Cultural Learning - Billeting in Argentina
Names are called. Athletes cross the floor and kiss each other on the cheek, departing with their hosts to their respective homes. At first, there is the awkwardness of meeting someone for the first time; the language barrier makes it difficult to kick-off any substantial conversation, but this quickly subsides and first-class Argentine hospitality takes over.
Over our 16 days in Argentina we billeted for nearly 75% of the trip. While the hotels we stayed in were cozy, it was billeting that made Argentina a truly memorable experience.
Most of our billets lived in gated communities with security guards on patrol. The barbed wire fence which surrounded the neighbourhood served as a constant reminder that we were in a third world country. Despite the fact that we were separated from the ‘real world’, we still got around the surrounding cities and towns with our billets.
Our billets frequently challenged us to try new things such as Mate, a bitter green tea that almost all Argentines start their day with. Furthermore, they pushed our digestive system with three square meals of steak, roasts and burgers. During breakfast and tea time, we were also served pastries with Coca-Cola. If there is any single aspect of Argentine culture that I will remember, it is the importance of Coca-Cola in the people's diet.
The most common activities shared between our three billet schools were pool parties and barbecues. The weather was blistering hot and the Coca-Cola ice cold. Aside from the difference in language, our billets were very much like us. We socialized, played soccer and touch rugby, and enjoyed one another's company. What connected us all was the sport of rugby. While soccer is almost a religion in the country, rugby is an integral part of the the Argentine culture. Schoolboys look up to the Pumas, Argentina's National 15s team, from a young age. Most start playing at age eight, and play for both their schools and their local club.
Over our time in Argentina, playing rugby and billeting, we learned a lot, both on and off the field. Argentina welcomed us with open arms and we hope to host these same players at Brentwood in the future.
Tyler P, Rogers '15