neighborhood has changed as well as the ways that it has stayed the same.
Being in the heart of Recoleta has also presented some unique challenges. Buenos Aires is nocturnal, so it has been a bit difficult to adjust to hearing my surrounding neighbors carry on into the wee hours of the night (which in reality, isn’t too different from my experience in South Oakland.) Furthermore, it is very normal is Buenos Aires for groups to participate in large, public protests. Although this isn’t uncommon in the United States, the frequency and volume of the demonstrations does have a few negative implications on getting around the city. Because I’m not driving anywhere, it doesn’t affect me too much, but it still is something that has taken some adjusting to.
In regards to transportation, living in Recoleta has allowed me to be able to walk almost everywhere. I love this aspect of my homestay’s location because I feel as though there is no better way to see a new city than by walking it! Not to mention, this added exercise is definitely appreciated considering the amount of bread that Argentine’s eat on a daily basis.
In addition, my program provided me with a SUBTE (public transportation) card upon my arrival in Buenos Aires. Because some of my classmates have to use the subway or bus to get to their internships, I have been encouraged to get to know the system myself. When walking isn’t an option, the subway has been a super cheap and easy way to travel around town. For students who are planning to study abroad in Buenos Aires in the future, I would definitely recommend familiarizing yourself with the SUBE for this reason.
As I continue to explore new parts of my neighborhood and beyond, I look forward to all of the new opportunities and challenges to come!