Latin American metropolis an unexpected hub for Americans
Issue date: 9/4/09 Section: Opinion
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The length of time is easily explained by the fact that, as a Spanish major, I would be most productive by spending the longest amount of time possible in the country to attain true fluency in the language. Buenos Aires as a city very much interested me by the fact that, as a Latin American studies major, I would be provided with a much clearer view of the Latin American identity and society from the inside, while still retaining a distinct European aura. But what gives Argentina an edge over Spain?
I chose Buenos Aires over Madrid or Barcelona under the preconception that it would be sparsely populated by Americans. Unlike Spain, where American students tend to remain in American circles, traveling the continent speaking English instead of making any effort to familiarize themselves with the language and the culture, Buenos Aires seemed a more remote, undiscovered destination where I could more intimately mingle with a Spanish-speaking populace.
However, my arrival in Buenos Aires thus far has provided me with a notion to the contrary. This semester, there are 130 students studying with Butler University's Institute for Study Abroad in Buenos Aires, which is only one of many programs guiding students through the 10 million-strong greater Buenos Aires area. It is not uncommon to encounter an American family confusedly boarding the colectivos (city buses) or a group of American students loudly (and/or drunkenly) exiting boliches (nightclubs).
A memorable presentation to the students in our program by the US embassy in Buenos Aires left us many impressive statistics - for example, in any given year, the embassy deals with 100,000 Americans coming in and out of Buenos Aires. Yet, after being here for a month, it is not surprising to me that the Argentine capital provides such a popular destination for Americans abroad. Anyone and everyone who is at all familiar with Buenos Aires knows that there is an inexplicable magnificence to the city which so fluidly combines Latin American spice and tango with European charm and elegance. A confluence of Parisian fashion, Italian twists to both food and language, and a style of partying rivaled only by Madrid, its unique identity lends to a palpable pride of country and sentiment of identity. You just can't help but love Buenos Aires. It's as simple as that.