Five Things No One Tells You About Moving to Argentina
Tango, mate, sprawling estancias, wine, asado, and romance… these are the things we dream about before we arrive in Argentina. But dreams are dreams, and the harsh light of reality can sometimes make your eyes hurt. So if you’re planning on moving to Argentina or even just spending an extended amount of time there, here are some inside tips that will help you on your journey.
So you’ve been brushing up on your language skills, probably even taking a few Spanish courses before you embark on your big adventure—and that’s great! Brushing up on the basics of the language will definitely benefit you. But be prepared, the use of tú and the verb conjugations that go with it are basically non-existent in Rio de la Plata area which—you guessed it—includes Argentina. Instead, Rioplatenese Castellano uses the voseo, replacing the noun tú with vos. The good news is verbs are relatively easier to conjugate in the voseo and indirect/direct objects as well as reflexive verbs are still te. It’s a good idea to get used to the subtle change in language before you arrive. Speaking of subtle changes in language…
I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the basics of Spanish before I came to Argentina. But after awhile, I noticed confused reactions to my attempts to communicate basic ideas. Fairly confident in my accent and conjugation skills, I began asking around why the girl at the shop couldn’t show me where the faldas were or why I felt embarrassed asking the guy at the supermarket where I could find frijoles secos. It turns out, there is a large list of words Argentines have adapted differently within the Spanish language—just as there are variances in the English language between Australia, England, and the United States. Skirts aren’t faldas in Argentina, they’re pollleras. And beans aren’t frijoles, they’re porotos. Those are just two examples of many. Doing a cursory search on Argentine-specific vocabulary will save you a lot of time and frustration and will enhance your confidence in your speaking abilities.
Cash Rules Everything Around Me
Being from the States, I was used to living the plastic life; that is, paying for everything from a pack of gum at the mini-market to the fanciest of dinners with my credit or debit card. With the popularization of smart phones and the Square card reader, I could even buy vintage clothing from independent sellers with my Visa. After my first week in Argentina, I quickly learned that the convenience of plastic is not universal. Cash is preferred everywhere in Argentina. In fact, you’ll often see advertisements in shop windows offering a discount if you pay in efectivo. In many places, cards aren’t even accepted and in restaurants where cards are accepted you still need to have cash on hand to leave a tip. The benefits of this way of paying is you really have to pay attention to your spending and budgeting. It’s much harder to hand over that crisp one-hundred pesos note than it is to swipe a card. Plus, you have to be mindfull of how much cash you have because getting it will become a weekly chore…
In the Blue
Unless you’re being paid in pesos and you have an Argentine bank account, there is absolutely no reason you should ever go to an ATM. While there is an official exchange rate, the blue dollar rate is what ex-pats and visitors search for. While it’s constantly fluctuating, the blue dollar rate is significantly higher than the exchange you’d get from an official bank. Walk around a major shopping district like Calle Florida and you’ll hear “Cambio! Dolares!” at every newsstand. Exchanging your cash with these businesses may not be entirely legal, but it’s incredibl normal. If you’re out of cash to exchange, use a service like exchange4free.com.au to get a higher rate then pick up your pesos at an official location. Just stay away from the ATMs; getting your money from the banks is basically burning your hard-earned cash
Learn to Cook
Yes, asado is delicious and decadent and there are hundreds of different empanadas to try, but eventually the monotony of the Argentina restaurant scene might get you down… and your weight up. Take advantage of Argentina’s local food production and buy some fresh groceries and cook your own meals. You’ll break the monotony of beef and white flour and also save some money. You’d be surprised how easy it is to recreate that savory gnocchi dish at a fraction of the price. And if you’re ever a little homesick, being able to recreate your favorite breakfast is a lifesaver, considering a normal breakfast for Argentines is nothing more than facturas (sugary pastries) or toast with a spread of dulce de leche. You’ll be glad you know how to fry an egg after the first month.
Now that you have a little background on what you’re getting yourself into, get pumped about your move to the exciting culture of Argentina; it’s a beautiful country that is a unique jewel of Latin America. You’ll enjoy your trip even more if you prepare yourself with the proper language courses. See where you’re at by checking out our Spanish language level test. Any more questions? Contact Language Trainers an have one of our experts point you in the right direction.