In exactly ONE month, I’ll be leaving the USA again for some more adventure—this time in South America, my very own Paradise Falls. There are still a few things I need to put in order before I leave, and it feels like time is running out so quickly! Luckily, I have gotten many preparations finished and I know what to expect due to my last travel experience.
I’ve sent out some contact cards and I plan on handing out more to friends and family that I see in passing during the next month. I also need to make a couple phone calls and move another load of items into storage. Don’t worry, I have a list so I won’t forget anything!
I will say, I am very excited to see my Argentinian friends once more. I have friend in Córdoba, thanks to the exchange program between our universities. I haven’t seen them in almost two years, and in less than a month, this will all change! I still remember the day they left—I cried at the car disappeared into the distance. But not to worry, because I knew that one day we would all see each other again!
All three of them…I miss you guys!!
When we visited Niagara Falls 🙂
When I traveled to London, I met some more awesome Argentinians during a tour and we became close ever since. These girls are from Buenos Aires, so I’ll be able to meet up with them when I visit!
All of us on the London Bridge
In this post, I will be describing Argentina a little more in depth for anyone who is curious and/or is wondering about the culture in which I will be immersed. There is a lot more to Argentina than one might think. As one of the most “European” South American countries, there will be many customs and amenities I will already be used to from my time in Spain. So, what is Argentina uniquely known for? Many people think of tango, empanadas, beef, soccer and the vivacious night life, which are all true—but there’s even more!
Because Argentina’s amazing food deserves its very own post, I will be writing on that next time, don’t you worry about that! In the meantime, I’m going to describe some other unique customs and attributes of this wonderful country.
El voseo: What is voseo? Well my friends, it’s a brand new tense. You thought there couldn’t be more, but there is. For anyone with basic proficiency in Spanish, you know that “tú” means “you”, and that each verb has a set of endings that correspond with “you” when need be. For example, the verb “hablar” (in its infinitive form), becomes “hablas” if you want to say, “you speak”. Well, in Argentina (and some other countries), instead of “tú”, you would say “vos”, which also means “you”. In addition, the conjugation would be “hablás”. Notice the difference? There is now an accent mark over that second “a”, which means the intonation is a little different. Instead of pronouncing the word as “HAblas”, it would sound more like “habLAS”.
Confused? I was too at first, but I’m beginning to get the hang of it. There are some irregulars like the verb “ser”, which is normally “eres” in the tú form. Now it’s “sos”. The commands change a bit with their intonation, but the indirect object pronouns remain the same, as “te”.
The voseo reminds me a bit of the Spanish “vosotros” form. The way I see it is that it’s a more casual way to say “you”, kind of like how “vosotros” is a more casual way to address a group of people (“you guys” versus “all of you”). When speaking to my Argentinian friends via Whatsapp, on Facebook and in person, I’ve been trying my hand at the voseo form. My one friend who I worked with last semester kept lightheartedly making fun of me because I was having the hardest time pronouncing the voseo form. It ended up sounding like the vosotros most of the time! The word I particularly remember is “ponés” (you put). The way I kept saying it ended up being more like “ponéis”, which is the vosotros form! Erghhh…that’s okay, I still have 10 months to perfect this!
El tango: This beautiful, intricate and seductive dance originated in Argentina and is worth mentioning. The way we usually pronounce it up here in the U.S. is “tayng-go”, but that would be incorrect within the Spanish context (although it’s fine pronunciation-wise if you’re speaking in English!). You would actually be saying “tengo”, which means “I have”. If you’re talking about the dance, you would have to say “tAHn-go”, with a long “a”, similar to the “o” in “blonde”. Okay, now that we have the pronunciation down, let’s talk a little more about the dance itself.
Originating in the 1890’s in the poorer districts of Buenos Aires and Montevideo (in Uruguay), this dance has boomed in widespread popularity within the past few centuries. It was just added to the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list in 2008. This dance demonstrates a unique blend of African and European influence, culminating into one exquisite and passionate dance. Although the upper class did not approve of this “scandalous” dance, it found overwhelming acceptance in France, where it took hold and gained in popularity around the whole world.
This video is THE BEST at explaining this history under 3 minutes and with simple, fun illustrations and explanations. Check it out!
Typically, the dance has 8 steps and the dancers are intimately close to each other in an embrace. There a many variations, as with any dance, but basic steps are fairly easy to follow. My goal is to be able to do the basic 8-step before I leave so that I have something to build off of when I learn more in Argentina.
I’m not going to go on too long about the tango, because I plan on dedicating a whole post to it once I have more experience with it in the country itself. You’ll be hearing more about this soon, I promise!
El “sheísmo”: In Argentina, as with all Spanish-speaking countries, they have their own unique dialect. One part of this is the “sheísmo” that Argentina has. All right, so quick lesson: whenever you see two “l’s” next to each other in Spanish, it is pronounced as “y”, ALWAYS. Easy, right? For example, “ella” would be pronounced “eh-ya”. NO “L” SOUND. EVER. Sorry, that’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Moving forward…
So in Argentina, instead of those double “l’s” being pronounced as “y”, they sound more like “sh”, as in the sound a librarian makes when you’re making too much noise in a library. So instead of “me llamo” (my name is) being “may-yah-mo”, it would be more like “may-shah-mo”.
To summarize, any time you see two “l’s”, right next to each other, pronounce them as “sh”, and you’ll be good.
Los besos: Remember when I went to Spain and I talked about the greetings being different than in the U.S.? There, they greet you with two kisses on the cheek, which end up not even being kisses at all, but rather a kissy sound and cheeks brushing up against one another. Same goes in Argentina, but it’s only ONE kiss this time. In fact my Argentinian friend even remarked how I was becoming an española when we reunited in Barcelona and I greeted her with two kisses instead her customary one.
Even though I am an extreme introvert northerner with a no-touchy background and every fiber of my being used to protest when I was greeted with a kiss, I am getting more used to it as I immerse myself in Spanish and Latin American culture. I’m growing more comfortable with the besos, but really only when I’m with very close friends. What used to come as a shock to me, I am beginning to welcome and even initiate at times! It’s amazing how we can assimilate to other cultures if we keep an open mind. However, I don’t do this with my American friends, because that would frankly be a faux pas.
The night life: Ah, yes…the well-known, and energetic night life of Argentina—a life of staying up till the sun rises and sleeping in till the wee hours of afternoon…
Everything my natural circadian rhythm is directly opposed to!!
Oh boy, this is going to be fun…
Argentinians party, and they party hard. Don’t be mistaken, unlike here in the U.S. where people will get a little too crazy, to the point where they are sick, confused and hungover the next day, Argentinians party with class. They generally know their limits and they stay up to dance, not to get schwastey-faced. They go out to places called “boliches”, which are night clubs and dance with friends into the dawn.
I am also saving more information on this for another future post so just you wait—I’m not done talking about this!
El peso: The Argentine peso right now is suffering devaluation compared to the U.S. dollar. The official conversion rate is 1 USD=8.50 ARS (Argentine pesos), but if you trade currency under the table, that rate nearly doubles. It is highly recommended to bring American currency with you to Argentina in order to get more bang for your buck. But be careful, you don’t want to bring too much in case of theft!
Fútbol: No, not American football, soccer! In Argentina, just like in Spain, soccer is immensely popular and there are numerous clubs and teams. Soccer’s history in Argentina dates back to the early 1900’s, with their very first match being against Uruguay in 1901. The national team is La Selección, also known as the Albicelestes.
In addition, the geography of Argentina is extremely diverse and of course deserves its own post! More on that another time.
That’s all for today, since there is simply so much to talk about! Keep an eye out for future posts where I elaborate on the topics I glazed over today and where I talk more about the Universidad de Cordoba, where I will be taking classes!