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Dear Awkward Girl from the Suburbs: It Gets Better.

My 1 year reflection on Expat life in Buenos Aires

Today is my birthday!  However, that is not really the focus of this post (though you can still feel free to send me cards and presents!). This week, June 23rd to be exact, is my 1 year anniversary as an Expat in Buenos Aires. That shit is crazy.

When I first moved here I said I would stay for a minimum of one year. One year to make the money I spent moving worth it, one year to figure out if I wanted to run home, stay longer, or change my mind completely about everything. The verdict?

I am staying.

Buenos Aires and I have a very complicated relationship. You might know a bit about this if you read my blog regularly. I have had many issues with Buenos Aires over things such as terrible customer service, impossible visa requirements, overpriced apartments, old women who look me directly in the eye and tell me I look fat, tell me I need to work less and find a man to support me, etc etc.

So why am I staying?

The truth is, despite everything, I feel better about myself and my life ever since moving here. Yes, there have been some very rough times. I have cried. I have desperately wished for a flight home. I have yelled at Argentina as if it were an asshole boyfriend who would surprise me with ice cream one day and then stand me up for a date 2 days later. Argentina hurts me sometimes. Argentina pisses me off. However, Argentina lets me be who I need to be.

Let´s rewind to Rease, ages 2-18.

Location: Suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, meaning that as a slightly tan girl with dark features, she was “ethnic” and also the only honors kid with tattoos and way too many studded bracelets.

Athletic Ability: Can only finish the mandatory mile run in school if ice cream is promised and even then she will not cross the finish line is less than 15 minutes, usually bitching about the asthmatic kids who didn’t have to run.

I wish I could say this was the worst of my childhood photos.

Ambition: Get A’s in everything all the time and be so fantastically awesome on paper that if you were to read her permanent record your head would explode from the intelligence oozing from the pages.

Don’t get me wrong, I was a happy kid and young adult. The problem was that I have always been a crazy over-planner. I love schedules, budgets, 5-year plans and all that madness. While I was in the US, I lived for the future so much that sometimes I just forgot all about the present.

I graduated college in 2009. The year 2010 was the most challenging year of my life. If you haven’t read the details, you probably should, it would help you understand my choices a little better.

In the US, I worked as a bilingual preschool teacher and translator for a private school. I had an amazing apartment right next door. I was the youngest teacher at the school.

I could sit here and give you a myriad of reasons that would prove how successful and awesome I was at the age of 22, but seriously, who the hell cares?

I wanted more. I needed more. I moved to Buenos Aires just because I wanted to try it. So now, looking back at the last year, I can tell you a few things.

It hasn’t been easy.

A short list of frustrations, disappointments and overall epic failures:

  • I came to Buenos Aires with a savings account full of money I had saved for years. I don’t even have a savings account anymore.
  • I wear a size 9 but I have yet to find a pair of jeans that I can pull past my thighs.
  • I have held 5 different jobs in 1 year.
  • I spent Christmas sweating my ass off in 100 degree weather while it snowed in my hometown, something that never happens on Christmas.
  • I missed All Day Cookie Weekend, a tradition my mom and I have carried on for my entire life.
  • Not a single one of my friends or family members has been able to afford to visit me.
  • It took me 5 months to get a work visa. It was expensive, stressful and the whole process is largely responsible for the draining of my savings.

Now for a list of reasons why my life is better here:

  • I still get to be a workaholic, but I am testing out different talents. Instead of having to pick just one passion, I get to work on this

    We  should also note that my hair got better and I hang out with awesome people like Ayngelina

    website, do freelance writing and virtual assistant services, teach private preschool lessons, and still hold a full time office job that keeps me legal and allows me to interact with awesome coworkers.

  • I relax a little easier. I am still not great at relaxing, but being here has really helped me work on that flaw.
  • I have actually been described as a positive person multiple times. I have always been a pessimist. I have always had friends and been outgoing, but I have always hated people so much, that I didn’t make as many new friends as I should have. As an expat, you are really thrown into a world of ever-changing relationships and you have to bond and make friendships whenever you can.
  • People finally see me as an athlete. Do you hear that, chubby Rease from the suburbs? Future Rease kicks ass in half marathons, boot camp classes and can run a 8:35 mile! Don´t worry, ice cream is still a very important aspect of life.
  • My Spanish is freaking fantástico. I was fluent before I moved here, but I definitely didn’t know how to make phone calls about health insurance and bank accounts, nor did I know nearly as much slang.

 

I have no idea how much longer I will stay here, but for now, this is my home. That being said, I couldn’t be more excited about spending 6 weeks in the US this August and September. Being away from my friends has been the hardest part of this transition and I cannot wait to see them, take serious advantage of free refills in restaurants, and buy some jeans for my big American ass.

 

21 Responses to Dear Awkward Girl from the Suburbs: It Gets Better.

  • Emily says:

    Rease, this makes me love you even more. You were an awesome fat girl! I love that the ice cream man was your inspiration for running the mile!!!!!!

  • I love this post! And I won’t even attempt to try on jeans in this country because I don’t think I could handle the rejection.

    To celebrate your 1-year anniversary here (and my birthday), we should have a an ice cream merienda 🙂

    • Rease says:

      You never need to give me a reason to have ice cream, but I am so in. Name the time and place and I will be there to order a massive ice cream cone.

  • Lexi says:

    As I’ve said before – I can likely fly with some frequent flier miles to BA, but it would likely be in December. If that works for you, I want to come visit! <3

    • Rease K says:

      I will totally be here! Since I am coming home in August/September there is no way I am making it home for Christmas so come visit! It’s a bajillion degrees here then!

  • Jared says:

    Rease,

    I definitely understand the frustrations. What I’ve found is that I run into similar frustrations in other countries as well (it always seems worst wherever I’m living at the moment). Best thing to do to overcome them in my opinion, is exactly what you’re doing soon: go home for a few weeks, and see how comfortable yet strange it is at home. You’ll be re-energized!!

    Jared

    • Rease says:

      That’s definitely what I plan to do. I know that most of my frustrations could happen anywhere, even in a new city in the US. While some of them are cultural, it is great to be a part of a different culture. I just try to find the humour in the differences and go with it.

  • twoOregonians says:

    Yes! Choosing to move, choosing to venture out beyond the familiar, choosing to face head on the challenges and the joys – these moves of courage can only make you a richer person, regardless of the savings account levels. When I moved to New Zealand at twenty, it changed so much about me for the better…and seven years later I can’t wait to move away from home again and experience more of the world. We are headed to B.A. for a month next Feb/March as part of a longer experience abroad. Thanks for the realistic and inspiring words about Argentina 🙂

    • Rease says:

      Thank you so much for such a nice comment! I will still be in Buenos Aires in February and March so please send me an email before you arrive and we will meet up! Also, feel free to send me any questions about Argentina if you are concerned about something.

    • Rease K says:

      Natalia, are you in BA right now? I just took a look at your blog and noticed it is a lot of BsAs stuff. If so, let’s meet up!

  • SMK says:

    Awesome post, Rease. Youve always been able to outrun (or outbounce skyzone-style!) me in my mind 🙂 its been great following your posts, too. such an excellent glimpse into your thoughts and life!

    • Rease K says:

      Thanks, Sean but we have both seen clear proof that I cannot outrun you! Maybe in distance but with those long legs of yours you get to raptor speed and I just feel like death. Either way, you make a great running partner. I am glad to know you are keeping up with my posts. If only you would blog more so I could say the same.

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