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Discovering a Global Perspective to Research

MHIRT Scholar Explores Buenos Aires and Discovers Both Similarities and Differences

June 14, 2008

By Doreen Carpio

Doreen Carpio is a fourth year undergraduate biological science major taking part in the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program. This summer she is in Argentina, where she is conducting antibacterial resistance research under Angeles Zorreguieta at the Instituto Fundacion Leloir. This is one of a series of blogs she is writing of her experience.

Street view of Buenos Aires highlighting building architecture

Some pictures that I took while cruising the city. The buildings are very tall.

I arrived at Ezeiza Airport in the city of Buenos Aires about 10 a.m. on Tuesday, June 10. The time difference, I learned, is about four hours from California and the climate is definitely a bit more chilly than that of the sunny state.

Up to this point, my experience abroad in Argentina has been one of mixed feelings. Sometimes there are feelings of excitement within me — for being in a different country offers the opportunity to see many different sights and wonders relevant to local culture — but sometimes there also are feelings of being homesick because, in all honesty, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz had it correct: "There's no place like home."

Door with detailed wood relief carving and inlaid-glass windows set into a stone facade building.

Residencia Universus is where I am staying until I return to California. The accommodations are specific to students around the city.

My first week in Argentina was a bit of a challenge because the transition did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. As a native-born California girl, the hustle and bustle of city life took its toll on me the first couple of days.

You see, el ciudad de Buenos Aires is full of local transportation where everyone takes the subway, the bus, a taxi, or even walks to work. During my first night in the city, I rode the subway for the first time in my entire life and had a very negative experience … I was pickpocketed!

Although the situation caught me by surprise because at that point I had no spending money, it yielded a valuable lesson to an obvious tourist that looks like a 12-year-old Asian girl: be aware of your surroundings, never place anything valuable in plain sight and try harder to not look like an obvious tourist. However, aside from my little mishap on Tuesday night, my transition to local surroundings was more positive.

Illustrative and evocative graffiti

The local graffiti appears to be very artistic and detailed.

Overall, I have not traveled much from my local accommodations and the Fundacion Instituto Leloir, where I will be working at all summer, because I have been settling in and familiarizing myself with local surroundings. I definitely do not want to be a lost tourist in the big city of Buenos Aires! However, I do plan on traveling much more than I have this week. All negative experiences and homesick feelings put aside, I have had a fascinating week and I cannot wait to venture out and see what Argentina has to offer.

A silver 'mate' cup

This is a specific cup that Argentineans use for sharing Mate. Mate is a cup of special tea that everyone sips, shares and passes along while they engage in casual talking with friends or loved ones.

A busy street in front of Buenos Aires supermarket

Coto, un Hipermercado is what I could call a supermarket. It has two floors filled with groceries, a fresh produce section, a butcher, fish market, small eateries, a bakery full of fresh pastries and snacks, plus clothing, household appliances, children's toys, etc. To me, it's the whole shebang — it has everything! You can buy loads of groceries and have them all delivered so that you don't have to carry everything home on a bus or subway.

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