November 15th was officially my one-year anniversary in Buenos Aires. I wanted to write a special post that day but I couldn’t think of anything good to say. It was one of those oh-my-god-time-has-totally-flown-by moments when I had to sit and think if I had anything noteworthy to write about one year later, sort of like the feeling you have on New Year’s day when you reflect back on your resolutions from the year before and if you accomplished any.
So what have I learned since I got here?
My dad was right when he said that if you can live in New York, you can live anywhere in the world. And I’m so grateful for this ability. Thus far in my almost 30 years I have lived in the U.S., Canada, Italy, Thailand, and now Argentina. After more than twenty years living in Manhattan not that many things shock me anymore and I can adapt to most situations, and I love being in a new situation that challenges me as a person.
Working for a local company with local people has been an amazing experience, regardless of the frustrations of all that’s gotten lost in translation or the administrative headaches. It alone has made this experience worthwhile.
I don’t belong working at a desk nor working for someone. I had my doubts and for a while tried convincing myself that maybe I just wasn’t sitting at the right desk. I thought with a new job, totally new environment in a new country I might be able to conform but I’m back to the same feeling of dissatisfaction. How will I maintain myself then? That’s still in a “dev” phase.
I can live in a hostel – and did for 3 months!
I can live with a whole lot less, but fashion and my personal appearance will always be important to me.
Thinking in a new language makes you more resourceful and creative with your own language. For example, the other day I was trying to figure out how to tell a programmer that the fields a web form needed to be required but couldn’t think of the word in Spanish. “Obligatorio” I said, quickly thinking of an English word I wouldn’t normally use and Spanishfying it.
Not being a native Spanish speaker has certain advantages – for example a gross guy on the street tries to talk to me and I respond in English and pretend not to understand a word until he gives me a confused look and walks away. Or more recently, I go to polo match and while trying to talk our way into the second match that we didn’t have tickets for I play a confused tourist who was certain her ticket was for both, the attendant smiling as he let’s us in to front row seats.
We have too many rules, but Argentina doesn’t have enough rules. Surely there’s some sort of happy medium?
The level of accessibility to goods and services in the U.S. is unparalleled….anywhere else.
Being in another country makes me less self-conscious – it creates a feeling of greater anonymity and less reason to care about embarrassing myself.
I’ve retrained my buying habits – all of a sudden I have a very short mental list of things I “need” and I observe the way people here use things until they are very old from cars to shoes to electronics, they don’t just throw it all and buy new stuff like we do.
Life earning pesos is not easy. How anyone here saves a dime from their paycheck is beside me but it’s definitely a good lesson on cutting back.
No matter how good my Spanish has gotten or how close to native I may think my accent is, speaking even just five words people know from my intonation (or something?) that I’m not from here, to my huge disappointment. Was hoping I could finally fool someone!