Before coming to Buenos Aires, I was a little bit nervous about the prospect of living with a host family. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to pop into someone else’s home and exist there in a state kind of in-between guest and renter. Thankfully, I must have done something right when I filled out my housing form, because I ended up with a host family that has made my time in Argentina all the more richer. My host mom, Irene, has always worked hard to make me feel at home in her Recoleta apartment. On top of that, while most of my IFSA friends just live with an older host mom, I got lucky enough to have a host sister too. Living with Sofi and getting to experience Buenos Aires with her has been one of the best parts of my study abroad experience. So without further ado, I wanted to dedicate this blog post to her and all the fun times we have had in the city.
1. Exploring Recoleta
Sofi is twenty-three years old and has lived in Recoleta for her entire life. She seems to know the neighborhood like the back of her hand. One day, she took me out and showed me around all the sprawling parks and imposing buildings that lie just a few blocks from our apartment. We saw the Centro Cultura Recoleta, which functions like an art museum, performance venue, and community center in one. We also stopped and snapped some photos in front of the enormous, columned building where the Universidad de Buenos Aires hosts its facultad de derecho (law school). It’s been truly incredible getting to spend so much time surrounded by so much beauty in my neighborhood. Besides making the area look nice, the parks and plazas also offer a sunny spot to relax for a lazy day off. Sofi and I have come to them for picnics before, a favorite pastime of porteños, and enjoyed eating a miga (sandwhich) and drinking coca in the park.
2. Hanging with Miel
On my first night in Buenos Aires, Sofi took me to an open-air bar where we drank a coke and started getting to know each other. Recently, we went back to that same bar with my host dog Miel in toe. Miel may look tiny and innocent, but she has a wild side, and she gets a little feisty when she sees other dogs out and about, so we had to cut our outing short and take her back home once we realized there was another dog in the bar.
Sofi and I recently bonded through a harrowing experience with Miel. She got sick, and we had to take her to the vet emergency room a few blocks away in the middle of a storm. Thankfully, Miel made a full recovery. I call Miel a miracle dog, because according to legend, she survived a three story fall as a puppy and also just in my time here she has survived a heart attack during a surgery. I also call Miel the “Reina de Recoleta” (queen of Recoleta), because she acts like a bit of a princess, always asking Sofi to carry her when we try and take her on a walk. I guess when you’ve had so many near-death experiences, you deserve a little special treatment though.
3. La banda
Another reason I’m lucky to have Sofi as a host sister, besides her expert knowledge of Recoleta and her adorable dog, is that she is pretty immersed in the local music and arts scene. My first week or two here, she took me to a casa cultural, a small and kind of hipster venue where different bands share their work. Recently, I got to see Sofi’s own band (named, of course, Sofi Flores), play in a similar place.
I have loved sitting in the kitchen this semester and listening to Sofi write out lyrics and strum on her guitar. And it was so fun getting to see the final product last week. For all my American readers who don’t have the same opportunity to hear her band live, she has a pretty well known YouTube channel. Here’s one of my favorite songs of hers, which they closed their most recent performance with:
This past Thursday was Thanksgiving in the States, and I guess I just want to close by saying how grateful I am for my host family and particularly my host sister. I’m grateful for the chance to have met so many young artists like Sofi working hard to create a vibrant city filled with music. I’m grateful for the time we spent watching classic films like Funny Face or Rosemary’s Baby in English, and the scary Netflex series Casa de papeles in English. I’m grateful for the chance to hang out and drink beer in a park with Sofi’s friends. I’ve always been a less than adventurous person, so I wasn’t sure if my study abroad experience would be hampered by my introverted tendency to often keep to myself. Fortunately, Sofi and the other people I have met here have ensured that my study abroad experience was exactly what I needed it to be, and that I made some truly amazing friends in the process.