Che! What a Shock!

By: Jorge Juarez-Bagdigian

One of the toughest things about being an expat is that I have desperately tried to find similarities between Cordoba Argentina and the United States. After months of struggling I came to the conclusion that this simply does not work.

In Argentina, fall and winter is between May and mid-September (unlike the United States where it’s spring and summer during these months). I arrived from New York in June of 2012. So I had practically experienced nine months worth of cold weather that year.

Most businesses in Argentina shut down in the afternoon for a period of three to five hours. This is called the “Siesta”. Whenever I get the urge to eat a late lunch, say around 3 p.m., I go out only to discover that the restaurants in my neighborhood are shut down and I end up starving till dinner. Just kidding! I don’t really wait till dinner. I simply go home and make myself a sandwich. Then again, I’ve had issues going to a restaurant too early. Whenever I’ve gotten the urge to eat an early lunch, say around 11 a.m. or even 12 p.m., I’ve been asked to return at 1 p.m.

I haven’t found much diversity in restaurants like they had in New York. You won’t find an abundance of Chinese foods. Nor will you find a Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, or anything remotely similar anywhere around here. Regardless of which eatery you choose, you’re likely to find the same menu consisting of pizza, empanadas, lomitos, pasta, or Argentinian barbecue.

Store brands at the supermarket consist mainly of products native to Argentina. Although you’ll find some brands that are sold in the United States, these tend to be more expensive because of the import tax currently in place.

There is no maple syrup, EGGO Waffles, Pizza Rolls, Hot Pockets, or microwaveable meals in the frozen section. This makes me wish I hadn’t spent so much money on a microwave when I got here.

I’m a collector and some of the best places to buy collectible items were at large toy stores like Toys R’ Us. Unfortunately, they don’t have one in Argentina and the few toy stores I’ve seen here are highly expensive.

One custom that has thrown me off has been the whole kissing on the cheek. Men and women commonly kiss when they meet or say goodbye even if they are the same gender. I’m not much of a hugger or a kisser so this was definitely a tough one to get used to. Oh! Who am I kidding? I’m still getting use to it.

While I can adjust to the seasonal changes, the food, and customs, I find that I miss speaking with other native English speakers. Recently, there was a terror attack in Boston but I didn’t have anyone here who could truly appreciate how shocked I was or how many bad memories it brought back from the 9/11 attack.

Despite the culture shock, Argentina has been quite friendly and welcoming and I would definitely recommend this peaceful haven to anyone looking for a second chance at life.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJorge Juarez-Bagdigian is an American expat living in Argentina. Blog description: I'm an American expat living in Argentina. If you're thinking about moving to Argentina or you simply want to visit, this blog is just for you!
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Contest Comments » There are 2 comments

Z.C. Angel wrote 7 years ago:

Great blog on culture shock. I agree on how difficult it is to find certain products to make or microwave. I have been looking for American products I used for baking sweets and cakes and even meals but have had no luck in finding them. I decided to just create everything from scratch and that's how I cope with the change.

Sarita wrote 7 years ago:

Hm I never thought about the microwave stuff haha. I have gotten used to most things here regarding food, though I do miss the diversity we have in the US. For me the diet consists too much of bread or things made of white flour and then meat. Luckily there are some awesome markets here where you can get fresh fruits and veggies. I think the main thing is that in the US we have access to so many things, like foods, that we don't really need.

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