Olivia is a Third Year in the College of Arts and Sciences studying abroad in Cordoba, Argentina.
When moving to a new country one is bound to make mistakes. It is part of the process of learning city life and a new language. It is also part of the process to accept that the mistakes are inevitable and to not let the fear of looking like a fool keep you from attempting to speak to a local or go out and explore or whatever else you would like to do!
On Wednesday, only five day after being in the city and only the second day of taking the bus alone, my roommate and I felt confident we knew what we were doing. We found a bus stop for the #32 bus, waved it down, and swiped our cards. Little did we know it was going in the opposite direction from our district Alta Córdoba. We rode along for a while and then I started noticing that we were slowly starting to leave the city behind! At last I pulled out my map, the universal sign of a tourista (tourist), and found the barrio we had just entered. And it was nowhere near where we had wanted to end up at! However, I didn’t worry too much because I figured it would make a loop and we would go back.
Unfortunately, the bus stopped at a rundown old gas station that had been transformed into the station at the end of the route and our driver was getting off to take his break. We ended up explaining that we needed to be in Alta Córdoba to three different bus drivers just so they could all laugh at the two yanquis (Yankee) who took the wrong bus. Even though my roommate and I were nervous, everyone we attempted to talk to was very nice. They told us a different driver was going out to start his route and so we could just take that bus back into the city and to our home. This second driver ended up calling out over the crowded bus to say that the next stop was the one we needed to make sure we got off at the right stop. While the trip was embarrassing, I didn’t find the experience dangerous or scary at all. Of course everyone is always cautious to stay in groups and try not to seem like extranjeros (foreigners) because it is easier to take advantage of them. However, all my experiences with local Argentinians thus far have not made me feel uncomfortable at all.
While it is always important to be careful and to pay attention to your the surroundings, I think it is equally important to not isolate yourself for fear of looking stupid or ending up in the wrong place. With time my roommate and I will actually master the buses and this extra-long bus ride will be a very distant memory and a good funny story to share.