Torero Life Abroad chronicles the life of a University of San Diego student as they participate in the study abroad experience. Follow Matt Hose’s real-life adventures as he travels to Buenos Aires, Argentina, through the USD-affiliated program CEA. Matt is an international relations major with a minor in Spanish, graduating in 2015.
My first week in Buenos Aires hit me like a bus — almost literally. Cars and buses would whiz within inches of my face as I inevitably zigged when I should have zagged. Meanwhile, locals would weave between oncoming cars as I hesitated at every intersection, half-expecting the next bus to run a red light. I had been submerged head-first into the city life of Buenos Aires, complete with skyscrapers, pedestrian-filled streets, and people laying on their car horns like they thought it was making music. I had unexpectedly made it into a big city, and it was a complete culture shock.
I was born and raised in New Orleans, a city that is known by the moniker “The Big Easy” for a reason. People take life slowly there. Jazz and blues run smooth through the nighttime streets, and tourists and locals alike often wander around with no real destination in mind. I now live in San Diego, a city where a skateboarder getting pulled along the beach by his dog is considered efficient transportation.
But here I was, my first week in a bustling metropolis, in one of the 20 most populous cities in the world. I had to navigate the hieroglyphic bus system to get to class. If I got lost, I had to ask for directions in Spanish and try to decipher whatever rapid-fire answer a local would fire back at me. People power walked to work and motorcycles weaved their way between lanes in gridlock traffic. I could barely navigate my way through an interaction at a convenience store, let alone an actual conversation with a local Porteño (as citizens of Buenos Aires are known). Not to mention that with the seasons reversed as I switched to the Southern Hemisphere, I plunged myself directly from a swampy, humid New Orleans summer into the South American winter tinged with a content breeze from the neighboring Río de la Plata.
It was nothing like what I expected. But in a way, it was much better than what I expected. I was taken completely out of whatever sort of comfort zone I had back in the States.
The culture shock I felt in my first weeks in seeing the city helped prepare me for another culture shock: living in one house with over a dozen other college students from all over the world. Though a few of them went to my school, I didn’t know any of them before moving in. My usually shy self would have to become more forward. I would have to make completely new friends. But the beauty of it was that we were all thrown into this completely different situation together. Even if our personalities were exact opposites, we would form a bond over common experiences in a strange city halfway across the world.
During those first few weeks, I would eat pounds and pounds of weird food, my Spanish would improve immensely, and I’d make more new friends from more different places than I have in my whole life. We accepted the Buenos Aires lifestyle wholeheartedly.
Now we just had to see if it would accept us back.
— Matt Hose ‘15