Living & Learning Argentine Culture

My class members applauding the end of the Orquesta Típica performance.

All of my classes here in Buenos Aires have some sort of global or local aspect: International Marketing, Culture & Civilization of Argentina, Communication and Global Competence, History of the Argentine Tango and Intermediate Spanish II. We spend a few hours a week in the classroom for these courses, discussing the readings we did for homework, doing small group activities or presentations, taking notes as the professor lectures, etc. In addition to the in-class learning that doesn’t differ too much from classes back in the states, we also go on field trips and get to see and experience the topics we’re studying first-hand.

A Converse store in Buenos Aires

It was weird seeing a shoe store without rows of shoeboxes.

For International Marketing, after learning about brand positioning and different ways global brands can adapt in different countries, we went to one of the shopping malls here to study how international brands we know from the States have adapted to the Argentine market.

A McDonald's and a McCafé

While the Mcdonald’s itself is pretty similar to what you’d find back home, the McCafé serves things like alfajors and medialunas, plus many coffee drinks incorporating dulce de leche.

Wendy’s and McDonald’s have separate café’s serving Argentine pastries and fancy coffees, probably to adapt to the café culture here. Nike had a huge fútbol section and nothing for tennis or volleyball. The Converse store equally featured clothing and shoes, plus had shoes in store that I’ve only seen online in the States.

A class discussion at Museo Casa Carlos Gardel

What group shot would be complete without at least one person making a funny face for the camera?

For Culture & Civilization, after learning about Carlos Gardel and his influence on Tango music at the international level, we visited Museo Casa Carlos Gardel, a house Gardel bought for his mother that is now a museum. In addition to learning about his life, you can see a list of every tango he ever sang (893 songs before he died in a plane crash) and listen to as many of them as you have time for.

A wall display at Museo Casa Carlos Gardel

Mi Noche Triste, featured on the wall here is considered to be the first “tango canción.”

For our Tango class, we had homework assignments involving visiting a Milonga, a tango dance club, and watching a more export-style tango show. Then we all went together one night to see an orquesta típica perform. Learning about the different instruments that make up the orquesta típica and the themes sang about in Tango songs had nothing on watching a live performance. Even the YouTube videos we watched didn’t properly capture the emotion emanating from the live performance. To be honest, I don’t think I like tango music, but I was enraptured by the musicians.

The orquesta típica

The musicians in the orquesta típica played their instruments with their entire bodies.

Living our Spanish lessons is probably the easiest out of all our classes since we’re in a Spanish-speaking country. We have to speak a little Spanish just for everyday life. But on top of that, we frequently have homework involving talking with locals in Spanish about whatever we’re learning about in class like their schedules of movie preferences.

The studying is an important part of studying abroad, but you’re not learning in the little bubble of a classroom. You’re learning about the country you’re living in and then you get to experience your lessons for real.

Quinn K. is the Fall 2017 CEA MOJO Blogger in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is currently a Junior studying Professional Writing at Champlain College.

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