Angelina: Tango 2 the Moon
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Buenos Aires, etc.
My name is Angelina and I am a Chinese Canadian from Victoria, B.C. In 2009, I wanted a life change so I quit my job, took all my savings and went for a 6 months cultural exchange in Buenos Aires. It was only supposed to be for 6 months but once I got there I started making friends and connections and I found myself returning again and again to Argentina.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Life abroad is such a crazy experience and so much happens to you that is so out of the norm. I needed a way to deal with it all. So I created a blog as a way of telling all the stories and experiences abroad to the world outside.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
One of my most talked about blogs was when I wrote about what the idea of beauty means in Argentina. It is a country where the women are obsessed with outer beauty, plastic surgeries and looking perfect. This blog got quite a few reactions from my readers.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Buenos Aires differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
For one they are so much more relaxed about delays or cancellation. Over there it’s not such a rude thing if a person or event is late or even cancels or doesn’t show up. It is not uncommon to go to a business and find that it’s closed without notice. In my early days this provided me with a good dose of culture shock!!!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Buenos Aires? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I don’t think that anything on earth can truly prepare you for the experience of life in Buenos Aires. I have no regrets about my preparations or decisions. Looking back the only thing I would have done differently is that I would have tried to connect with the expat community there early on. On my first trip I hung out with all Argentines. It was only on later trips that I started to connect with the foreigner community.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
The look on ones face the first time you stick your card in the ATM and nothing happens has got to be priceless. My eyes were probably wide with beads of sweat starting to form at the top of my forehead. The thoughts that raced through my head were “I’m screwed”. Here am I, quit my job and am at the ends of the earth and I can’t access my money. What have I done with my life???!!!!!! That was my crash course on ATMs in Argentina. The system is so nutty that you can stick your card into one ATM and it doesn’t work and then stick it into another and it does work.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Buenos Aires?
- Have a decent grasp of the Spanish language. Or even sign up for a Spanish course once you are there. Knowing a little bit of Spanish will help you cope better.
- Try to get a good mix of friends who are Argentine and expat. The expat community is very strong down there and very supportive. Connecting with people who have lived there long will help you get insider secrets on life there.
- Bring USD and electronics. A lot of political and economical changes have happened over there and electronics are heavily taxed. Bring electronics from outside. And you can’t get USD down there anymore, so USD are highly prized.
How is the expat community in Buenos Aires? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community in Buenos Aires is very strong and very supportive. There are thousands of expats, families, and their businesses. There are lots of events where you can meet other expats and make friends, hear their stories, and learn from their experiences.
How would you summarize your expat life in Buenos Aires in a single, catchy sentence?
Buenos Aires is mysterious, magical, mystical and mind-boggling.