Travel broadens the mind, weakens the hygiene

I arrive in the city of Buenos Aires not unlike a recently woken coma patient: confused and disoriented. After a lengthy flight from JFK and a layover in Sao Paolo that involved me passed out while gripping my luggage, I sit in a stick-shift taxi that takes me through the reckless streets to my new home in Recoleta. After being dropped of with my two saran-wrapped suitcases, I look around at the “upperclass” barrio with rundown houses and uneven sidewalks.

What I thought would be a pleasant-albeit-thrifty student dorm turned out to be the shittiest of shitty hostels where I would have to spend the next four months sharing a small room with four other girls with no space, no privacy, and toilets that barely flush. Worst of all, I had the top bunk.

Now, I don’t consider myself extremely high maintenance when it comes living situations. I’m as messy as the next 20-something-person and I honestly don’t require expensive furniture or flat screen TVs, but if the owners of this place seriously thought I would be content living with a kitchen that constantly smelled and all the dirty plastic dishware, then they must have been high off the mate. Over 20 people lived in the dorm and people were constantly moving in and out everyday. The furniture in the common room looked as if someone went a little knife-happy and the bathrooms had no locks and no space to do your business.

An immediate rush of regret filled with disgust overtook my jet-lagged mind and I was close to tears after meeting my cliquey roommates. If matters couldn’t get any worse, my supposed orientation session which was going to introduce me the house and the city was postponed until Monday. Therefore, I would have to spend the entire weekend alone in a city where theft was as common as the name dropping of the famous soccer player Messi in a conversation. I was ready to book my flight back to the States.

Fortunately for me, a woman who worked in the program gave me the necessary information to survive for the weekend. In addition to her kindness, she also asked a group of guys if I could hang out with them that night since they weren’t going to the soccer game either. I shamefully tried to hide my red face as she explained to them that I was brand new. This was no different than the time my mom called up my teacher when a girl in the 3rd grade invited almost everyone in the class to her birthday party except me.

One of the guys was kind enough to go out with me and I spent my first night in a bar talking to a socialist-Texan-English-teacher with the soccer game blaring at us. Even though my brain felt it completely shut off due to exhaustion, it was the perfect way to spend a first night out. He was one of the nicest and most open guys I ever met and our conversation flowed at ease. If only it was a date, I could say I met my soulmate on my first night in Buenos Aires. Obviously here, however, you have to make due with what comes your way.

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