Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Lost Art of Conversation

... or should I just say the lost ability to have a conversation? 

I'm having a great time in Argentina, but I miss some things from back home. Of course, I miss my family and my friends - that goes without saying. 

But the other thing I'm missing is the day to day conversations that I usually have with a variety of people.  Don't get me wrong - John and I are still speaking to each other!!!   But he leaves for work around 7:30 am and doesn't get home til around 6:30 pm or later.  And I don't think it's healthy to have one person as your sole social partner.

My plans for this trip came together rather quickly, and we were uncertain as to whether we would be based in Buenos Aires or Cordoba, so there wasn't a lot of time to do much research beforehand. I knew almost no Spanish, but last year I was able to travel throughout Europe and was able to find people who spoke English almost everywhere I went.

In Argentina, it's been more of a challenge. Very very few people speak English, so the chances of running into someone in a store who speaks English and having a quick conversation are almost nil.  I'm working away at learning Spanish, but I"m still far from having any sort of conversational fluency.  It's mostly nouns and a lot of pointing.  Sort of Tarzan's version of English.  In BA, I was in the grocery store one afternoon and heard a number of people speaking English.  They were a group of young Canadians who were part of the cast of Disney on Ice, who had just arrived in BA for a few weeks.  They were stocking up on groceries for their residence, and I spoke to a few girls in the checkout ahead of me who were from Charlottetown, Saskatoon and Toronto.  It was such a treat to just be able to talk to someone for a few minutes, and not struggle to understand and be understood.

I'm used to being very social and heading out with friends for a movie, a round of golf , dinner or a game of scrabble.  It's been difficult not to be able to do that here, except when John is available.  I didn't think it would be easy to meet people in Argentina, but I had no idea it would be this tough.

My strategy this morning was to search out expat websites and blogs from other people in Argentina to see if I could meet some people that way. So far, no luck.  Most of the blogs are from people who are in BA, or were here but have already left.  Frustrating!

I need to have a better strategy when I come back in October.  Right now it is winter time, which is pretty quiet in terms of tourists.  When I come back, it will be summer here so there may be more people sitting at outdoor cafes and out in the parks.  But I don't want to look like a stalker, lurking about and waiting to hear someone speaking English.  I've thought about signing up for Spanish lessons so I can meet other people who are learning the language.  When I went to the school to see about lessons for this week, only one other person was taking lessons.  There seems to be a very strong expat community in BA but not so much here in Cordoba.  Besides moving to BA, any other ideas???  I'd love to hear strategies that other people have used.


  1. Oh no! I remember being in London for the first time (an English speaking country!) and not talking for 6 days except to order food. It's not that I couldn't communicate, I was just too nervous to approach strangers and hope they were willing to chat with me! In BA it was the same thing PLUS the language gap. So I get you. I'm sorry there aren't more opportunities to meet people in Cordoba. But keep plugging away at your Spanish. You'll get there!


  2. Your situation reminds me of when I was in Italy for a month (more than 20 years ago). The only other person who spoke English was my (now ex-) husband. I had taken a couple of courses at the University as options towards my Arts degree and I was used to hearing conversations around the Sunday dinner table ... but now I was expected to speak and not just listen. It was so frustrating! I also remember only having one English language book with me and it was awful ... but of course I read it from cover to cover because it was all that I had.


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