A new experience in a foreign country

By Brooke Hisrich — I woke up this morning and wondered where I was. The smell of manure seeped through the bedroom door while the sound of farm animals came from outside the large window.

I arrived in San Carlos de Bolivar, also known as Bolivar, Argentina on August 27th. My host family has kept me so busy that I had very little time to contact home, much less blog. My host sister, Jazmin, had consistently contacted me throughout the summer because she can speak English very well. Jazmin and her parents, Karina and Pablo were waiting directly outside of customs with a sign that read, “Bienvenida Brooke a Argentina!” or in ingles, “Welcome Brooke to Argentina!” I was extremely nervous about meeting them, especially since my Spanish is very limited, but the instant I saw their faces the only emotion I felt was relief.

The three hour drive from Buenos Aires (where the airport was located and also the capital of Argentina) to Bolivar was shocking to say the least. To explain, basically in the pampas of Argentina you must replace buildings with cows and horses. I kid you not, for a three-hour drive I probably saw four buildings which were gas stations or homes on farmland. I immediately understood why Argentina is known for their beef and steak!

Once we arrived in Bolivar I was surprised to see how old, quaint and small the city is. I recognized nothing, there are no chain restaurants, shops or supermarkets and nothing was marked in English. I have traveled before to Europe and it is still very similar to the United States but in Bolivar it is entirely Spanish. I was in for a very rude awakening.

All of the houses are very Hispanic with large white walls that surround the perimeter of the house to protect from danger and there is a disconnected party house called the quincho in the backyard that is used to make asada and grill all of the meat.

I bet you can guess what I had for lunch and dinner that night, steak and more steak! Fortunately, meat and I get along just fine so the food has been delicious. I have been trying all types of comida de Argentina or food from Argentina, including mate which is an herbal tea that everyone makes and then drinks! I have been immersed into this wonderful culture very quickly.

Today was my first day of school. My school is called Cervantes and it is a private catholic school where the teachers change classes rather than the students! In my next blog I will describe in detail about Argentinian education because it is very different and quite frankly not as strong as in the States. Until then, Saludas y un beso!

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]