It’s hard to believe that it was exactly four months ago that I arrived at Ezeiza International Airport with hardly any idea what the semester had in store for me. I remember the nervous feeling I had finding my way around the city, searching for an apartment and then finally deciding on the international student house that I would quickly come to call home and where I would make some of my closest friends.
It is funny to think about how at first I would budget a lot of extra time to get places, believing I was expected to be there right on time and knowing that the buses were unpredictable, but I soon became accustomed to getting places on “Argentina time.”
With all of these incredible experiences in Buenos Aires, I have acclimated and become fond of many things I will miss more than I would have thought. Things that at first were cultural quirks have now become part of my daily life.
I will miss the relaxed porteño time, being able to not worry if I was a little late to meet someone because it is known that the buses can be unpredictable to the strange eating schedule I grew so fond of. Eating a 10 p.m. dinner and going out during the early hours of the morning meant that I could go to class, meet someone for coffee, run errands, take a nap and do my homework, all before sitting down to enjoy the Argentines’ most important meal of the day.
I will miss the incredibly friendly people who I was never afraid to approach on the street to ask for directions or suggestions, knowing they would always be willing to stop what they were doing to help me find my way and maybe even walk me there.
I will miss the food. The meat that can make vegetarians rethink their life choices, the empanadas so delicious you never grow tired of them and the ice cream so creamy any dieter would make every day a cheat day.
I will miss living in a city where you don’t need a car. A place with multiple modes of public transportation, not to mention so many different bus lines that you’ll always be able to get to where you’re going without having to consider hailing a taxi.
Surprisingly, I will miss the small, specialized stores for each different grocery need. Even though at first I thought I would be annoyed I couldn’t just make a one-stop shop, I quickly found beauty in being able to go to a specialized place and know I was getting freshly grown produce or bread that had been baked that morning — all at the best prices.
There are a few things though that I won’t be too sad to leave behind. Things that I will be able to do without, until I return of course.
For starters, I won’t miss the Argentine napkin. It can be classified as a napkin simply because it is often the only material offered to wipe your hands on during your meal. In reality, it is more like a little piece of wax paper that never makes you feel quite clean. I always end up having to use a lot of them, and they end up as little wads cluttering the table.
I will not miss the dog poop-covered sidewalks. Though I’ve never been unlucky enough to step in any while exploring the city streets (knock on wood), I don’t think I’ve gone a day without wondering why in the world people think it’s OK to let their dogs do their business in the middle of the sidewalk and then just leave it there.
I won’t miss the city-wide transportation strikes that put a hold on everyone’s day and make it impossible to get to work or school.
I also won’t miss the lines. Though I understand that no one is ever in a rush, and therefore, the lines don’t seem to bother people, I don’t get why you must wait in a queue of 15 plus people just to go to the bank or buy your groceries.
Most of all, I won’t miss the honking or cat-calling that my friends and I constantly ignore even when we want more than anything to tell off the men who insist on heckling us. It saddens me that in a society that is making strides to empower women, this daily occurrence has not been addressed. It’s to the point that my professor explained to me that young women who grow up here don’t feel valued if they don’t get this “attention” in the streets.
To be clear, the positives of this country outweigh the negatives more than I can explain, and by no means will these few annoyances keep me from returning to this city that I hope to one day call my second home. Though my studies are just about up, it doesn’t feel like goodbye, but rather goodbye for now.
Alana Victor is a rising senior majoring in international relations and print and digital journalism. The column “Troy Meets World” ran every Wednesday.