It is the adventure of being far away and still feeling at home....


miércoles, 30 de diciembre de 2009

"Why can´t Argentinians be just normal?" The challenge of a global nomad in Buenos Aires

Many global nomads think that the real challenge of living abroad is exploring the new country. They can hardly imagine that there is a little foreigner inside each of us, waiting to be discovered as soon as we step off the airport.


Moving abroad is yesterday´s news. People travel thousands of km every day to go places for pleasure, study, work, or family matters.

You just arrived in Argentina. So why is it important to develop cross-cultural awareness?

All of us perceive reality from one place: ours. Since we were born, we were taught how to perceive the world: what is a male or a female, the meaning of family, what is beautiful (and not so beautiful), and everything else in between you can imagine.
No need to say, most of this is given for granted. Like a fish in water, we never ask ourselves what the water smells like. It is there all the time. It is an invisible part of our daily experience.

Have you ever wondered how you perceive reality? Not yet? Let us help you.

-If you are angry or sad, would you allow yourself to cry in public?

-Do you consider multitasking is the correct way of getting things done at work, or your attention should be caught by one thing at a time?

-When looking for a job, is it more important WHAT you know or WHO you know?

There are as many answers to these questions as cultures on earth. In other words... Our perceptions shape our actions. We can only act based on the portion of reality we perceive. If you want to explore the invisible lines that shape you reality, it is a good start to ask yourself how YOU behave in every aspect of your life.

We know what you´re thinking... each person is different and we need to respect each human being´s uniqueness, right? Good point. However, research shows that beyond individual traits, we (yes, you too!) are greatly determined by the social and cultural conditions that surround us - like water shapes fish reality.
Our cultural background determines to a large extent our perceptions and behaviors. It prepares us to defend certain “universal” values and attitudes and get rid of others. It shows us how to be a good parent, an efficient employee or a loving partner. It even tell us whether and how to express our emotions and feelings. How essential is that?

The Newborn adventure

So what happens when you meet a foreigner? Or even more, when you move abroad to...let´s say...Buenos Aires, the beautiful capital city of Argentina?

Crash boom bang. Culture clash. And last, but not least… culture shock.

From the moment you step off Ezeiza Airport, you realize that something is missing. You become totally aware of the water that used to sustain you… simply because it is no longer there.
The smell of the new place, the humid weather, the loud noises of the crazy traffic, the impossible-to-figure out gestures that Argentinians use to communicate with each other, the kissing among men and men, men and women, children and men.. like a newborn exploring a whole new world, you are able to detect even the smallest differences. Buenos Aires embraces you with a mixture of surprise, excitement and fascination.

The days go by. Now you need to find a flat. Get a new job. Or if you already have one, you are expected to communicate effectively with your boss and colleagues ASAP. You were hired to deliver results. Sooner or later, the initial excitement goes away. Small differences that used to fascinate you can be disruptive now. You just don´t understand why all Argentinians are so rude, insensitive, narrow-minded. Your big question is: “Why can´t Argentines be just normal?”

Now, what is the meaning of normal or ab-normal? Judging Argentinians (or people from any other culture) as abnormal, rude or narrow-minded is risky: it leads to stereotyping. Prejudgements speak more about the judger´s perspective, rather than of the true characteristics of the person who is blamed by the judger.
Many expats get to this point and don´t know how to move forward. Nostalgia invades them. They start hating everything about the host country. So you hear comments like “The streets of BsAs are extremely dirty.” Or “Unlike my good old friends back home, Argentinians don´t know how to have fun” Or “I miss Europe! The Weather is too hot here”.
This leads many expats to lock themselves in and isolate from the unbearable foreignness outside. They prefer to stay home surfing Internet or chatting with good old friends (the only normal ones) rather than engaging in real life activities. This leaves them unsatisfied, clueless and with no chances of nurturing genuine relationships with others.

So what is the real challenge of being a global nomad ?

The real challenge is meeting yourself. Only when you explore your own cultural background and where you come from, you can perceive the dimensions of other people´s cultural realities. And last but not least, accept cultural differences. Forgive yourself and others. Embrace diversity.

When you become conscious of the role that culture plays in your own life, you´ll discover that Argentinian culture is not better or worse than yours.
Suddenly, you realize that right or wrong is just a matter of where you are standing. And you can start embracing Argentinian culture and its people, because now you can recognize yourself as a foreigner too.

In Nómadas Globales Argentina, we help expats identify the color of glasses they wear to perceive reality. We understand that moving to a new country is not just getting another stamp on the passport.

Intercultural training with us will take your living abroad experience to a new level.

Join our Intercultural Coffee Meetings for expats in Buenos Aires (for individuals and small groups) to learn more about ins and outs of Argentinian culture and how to make your experience abroad a once-in a lifetime experience.
As of January 13th 2010, we will hold presentations and group discussions every week in different locations of Bs As dowtnown. Check this blog for upcoming events!

Contact us for more details:

domingo, 20 de diciembre de 2009

Join us! NEW Intercultural Coffee Meetings for BsAs expats (January 13th 2010)

Are you a NewComer in Buenos Aires? Would you like to understand the Argentinian way, from the perspective of an Argentinian Cultural Specialist, while meeting new people in a friendly environment?

Then join us in our Nomadas Globales - NEW Intercultural Coffee Meetings!
For expats, international students, travelers and all those interested in understanding Argentine locals idiosyncracy.

Agenda: "How to communicate effectively with Argentine locals?" (Jan 13th) Dissertation & Round Table of Natalia Sarro, Argentinian Psychologist and Intercultural Trainer. Followed by open discussion.
When? Every 2 weeks, starting January 13th 2010 - 5.00pm
Where? Gran Café Tortoni. Avenida de Mayo 825. Capital (BA)
How long? 90 minutes.
Cost: 20 Ar$

We organize one-on-one and small group coffee meetings on several intercultural related topics all over BA downtown.

Limited capacity for January 13th meeting. Pre-booking needed.

To book your place, contact us today on:

sábado, 19 de diciembre de 2009

Newcomer in Argentina... what could go wrong?

You just came out of Ezeiza airport.

Could it be any better? This is your new home!

The hot weather and the waves of Spanish speakers walking around you are postcards of a dream coming true.
You finally arrived to the beautiful Buenos Aires, promising land of tango, soccer and beef. You heard many wonderful stories from other expats about life in Buenos Aires. You know it is the European capital of Latin America. Great food. Cheap prices. Extroverted people. You heard Argentinians inherited an interesting European style from their Italian and Spanish ancestors.

What could possibly go wrong?

You came down to spend a nice season in an exotic culture: A Semester study abroad. An Expat assignment with your family. Maybe you met an attractive Argentino/a and you came down following an adventure. Or you are just making another stop in your trip around the world.
This is not your first living abroad experience.

However, things start to get difficult...

Let´s put it this way:
You meet some nice Argentinian locals and you are invited to a birthday party. You are so excited about it! You arrive at 10pm on the dot, as agreed. But surprisingly, you´re the first guest to arrive and the host is not even ready to receive you. What is wrong with Argentinians´ clocks?

A possible answer to this is… the concept of time. Argentina is a fluid time culture. Time is there to serve people´s needs, and not the other way around.
In social events in Argentina, such as parties or lunches with family or friends, start times are usually indicative, and arriving 30 to 40 minutes is frequent. Argentines are generally late, because they will not leave the previous meeting – obligation to the person you are with, outweighs inconveniencing everybody else. However, avoid generalizations.... Punctuality is more important in business meetings than in social events.

Our customized Intercultural Training Programs will help you understand the ins and outs of Argentinian culture and answer some of these questions:

1) What´s the Argentinos and Porteños (Buenos Aires citizens) mentality like?
2) What motivates Argentinians?
3) What are their values and how does this influence their behavior and communication style?
4) How can you relate effectively with Argentinian colleagues and managers at workplace?

We deliver affordable trainings to:

-expats and their families (children, trailing spouses)
-international students
-occasional visitors

Where? We can visit you at your workplace or meet in one of the stlylish Coffee places of Buenos Aires downtown.

Contact us to work together on a customized intercultural training session to make the most out of your overseas experience in Argentina!

Email us:

martes, 1 de diciembre de 2009

My last Intercultural Training: Argentinean Students at Deutsche Schule Hurlingham (Buenos Aires)

Last November 24th, my colleague Gisella Lopez Becerra and I spent a great day at the classroom of Deutsche Schule Hurlingham (Bilingual School German – Spanish in Buenos Aires), training 30 Argentinean students in process of preparation for their Study Abroad Program in Germany.
Mission accomplished! Through games, role playing and lively discussion, we achieved our goal: generate tolerance and respect toward differences, improve students´ intercultural communication techniques and help them understand the importance of “putting oneself in people from other cultures´ shoes” before judging others.

Thanks everyone & have a great intercultural experience!

El pasado 24 de Noviembre, junto a mi colega Gisella Lopez Becerra pasamos un día fantástico en las aulas del Deutsche Schule Hurlingham (escuela bilingüe español – alemán en Buenos Aires) capacitando a 30 estudiantes argentinos para su experiencia de Intercambio con Alemania.
Misión cumplida! A través de dinámicas lúdicas, role playing y vivo debate, alcanzamos nuestro objetivo: mejorar las técnicas de comunicación intercultural de los estudiantes, generar tolerancia y aceptación hacia las diferencias, y ayudarlos a comprender la importancia de ponerse en los zapatos del otro antes de emitir juicios de valor.

Gracias por participar y que tengan una excelente experiencia intercultural!


Algunos comentarios de los estudiantes que participaron de nuestro Taller:

"Aprendí que no somos todos iguales. Ni mejores ni peores que otros"

" El Taller me sirvió para aprender a estar más abierta culturalmente y que debo disfrutar de esta experiencia de intercambio"

"Me gustó mucho el espacio, fue sorpresivo y concreto. Al ser más bien práctico, y no tan teórico, me llegó a nivel personal y me tranquilizó con respecto a mis miedos y dudas. Me entusiasmó mucho!"

"Me siento más emocionada por aplicar todo lo que llevamos a cabo. Me llevo las experiencias que nos contaron y estrategias para enfrentarlas."

"Gracias por esta gran exposición!"

Relationship matters: Business Entertainment in the land of Tango

Bonding plays a significant role in Argentina´ s relationship oriented culture; and business culture reflects the importance of the socializing in corporate settings.

In comparison to European countries and English-speaking North America, workdays are longer (office hours are usually Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 7.00pm/ 8.00pm), while workplace productivity is lower. One of the main reasons for this is the amount of time devoted to establishing and nurturing relationships. In large cities such as Buenos Aires, executives tend to spend considerable time and energy at extending their social networks by attending long work lunches or dinners, business meetings or the so called “after office” events, which take place after work hours in trendy bars. This is a very adaptive behavior in a society where a personal circle of powerful contacts, usually helps speed up bureaucratic transactions and facilitates access to certain benefits leading to business success.

Establishing relationships is also related to the need to get to know the people involved in a project and gaining trust before getting down to business. Newcomers arriving in Argentina should be prepared to allow time to build relationships with prospective partners and colleagues, rather than sticking to tight schedules and strict rules.

Typical social events to attend with business colleagues are business meals (eg. teams designate one day/ week to go out for lunch with colleagues), joint sport activities (usually soccer, but also golf in upper management level), birthdays, farewell parties, end of the year celebrations and achievements of common goals.

Since it is customary to work long hours, business dinners in restaurants can take place at as late as 9.00pm or 10.00pm.
On average, Argentines eat 68 kg of meat every year. Since vegetarianism is not commonplace, it is worthwhile mentioning meals preferences to the counterpart before making restaurant reservations.
When receiving international visitors, Argentine business people are usually very welcoming and hospitable. It is common to take newcomers to a tango show or to trendy restaurants. In upper management level, it is also usual to take foreign visitors to spend the day on the countryside in an “estancia” (cattle ranch).

Picture source: