10 Questions for Geoff W. in Rio Gallegos, Santa Cruz
EDITORS NOTE: This is another post in our series of Expat Interviews. Let us know if you know someone who would be a good person to interview and we will try to do it. Geoff is from Alabama (US) and currently lives as an exchange student full time in Santa Cruz province with an Argentine host family, he is a full time student.
1. Where were you born, where else have you lived, and where are you living now? I was born in Huntsville, AL, I have lived in Seoul, Korea, Washington D.C., and Portland, Oregon. I now live in Rio Gallegos, the Capital of the Provincia de Santa Cruz in Southern Patagonia.
2. Who did you move to Argentina with? When? I moved to Argentina by myself as a university exchange student. I have been here since the beginning of August.
3. What made you pick Argentina? I had studied Spanish in High School for 4 years and wanted to take the leap towards fluency. I had the option of studying and living with a host family in either Panama or Argentina. I chose Argentina for its geographic and cultural diversity.
4. What is the best part about living in Argentina? The worst? The best two parts of living in Argentina are the people and the food. The people are very warm and open and asado is delicious. The worst part of living in Argentina is the unreliability of absolutely everything. Although I've learned to not take hot water for granted, I sometimes find it difficult to get things done with so many strikes.
5. How do you make your living? I am a student so I am not currently earning a living.
6. What is a typical day like for you? A typical day usually goes like this: 10 AM: Wake up, eat breakfast, 11 AM: Head to the gym, 1 PM: Eat lunch, 2 PM: Begin working on homework, 5 PM: Drink Mate with my host family, 8 PM: Go to class, 11 PM: Eat dinner, 12 AM: Go out with friends if it's Friday!
7. How has living in Argentina changed your life? Living with an Argentine family has taught me to be more patient and accepting of others. Also, I had never really realized how fortunate I was to have had been born into the life that I was born into. I guess that fits into not taking things for granted but there have been a few moments when I've thought "wow this person works just as hard as me for half of the reward, and they're still grateful for what they have."
8. How does living in Argentina differ most from living in your home country? At an orientation I attended before heading down here we discussed the iceberg cultural model where the tip of the iceberg represents the cultural differences that are immediately apparent (e.g. food, clothing, architecture). Once you get beyond the tip you start to notice true cultural values. In regards to these big differences I would have to say the biggest is the pace of life. Everything is sped up in the United States. We buy pre-prepared meals, check e-mail on our phones while we are traveling, and we speed through the grocery store line rapidly. In Argentina more time is spent with family and friends and multi-tasking is driving down the road and drinking maté at the same time. Argentines are also much louder and much more expressive than Americans (it's got to be the Italian roots).
9. What are your future plans in Argentina? When are you planning on leaving? I'll be finishing the school year up at the end November. In December my family from the United States will join me to visit El Calafate and Buenos Aires. After that I plan on spending January and February traveling with my host family through Argentina and perhaps to Santiago de Chile. I'll resume school in March and head back to the U.S. in July or August.
10. What one tip would you pass on to a future expat moving to Argentina? The best tip I can give to an expat headed down south is to come informed, yet without expectations of what your life will be like. If you come with expectations of what life will be like down here and then it doesn't turn out to be true you're bound to be disappointed. I always have a mental picture of what a place will be like before I travel there. It's never correct. However, it doesn't hurt to talk to someone that has traveled or, better yet, has lived here.