Claire Shrader is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Pre-Occupational Therapy major at Mississippi College, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.
In this week's post, Claire gets interviewed by an Argentine local and shares 5 reasons why you need to visit this country.
I sat down with Reynaldo, my Argentine dad (I stayed with him and his family in high school and spent a lot of time with them this semester, too) and he asked me a few questions about Argentina. Enjoy!
I love Argentina!
REYNALDO: Hi, Claire. How long were you in Argentina?
CLAIRE SHRADER: I was here for four months.
R: When did you get here?
CS: I got here in February, and now I’m leaving, it’s June.
R: And why did you come to Argentina?
CS: I came here to do an internship and to study Spanish.
R: When you think about the language ability you had when you came vs. the Spanish you have now that you’re going, do you think you’ve gotten better?
CS: That’s a question for you to answer. You know better than me since you hear me speak all the time.
Reynaldo interviewing me!
R: I think you’ve gotten a lot better.
R: Yep. Another question: what was your day to day life like here in Argentina?
CS: I worked a lot in La Fundación Brincar, in the office, as well as some of the workshops they do, such as the sibling workshops I was able to help start, and a yoga workshop for kids with autism. Apart from that, every weekend I was really involved in my church, La Puerta Abierta.
Subte (local subway) sign.
R: What’s one thing that you most loved about Argentina outside of what you had thought it would be like when you came?
CS: I got to know Argentina a lot better than I knew it before this semester. For example, when I came here in high school, I thought it was the most perfect place in the world, I loved everything, everything filled my heart with joy, etc. I learned that it isn’t really perfect when you live, work, and travel on public transportation in a place, etc. There are a lot of things that aren’t perfect about Argentina. BUT at the same time, there’s still a lot that I really love. I loved getting to build community here and be with old friends I knew from high school and have dreamed of spending time with for years.
R: What did you least like about Argentina?
CS: It’s a hard question…well, I don’t really like cheese, and they eat a lot of cheese here, so that’s been hard. I do love the food, though, just not the cheese. Another thing is, Argentines think a lot of negative things about their country. I disagree with this mindset, because for me, every negative thing has a positive side to it, as well. For example, I love that many Argentines are very effusive and passionate, but because of this, when we argue or disagree, we really butt heads, because they’re just as stubborn in whatever they’re arguing about as I am.
Making flan on my last night in Argentina.
R: Another question: what do you think Argentina will be like in 10 years?
CS: Argentina entered into a monetary crisis while I’ve been here. I was affected by this because I changed all my dollars into pesos as soon as I got here, and I realized how much the pesos were devalued when we entered this crisis, and it was hard. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for Argentines. I think, in 10 years, life in general for the people has to be better than it is now because we won’t have this same president. But as far as the economy goes, I really have no idea. What I love about Argentina, though, is that they have a spirit of: “Well, it doesn’t matter what happens, we know how to get through crisis’s. And we will keep this spirit, we will keep having long dinner conversations together, and inviting people into our homes, and sharing all that we have with them.” It’s this beautiful spirit. I love it.
Passing through the city.
R: What were the places you most loved about Buenos Aires?
CS: I loved any place I was where I was with people that I loved. So, if I was on a bus, on the subway chatting with a friend, my tango class, church, I loved it. All of it. From a touristic perspective, my favorite places were El Teatro Ciego, where I saw a play performed by an all-Blind cast, and the Centro Cultural Kirchner. I recommend them both. They’re excellent. And the parks! I spent so much time running in the parks, walking with friends, drinking mate. It’s a beautiful city.
R: Great. You see Buenos Aires as a modern city? Not as we sometimes see it, that everything is ugly, falling apart, etc...?
CS: No, no, obviously there are some things that could be better, but overall, it’s an incredible city.
The city at night.
R: If you had the power to bring one thing from the U.S. to Argentina, and one thing from Argentina to the U.S., what would it be?
CS: I want to bring accessibility here. Not just in the buildings, in the infrastructure, but also in the attitudes of the people. This is already starting, but there’s still a lot to be done. I’ve realized that this semester. That would be my first thing. One thing I love here that I want to bring to the U.S. from Argentina, I want to bring this idea that the doors are always open. I can’t count on two hands, or two hands and both feet, how many houses I’ve stayed in while I’ve been here. People always open their doors to me. And I always felt bad, like I need to pay something or do something, but it was never possible to thank them enough, and even though I couldn’t do much in return, they kept opening their doors to me. The U.S. has a lot to learn from Argentina.
On my way to the airport with my Argentinian bro and sis.
R: If you were a travel agent, what are 5 things you would tell a girl like you to convince her to come know Argentina?
CS: First, the people. You have to know them. Second, you have to know the city, because it’s beautiful, and there are so many things to see and do here. Third, I feel really safe here. Even though I’m a young girl traveling alone, I always felt safe—even when I spent hours and hours traveling on the bus alone. It’s very safe, from my perspective. It’s the perfect place to learn Spanish, because there’s a lot of people who speak English too, so if you need help, you can always find someone to help you. Lastly, the food. Empanadas! Dulce de leche! Asado! Ah, it’s so good. I miss it already. IT’s SO GOOD.
Translation: "Every time you love, it's the only time you've ever loved yourself"
-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
R: So, in Argentina, you eat better than the U.S.?
CS: Obviously. *laughs*
Thanks Claire and Reynaldo!
Claire's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.