Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Argentina Bids Farewell To The Kirchnerista Movement And Welcomes Change In Macri

Cristina Kirchner
The Kirchnerista/Peronista movement came to an end when Argentinians voted for Mauricio Macri, who represents the The Republican Proposal/Cambiemos (Let's Change) Movement on November 22nd, 2015. 
Mauricio Macri
Back in October, there was a vote that was meant to narrow down the presidential candidates to just two. As I reported in a previous post, the voting system is fairly simple. 
The first thing you do is sign in at the table and they'll give you an envelope where you'll stick the pamphlet with the candidate you've selected.

All you get is a sheet of paper with the face and the name of the candidate along with the names of all the elected officials that they represent. In other words, one vote counts for all offices in that party. Then the ballot gets sealed in an envelope and placed in a box by the edge of the table.
It came down to Daniel Scioli, who represents the same party as the current Argentine president, Cristina Kirchner and Mauricio Macri, who represents a completely different ideology. The people spoke and Scioli lost. However, Cristina Kirchner has mentioned that she would run for president in 2019. If she succeeds, this would be her 3rd term, which is a concept I found ironic since in the States a president can only serve a maximum of two terms.

I'm not going to get into the political stuff about who is better or who is worse because I honestly don't know. I do know that when Macri takes office on December 10th, things will change. Whether it's for the best or the worst that remains to be seen. While some of his agendas seem promising, such as allowing import and export to once again flow freely in Argentina, research suggests that he was involved in the financial crisis that struck Argentina in 2001-2002. So… am I little worried? The answer is yes.

Allegations of voting fraud (like the Gore/Bush voting scandal) were made, but a recount of the voting ballots on November 30th determined that Macri was indeed the winner. 

For Argentine citizens, voting is not an option. Having dual citizenship allowed me the privilege of adding my voice to the chorus of millions that wanted what was best for this country. 

Now there's only one thing left to do and that is to concentrate on the elections back home for 2016. Being thousands of miles away, and with a budget too limited to return even for a visit, means that I have to submit an absentee ballot. 

So how do I do this? 

I went to this site: 

It was super easy. I just had to add the last address that I lived in when I was in the U.S., my social security number and answer some generic questions such as whether I was interested in voting for every state election or just the major ones like the presidential election. After that, I printed the form out, signed it and sent it to my voting district back home. 

Since the mail in Argentina is not very reliable when sending or receiving things abroad, I have no way of knowing whether they will receive my voter's registration application. But I'm not the kind of person to leave things to chance, so I will probably find an expat that is traveling home and have them send the application through the U.S. postal service. Then it's just a matter of getting my ballot in the mail when the time comes (and hope it actually gets to me) so I can vote. 

There are some people back in the States, and even some expats here in Argentina who have told me that they won't vote because they literally don't care. I'll just end this entry by saying that voting for change in one country is wonderful, but to get to vote for two countries is beyond a right or a privilege… it is an honor. It's just sad that some people would throw that right away. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Views on Suicide and the Tower of Death in Argentina

Earlier this year, a friend invited me to a lecture on suicide at the National University of Cordoba (UNC). I learned some interesting facts, some of which surprised the hell out of me.

The professor identified herself as a suicidologist, a profession within the psychiatric field that I never even knew existed and seeing that this lecture was held at the UNC, I was ready to call B.S. to anything she was saying. But at the incessant request of a friend, I decided to stay.

I learned that health insurance in Argentina will cover injuries related to suicide attempts, but life insurance won't. So anyone planning on offing themselves in the hopes of leaving their family with a large sum of life insurance money is out of luck.

The Highest Suicide Rates In The Country

Buenos Aires has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. I can only assume that this is the result of the high level of stress of living in a big city. As you may know from my previous blog entries, Buenos Aires, particularly the CABA region is very Manhattanish and trust me. Manhattan was beautiful, but super stressful. I imagine that life in B.A. is equally stressful.

American Expats in Buenos Aires Day 1 - The Arrival

American Expats in Buenos Aires Day 2 - The Search for KFC and Wendy's

American Expats in Buenos Aires Day 3 and 4 – Multicultural Mix and Racism

Return to Buenos Aires The search For Magic Donuts And The Ministry Of Education

The province of Jujuy also has a high suicide rate among teens and young adults versus Cordoba, which, according to the psychologist (clearing throat) excuse me... suicidologist, is caused by the level of extreme poverty.

Grief Counseling For The Family
I learned that there is a group called "Padres Del Dolor" which loosely translates to "Parents Of Grief/Pain". She claimed that the organization is only available in Buenos Aires and not in Cordoba but when I went online I found a group on Facebook that is located in Cordoba. So under the guise of a grieving parent, who just lost her daughter and needed a support group to speak to, I reached out to them via e-mail. They never replied. So... not helpful at all.

Suicide Hotline

There are suicide hotlines available too. For the one in Cordoba you simply dial 135. You can also email them at The hotline has been around since 1982. The suicidologist was a part of it for quite some time, but eventually left because she did not agree with their anonymity rule. She explained that not being allowed to get the caller's name and number or having the cops trace the call severely compromises the potential suicide victim. Whereas if they could trace the call they could send someone to pick the caller up and send them to a health care facility for short term treatment. She also disagreed with the anonymity rule because there was no way for the therapist on the other line to do a follow up. Yes! You might have prevented them from killing themselves at that moment, but wouldn't it be great if you could call back and check on them to make sure they don't have a relapse? In this instance, I agree with her.

On the other hand, would you really trust calling a hotline that will likely have you locked up in a psych ward for admitting that you are suicidal? Probably not.

Torre Angela
It was once the tallest building in the province of Cordoba, but eventually another building took the title. But at the time it seemed like the obvious choice for people contemplating suicide to go to. The roof was accessible to anyone and they would jump.
The suicidologist mentioned that when her patients would tell her they were going to commit suicide by jumping off of Torre Angela, she would use reverse psychology and tell them to go ahead and do it, but to consider the major traffic jam they would cause when their bodies hit the street. If they landed on a car, they would likely damage it and they should consider that. She claims that this worked into knocking some sense into her patients. But I wouldn't personally book a therapy session with Ms. Congeniality here.
After a series of tragic suicides, access to the roof of Torre Angela was no longer available to just anyone.
Final Observations

My observation of the questions being asked, as well as the comments made by the attendees suggests that the majority of the people believed that suicide is a weakness and that they weren't victims. Over the last three years I've noticed that people have a similar opinion about victims of bullying and abuse.

Argentina's Stance on Bullying

It seems that placing the blame on the victim and not the aggressor is preferable and convenient for certain people. Whether the Argentine mentality will change down the line remains to be seen. But for now it seems, as the Borg say, compassion is irrelevant.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Check Out Cordoba's Coolest Chinese Restaurant

UPDATE: Jardin De Jade closed their doors on August 2016.

My spouse and I knew that moving to Argentina meant giving up eating certain meals from some of our favorite restaurants. Among them was Chinese food, particularly take-out. Boy were we surprised when we found this wonderful gem in downtown Cordoba, just a few blocks from Plaza San Martin.

It´s called Jardin de Jade and it was just what we were looking for to get us out of the emotional rut we were in.

Dinner Time
The sign outside says that they open at 20:00 hours (8:00 p.m.) but don't expect them to open exactly at that time. Be patient! They will open up eventually. 

I think we were more anxious to go in because this was the first time we were going to get a taste of Chinese food in three years, but whether it would compare to Chinese food from the States was something we were eager to find out.

When the doors opened, we were welcomed by a friendly host, who also happens to be the restaurant's waiter and cashier.

This is me and not the friendly host.
The inside of the restaurant was beautiful. We sat down and started looking at the menu. Clearly there were some things that we were trying to translate from it, but since it was in Spanish we didn't have a clue whether we were ordering egg drop soup or an egg roll. So we asked our waiter, who was patient enough to listen to our description of the food we used to eat at Chinese restaurants in the States and he matched them with items on the menu.
Here are some of the things we figured out from the menu. By the way, this is the takeout menu, not the actual restaurant menu.

  • Sopa de Huevo Revuelto is Egg Drop Soup and it will set you back $25 pesos.
  • Sopa de Wan-Tan is Wonton Soup and costs $35 pesos.
  • Pollo Frito con Salsa Agridulce is somewhat equivalent to General Tso's Chicken and costs $70 pesos.
  • Pollo con Salsa Agridulce is Sweet and Sour Chicken and costs $70 pesos.

And the rest of the translating is up to you!

I had been craving General Tso's Chicken for the longest, so I couldn't wait for the food to arrive. While we waited, my spouse and I felt like we had jumped into one of those warp tunnels from Super Mario Brothers and ended up back home in New York and the happiness was evident as we looked into each other's eyes.
When our food arrived, we dug right in. The sweet and sour chicken was on par with the one in the States. Although the General Tso's Chicken wasn't exactly the same, it was close enough. What was the difference? Well, this was like a cross between sweet and sour chicken and General Tso's chicken, except the breading was overwhelmingly thick and the amount of chicken inside was small. But still, what do you expect for a plate that costs 70 pesos ($7.41 USD) plus an extra 22 pesos ($2.33 USD) for a bowl of white rice?

As time went on, other Chinese and Argentinian patrons filled the vacant restaurant as well. This was the largest concentration of Chinese people we had seen in Cordoba since we arrived. We had seen other Asians in Buenos Aires when we went on vacation two years ago, but in Cordoba we were lucky to see one or two on the streets. I really wanted to learn more about them, like if they were naturalized Argentine citizens or 1st generation citizens or residents? But I didn't want to come off rude, so I concentrated on my dinner instead, which was delicious.

Lunch Time
The second time we went was for lunch and they had a buffet, but sadly it wasn't an all you can eat buffet like we were used to in the States. Here you had to grab a plate, fill it with as much food as you wanted. Then go to the register, have it weighed and then pay before you could eat. You could stay and eat at the restaurant or you could take it home. I chose the latter.
The menu items in the buffet were more in tune with the stuff we were used to seeing in the States like the noodles, the egg rolls, the sweet and sour chicken and chicken wings (which granted is not Chinese but was always available on the menu as a side dish).
I took a sample of mostly everything, which only cost me 50 pesos ($5.29 USD). The truth is it would have been cheaper had I not gotten two egg rolls. When I got to the register I learned that the egg rolls are priced separately at about 8 pesos each ($0.85 cents in USD), more or less. But I didn't mind paying extra.
I got home and tried the food and it was amazing! Actually, I almost lost all of my teeth when I bit into what I thought was a piece of sweet and sour chicken which ended up being a chicken wing. Don't laugh. It's not funny. 
If I had to choose between dinner and lunch time I would definitely choose lunch time because that´s the only time you get the buffet and I personally like picking and choosing the things I like and leaving the stuff I don't behind.
But regardless of whether you go in the afternoon or the evening, it's a wonderful place to get away from the routine of the local cuisine or Burger King and McDonald´s whose prices have been skyrocketing lately. 

If you're fortunate enough to live within a 3-block radius of the restaurant you can call in your order and have it delivered, or you can call it in and then pick it up if you live further away. 

Jardin de Jade is located on 27 de Abril 354. It's right across from Cordoba's public library and right next to Torre Angela, a place that used to be a top pick for people who wanted to jack knife to their deaths. But that´s a story for another time and I will get into more details about Torre Angela real soon. That´s a promise. Until next time.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

How To Increase Your Chances Of Finding A Job In Argentina

I'm back after a long hiatus. I told myself that I was done writing for this blog, but I felt that there were things that I still needed to share with my readers. So here I am and I'd like to talk about how you might be able to increase your chances of finding a job in Argentina.

As you know, the job outlook in Argentina isn't great, particularly in Cordoba. I've tried applying on job sites like, and, and have failed to yield any good results, save for a few interviews here and there.

In fact, these are some of the obstacles that I run into when I try to apply. As you can see, ageism is an issue.
Unfortunately, I don't meet the age requirements.

Unfortunately, I don't meet the age requirements.

The nifty thing about the job sites here is that they track the progress of your application. in particular shows you how many people have applied for a particular position and whether your application has been viewed or discarded.

I have a list of over 10 pages that show how many companies have "adios" my job submissions. Then again, a lot of the positions had anywhere from 150 to thousands of applicants. so it´s understandable that I may have been overlooked in a vast, turbulent sea of job applicants.

There are a lot of obstacles when looking for work in Argentina, particularly a province like Cordoba where there are more people looking for work than there are jobs available. You'll also be dealing with issues related to age requirements (if you're over 29, good luck!), gender (it's legal to exclude people for positions based on gender here), and if you come from another country, most businesses tend to slam the door on your face because they would rather give work to Argentinians.

If you're planning on living here, I recommend Buenos Aires, particularly the CABA region (Capital Federal) which offer a lot more business opportunities than Cordoba for locals and expats.
If you're a computer programmer, which I'm not, you have a better chance of getting work here, though I would strongly recommend that you apply for a work Visa before you move here, unless you've been in Argentina awhile and have successfully applied for residency and/or citizenship.

Don´t assume that Argentine residency or citizenship will guarantee you a job. I thought having dual citizenship (the U.S. and Argentina) would have made things easier for me, but sadly it hasn't. As someone who has worked in the office/admin field for 16 years, I concentrated my job search in this area. Here are some things that I've learned that will hopefully help others in my predicament. 

Having a decent amount of knowledge with reading and writing in Spanish is not optional. For example, my Spanish talking skills are a lot better than my writing or reading skills. So in the interviews I went on, they made me answer some questions, some of which I didn't fully understand but I tried filling them out anyway. I left blank any questions that totally baffled me.  

While going on interviews, I've noticed a common theme. There are usually 4 interviews in total. At any point in the interview process, you might get eliminated like on American Idol. If you get a call back within a week of your first interview, you passed the first hurdle. But while you did well in your first and second interview, it does not guarantee you won't be disqualified as a candidate in the third or fourth interview. 

Interviewers love a lot of participation, particularly in group interviews. Don´t stay quiet! Be one of the first people to raise your hand or just jump right in and say something. 

One of the interviews I did for a telecommunication company called APEX had a business psychologist who was asking all the questions. Since I wasn't entirely sure what she was asking me on some things (this is where not being comfortable in your knowledge of Spanish can get you in trouble), I found myself unable to participate and this lady was eyeing me like a hawk. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, I never got a second interview. 


No! I´m not talking about the Argentine Tango. I´m talking about the computer program, and I strongly recommend that you familiarize yourselves with it. There are vocational schools that teach you everything you need to know about this program. The average price varies by institutes. I´m planning on taking a course for this at some point next year. So when I have more info on pricing I will definitely post it. What I do understand about "TANGO" is that it is somewhat similar to Excel, but can be used in several administrative positions, especially HR. 

One thing I've come to realize recently is that you have to accept that if something you´re doing isn't working... MOVE ON! Since office/admin jobs haven't produced any results, I decided to learn a different skill.

I am currently taking a medical coding and billing course at a vocational school in Nueva Cordoba that will last 4 and a 1/2 months. I'm half way there and I've managed to pass the first two of 5 major exams with a 9,50 (for the 1st test) and a 9 (for the 2nd test). The grading scales in Argentina are different from the States. In lieu of letters, A, B, C, D, or F, they use numbers. 10 is the highest so I´m actually quite proud of myself.

Not only am I learning a completely new field but I´m also learning to interact with my Argentinian classmates and getting more accustomed to speaking and writing in Castilian (Argentine Spanish). The course charges 500 Argentine pesos a month, which is $52.96 USD. By the time I finish the course, I will have a certificate and a transcript that shows that I've been trained to perform medical billing and coding in orthodontics, biochemistry and pharmaceuticals. And yes! Employers here appreciate vocational certificates just as much as college degrees, which is different in the States. Trust me! I have two certificates from Miami Lakes Tech that I did back in 1995. One was for Data Entry and the other one was for Financial Records and they didn't do squat for me.


But why pay when you can go to the Universidad Nacional De Cordoba (UNC) for free? I´ll tell you what the person that enrolled me in the medical billing and coding program told me. At the UNC, the person signing off on your certificate is the headmaster of history. HISTORY! NOT THE HEALTH CARE FIELD! So basically your certificate and transcript would read like a joke to a potential employer. Plus, my previous experience at the UNC has shown that they spend way too much time going on strikes over nonsense, and a lot of the professors teaching there don´t really seem to care about educating their students at all.

Paid programs are far better because you get a professor, which in my opinion, cares and will go out of their way to make sure that you learn and they won't allow nonsense like political issues (which seep into a lot of UNC lectures) get in the way of the training.

I don't know if the medical and billing and coding certificate will free me from putting up with the passive aggressive behavior, poor earnings, and the dull routine that comes from working with handlers who assign me my freelance writing work. But one thing I refuse to do is give up hope for a better future. But since many of you reading this haven't taken the proverbial dive to live abroad, I'd like to urge caution. Please, do your research. Make sure that you land on your feet when you move to a foreign country, and have an exit strategy.