Paige: La Panza Porteña
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 Paige Nichols and I was born and raised in the Washington, DC area. After graduating from Boston College (Massachusetts, USA) in 2008, I moved back to Buenos Aires after having studied abroad there during my junior year of college. I currently work at PR agency Edelman, handling digital communications and strategy for some of our global clients. I live in the Retiro neighborhood of the city with my husband José and our dog Loba.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I have always been driven by my love of food and the joy that shared culinary experiences can bring us. Having sent what feels like thousands of emails to friends and acquaintances with my long list of “best of” food recommendations, a friend finally suggested that I start a blog. I thought it was a great idea to open a space where I could channel my passion for two of my favorite things – Buenos Aires and eating, as well as a budding passion for photography.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Some of my favorite entries are just that because of the experiences behind them – when I revisit them, I go back to the night that I was making patacones with a group of lively Colombians, or taking exquisite (for my level, anyway!) photos of the incredible dishes from a star local restaurant. Therefore it’s a tie between my cooking class experience at a Latin-Caribbean supper club and a memorable brunch at HG Restaurant at the Fierro Hotel.
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?
Anyone that has visited Buenos Aires knows that there is a very different rhythm here! Of course I had to cultivate my patience and learn that it takes a lot longer to accomplish even the simplest of tasks here. Long lines, red tape, constant road blocks (both literal and figurative) can test even the most iron of reserves! However, you learn to roll with the punches – sometimes these delays can even work in your favor. Whenever I head home to the States to see my family, I am always shocked at how efficient things are! But I have learned to look for the charm (or at least the black humor) amidst the madness here.
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?
In no way would I have ever thought that upon embarking on a new life in Argentina would I still be here five years later, married to a local, and with such a varied work history! Sometimes I am still surprised that someone as Type A as myself was brave enough to pack up and move to a foreign country without any prospects or local support systems. I’m not sure if I would have changed anything; since I was forced to be self-reliant and resourceful, I was able to adapt to my new life relatively quickly.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
There was the time back in 2008 that I tried to order a coffee to go, something of a novelty in a city so entrenched in café culture. The employee was so confused by my request that I was – no joke – given coffee in a plastic bag! Since then, dozens of Starbucks have opened up all across the city, ensuring that no one else will have to go through that again.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Buenos Aires?
Go with an open mind, be patient, and remember that the landscape here is constantly evolving – if you don’t adapt, things will lose their charm fast! Overall, don’t try to make your life in BA resemble any other life you’ve had in the past – the joy is in establishing a new identity with this marvelous city as your backdrop.
How is the expat community in Buenos Aires? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There are so many expats here that some people don’t even need to leave that “bubble” to find work and friends! It’s a huge community. I didn’t necessarily have a hard time making friends here – local or otherwise – especially since my first job was with a study abroad program start-up that was founded by an American girl and an Argentine guy. However, I have always made a point to have a group of local friends as well – they’re less likely to move away! What’s nice about the large community is that it provides variety; I am always meeting new people.
How would you summarize your expat life in Buenos Aires in a single, catchy sentence?
Hm, this is a bit tough. I usually refer to my day-to-day here as “life in Crazytown” – I always try to take things with humor – but that doesn’t seem fitting. It’s more like a whirlwind, finding joy in the everyday and eating my way around the city in the process!