So this is my first grand adventure to South America. (Just three more continents to go until I’ve hit all seven, yay!) As a part of a study-abroad program through my school, I will be taking a Spanish language course and an Argentinian culture course throughout my time there with hopes of benefitting from the cultural immersion experience. But let’s face it, the real reason I signed up for this 4-to-5-week trip was for the four days that we will be in Patagonia seeing the glaciers.
In preparation for this escapade, I have been reading up on some of the various cultural practices and general etiquette for Argentina and I thought that I would share some of my favorite/most useful findings with you in segment I’d like to call:
How to not be an annoying American tourist: Argentina edition
- When in conversation, Argentines usually maintain very little distance between speakers and it is also normal for them to casually touch each other in conversation. Don’t freak out! This expressive way of communication may be different from what you’re used to, but they will find it offensive if you reject their style.
- Argentines are very fashion-conscious. Dress well and in a professional manner. Also, don’t be offended if they make fun of your weight or clothing—it’s just part of the Argentine humor.
- Don’t be on time to dinner. It’s rude. Arrive at least 30-45 minutes late.
- On the contrary, don’t be late to a fútbol game. Or to lunch.
- There are many specific cultural taboos and ceremonies when it comes to pouring wine—essentially, avoid pouring wine at all costs. Also, wait until a toast has been made to take a sip of your drink.
- A hug and kiss on the cheek is a common greeting between friends.
- The “OK” and “thumbs up” gestures are considered rude in Argentina.
- Bring a gift of flowers, chocolates, or pastries when invited to someone’s home. For my host mom, I bought her a coffee-table book of gorgeous pictures from Cape Cod National Seashore, where I was doing field work for most of this spring.
- This isn’t really a tip, but something funny that I’ve read: “Argentines are Italians that speak Spanish, think they’re British, and live in Paris.”
Just two more days until I leave!