Your experience of culture shock in Argentina


Living in a foreign country implies to discover its culture, to learn and master the cultural codes.

How did you deal with that? Share with us your culture shock stories where you experienced a funny or awkward moment in Argentina.

What is your advice regarding the don'ts and what would you recommend to avoid any mistake?

Thank you in advance for sharing your stories,


Nothing about Argentina should be a massive shock to Europeans or people with European ancestors.
The only shock is if you don't know Spanish.
The food is great and varied, sports are established, there are sites and wonders to be seen and the people are great.
Some little things, Argentinians are family and friends people. They prefer drinking lightly if at all and eating with great company till early hours, then maybe a club, if you love getting totally drunk every night you are the extreme minority here.
If you tell someone you are going to do something, they expect you will do it. So dontvsay yeah yeah I will copy the DVD for you, then expect not to do it, you will lose respect.
Last little thing, on your birthday you must feed the people at work and the family later also not the way you are used to being spoiled and cooked for etc its the reverse. But don't worry, you will have a hundred other events, christenings, birthdays, baptisms, etc etc....
Be that cultural chameleon, fit in and you will love it here.

My partner and I have been living in Argentina for the last 3 years. The culture shock we experienced came as a result of a number of things.
1) They use kilos instead of pounds when weighing items at the supermarket. This took a bit of getting used to as we´re from the U.S. and we´re used to dealing with lbs when ordering.
2) Argentinian castillian is slightly different from the Spanish we heard in the States from Puerto Ricans and Cubans. Argentinians use Vos versus Tu (you), Che, versus Oye (hey), tenes versus tienes (have). They also use  a Sh sound to pronounce words that contain y and ll such as "yo" (me) or taller (warehouse). Some Argentinians we encountered would try to correct our Spanish and tell us that the way Argentinians speak is the correct form of Spanish. My partner who is Puerto-Rican was a bit bothered by that.
3) A lot of the people here seem to have the wrong opinion of people from the States and the U.S. in general such as the belief that Americans are colonizing invaders and that we use the military to do this ... which is bogus!)
4) Siesta - There´s a period in the afternoon around 1:30 to 4:30 (this varies by province) where most stores shut down. This can be incredibly annoying when you´re looking to do a little afternoon shopping. Fortunately, areas like malls and major supermarkets are still open. You just have to be living close to one.
5) Strikes - It seems like there´s a strike, particular the buses, at least twice a month. The public transportation does this in order to demand raises and 99 percent of the time they get their way but the service is usually pretty crappy.
6) Bootleg - When you buy electronic products in Argentina, like computers or laptops, most of the programs that are preloaded aren´t original so when you try to update it in anyway, you can run into problems. Also, there are so many bootleg DVDs out there. Even the DVD rental stores operate completely on bootleg and that includes video games (playstation 2, Xbox 360). Video games look like blank DVDs that only work on game consoles that are from Argentina. If you have an American game console like we do these bootleg games won´t work.
7) Food - Food in Argentina seems to be limited to Crumb sandwiches (sandwiches de miga), pizza, pasta, meat pies (empanadas), chicken, and barbecue. Finding a wider array of diverse meals is difficult and in some cases impossible. They also lack any major selection of frozen food items like Hot Pockets, Pizza Rolls, Eggo Waffles, frozen TV dinners, etc).

I am in the process of tiring to establish residency,, but am still waiting to get a report back from the FBI.. My plan is to drive my truck that I have stored in northern Peru and a few personal things with me to your country. I hope I will not have a lot of problems at the border to Argentina. Seems like the process of establishing residency is long. When I have asked to for information from your Los Angels embassy  I have received very little to no help. Seems like either do not want to be bothered or really do not understand their job. Don't worry Peru has the same bureaucratic problem. We have the same problem here in the US, but at least when we finally get an answer it is correct. The one country I have had good help from in the pass has been Chile.. They really seem to take pride in helping.
Nevertheless,, I am still going to make the move and hope the end result of finally getting residency in Argentina will offset the bureaucratic problems I have encountered.


I was taking pictures in the Plaza de los dos Congresos.

I had my new laptop carrier over my shoulder with my laptop and my IPOD in it.

A woman came up to me, speaking Italian, and signaled with gestures and language I couldn't understand that I had bird poop on my shirt. To my surprise, she was right. She offered to help me clean it off. I shouldn't have let her, as things turned out.

While she was brushing me off, another woman came up to me asking directions.  I told her, “No sé. No soy de aquí.” By this time I had put the shoulder bag down.

Then another woman came up, asking for directions. I remember she had a cleft lip.

Just then, a young man sitting at the base of a statue yelled, “¡Oiga, señor! ¡Le están robando! (Hey, mister, they're robbing you!)”.

Sure enough, my shoulder bag wasn't there. I went into emotional shock. “WHAT? OH NO!”

ANOTHER woman came up and said (in Spanish), “Follow me! We'll go get a policeman! There he goes! There he goes! (referring to the thief)”. I ran behind her, but I knew it was useless. Look as I might, I couldn't see the thief she was referring to.

I realize now that she was leading me in the opposite direction while her cohorts carried off my bag.

As I walked away I had the strange sensation that, while I had lost something, I had also been relieved of a burden. That, if it came to that, I could survive with much less than I actually had. There I was, trying to philosophize away the total screwing I had just received.

Though I knew it was pointless, I approached a policeman and told him what had happened. His answer was (in Spanish, of course), “Just accept that that computer no longer exists.” It was an honest and correct piece of advice, if a bit annoying. He could have had me fill out a report, but he knew that would be pointless. I realized he was right and appreciated his frankness.

As I thought it all over afterward, all these strange things that happened in sequence were part of a choreographed team-effort to rob me. They saw me taking pictures, knew I was a hapless tourist, and signaled one another to go into action.

It was, although completely evil, a clever and well-executed dance.

The policeman wasn't exactly right though. I suspect that my computer still exists; it's just in the hands of somebody who bought it second hand off of one of those thieves.

No doubt they use the woman speaking Italian to throw a person off-guard. My thought was, “Here's a fellow tourist who wants to help me out.”


I won't relate the details of having wallets stolen twice on the SUBTE. But I will show how I learned from all these mishaps. As I was heading for Retiro Station on the SUBTE, I noticed, as the train pulled up, that a bunch of sneaky-looking guys were all heading for the train door I was headed for.

That was doubly weird because I'd seen virtually nobody waiting there on the platform. They all seemed to emerge out of nowhere. So alarms went off in my head. I had felt conspicuous all the way from Boedo on the subway, sitting there with my wheelable suitcase.

As they, and I, all crowded to squeeze through the door, I instinctively (an instinct fed by experience) put my hand in the pocket where my wallet was.

There was another hand in there! The man quickly withdrew it, without the wallet, apologizing as if his hand had just somehow accidentally slipped in there.

As I felt my wallet and realized how close I'd just come to losing it, I felt victorious, and knew that I had, at least this once, “cut them off at the pass”.

Buenos Aires has its share of crooks. I know that now. It doesn't mean the city isn't great, but it does have a shadow you have to be careful in.

Lately, I've been keeping my ID (a copy), a single credit card and my larger bills in my shirt pocket -- which is easier to protect when getting on or off a crowded bus.  Often I use a simple rubber band to keep the cards together.

Keeping cash, cards and an original ID all in a single wallet in a pants pocket:  I wouldn't even consider doing this anymore.

You can split up your cash into multiple pockets, and a secret compartment.  A gang of four put me on the ground here years ago and got $55 from my pants, but missed hundreds more that I had in my secret place.  I never carry that much cash any more unless it's for a specific purpose and will be used in a cash-necessary transaction immediately.

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