La Cultura de Argentina (Argentine Culture)

I am over half way though my abroad program. In many ways, I feel like I belong, yet in other ways, I am still learning the quirks of Mendocino society. The period of initial culture shock has long past; however, every now and then I need to remind myself to take a breath and remember that I’m not from Mendoza and any frustration that I still have is normal. Nevertheless, there are three Argentine customs worthy of sharing.

It is common practice to kiss everyone (to an extent) hello and goodbye. I’m referring to a cheek kiss, which can seem odd, especially if you don’t know the person. When I am in the United States, I will greet my family and friends with a hug if I haven’t seen them in a while. If I am walking to class, or frequently interact with them, I usually smile, say hello, and exchange a few words. When I meet a new person, the extent of physical contact is a hand shake. That is not the case in Argentina. My host sister threw a party for her boyfriend’s birthday a couple months ago. Every single person I met went in for the kiss. This happened only three weeks after I arrived, so predictably, I was a little taken aback. When I decided to go to bed, I kissed every person goodbye.

Argentines love their meat, so unsurprisingly, the Asado (barbeque) is a very popular tradition. My host family has a large, outdoor, stone stove, which I was informed immediately upon arriving was for Asados. The meat options usually consist of steak, pork, and sausage and are meant to serve 10 or more people. I am not a frequent meat eater, but Argentina does have good meat.

Drinking mate is a cultural phenomenon. It is impossible to not see someone in possession of this popular tea. It has a similar flavor to green tea and is consumed with or without sugar. I like it both ways. What I find most interesting is how people drink mate. One person brings the hot water, tea leaves, and mug (with a metal straw). He/she then fills the mug with the tea leaves and pours in the water. That person will then drink the mate until there is no more water. Once it is finished, he/she will fill the mug with more water and pass the mug to the next person (the same mug and straw). This continues until every person present has drank the mate and there is no more water. My first thought after witnessing this was “that’s unhygienic.” I was even more taken aback when this cultural norm occurred during class, and the professor was included. After my initial misgivings, I now engage in the same activity.

After two and a half months, culture shock is appropriately named, but as I have discovered, every culture is wonderfully unique.


Zoe Kaldor

 ARGENTINA – IFSA: MENDOZA UNIVERSITIES PROGRAM, 2018 FALL

Zoe Kaldor is an International Studies and Strategic Communication double major. She is studying abroad with IFSA-Butler in Mendoza, Argentina. Originally from New York, DU’s study abroad program was one of the reasons Zoe chose to attend DU. She specifically chose to study abroad in Argentina because she wants to improve her Spanish skills and experience a new culture, for she believes it is so important in an increasingly global society to be able to communicate in languages besides English as well as experience different ways of life. Zoe is an avid traveler and loves to explore new places; she is excited she gets to do both.

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Let’s Talk About Food!

Common theory is that college students will gain the most weight during their freshman year. The dreaded freshman 15 has turned into the stuff of legend. What most people don’t realize is that studying abroad is an even more prime time to gain weight. Due to the delicious food, lack of exercise and often increased alcohol consumption (we are of legal drinking age after all), it should not be surprising to gain extra pounds.

The typical Argentine diet has not done me any favors. It is rich in meat, cheese, and french fries, which are all delicious, but high in fat. Dessert is huge as well. Argentines love Alfajores (sugar cookies with dulce de leche and coconut flakes) and Chocotorta (layered cookies and dulce de leche). Predictably, my sugar and fat consumption has increased. I justified this by walking a lot. However, I got to a point where I had less energy and just felt gross. I started eating fruit for breakfast and some form of vegetable for lunch and dinner. My host family has been great about including vegetables in our meals.

Ironically, the times I ate the healthiest was when I traveled. My friends and I all craved vegetables, so we sought out places where this was possible. We had the best food when we cooked ourselves. One night, we ate spinach gnocchi with homemade tomato sauce, spinach and asparagus. Another night, we made falafel with Israeli salad. The final night, we made veggie burgers with charred cauliflower. This was probably the most delicious. I have included the recipe below.

Diet is difficult to navigate abroad. You want to try everything, but at the same time, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet. I personally think it’s important and okay to cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to occasionally indulge.

Veggie Burgers

  • 2 cans of garbanzo beans
  • 1 can of lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  •  Parsley
  • Cumin/curry powder
  •  Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup of oats
  1. Boil garbanzo bean and lentils until soft. Drain and mash immediately. Burgers will stick better.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic and then sauté them. Add to the bean and lentil mixture.
  3. Add the lemon juice, parsley, cumin or curry powder, salt, and pepper. Quantity is based on preference, so taste the mixture as you go.
  4. Add the oats. It helps the mixture stay together. Add more oats if necessary.
  5. Make the patties (makes 4 large patties or 6-8 smaller ones).
  6. Freeze for 30 mins or until desired cooking time.

Zoe Kaldor

 ARGENTINA – IFSA: MENDOZA UNIVERSITIES PROGRAM, 2018 FALL

Zoe Kaldor is an International Studies and Strategic Communication double major. She is studying abroad with IFSA-Butler in Mendoza, Argentina. Originally from New York, DU’s study abroad program was one of the reasons Zoe chose to attend DU. She specifically chose to study abroad in Argentina because she wants to improve her Spanish skills and experience a new culture, for she believes it is so important in an increasingly global society to be able to communicate in languages besides English as well as experience different ways of life. Zoe is an avid traveler and loves to explore new places; she is excited she gets to do both.

Link to Posts

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