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 Dan Perlman, I'm originally from the US, specifically Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I grew up and later went to college. I moved to New York City to go to grad school, changed my mind about that, but stayed in the city until moving to Buenos Aires in early 2005.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I actually started blogging before moving here – I was doing a bit of traveling, including here in Buenos Aires, with no intention to stay here, and it was mostly a way of letting my family and friends know what I was up to.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Toss up between several and I have a category of “Popular Posts” that include those and ones that seem to get read a lot. But, the two that stand out are both on, specifically, the expat experience and moving here: Fount of Wisdom? Not and Gold Rush Fever
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?
While there were certainly things to get used to, no, I don't think there was any real difficulty in adjusting, other than learning a new language, which I threw myself into and picked up relatively rapidly, at least enough to hold basic conversations, and later on, reasonable fluency.
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?
More or less, yes, I'd visited and I'd spent several months living here before making the decision to stay, so I was relatively well prepared. I might, in hindsight, have rented a place long-term rather than buying so early on, mostly just because much as we love our apartment, I think we'd both have preferred a house in the long run.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Actually, the funniest thing that happened to me wasn't so much an expat experience, as a tourism experience. I'm one of those people who constantly gets stopped on the street and asked for directions – I guess I look approachable or knowledgeable or something of that sort. I was stopped by three college age students from, based on their t-shirts, UC Berkeley. In really bad, nearly unintelligible Spanish, they tried to ask for directions. I answered in English, figuring out where they wanted to go and giving them detailed instructions. At the end of the conversation, one of them thanked me and told me that if I kept practicing, one day I'd be really fluent in English...
Which tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Buenos Aires?
Hmm... read those two blog posts I linked above.
- Learn Spanish – it opens up the world here – the average Argentine does not speak fluent English, if any at all – it's not like some places in the world where it's the de facto second language.
- Plan on everything taking a lot longer to accomplish than you'd ever expect.
- Figure out how you're going to live, i.e. finances, before you ever get here.
- Personally, I recommend making local friends rather than hanging out with expats. Did you really come here to just be around the same people you left back home?
How is the expat community in Buenos Aires? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It's widely varied. There are expats from everywhere living here, and a huge number of them – particularly from the US and the UK. There's no cohesive “expat group” as there are simply too many of us here, and people are here for many different reasons – family or a love interest, politics, retirement, or simply adventure. (I think the US embassy estimates that there are close to 100,000 short or long term expat Americans living in Argentina, for example.) It's very easy to find people, there are bars and clubs that cater to expats, there are social groups and events, and it's easy to get involved, or not. For the most part on my end, not – while I have a few good friends in the expat American and British community, most of my friends here are either Argentine or Peruvian (my husband is a Peruvian expat).
How would you summarize your expat life in Buenos Aires in a single, catchy sentence?
It's been an amazing and wonderful adventure!