Tuesday, June 18, 2013

American Expats in Argentina: One Year Later

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE

A year’s gone by since we left the U.S. to come live in Argentina. In the last twelve months I’ve seen the good and the bad, and experienced so much. I’ve found myself both fascinated and annoyed by this culture’s way of life. In some ways, Argentina is similar to life in the States, but in other ways, they are nothing alike. 
Although life has managed to drag me in all sorts of direction since birth, I’ve never been very good at adapting to change. I was reluctant to come to Argentina because I knew that it wouldn’t be easy for me to adapt to Argentine culture. Ultimately, I didn’t have a choice.
One Year Ago: me with my spouse
I’ve always known that you have to do what’s best for the people you love. My spouse needed a change. He’s been through a rough couple of years and I’ve seen how much that’s changed him, and not for the better. What’s more, coming to Argentina gave me the opportunity to provide us with a permanent roof over our heads, the treatment he needed for his skin disease, which is a genetic curse handed down to pretty much every male in his family line. It also gave him the chance to experience a new culture, but it’s been rough… on me.

In the last year alone, I’ve learned who different the laws, customs, and values are down here, and it's not what I'm used toLately, find myself clashing with everyone. Just recently, I almost came to blows with someone at the public hospital because they felt that their condition took priority over my spouse’s and wanted to cut us in line.

At the University of Cordoba, I attempted to find more information on the different career programs, but I couldn’t find a single person who could offer any kind of constructive advice.

As far as the job search is concerned, I still can’t find oneAt this point, I'd settle for cleaning floors. Actually, I wouldn't. I've always worked in the Admin field, and I didn't uproot myself thousands of miles just to clean floors in a foreign country. But the Argies laugh at anyone over the age of 25 looking to apply for a job at a bank, an office, a convenience store, a Walmart or a McDonald’s. Age and gender discrimination is totally normal and legal! I’ve found that the best job offers are in the capital of Buenos Aires. So you’re probably asking yourself, “Why don’t you move there?” There are things that tie me to Cordoba… at least for now, and that's all I'm willing to share about that for the time being.

Meanwhile, I find that the more time passes, the more disconnected I feel from my old life in the United States, and the traditions I’ve learned to value and cherish. My friends and family are barely hitting likes or commenting on anything I post on social media, which means they're moving on and forgetting all about me. 
I guess I can't expect them to act any different being that I'm so far away. The only thing that could possibly bring me comfort is the realization that I’m adapting and integrating into my new life in Argentina… but I’d be lying if I told you this was true. I’m a man out of place. It feels as if some great force has taken me out of time and space. I’m trapped in a limbo that I can’t get out of. I’m neither here nor there.  I don’t know who I am here, or whether I’ll ever learn to be okay here. 


The few things that actually brought me comfort are starting to slip away. My dream of becoming a successful writer is virtually dead. I have no one rooting for me to succeed. Everyone here says my writing is simply a hobby that I shouldn’t invest much time in. That’s probably because people in Argentina don’t seem to have dreams. Everyone’s lives are already laid out for them. You grow up. You find a job at a young age, get married, have kids, retire, and die.

I’m also at that age where I know I’m going to start losing people sooner rather than later. My father’s mind is starting to go. My mother doesn’t notice it or maybe she refuses to notice it, but I see it. Although he and I have never been able to have a civilized conversation without screaming at each other, I don’t know if I’m ready to not have him in my life. Health wise, my mother’s been having respiratory problems, but the doctors are having difficulties pinpointing what is wrong with her. Despite this, I think she’s probably got another twenty years left in her. Most of my cousins, who never left Argentina, have their own lives and their own problems. Worrying about me is not a priority and as a hurtful as that sounds, it makes sense.  I never grew up here. I’m a foreigner and a perfect stranger to them. They owe me nothing.

Then there’s my spouse. Recently, he had a health scare. A trauma surgeon mistook a growth in his hand for Cancer. In 2008, his grandparents and father died of Cancer. Seeing as to how his dad died so young made us come to terms with the possibility that my spouse’s expiration date might be sixteen years from now, relatively the same age his dad was when he passed. Fortunately, the diagnosis was incorrect. My spouse dodged the Cancer bullet for the second time in the last two years.  One thing that I’m sure of is that I don’t think I could handle living here if I lost him. 

One Year Later: me with my spouse
Alright! So, this wasn’t the bubbly one-year expat blog entry I intended to write, but at least it’s honest. I owe that much to those of you who follow my blog. What will our second year in Argentina bring? Oh, I hope it comes with a job, new adventures, new opportunities, new friends, and THE LIFE I SO DESPERATELY NEED RIGHT NOW!

Oh… and me losing ten pounds wouldn’t hurt either. I’m just saying. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Universidad Nacional de Cordoba - Video Tour

 
 WATCH VIDEO FIRST

The Universidad Nacional de Cordoba (UNC)
Finding a place that offers students a higher education at no cost is rare, and awesome! But it has its pros and cons. So if you haven't watched the video above, do so now to get a glimpse at what the UNC is like, then check out so of my blog posts about my own personal experience.
Here are some pros and cons as well as things you'll need before you apply:

Pros

  • Classes are free
  • Books and materials are sold at a low cost
  • Benefits – health insurance, bus pass, reduced lunch cost at the main student lounge (the benefits kick once you begin year one of your career)
Cons
  • No advisors to guide you in your career choices
  • Political graffiti throughout the campus
  • Stray dogs (no way to know if they’ve been vaccinated and they carry fleas and ticks)
  • You can only register between November and December. If you miss this deadline, you’ll have to wait a full year to go to school… but you can attend as an oyente, aka an observer, but you won’t earn credit


Here's what you'll need if you're an international student:
  • Apostille and certify your high school and college diploma and transcript in your native country
  • If you’ve gone to a technical school, apostille your certificate of completion and if possible, acquire a transcript from them and have it apostilled as well.
  • Validate your education at the ministry of Education in Buenos Aires (you may be able to get your education validated in Cordoba if you come from a country that is a member of the Mercosur. If you’re from the States like me, the UK, or Australia for example, you’ll have to make an appointment with the Ministry of Education and head to Buenos Aires for your validation)


Related blog entries


Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Dreaded Siesta

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The siesta is a sacred rest period for most Argentinians. It usually begins around 1 p.m. That’s when businesses shut down, and store owners and employees get to go home until around 6 p.m. In theory, it’s a great concept, but when you’ve lived in a country that has no siesta, this rest period can be a major inconvenience. Check the video above and you’ll see what I mean.

The word siesta means nap in English, but not every Argentinian uses this five-hour rest period to sleep. Most go home to eat lunch with their families, run errands, play soccer, or video games. They’ll drink tea at 5 p.m., and then they’ll get ready to finish off the latter half of the work day (or would that be the work night?).

If you want to eat at a restaurant or get takeout or delivery during the siesta you’re out of luck! Most restaurants won’t even start up again until 8 p.m., which is the time Argentinians commonly eat dinner. If you want to find a mechanic who can fix your car during the siesta… good luck! Hair salons and bakeries are affected as well. The only places I’ve seen open during the siesta are the local supermarkets in the neighborhoods, the malls, and the ice cream parlor called “Grido”, which remains open through the siesta and most holidays.

It’s important to note that the siesta is not observed in business districts like “El Centro”, aka downtown Cordoba, or other urbanized regions in Argentina, like the country’s capital of Buenos Aires.

It can be quite an adjustment to deal with the siesta, but if you can't beat em, you might as well join em! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Out & About In Cordoba City - Video Tour

The province of Cordoba is huge, but if you're a city slicker, then Cordoba Capital, known to some expats as Cordoba City, is perfect! 
As a visual person, I love sharing photos, as well as videos of the area with my readers, so here's a brief video tour of Plaza Colon, and the area near Cordoba's Hospital Nacional De Clinicas, aka  the public hospital, as well as Cordoba City's police headquarters. I'll post videos of other areas in the near future, but for now, enjoy!