• Hi Forum! I moved here with my family last December. We are doing well economically because I keep "working in the US" but the language is a bit of a problem for my husband and 2 kids. How did you guys manage with that? Any tips for adjusting to the new culture? We live in Puerto Madryn, Chubut and are loving the beach and all the cute local stores. Not to mention the churrero who comes by the house everyday at 5. I'd love to hear more about your experiences and what made you come here. We came from New York city. Big change, but I'm loving the quiet!

  • Welcome to the forum, Laura. I’d love to hear more about daily life in Puerto Madryn.


    We are only part-time expats, dividing our time among Buenos Aires, Lake Michigan, and New Orleans. Three months after we left BsAs, Argentina closed its borders because of the pandemic, so we’ve been away for an eternity (17 months). We are aching to return when both countries get the virus under control and throw the borders open again.


    What brought us to Argentina initially? Wanderlust and Curiosity. Our first trip to Argentina was in 2005, and until COVID hit, we were spending our full visitor allotment every year. Can’t wait to be able to resume our part-time expat life in such a gorgeous place with welcoming people. I hope you and your family love it as much as we do!

  • I came here with no Spanish and I was hoping to magically pick it up... after one year and half the magic hadn't yet happened and I understood I needed to put some effort into it.

    What worked for me was studying the grammar - I felt more confident when conjugating verb and picking prepositions. I still have issues with pronunciation and I don't find all the words I want when I speak, but it got much better.


    I understand that socializing is not an option right now. Pre-pandemic I attended social events for expats to practice/exchange languages.


    There is no one size fits all when it comes to learning a language and a good language teacher should be able to figure out what works better for you. There is a website to offer/find classes called https://www.tusclases.com.ar/ or you can look for local FB group.


    I don't speak Spanish at home, although my husband is a local, for the same reason as UK Man 's - my husband speaks Italian perfectly. No way my Spanish is ever gonna get that good or that I will be able to speak it effortlessly as he does.


    Speaking in a second language and constantly switching between two or more fries my brain!


    Do you know a little Spanish or are you starting from scratch?

    • Helpful

    My Spanish is so-so. I can converse but have huge gaps in my ability and it shows. It's a pain in the ass but I feel without dedicating some hours each week to actually learning it will never improve. Like UK Man, I am too lazy to do it and my wife speaks perfect English. I have been here 10 years and for five of them my Spanish wasn't good enough to get much done. One of the problems I have is I am a private person so I am not the sort to go starting a conversation with the girl working in carrefour, the guy who delivers pizza or whatever. If you are into that kind of socializing, you may be able to pick up conversational Spanish quiker. If not and you don't pick it up, there are obviously major downsides it brings while living in a Spanish-speaking country.

  • I feel especially frustrated because I have a great command of my native language and I cannot express myself with the same degree of accuracy and colorfulness that I using in my own language. It feels like it can never come across fully who I am. When I want to make a joke, I can't because I don't know the words to give it the same flair/nuance and perhaps it would also be culturally inappropriate.


    At least in writing I can do some more research and edit. But speaking is a different thing.

  • I feel especially frustrated because I have a great command of my native language and I cannot express myself with the same degree of accuracy and colorfulness that I using in my own language. It feels like it can never come across fully who I am. When I want to make a joke, I can't because I don't know the words to give it the same flair/nuance and perhaps it would also be culturally inappropriate.


    At least in writing I can do some more research and edit. But speaking is a different thing.

    So much this. I feel limited because I cannot express what I want to say in the way I want to say it. Worse is this will never change because I know I will never be at a level where I will be able to talk how I would in English.

  • Hi Forum! I moved here with my family last December. We are doing well economically because I keep "working in the US" but the language is a bit of a problem for my husband and 2 kids. How did you guys manage with that? Any tips for adjusting to the new culture? We live in Puerto Madryn, Chubut and are loving the beach and all the cute local stores. Not to mention the churrero who comes by the house everyday at 5. I'd love to hear more about your experiences and what made you come here. We came from New York city. Big change, but I'm loving the quiet!

    Welcome, Laura and I'm glad you're enjoying the change from NY.

    I find that you just have to keep plugging away at the lingo, sometimes to the extent of forcing yourself to speak Spanish and mixing with the locals.

  • Thank you all for the replies! As far as language, I'm "the wife with the good English" so my husband is struggling with Spanish. I speak it well and do all the "navigating" for him. He's taking classes with a local teacher now and we're looking into some more immersive courses online. But as you mentioned, the best thing for him is to start interacting with local people more.


    I'm a bit more scared about my 6 year old who's starting in person school at the end of the month. I always tried to teach him Spanish but he's not into it. Everybody keeps telling me that kids learn fast but it's hard to imagine him speaking Spanish. My 3 year old will probably pick it up if the older one takes the lead.


    Life in Puerto Madryn is pretty good, covid is not as bad here and we can move around a bit more. It only takes a 20 minute drive to go to a "remote" beach and relax with some mate (and we may spot some whales) we're happy that we finally get to live in a house. The back yard is tiny, but it fits a hammock, so I'm good 😁.


    Still, we had gotten used to getting anything delivered to our place and everything being nearby and accessible. Not to mention all the free attractions and museums we frequented weekly (pre-covid) It's always a trade off, but we're happy overall. 😊

  • Puerto Madryn is nice and definately a different experience to BA. I think I would enjoy life a lot more if I was somewhere else in Argentina.


    Regarding your kids, shouldn't the 3-year-old be good to go by simply entering school and being around people speaking Spanish? I mean at that age it should be easier to pick up the language. Six is getting into the age where I think proper lessons will be needed, alongside learning from friends at school or people you know. The problem with lessons is if there is no desire to do the homework, so to speak, it is still not easy to learn. At six, who knows whether a child will agree to their end of the bargain. My experience with tae kwon do, guitar, piano, and chess with my boy when he was young tells me if the child decides they don't want to learn something, they won't.


    I do think your kids will be fine though. They are young enough and have years on their side. If your stay here is expected to be permanent, they will be speaking Spanish eventually. Your husband basically has a choice, either to dedicate himself to learning the language, or not and living always feeling outside the loop. I am in-between and still feel an outsider and not properly integrated with friends and family here and I am 10 years into my Argentina experiment.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with the advice to send him out more in the real world on his own. It's swim or sink.

    For the first couple of years, I leaned on my husband for everything. He was the one who 'naturally' did all of the interactions. However, it also meant that I could - at most - order vegetables in store and that I had a functional level of Spanish, but not one that made me appreciate humor, culture or songs.


    I still don't practice Spanish often enough as to be able to delve into a subject with someone unexpectedly, and I get very tired very easily when speaking a foreign language.

    For me, I speak Italian with my husband and doing a family gathering in Spanish is mentally draining. I am okay for the occasional impromptu meeting on the stairs with a neighbor, but sitting 6-8 hours straight speaking Spanish only is not my thing.

  • Regarding your kids, shouldn't the 3-year-old be good to go by simply entering school and being around people speaking Spanish?

    Yes! But we are not sending him to school because of covid. maybe next year. The oldest I have no choice., Homeschooling is not a thing here, plus he will learn faster from his peers than from his Muzzy course. :D


    What made you choose Puerto Madryn to live?

    My parents live here. More back story: I was born in PM (That's why I speak Spanish well) When I was 20 I took some clothes, CDs and moved to NY where I lived the last 20 years. After having kids NY wasn't as cool as it once was and we were struggling a bit financially. We also did not like how education and healthcare are in the US, so we decided to come here. Buenos Aires could have been an option, there's more mobility and I also have family there, but we were trying to get away from the city. I have heard from other Argentineans who come back after living for several years in the US and they say that they have a hard time adapting. And as I said, there are a lot of things that I miss about the US, but I am not as "shocked". After a while I realized that may be because I came from a crazy city to chill Patagonia. Most people go from living in suburban US to live in downtown Buenos Aires and I can see how that can be overwhelming. I've spent a good amount of time in BA and I love it! But I feel like I've done my share of crazy city and now I just want to to chill by the beach. :D


    We've been to PM a couple of times and it's lovely, mainly because it's by the sea. Both times in winter and I still managed to get a few asados going.

    Well, you get all the cool fauna in the winter! We've mostly been here in the summer so I'm excited about whale season coming up! (And asado is a year round thing. Everyone has a friend with a quincho. :D)


    I agree wholeheartedly with the advice to send him out more in the real world on his own. It's swim or sink.

    For the first couple of years, I leaned on my husband for everything. He was the one who 'naturally' did all of the interactions. However, it also meant that I could - at most - order vegetables in store and that I had a functional level of Spanish, but not one that made me appreciate humor, culture or songs.


    I still don't practice Spanish often enough as to be able to delve into a subject with someone unexpectedly, and I get very tired very easily when speaking a foreign language.

    For me, I speak Italian with my husband and doing a family gathering in Spanish is mentally draining. I am okay for the occasional impromptu meeting on the stairs with a neighbor, but sitting 6-8 hours straight speaking Spanish only is not my thing.

    When I was in Italy I noticed that I could get by pretty well on my Spanish... I know a moderate amount of Italian but definitely I can not get into a conversation beyond the weather and what's for dinner :D But whenever I had to talk to someone about something more complex, they seemed to understand me... I was guessing a lot... maybe I was guessing right. Is anyone in your circle ok with speaking a bit of "Spalian"?

  • Yes, family gatherings are very hard work. I am fluent in Spanish, having learnt the lingo back in the 70s when I lived in BA as a teen, but by golly, when you get two or more Argentines together at dinner, it can be difficult to make yourself heard. Personally, I find those situations a real struggle, but of course the same could be said if the situations were reversed.


    Talking of whale spotting, this is a photo I took from a boat off the Valdez Peninsula back in 2006, catching the whale at just the right moment.

  • Yes, family gatherings are very hard work. I am fluent in Spanish, having learnt the lingo back in the 70s when I lived in BA as a teen, but by golly, when you get two or more Argentines together at dinner, it can be difficult to make yourself heard. Personally, I find those situations a real struggle, but of course the same could be said if the situations were reversed.

    I think two talkative Argentineans together can be overwhelming even for an Argentinean. ^^