Cambio! Cambio! Cambio! A New Country with New Experiences
My first week in Buenos Aires is coming to an end. I can’t believe it’s only been a week and at the same time I can’t believe the week is already over. Arriving in the airport last Thursday I could not have been more clueless about my way around Buenos Aires, what I would be doing this week, and what my apartment and neighborhood would look like. Now, after days of exploring, meeting new people, and my first week of classes under my belt, I am well on my way to understanding the city and culture of Buenos Aires.
On my very first afternoon, in a taxi, I was introduced to the Argentine accent for the very first time. I got in the cab with only 100 bill pesos because that’s all I came with and I hadn’t bought anything yet at this point. Turns out we were so close and the ride only cost 30 pesos, so I handed him a 100 expecting to get some change. Instead, I was yelled at in Spanish and barely understood a word. I told him it was all I had and to keep the change and he seemed very angry about the tip. Though we were a little caught off guard, it was a good experience for the first day. Now we have learned all about the bus system so I don’t need a taxi to find my way around!
On Friday, we had CEA orientation. This was so helpful and a comforting assurance that I wouldn’t always get yelled at by taxi drivers. We all met up at our school, an the English Study Center where Argentine students come to learn English. The center is in the Retiro neighborhood, surrounded by so many beautiful places.
Plaza San Martín
San Martín played a crucial role in the independence of Argentina and is now a national icon. In the plaza, there is a large statue of San Martín and surrounding it is a beautiful park. During the day, you’ll find people tanning in the grass, reading a book in the shade, walking their dogs, and even working out. The bus stop for school is right in front of the plaza so I get the joy of walking under these big, stunning trees every day.
“Cambio! Cambio! Cambio!”
Now you’re probably wondering the meaning behind the title of this post. Well right after Plaza San Martín, there is a street named Florida, and on this street there are many people who will shout at you, “Cambio! Cambio! Cambio!” in the hopes that you will exchange your money to pesos using their service. It is a funny experience at first but then you get used to walking straight through them because right through the other side is a shopping mall called Galerias Pacífico.
Galerias Pacífico not only has the safer option to exchange money, but it also has an amazing food court, some great shops, and even artwork. The mall is significant to Buenos Aires because it was built in the 1800s first as an art museum. Although it doesn’t function as one anymore, there is still the original foundation and some artwork that still exists there today.
After learning my way around Retiro and Palermo (the neighborhood where I live), I am so excited to explore more neighborhoods in the city. The changes I’ve experienced so far are only the beginning and I can’t wait to see what else is left to find out.
Kelsey B. is the Spring 2017 MOJO Blogger in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is currently a Junior studying Journalism & Public Relations at Indiana University.