Ever since my first trip to Argentina, I had always dreamed of going back. I found myself going back to visit during summer and winter vacation to visit friends, and explore new places. I, however, still wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to really live in Argentina, and not just be there as a tourist, or a student. Things had been pretty hectic with finishing up grad school, but after graduation I found that I really had no excuse, so in the summer of 2011, I made the big move to Buenos Aires. I didn’t have a specific time frame in mind, but I wanted to stay at least a year. I also had an Argentine novio at the time living in Buenos Aires, so that was an added bonus. I didn’t have a job set up beforehand, I just knew that I needed to go, and that I would figure out the rest when I got there.
I started off living in Villa Luro, a smaller, quieter neighborhood in the western part of the city closer to barrios such as Parque Avellaneda and Vélez Sarsfield. It was a lot farther from the center of the city in comparison to Palermo or Almagro, but it was also a lot cheaper. Upon arriving, I started job searching immediately. I sent my resume out to NGOs and schools in the area, and signed up for various Argentine versions of Monster.com. I eventually accepted a job working at an English language immersion camp. The program partnered with local English schools and each week we traveled to different locations in Argentina with the students. The camps usually lasted between 3-5 days, and the goal of the camp was to simulate for the students the experience of traveling to an English speaking country. Each camp had a different theme and we planned various activities around that theme. My co-workers were from different English speaking countries from all over the world, and everyone brought something different to contribute. Although I found the hours of work to be extremely long. We started at 8am and often worked until midnight. I made a lot of good friends, and I had fun while working.
In addition to working at the camp, I got a job teaching downtown at a well-known English language institute, and I also taught Spanish to English speakers. Since I found that I was spending a lot of my time traveling to work (it could take up to an hour on the bus), I decided it was time to move again. I found big 5-bedroom apartment on Craigslist in the Recoleta neighborhood, just blocks away from the Cementary and Parque Francia. An Argentine girl owned the apartment and she rented out the rooms to travelers and students from all over the world. I thought that it would be a good fit for me and moved in the next day. Through the course of my stay there, I had roommates from France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, and the U.S. I liked living with such a diverse group of people, and the location was ideal. Each day I went running in Parque Francia and down Avenida Libertador, and I could walk to work. Recoleta was much more expensive in comparison to Villa Luro, but I found it to be well worth the trade off.
When I wasn’t working, I took trips outside the city to partake in the gaucho culture at nearby estancias, play with lions and tigers at the Lújan Zoo, or spend a relaxing day in the campo countryside, just to have a break from the city scene.
Before I knew it, almost a year had gone by since I first arrived in Buenos Aires. I found that I was starting to run out of money despite the fact I was always working. Inflation was high, and the economic situation seemed to just be getting worse. My brother’s wedding was also coming up so I figured it was a good time to start thinking about moving back home.
I moved out of my Recoleta apartment and spent my last month in Buenos Aires living with some friends in El Centro, the busy and noisy neighborhood located in the center of the city. My Argentine friend, Leo, a lawyer owned the apartment and lived there with his Brazilian girlfriend, Camila, who was not only a professional dancer but also a physicist. My close friend Kemi, a musician and teacher, whom I had met while working at the English language camps, also shared the apartment. The living situation ended up working out well because I was not only living with one of my best friends, but I was also just a block away from the English institute where I worked.
I still remember the day I left Buenos Aires as if it were yesterday. I said a tearful goodbye to Kemi as I got into the taxi to go to the airport. The taxi driver looked at my large suitcases asked me if I was leaving and I said “lamentablemente, sí.” He told me that he was impressed with my Spanish and that he could have mistaken me for being Argentine. I smiled as I looked at the window and said a silent goodbye to the city that had my home for the past year. I found that with each departure it became increasingly more difficult to say goodbye.