An Argentine Adventure…
By Steven Levy
Connect-123 Human Rights intern Pip Christie has been learning the ins and outs of Buenos Aires for the past four months. She shares with us her experience, and what she’s learned about the city so far.
In January 2013 I was in the midst of final year dissertation stresses in the freezing cold winter of the northeast of England, in Durham. Having caught the travel bug early on in my life, my chosen form of procrastination was, naturally, to browse the Internet in search of a post-university adventure, preferably somewhere hot. I stumbled across Connect-123. It really stood out to me because it was evident that this was an organisation really committed to helping interns achieve their goals, whilst also providing a valuable contribution to the host country.
A year later, I was off. I started out with a month of Spanish school before commencing my internship in February, with an organisation monitoring corporate social responsibility. Here, my work is independent and varied, ranging from translations to seeking out future funders to researching information for project bids.
But what I really want to write about here is not my internship. Yes, that’s what initially brought me to Buenos Aires but it’s not the be all and end all. After all, there are internships in the UK too. To me, interning abroad is more about the experience as a whole. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone into a world whose language you can’t speak. It’s about opening your eyes to new experiences, sights, sounds, cultures, people – a new way of life. Without pushing your limits you can never really learn to know yourself. And without knowing yourself, how can you leave your stamp on the world?
For this, Buenos Aires is perfect. In all my years of travel, I have never encountered a more vibrant nor diverse city. Buenos Aires is a city in which you can dance until dawn and then go straight to breakfast – it never sleeps and boredom is not a word here. Here, there is always a new show, exhibition, concert or event for you to go to. European culture has a strong influence as can be seen in any short stroll through Palermo, through the buildings and the café life spilling out over the pavements. And then there’s the people, so completely different from anything that you could find elsewhere. Their passion for life speaks volumes – through food, wine, Fernet (oh Fernet), music, conversation and simply their way of life.
That’s not to say that Buenos Aires is the ‘dream city’. Cleary Buenos Aires isn’t perfect. It is a normal part of your day to see people sleeping on street corners or towing carts full of their belongings behind them. Not all barrios (neighbourhoods) are safe and there are some places you just don’t go at night. Inflation is skyrocketing once again, and speaking to porteños (locals) further emphasises what an issue this is, as the economy is heading down the same path it did when their parents and grandparents were our age. But ask them about what they love about the city and they’ll say the exact same thing – the people, their openness and passion.
For me, there is no ‘checklist’ of ‘must-sees’ in Buenos Aires. It isn’t a tourist destination, Buenos Aires somewhere you have to live to understand. It’s a way of life. It’s a feeling. So bite the bullet, step out of your comfort zone, buy that ticket and come and live it.
To read more about Pip’s take on Buenos Aires, please check out her fantastic blog!