First Impressions

One of the national standards for Foreign Language teaching reads as follows:

Students are encouraged to compare and contrast languages and cultures. They discover patterns, make predictions, and analyze similarities and differences across languages and cultures. Students often come to understand their native language and culture better through such comparisons.

Although I am a Spanish teacher, I am still a Spanish student and learn new things every single day. This standard has been running through my mind non-stop since I landed in Buenos Aires this morning.

Comparing and Contrasting Languages
Argentinian Spanish is… throwing me off right now. When I studied abroad in Madrid as an undergrad, I had nothing to compare Spain Spanish with. It’s just what I learned. So a piso is an apartment, a carro is a cart, a coche is a car, and “c” sounds like “th.” Now that I’m living in a completely different linguistic context, I am constantly second guessing myself and am worried that I’ll say the wrong word. Today I was going to ask about an ATM but didn’t know if they call them cajeros here. Weird things like that are going to continue to drive me crazy, on top of starting to understand words when pronounced with the “juh” sound for ll. I have to take a step back when I hear a word with that sound so I can conceptualize what the word looks like. I can’t understand it right now and it’s so depressing.

Comparing and Contrasting Cultures
I’ve lived in Madrid and Quito and spent time in San Juan, San José, and Antigua. So anything I see in Buenos Aires is instantly compared in my mind with another city. The sidewalks are like Quito. The colonial buildings I found late this afternoon remind me of Calle de Alcalá in Madrid. Being highly vigilant also reminds me of Quito. The heat reminds me of Antigua and San José. There was a frutería combined with a carnicería and I instantly thought “Pretty sure I wouldn’t see that in Madrid!.” The people yelling to get tourists to convert their money remind me of the “Compra Oro Compra Oro Compra Oro people in Sol in Madrid.” I’m trying to stop doing a constant comparison and let Buenos Aires just be it’s own city in my mind but I’m struggling,

One thing I have REALLY enjoyed is feeling like I see my grandpa everywhere because there’s all these old men that look just like him (thanks for influencing so much of the culture here, Italians!). I’m also enjoying the feeling that I genuinely look Argentinian. I’ve been asked for directions twice today on the street (let’s compare: this NEVER happened in Ecuador or Madrid and I was there for 2 months and 6 months, respectively).

Anyway, my goal for tomorrow is to sleep in late and go to a new part of the city away from my hotel. I know there’s tons of different areas and neighborhoods that I need to explore! If you have specific suggestions, please let me know in the comments: areas of the city, restaurants, cafes, places to see, or stores to go to (I’m literally not buying anything in Buenos Aires but I still like to window shop).


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