As a brand new intern at Expanish Spanish school in Argentina, this is my first ever Expanish blog. For the next few months I’ll be writing weekly about my experiences learning Spanish, enjoying Buenos Aires and trying to uncover the best of the city.
First up, let me fill you in on my first days since arriving in Buenos Aires, and my tips for fellow newcomers on how to enjoy the city and settle in.
Arriving in a foreign country like Argentina can be a pretty daunting experience whether you are familiar with the language or not, and isn’t helped by the fact that your last few days have probably been spent sitting in an airplane, making you jet lagged and disorientated to say the least. My first impressions of Buenos Aires….a huge and overwhelming city. But after just a few hours I realized it is actually an incredibly welcoming city, where the locals are friendly and welcome you with open arms.
Once you’ve recovered from your flight and have had the chance to wander around and explore Buenos Aires, you soon realize why everyone who comes here seems to fall in love with it. From the bustling streets around Avenida de Mayo to the quieter and calmer area of Recoleta, it is a truly diverse city that has something to offer everyone. It has qualities from all over the world which are all brought together to make this city so incredible while still adding its own touch of Argentinean culture. At times you can feel like you are in Paris or Barcelona, particularly when wandering around some parts of Recoleta but there are still certain aspects that remind you that you are in South America. All of this is topped off with the local Argentine traditions that you see all over the city. You can’t go 50 metres without seeing a sign for empanadas or an advertisement for a tango show. It’s these qualities which give Buenos Aires its unique character.
My first few days consisted of going around and getting a feel for the city… Below are the top 6 pieces of advice for enjoying Buenos Aires as a newcomer
1) Do some sightseeing. There really is a huge amount to be seen in Buenos Aires. It’s packed full of interesting things for example Recoleta Cemetery where you can go and get lost for a couple of hours as you wander down the little streets of family tombs.
2) Try out some of the local cuisine. Empanadas, Milanesas and Dulce de Leche for example are an absolute staple here so be sure to give them a go. Mate is a typical Argentinean drink which you must try. It is an acquired taste though!
3) Experience the world-renowned nightlife that Buenos Aires has to offer. The ‘city that never sleeps’ truly lives up to name. Firstly there are a huge number of bars and boliches to choose from so whatever you’re into, you can be sure that there will be something to cater to your needs. Secondly, none of them shut until 7 – I’m not sure about other countries but certainly in England this is pretty much unheard of! And don´t forget to stop for an early morning snack at one of the many 24 hour restaurants that Buenos Aires has to offer…
4) Interact with the locals. They are so friendly and gracious and always willing to help if you get lost or need to find something. Apart from anything else, I found it a great way to practise my Spanish.
5) Be sure to try out the Subte and the buses. They really are the quickest and cheapest (at only $1.10 for a single journey it’s a must) way to get around. The bus in particular really helps you to get a feel for the city and find your bearings.
6) Last but not least, obviously you can´t forget to pay a visit to one of the many Freddo´s dotted around the city…it’s an absolute must! They really do have the best ice-cream in Buenos Aires.
I think the most important advice is to ENJOY it and EMBRACE the city. The only way you can truly get the most out of your experience here is to get stuck in. You have to truly immerse yourself in everything because at the end of the day, you don’t want to leave wishing you had done more things. Although it may seem terrifying to begin with, you would be surprised how quickly this feeling goes and is replaced with an absolute love for the city.