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Dealing With Culture Shock In Argentina – Some Advice For New Expats

Expats love living in Argentina because of its exciting culture that is deeply rooted in family. The customs and traditions that make up Argentinean culture come from various immigrant communities that settled in the country over the years. The Argentines are known to be hospitable and enjoy bonding over food and entertainment.

Although Argentina is a geographically beautiful and vibrant country, with an equally vibrant population, new expats may face some difficulty adjusting to life here, especially in the early days. The cultural differences expats may face tend to vary from one province to another since Argentina is a vast country.For instance, there may be a very low degree of culture shock in the capital city of Buenos Aires. The city is cosmopolitan and resembles any other major international city like London or Paris. Expats will feel at home with the many diverse restaurants, cafes, shopping places and nightclubs. But every country has its quirks and it’s helpful to be aware of them so you can settle into the culture and lifestyle more fully.


Life beyond the big cities is a lot different and here is where expats may experience culture shock. Shops shut down from 12pm to about 4.30pm every day. This is the time for siesta following a big afternoon meal.

The later, the better

People also tend to have their dinner quite late and restaurants are likely to open only after 9pm. Clubbing also begins very late and starts to pick up only around 4am. This means your night could even end at 8am the next morning. Keep this mind if you have scheduled any morning meetings.

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Getting ‘gringoed’

Expats will also have to get used to getting ‘gringoed’. This is a term used to explain the problem many foreigners face where they are overcharged for things. A local would be charged as less as half the price. This also applies to services and may be rooted in the instability of the country’s economy.

Stand in line to shop

In the rural areas of Argentina, the shopping mall culture is absent. People go to small shops to buy what they need where the practice is to pick a numbered ticket and stand in line.

The language barrier

English is spoken in the big cities of Argentina. But outside of these cities, it is helpful if you can understand and speak Spanish. Argentines are a sociable lot, but their relations run very deep. Without knowing the local language, it can be difficult to join in conversations and really connect with them.

Argentinean cuisine

The Argentines follow a rather meat-centric diet and barbeques are a common sight. This could turn out to be a food paradise for meat lovers. Vegetarians or vegans on the other hand may face a dilemma. But once you get used to the frequent sight of roasted meat, you will soon discover that a healthy and delicious vegetarian meal is quite easy to find in Argentina.

Argentines also love their deserts and sweets, so if you’re invited to an Argentinean home, be prepared for some serious sweet consumption. Breakfast is likely to consist of flaky, sweet pastries called medialunas, filled with pastry cream or another Argentinean favorite, dulce de leche. This is a creamy sauce made from sweetened milk and is eaten on almost everything from bread to ice cream.

In spite of all these factors, Argentina is a great place to live in and many expats are living happy and comfortable lives in this culturally rich country. A few tips to keep in mind when dealing with culture shock include;

• Be open-minded and avoid making generalizations.
• Learn a little about Argentinean culture, so you’re prepared for customs and traditions you have never experienced before.
• Make it a point to socialize with Argentines. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the culture and also make some valuable friendships.
• Keep your sense of humor. Many expats look back on their initial experiences in a new country and are amused by them. These are the moments that add variety to life.
• Stay curious. Be interested in this new country and all it has to offer. As you become more aware of the country’s culture, you will begin to understand its people better.

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