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After only recently moving into the hostel in Buenos Aires and meeting every group of people from Brits to Aussies to Brazilians to Danish, and Austrians to Slovenians, I am surprised to discover the most unfriendly, distant, and even borderline rude people here. It surprises me most because I’m one of them.
The same God who created the rest of humanity obviously made some kind of error when creating the minds of American girls. When first seeing that there were a handful in the hostel, I felt a breath of relaxation escape me, knowing that I would have people somewhat like me. However, when I first walked into the overcrowded and sloppy bedroom, it was clear that patriotism did not extend this far south.
I first felt their eyes scan me as if I was a secretly a virus, an unwanted and dangerous threat to their reckless lifestyles. After a few “friendly” remarks, all through a guarded smile and clenched teeth, I knew that any hope of make-up sessions and late afternoon shopping trips were out of my reach.
I tried to wrap my mind around why out of all the people I met, it is the Americans who act the least trusting and the most guarded around me. I wanted to scream to them, “What’s the deal? I’m just like you! Can’t we bond over our awesome Americaness in Argentina?” Apparently no.
I have always known that girls are the most guarded, the most judgmental, and the most distrusting, but I foolishly thought that living in a foreign country would create some sort of unspoken, immediate friendship.
It’s not like these girls are particularly appealing. They are loud, talk as if they have an IQ to match Bush, and party to all hours in the morning then come in shrieking and cackling while everyone else is sleeping. Despite all of these qualities, it’s impossible not to want to be in their inner circle. It’s not that I mind going to lunch with an Australian guy who mumbles and a Slovenian who is overly friendly, or going on a walking tour with an Austrian chick who incessantly talks, it’s just all those encounters are at best, pleasant.
Part of me misses the intense connection between American girls, the drama, and the wild lifestyle. Part of me wants to stay the hell away from them. As of now, I’m concerned that the window of opportunity of forming a bond is drawing to a steadfast close and I am out of ideas of how to make nice with these girls. If only I were Canadian.
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.