2022-05-05

Cultural Differences: Argentina & UK - Part II

Written by Kasia Pendlebury
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This is part two of the cultural differences between the UK (where I’m from) and Argentina (where I’m living at the moment). Check out part one, also on this page!
Cars vs pedestrianised cities/public transport

Argentina is a place where the motorised vehicle, be it a personal car, a bus or a taxi, dominates. When first arriving I was quite overwhelmed when crossing big streets such as 9 de Julio which has lots and lots of lanes! In the UK the only place you’ll find so many lanes on the roads is a motorway, and even there it’s not as many as in Buenos Aires. I’m used to most cities in Europe being built for pedestrians, and there are far fewer cities that are laid out in blocks as in the case in BsAs. There’s certainly advantages and disadvantages to both, for example if you get to learn the street names here it’s arguably a lot easier to navigate the city, but you do have to cross the road a lot more often, and the traffic is a lot more unpredictable! That being said, next to the roads in Buenos Aires there are often very good bike lanes, but I haven’t been brave enough to cycle on what would be the opposite side of the road for me here yet!

Distances!!!

Argentina is a huge country, and by huge I mean massive. I reckon it’s about 5 times the size of the UK. I was shocked when I went to Mar del Plata and it took me 5 hours to get somewhere that was still in Buenos Aires Province. You can feel this even in Buenos Aires Capital, it’s certainly a big city! Most places in the UK you can drive to in a day which certainly isn’t the case here, and trains are a very popular option too (even though they’re incredibly expensive). Here, for long distances, people either take a micro (a long distance bus which is often overnight) or a plane, which is much faster but a lot more expensive. I went to Mendoza by micro and our journey was 18 hours instead of the advertised 14, and whilst the last couple of hours were a bit excruciating it wasn’t such a bad journey at all. You can recline your seat when you want to sleep and on the way there I was on quite a fancy bus that had TV screens like on planes.

At a show

There is a lottt of energy at shows and concerts here. I went to see one of flamenco singer Diego El Cigala’s shows here in El Gran Rex and I was really surprised by how much people were shouting and clapping. In the UK if you’re in a theatre people tend to just clap, very few people shout things out (unless it's a show that requires audience participation) and it’s seen as quite annoying to do so. Here this is not the case at all, and you really have the feeling that the audience enjoys the performance, which may be true in the UK, but you wouldn’t be able to tell!

I think the conclusion here is things seem to be on a slightly bigger scale here than the UK! More cars, bigger distances, more energy in a concert. This doesn’t really surprise me, seeing that British people are known for being reserved and Latinos in general for being more open, but it’s definitely interesting to see how these differences manifest themselves in day to day life. Let’s wait and see if I notice more differences for a part 3!

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