March 19, 2017
“Tu cultura es tu marca.”
“Your culture is your brand.” Tony Hsieh
On a typical day in the city of Córdoba, Argentina,as many locals board the packed bus to get to their separate destinations-instead of feeling frustration from having so many people surrounding me- I, for one, am beginning to feel very content because I’m gracefully assimilating into the Spanish culture. The more I observe those who surround me in the bus and those who are quickly walking the streets, the more I want to learn about the people who live here. Why do they practice particular customs? How do their cultural backgrounds affect their everyday lifestyle? Of course, the answers to these questions will become more clear as I continue to meet new people and experience new things. Contrary to the past couple of weeks, which have been filled with traveling to different locations in the province, this week has been much more of a quiet week for me, which I believe is the perfect opportunity to sit back and reflect upon my experiences here thus far. I’ve been here for a little bit over a month now and feel as though I am accustomed to living in this beautiful country as an independent young lady despite the fact that I am thousands of miles away from home.
During the early morning hours, as the sun begins to rise, I enjoy stepping outside the house to breathe in the fresh air and always look forward to taking walks to the university through the peaceful neighborhood. I’m so grateful that I live in a safe neighborhood that is filled with warm-hearted people who actually say “Buen día” or good morning to me while I walk past them, although they know that I’m a foreigner. (Even though one time, I did have someone think I was from Brazil) There are so many kioscos (newspaper/refreshment stand) and stores that are right around the corner from my residence, that it’s easy to take a quick stroll to get certain necessities. The two hospitals and pharmacy that are less than five minutes away from the house, make me feel comfortable if emergency medical attention is ever needed.
Since arriving here on February 11, I don’t think there is a weekend that goes by that I don’t go to Patio Olmos, the mall in the center of the city. When I went inside for the first time, my mind was blown. This mall is by far the best that I have ever been to in my entire life. With three floors and it’s variety of smaller shops and stores instead of larger department stores, there’s no doubt that it beats both the Dover and Christiana mall. (sorry fellow Delawareans) However, if you want to save money, I recommend that you don’t shop here every single weekend. I purchased an outfit my first time here because I thought everything looked beautiful and I ended up spending close to $200 on one dress and a shirt. (not in Argentine pesos) Thus, I’m in the process of locating other shops in the city where I can purchase more outfits for cheaper prices. I’m starting to feel colder temperatures in the mornings now (the seasons are opposite of the northern hemisphere so fall is just around the corner here) so I’m looking forward to purchasing more attire for this new South American climate.
As a side note, in addition to the clothes being very expensive here in the mall, the fast food chains in the food court is on the pricy side as well, which is a huge distinction to what I see on television commercials in the United States. I avoid eating at places such as McDonalds and Burger King, but I was still curious to find out if there were any differentiations in prices and there are! According to Numbeo, a website dedicated to sharing data about the cost of living worldwide, one meal at McDonald’s costs 124.40 in Argentine pesos, which is equivalent to almost $9. I was taken aback when I discovered this because the same thing in the U.S wouldn’t cost more than $4. In addition, the toy that accompanies the kids meal here in Argentina spikes up the prices even further. All the more reason to bring your own healthy food from home and save money at the same time!:)
Alright, I’ve given my little spiel about fast food chains here, now back to clothing: the fashion here is not so much different to what I normally observe in the U.S, although I do notice some acute distinctions. If I were to mark one characteristic that I saw on a daily basis while walking in the city, it would be the number of high heels that I see the women wearing. Personally, I prefer flat shoes and only wear high heels on special occasions, but here, they are seen everywhere and they are EXTREMELY high. You would not catch me wearing these. (haha)
However, I do admire the way that both the men and women here dress up. The men here tend to wear jeans and t-shirts and the women wear very feminine clothing and rarely wear sneakers. You definitely wouldn’t see them walking out of the house with sweatpants or pajamas, a common practice that I see among many university students back in the states. The fashion that I see here reminds me that culture is not only about language, music and food, but also about the way people dress and how they want to be perceived in public. I marvel at the different types of styles that I see Argentines dress in as I ride the bus. It’s just a daily reminder that the Spanish culture is full of beauty.