In most people’s mind the word “expat” recalls images of luxury, shiny desks in multinational corporates and privileged lifestyles. On the other hand, when it comes about the term “immigrant”, we tend to think about dreams, hopes and cardboard suitcases. Two words, two deeply different concepts.
As someone who has been living in Asia for several years, I’ve always taken for granted that I was an. In Asia just looking Western immediately qualifies me as such from local people’s perspective.
In China most locals assume that all Westerners are beautiful, rich, smart and powerful. While in Hong Kong people are more used to foreign presence, you can still feel some respect and admiration towards the Western community. In Taiwan foreigners’ reputation is generally not that positive, as Taiwanese know that expats enjoy much better salaries and privileges than locals with fewer obligations.
In all these places though, Westerner equals expat.
Indeed in Asia the difference between expat and immigrant is purely based on race: Westerners are expats while dark-skinned people are immigrants. This mindset is very strong throughout East Asia because in countries such as China, Japan and Korea the local population is genetically very homogenous. For this reason, the concept of cultural identity corresponds to the concept of racial identity. For instance, in order to be considered Japanese you have to be born and raised in Japan in a Japanese family.
The distinction between expat and immigrant gets more blurred in the West. In countries like US, UK and Australia the local population is genetically very heterogeneous, therefore the national identity is based on shared culture rather than race. If you were born a raised in the US you are American, whether you look Caucasian, Asian or Black. For this reason living in a Western country as a foreigner is very different from moving to Asia from Europe or the US.
The elements that determine a foreigner’s social status in the West are education, money, career and social network. For instance a French banker who is employed by a big corporate and moves to London for work is an expat. On the other hand, a Spanish construction worker who moves to the US willing to take any job in order to pursue a better future is an immigrant.
Are expat and immigrant two words that simply define a rich foreigner and poor foreigner? The issue is not that easy.
Some people think that the real distinction between expat and immigrant relies on where salaries and taxes are paid. The true expat would be hired by a company in his home country and then sent to a foreign branch of the company for a limited amount of time. In this case salaries and taxes would be paid in the expat’s home country. Differently, if a person was hired directly in a foreign country with a local contract, then we could call him an immigrant.
But what about those people with high-profile jobs who decide to move to a new country autonomously and get very high paying jobs at local companies? Are they to be considered immigrants as well?
Another school of thought defines the difference between expat and immigrant according to the length of stay. For instance, if the foreigner planned to stay in the host country only for a limited amount of time, then he would be an expat. Differently, if the foreigner had in mind to stay long-term, integrate with the local community and settle down in the new country, the he would be an immigrant.
In conclusion, it looks like the difference between expat and immigrant is actually very ambiguous and everyone has his own idea about it. While in some areas of the world the distinction is purely based on racial factors, in other regions the elements that determine which category you belong to are less precise. Everyone picks for himself the definition he feels comfortable with.
That’s just my imagination, but I encourage you to daydream with me. Cue the Tango. In Argentina, it is mid-summer. Today’s forecast for Buenos Aires is mostly sunny with a high temperature of 82 degrees. Sounds nice, eh?
Our friend Tim is a fully deputized Washington Beer Blog Correspondent. Tim is currently on assignment in Argentina. I am guessing that his adventures don’t match my imagination. Tim is on vacation and is generously reporting to us about what kind of beer he finds as he bounces around the country between Buenos Aires and Mendoza. In a country where wine reigns supreme, Tim has managed to find some craft beer – cerveza artesenal, as the locals call it.
“I knew about Buller Brewing and sought them out,” says Tim via email. “I went to one of their pubs – the one right across the street from the Recoleta Cemetery, where Evita is buried.”
If there is a craft beer revolution happening in Argentina, and that is a big if, Buller Brewing started it. In operation for more than a decade, Buller Brewing operates two gastropubs in Buenos Aires: one near the famous cemetery and the other downtown. They are slick, urban establishments that morph into lively night clubs after dark. According to our reporter, Buller Brewing is not exactly like your cute, little neighborhood pub. After all, Buenos Aires makes Seattle look like a sleepy little one-horse town.
The beer lineup at Buller Brewing includes Light Lager, Blonde Ale, Honey Ale, IPA and Stout. Tim reports that the beers are serviceable but nothing like he is used to drinking at home (Seattle). That is, he’s not complaining. “Honey Ale is a big deal here in Argentina. It’s basically a blond ale with a sweet taste. Also, the IPAs here taste like malt and not hops.”
One more beer stop in Buenos Aires: Cerveza Atresenal Antares. Located in the Palermo neighborhood, this is one of several Antares locations in Argentina (at least a dozen). Again, this place is urbane, big and swanky. Unless something was lost in translation, the company’s main brewery is in Mar del Plata, where it produces beer for both domestic and export markets. Each location in Argentina has its own brewery, which comes complete with the individual brewer’s creative flair. Antares is not exactly small, but it is crafty and produces a full compliment of beer styles ranging from Kolsch to Stout. Yes, and a honey beer.
But it is not all about the big city. And my imagination runs wild again.
A dirty little kid with a big smile is totally unaware that I’m watching as he uses a stick to push a tireless bicycle wheel down the dusty street. Across the way, a group of more dirty kids chase a half-flat soccer ball and a cloud of dust around a vacant lot. I walk into a place that looks like it might be a bar. Everyone stares. I struggle to remember the words, knowing that a few precious phrases are essential for my survival. “Disculpe, señor, necesito una cerveza, por favor.” The beer is barely cold, it is closer to tepid, and the glass is dirty. Everything is perfect. “Muchas gracias.”
Ah, I can dream.
Tim tells us about the next stop. “The next brewery, we just happened to stumble upon,” Tim explains. “We found Cerveza Artesanal Pirca along the roadside in an area called Colonia Suiza as we approached the city of Mendoza. It’s on the other side of the county, up against the foothills of the Andes. Pirca has a rustic beer garden and taproom.”
The beer selection at Cerveza Artesanal Pirca was simple: a Rubio, a Rojo, and a Negro (blond, red, and black). Again, Tim describes the beers as adequate, but given how far away from home he is, they are welcomed and refreshing.
We’ve turned Tim loose now. Maybe we will hear more from him. We hope not. Just go have fun, Tim. Leave us to our daydreaming.
Photos by Tim West
I am a “professional” dancer because I teach tango and get paid for exhibitions. But I wouldn’t be a pro here in Buenos Aires if it weren’t for my partner. He is the draw. He is the Argentine who spent most of his life in the milongas, who lives and breathes and sings the tango. We work very well together, but if it weren’t for me, he could also work well with someone else who has the same tango point of view. Foreign dancers especially love getting to know a milonguero and hearing his stories and dance secrets that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to do, particularly if they don’t speak Castellano.
Ruben wasn’t always a professional dancer; he used to work in television until the crisis of 2001. He was passionate about his job, traveled all over Argentina working, and danced tango every night for the love of it. Now tango is his job. He earns his livelihood from tango. It’s now more than pleasure; it’s work–which he enjoys. He teaches, does taxi dancing, and gives historical Tango Tours of Buenos Aires. Sometimes this puts him in a difficult situation with friends at the milongas we go to for enjoyment and socializing. (We also go to milongas for work when we do milonga accompaniment.)
Foreign women friends expect that Ruben will dance with them. Sometimes he does. But if not, sometimes they outright ask him to dance, which puts him in a bad place as it does with all milongueros. For one thing, milongueros don’t like to be invited, nor do they want to refuse a lady, and for another, if he danced with all the women who wanted him to, what about me? What about our social evening together? We are at Los Consagrados or Chiqué to enjoy ourselves.
He will always dance one tanda with current students. It’s part of their education and he likes to check their progress. And he will bend over backward to make sure our friends get their drink orders, are comfortable, and help them have a great time at the milonga. But there are friends who expect dances with Ruben at the same time they are telling me they are taking classes at DNI, or El Beso, or expensive privates with Maximiliano Superstar. They ask me to “tell” Ruben to dance with them! Ruben owns his own dance. (I do not give him orders.) Read more here. They expect him to give it away for free. They forget that the tango is what he has to sell.
Do these same people ask for free consultations from doctors and lawyers at social gatherings back home? Ruben is a low-profile real milonguero, not a stage dancer who tours the world giving classes and making a big name for himself. He’s in Buenos Aires every week of the year dancing in the milongas, as he’s done for the past 30 years. All the women want to dance with him and all of the men want to dance like him. But he is a professional. Friendly, affable, funny, and fun as well. And available for classes and milonga accompaniment. I wish the women would remember that at the milongas.
With electrical usage way up and insufficient power generation to handle the demand, rolling power outages are the order of the day in Buenos Aires. Here are some tips to prepare yourself for the next outage:
– First of all, control your energy consumption. The hospital and elderly home down the street need the power a lot more then you need to run the air conditioner at 18 degrees.
-It’s not a bad idea to acclimate yourself in advance to using the stairs for when their is no elevator. If you live on the twelfth floor, take the stairs a couple of times a week and build up those great calf muscles.
– Security can be an issue when the power goes out. Be aware of your surroundings and be careful who you let in the building.
– Depending on the size of the tanks on the roof of your building. Once the power goes out you may soon run out of running water. Prepare yourself by keeping as many containers of water as possible handy. No need to generate more trash by buying bottled water if you are only going to use it for washing dishes, flushing toilet, etc. Just save any old plastic bottles, tupperware, old coffee jars, etc. and fill ’em up and put ’em under the sink.
– Fill the bidet in order to have water to flush the toilet
– A watering can for plants can provide a sorely-needed shower in desperate circumstances, especially if you have a friend to help you pour.
– Fill several tupperware containers with water and freeze them to preserve your food. Leave some in the freezer and move some to the fridge when the power goes out to keep your food cold.
– Put your flashlight with extra batteries in a specific place by the door and remember to put it back whenever you use it. Avoid candles, the fire department is busy enough this time of year.
-Plan on travel delays. Porteños are very vocal in their disapproval of power outages. Don’t be surprised to find burning piles of garbage piled up in intersections of affected areas.
-Don’t forget about any elderly or disabled people who may live in your building. Drop by and make sure they are ok. Offer to help carrying groceries or water up the stairs if you are able-bodied.
-Relax. Carry on. It should be back in a few hours.
Photo Source: parabuenosaires.com
Article by Claire McKeever.
When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, I have to say that my go to drink was a glass of Malbec. However, on closer inspection, I’ve been so impressed by the selection of artisan/craft beer on offer, and the inviting pubs it’s served in, that a well brewed pint has often been just as appealing (especially a honey based one).
Even after Oktoberfest has ended, you don’t need an excuse to share a few beers and enjoy some of Buenos Aires’ best locally brewed craft beer:
A new kid on the block, Otra Vuelta keeps it simple with a selection of two artisan beers on tap and a fridge full of honey, light, dark and even smoked based brews (local and international). It may be light on pint choices but its ski-lodge esque interior, friendly staff, excellent happy hour and complimentary snacks (a very important part of the craft beer experience) keeps me coming back for more.
- Gurrachaga 1324, Palermo.
- Happy Hour 18:00-21:30.
- Opening hours: 18:00 – 14:00.
A popular chain of artisan beer pubs, Antares has spread its wings for very good reason. With a wide selection on tap, happy hour and locations across the city (as well as across Argentina), it’s often a good choice if you’re wanting a decent beer and lively atmosphere. There have been times I’ve visited when doors have closed due to limited capacity (especially during happy hour) so make sure you make it in good time to get your order in.
- Las Canitas, Palermo (Armenia 1477) & San Telmo (Bolivar 491).
- See website for happy hour & opening hours (it differs for each location) & for other locations across Argentina (including Bariloche, Mendoza & Cordoba).
If you find yourself in Recoleta and in need of something exciting to quench your thirst after all that sightseeing then I would recommend this place. Its beer garden, very cool ¼ pint tastings and the fact it is all made in-house makes it a real treat. Rest assured you can also order a ‘proper’ pint if that’s what you’re after. There’s also a base in ‘microcentro’ but unless you want to nestle a pint amidst lots of office workers then you’re best to stick to the Recoleta version.
- Presidente Roberto M. Ortiz 1827, Recoleta / Paraguay 428, Microcentro (city centre).
- Happy Hour 6-8pm.
- Weekdays open from 12:00 / Saturday from 21:00.
This place is pretty magical. I must admit it is lacking when it comes to offering as wide a selection as other artisan beer locations across the city (at least when I’ve visited as half the menu hasn’t been available) but the fact you’re sat in the middle of trees and fairy lights makes it quite special. It’s definitely worth a visit and again, you’ll find another great happy hour if you’re wanting to grab a bargain.
- Malabia 1401, Palermo.
- Opening hours 18:00 until …
It’s no surprise that an Irish inspired pub makes it on my list. What I love about Breoghan’s is not only the selection of own-brewed beers but also the authentic surroundings; its bricked walls, wine barrels used as tables and old school seating making you feel like you’re in a ‘real’ pub. Happy hour is more unofficial and signalled with a bell so hopefully you’ll not miss on that.
- Bolivar 860, San Telmo.
- Opening hours: 18:00 until …
Knowing how to speak two languages is not the same thing as knowing how to translate. Translation is a special skill that professionals work hard to develop. In their book Found in Translation, professional translators Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche give a spirited tour of the world of translation, full of fascinating stories about everything from volunteer text message translators during the Haitian earthquake rescue effort, to the challenges of translation at the Olympics and the World Cup, to the personal friendships celebrities like Yao Ming and Marlee Matlin have with their translators.
The importance of good translation is most obvious when things go wrong. Here are nine examples from the book that show just how high-stakes the job of translation can be.
1. THE SEVENTY-ONE-MILLION-DOLLAR WORD
In 1980, 18-year-old Willie Ramirez was admitted to a Florida hospital in a comatose state. His friends and family tried to describe his condition to the paramedics and doctors who treated him, but they only spoke Spanish. Translation was provided by a bilingual staff member who translated “intoxicado” as “intoxicated.” A professional interpreter would have known that “intoxicado” is closer to “poisoned” and doesn’t carry the same connotations of drug or alcohol use that “intoxicated” does. Ramirez’s family believed he was suffering from food poisoning. He was actually suffering from an intracerebral hemorrhage, but the doctors proceeded as if he were suffering from an intentional drug overdose, which can lead to some of the symptoms he displayed. Because of the delay in treatment, Ramirez was left quadriplegic. He received a malpractice settlement of $71 million.
2. YOUR LUSTS FOR THE FUTURE
When President Carter traveled to Poland in 1977, the State Department hired a Russian interpreter who knew Polish, but was not used to interpreting professionally in that language. Through the interpreter, Carter ended up saying things in Polish like “when I abandoned the United States” (for “when I left the United States”) and “your lusts for the future” (for “your desires for the future”), mistakes that the media in both countries very much enjoyed.
3. WE WILL BURY YOU
At the height of the cold war, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev gave a speech in which he uttered a phrase that interpreted from Russian as “we will bury you.” It was taken as chilling threat to bury the U.S. with a nuclear attack and escalated the tension between the U.S. and Russia. However, the translation was a bit too literal. The sense of the Russian phrase was more that “we will live to see you buried” or “we will outlast you.” Still not exactly friendly, but not quite so threatening.
4. DO NOTHING
In 2009, HSBC bank had to launch a $10 million rebranding campaign to repair the damage done when its catchphrase “Assume Nothing” was mistranslated as “Do Nothing” in various countries.
5. MARKETS TUMBLE
A panic in the world’s foreign exchange market led the U.S. dollar to plunge in value after a poor English translation of an article by Guan Xiangdong of the China News Service zoomed around the Internet. The original article was a casual, speculative overview of some financial reports, but the English translation sounded much more authoritative and concrete.
6. WHAT’S THAT ON MOSES’S HEAD?
St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators, studied Hebrew so he could translate the Old Testament into Latin from the original, instead of from the third century Greek version that everyone else had used. The resulting Latin version, which became the basis for hundreds of subsequent translations, contained a famous mistake. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai his head has “radiance” or, in Hebrew, “karan.” But Hebrew is written without the vowels, and St. Jerome had read “karan” as “keren,” or “horned.” From this error came centuries of paintings and sculptures of Moses with horns and the odd offensive stereotype of the horned Jew.
7. CHOCOLATES FOR HIM
In the 50s, when chocolate companies began encouraging people to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Japan, a mistranslation from one company gave people the idea that it was customary for women to give chocolate to men on the holiday. And that’s what they do to this day. On February 14, the women of Japan shower their men with chocolate hearts and truffles, and on March 14 the men return the favor. An all around win for the chocolate companies!
8. YOU MUST DEFEAT SHENG LONG
In the Japanese video game Street Fighter II a character says, “if you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Punch, you cannot win!” When this was translated from Japanese into English, the characters for “rising dragon” were interpreted as “Sheng Long.” The same characters can have different readings in Japanese, and the translator, working on a list of phrases and unaware of the context, thought a new person was being introduced to the game. Gamers went crazy trying to figure out who this Sheng Long was and how they could defeat him. In 1992, as an April Fools Day joke, Electronic Gaming Monthly published elaborate and difficult to execute instructions for how to find Sheng Long. It wasn’t revealed as a hoax until that December, after countless hours had no doubt been wasted.
9. TROUBLE AT WAITANGI
In 1840, the British government made a deal with the Maori chiefs in New Zealand. The Maori wanted protection from marauding convicts, sailors, and traders running roughshod through their villages, and the British wanted to expand their colonial holdings. The Treaty of Waitangi was drawn up and both sides signed it. But they were signing different documents. In the English version, the Maori were to “cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty.” In the Maori translation, composed by a British missionary, they were not to give up sovereignty, but governance. They thought they were getting a legal system, but keeping their right to rule themselves. That’s not how it turned out, and generations later the issues around the meaning of this treaty are still being worked out.
Bondiola is a particular cut of pork, unique in its dimensions and presentation, that can be found at any typical restaurant in Buenos Aires. Taken from the shoulder and neck, its nearest North American equivalent would be the Boston Butt, but porteños usually don’t cook it as an entire roast like the yanquis. You can find bondiola in fiambre (lunchmeat) form or ready for the asador at your local carniceria.
The sandwich de bondiola, with luscious, thick slices of pork and salsa criolla or chimichurri or even barbacoa (if your tastes lie that way) is one of the flavors you can’t miss when you come to Buenos Aires. Head down to Costanera Sur in Puerto Madero to sample this reasonably priced delicacy made by a professional. With an array of fresh veggies and salsas to choose from, you can’t go wrong. Order it completo if you want them to add ham, cheese and a fried egg on top of all that delicious pork. Your vegetarian friends can order a provoleta sandwich if they are unfortunate enough to be trying to eat in BA.
For the gourmet experience, try the bondiola rellena at your favorite BA steakhouse. Imagine tender, exquisite pork stuffed with plums, mushrooms, or even bacon if you are a glutton for porkishment. The bondiola mechada con panceta at La Cabrera comes highly recommended, if not a little pricy. No matter how you slice it, bondiola is a savory delight you can’t pass up when you visit Buenos Aires.
It’s no secret that Argentines are big meat eaters. Not only do they eat more than their weight in meat — seriously — but they also have some of the best beef in the world. This already gives them a one up on the rest of us when it comes to food, and that’s just the beginning of it. Epic meat eating isn’t the only thing that defines (and elevates) Argentine food culture from the rest of the world. Though, their day long asados — grill outs to us — are what dreams are made of. They’re also home to the rich wine region of Mendoza, which produces some of the best bottles of Malbec you can get your hands on. And pasta. So much pasta. These few point alone already make the Argentines better at life than the rest of us when it comes to food. And then there are all these reasons too:
Grass-fed, free-range beef isn’t a privileged choice, it’s just the way it is.
Steak is their religion and they treat it with respect. Argentines eat close to 150 LBS of meat per person, per year. And we can’t really blame them because their cattle is arguably the best in the world. Though sadly, feedlots are slowly starting to make their way to Argentina.
The pasta tastes like it was made by an Italian grandmother.
Probably because it was. Argentina has a large population of Italian immigrants which means that this country is rich not only in its steak but in its pasta too.
They melt an ENTIRE BAR of chocolate into a glass of milk.
No one can make hot chocolate better than this Argentine hot chocolate — also known as a submarino — NO ONE.
When an Argentine makes you milanesa, it means they really love you.
It takes love, time and bloody knuckles to make a really good milanesa. (Traditionally, the filets are pounded thin by hand.) So when someone serves you that for dinner, you should know that you’re in good hands.
Breakfast is served with a side of awesome, also known as medialunas.
If you like croissants, you’ll love medialunas. They’re Argentina’s smaller and sweeter version of the beloved French pastry. Medialunas are most often served at breakfast with a cafe au lait. And since they’re smaller than most breakfast pastries we like to think that means you’re entitled to more than one.
They know that tea tastes best when shared with friends.
Mate, an infusion of the yerba mate plant, runs through the Argentine’s veins. They drink it all day everyday, out of a customary gourd with a metal straw. It is enjoyed with friends, sipped and passed.
Dulce. De. Leche.
We will forever respect Argentina for truly seeing how great this milky caramel is. They put it on — and in — everything. Which means that if you ever find yourself in this great country, you’ll be guaranteed to eat a kilo of dulce de leche. (And your life will never be better.)
Sausage sandwiches are an appetizer. Seriously.
Choripan, a sandwich made with sausage and sauce (typically chimichurri), is possibly the best sandwich in the world — especially because it’s usually served as an appetizer at asados. No point messing around with crudite.
They also serve handheld meat pies before asados.
Are you beginning to catch on to a theme here? MEAT. But empanadas are filled with more than just beef. You can get them with chicken, seafood and vegetarian fillings too. It’s great.
Argentine asados put every other kind of barbecue to shame.
When it comes to grilling meat, no one does it like the Argentines. A traditional asado first starts with offal (like sweet breads) and morcilla (blood sausage). Next comes the choripan (which we just talked about). Lastly they serve the serious cuts of beef, like lomo or vacio. And this doesn’t even include the salads. It’s epic in the best of ways.
The alfajor is a national hero.
Even more so than Evita. Not officially of course, but this cookie — stuffed with dulce de leche of course — is so good it can make anyone’s bad day, week or even year better. You want this.
They found Coke’s best friend.
Rum doesn’t belong when there’s Fernet to mix Coke with. This classic Italian amaro is so loved in Argentina they produce 25 million liters of the stuff a year. We thank them for figuring out this perfect pairing.
In Argentina, meals are even better on Sunday
Most often enjoyed with family. And it’s usually an asado, obviously. The perfect end to the week if you ask us.
My father complains all the time. His back aches, the supermarket seems to be further and further away every day, computers… oh, don’t get him started. He was very active when he was younger and all of a sudden his years are weighing heavily on him. “It is tough being old”, he says. But some old people are tough. They are as tough as old boots.
Take three elderly men in the headlines recently. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the great British explorer, has pulled out of an expedition across Antarctica because of severe frostbite. Some people were disappointed. I wasn’t. He is 68 years old and had the stamina to ski in temperatures close to -30C. No matter that he had to give up now. For me he is even a greater hero than when he was younger.
Pope Benedict XVI took a lot of flak because he resigned. I praise his courage to stay in the post till the ripe old age of 85.
But the person I would give a gold medal to is Fauja Singh from India. He has finally given up his career as a marathon runner. Singh is 101 years old! That’s resilience for you!
I think we should celebrate old people more. We should tell them every week how brave they are. It is tough being old, but we should be grateful for it. There is a quote attributed to French actor and singer Maurice Auguste Chevalier: “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.”
Go and give a kiss to your old relatives!
don’t get him started – don’t encourage him to discuss the subject because he will never stop complaining about it.
his years are weighing heavily on him – he is very old and feels weak and vulnerable.
as tough as old boots – very strong and does not get injured easily.
frostbite – injury to the fingers, toes, ears or nose caused by very low temperatures.
stamina – the ability to do physical activity for a long time.
took a lot of flak – was heavily criticised.
ripe old age – very old.
resilience – ability to recover quickly from problems and difficulties.
Let’s be honest, it’s obvious. To drastically improve your quality of life while living in Buenos Aires, you need to learn the local castellano. Why? Read on for just a few of the reasons.
Author: Emily, American, BA Expat since 2008
Dealing with the logistics of BA life
Whether you need help with public transportation, getting directions, talking to your building’s super or doorman, renting an apartment, dealing with the immigration office, or dealing with local businesses or services (internet, telephone, etc.)…it’s a fact that being able to speak well, and understand well, is absolutely essential.
If you ask around, almost all expats in Buenos Aires will agree that speaking fluent Spanish is necessary for most jobs, unless you work online, teach English, or have your own business. Speaking Spanish will definitely open professional doors during your time in Buenos Aires.
Furthering your education
UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires) is an excellent public university, with many affordable postgraduate programs open to foreigners. Also, these programs are generally in the evening, so you can keep your day job while you’re in school. However, I have yet to hear of a single program that is in any language other than Spanish!
Learning new things
Buenos Aires has a world of opportunity when it comes to learning new things: art classes, dances classes, business conferences, educational seminars, bartending courses, political protests, clubs, organizations, events, workshops and more. However, the large majority of these opportunities are in Spanish, so if you want to take advantage, you’ll need to learn the language. Last year I started attending a Filetado course, and I’m planning to sign up for a wine course and singing lessons this year, all opportunities that wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t speak Spanish.
Enjoying local culture
Buenos Aires has a wonderful theater district, with a variety of plays and productions to enjoy, and even great stand-up comedy. Argentina also has a well-known and vibrant film industry. However, if you want to enjoy BA’s local film and theater productions, you need to be fluent in the local language! Obviously there won’t be any English subtitles at the movie theater…
Understanding the Argentine personality
There are many things about Argentines that can be learned from their language. Their strong Italian roots, for example, are reflected in the sheer volume of Italian words they use and their many body gestures. You begin to understand the dichotomy of their interest / lack of interest in politics by listening to them debating with each other, and their somewhat ironic sense of humor also explains a lot about who they are.
Integrating and making local friends
There are definitely Argentines that speak English, so I’m not saying that not speaking Spanish means you can’t make local friends, but it will isolate you from integrating into a social group or family. Keeping up with the conversation, understanding jokes, showing your personality and sharing your opinions are all fundamental parts of integrating into any social group, so doing so here would certainly improve your quality of life.