When you are studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina, you are sure to have some experiences that are new and funny to you. Here is a brief summary of some of the most common ones that I’ve noticed when I started my internship here in Buenos Aires and that we have talked about with the students attending AMAUTA Spanish School in Buenos Aires:
Making sandwiches along the street
You are almost sure to see a person making sandwiches on every corner. Usually commuters who are going to work, or coming back from their work buy the sandwiches. The people who make these sandwiches all look very different, one may look like a ‘chic’ car-seller and the other like a maintenance man who is repairing cars.
Do you see a police car with its flashing lights on? Do not panic, this is normal in Buenos Aires. All cops are driving with their flashing lights on to show people they are around. They do it to create a safer atmosphere. Another funny fact is that ambulances have green flashing lights. So do not be fooled and ask for an ice cream, thinking it is an ice cream truck, you will be disappointed.
Do not think too fast that the British are the only people who know how to queue. Argentinians make queues for the most simple things as a matter of respect for each other. It looks neat and it is easy. To queue barge is extremely rude.
Old looking busses and trucks which are actually new
Mercedes-Benz is a popular brand in the bus and truck industry in Argentina. The funny thing about the busses and trucks is that they are relatively new, but look very old.
Using the Subte
Taking the Subte (the popular name for ‘subway’) is really popular with Porteños. It often seems like everyone uses it at the same time. You might think there is no more room in the subway, but no, there is always some space for one more passenger. Sometimes they have to try a couple of times to close the doors because there are so many people sandwiched in. It is a way of getting to know the Argentinian from another side; a side you did not even know existed. Another interesting thing in the subway are the people who try to sell you stuff. They hand out packages of gum and take them back if you do not want to buy it. There are also a lot of artists in the metro, even in the trains.
Not coffee, but mate, made from dried mate yerba leaves in hot water, is what Argentinians drink. Argentinians drink it all day long. They drink this national drink out of nice beakers with a straw-like object attached.
“Buenos Aires looks like Paris”, they say, and that is right – till a certain extend of course. But when speaking of protests it seems like Buenos Aires could be compared more to Brussels (I’m from Belgium so I’m allowed to say so….). Almost every week there are several protest marches for different reasons.
Late evening diner
In Argentina people eat very late, just like in Spain. Starting diner at 11PM is normal here. They also really like to eat meat. And meat. And more meat.
On the metro, on the train, on the bus, you will spot them right away. A lot of people wear their backpacks on their belly. Not only to prevent themselves from pickpockets, but also to not disturb other people by brushing up against them with their backpacks.
Porteños speak faster than people in the north of the country, or in the north of South-America. There are a lot of differences in Spanish from Buenos Aires and Spanish from other places in the world. Some examples: ‘tú’ is ‘vos’ (¿Todo bien? > ¿Si, y vos?) and you have to pronounce ‘y’ and ‘ll’ as “dj” (‘yo’ > [djo] and ‘me llamo Paulo > [me djamo Paolo].
In a busy city like BA, there is no time to have siestas. All shops are open during the afternoon.