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 talks about the Argentinian brand of kindness and what her experience attending church is like in Buenos Aires.
When I say Buenos Aires is a city unlike any other, I hope you know it isn’t just me saying that because I love it, or because I don’t have much experience in other cities. The opposite is true—I’ve been in New York and Los Angeles and Dallas and Orlando and London and so many others…yet Buenos Aires has its own special flair. The architecture is amazing and so diverse. Today I took the bus from a relatively modern part of the city and within 20 minutes looked up in amazement at the buildings around me.
The amazing architecture in Buenos Aires.
Spanish is everywhere, but you’ll also hear Portuguese and English and Chinese often, and if your time here looks anything like my Easter Sunday, Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian, too. Buenos Aires is a massive city, and yet not once have I felt unsafe walking the streets alone or riding the bus or train. If you hit the streets anytime between 3:00-6:00 you’ll find most of the city seated at a café, enjoying coffee and a friend.
The people here are so welcoming!
What I love most about Buenos Aires, though, more than its deep love for bread and all things sweet and late night sobremesas (a word that simply means the conversation that happens over dinner), is the people. The people who have welcomed me into this wonderful country and invited me to sleep on their spare beds (or given me someone else’s bed—gracias, Isabella!) and cooked food for me and let me become part of their family and driven me across the city and spent hours on public transportation just to teach me how to use it. I often say, “No quiero molestarte!” which means, “I don’t want to bother you!” when these dear people I’m privileged to know offer to go completely out of their way to make me feel at home, and it’s always met with astonishment. How on earth could we be bothered by you??!
Outside Iglesia de la Puerta Abierta.
This sweet community I’ve found is largely connected to my church here, Iglesia de la Puerta Abierta. Though Argentina is a Catholic country and is full of many beautiful cathedrals, there’s a thriving Protestant community here, as well. I go to a small Christian college in the U.S., and so that community is one I’ve gotten so used to in school I think I slipped into how comfortable it was without actually realizing how much it means to me. Now that I’m here, outside of the familiarity of my school and my people and all that’s normal to me, I realize that that community means even more to me. We as humans simply long to be known and for people to “get” us, don’t we?
Easter egg hunt with friends.
La Puerta Abierta and its wonderful people have become home for me in Buenos Aires.
Inside Iglesia de la Puerta Abierta.
Though I already knew the church before coming to Buenos Aires, I know any student could find a church home in their semester abroad, all it takes is a little googling to find a place that seems like a good fit. One thing I can promise if you’re in Latin America, you’ll be met with the warmest welcome.
Buenos Aires is full of cathedrals.
I truly do strongly suggest it, not just to feel known, but for the unique opportunity to get to know Argentines and begin to understand another important part of their daily lives. And know that the doors of La Puerta Abierta are always open to you should you find yourself in Buenos Aires (hehehe punny, right? Only if you know Spanish.).
Claire's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.