Observations: Argentina vs. Chile

This weekend we were lucky enough to have a visit from a good friend we met on our trip to Chile last summer: our favorite student tour guide Javier! He was in BsAs for a class trip, so he had no choice but to hang out with us at least once. We had all afternoon & evening to catch up & talk about our trip so far, his visit to Argentina, & his upcoming trip to Pittsburgh in the fall! What we didn’t expect was to discover so many cultural differences between Argentina & Chile, which are neighboring countries. From just a few hours of conversation, we learned a lot more about both Chile & Argentina compared to each other as well as to the United States.

We’ve noticed on our own that going out in Argentina requires some bravery because Argentine men are.. determined. Javier told us an interesting story about going out in BsAs with his group of classmates that reminded us about our experiences in Chile. Apparently the second that any of the Chilean students would ask a girl to dance, the girl would know that he was Chilean just because he asked. Argentine guys almost never do that. Once he said that, we realized that the guys we met in Chile usually were pretty polite. That’s not a dig against Argentina, just a different way of life. It seems that the machismo culture is more prevalent here than in Chile.

Another topic that we got into was that of gay rights & the general liberalness of both countries. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Argentina since July 22 of last year, whereas Chile has allowed divorce only since 2004. Javier also told us that at the boliche that he went to with his classmates, there was a side of the dance floor with a higher ratio of gay couples than they expected, which meant higher than 0% because in Chile, gay couples can be kicked out of bars & clubs that are not designated as gay bars & clubs. Being from the United States where gay rights are constantly a topic of discussion & also living in Argentina where same-sex couples have even more rights than in the U.S., we were initially taken aback hearing this observation. The three of us talked it over a bit later & had to understand that Chileans are not being ignorant by any means, but are reacting according to what they know. Javier also explained to us that Chile, in general, is much more conservative than Argentina. This has a lot to do with the military government that was in place in Chile in the 70s.

Since we’ve settled in to our Argentine lives a bit more lately, we’ve been seeing things we didn’t notice before. It’s amazing how much you can keep learning from a place you thought you knew pretty well. We have some more Argentine-only observations to share that are a bit more light-hearted!

If you’ve had the chance to visit, we’d love to hear what you’ve noticed about different South American countries or any similarities/differences between the North American & South American cultures!

– Alexa, Abi, & Maddy

4 thoughts on “Observations: Argentina vs. Chile

  1. I assumed Chile’s conservatism was related to religion, not the military. Are you sure it’s related to the military? I assume divorce was very slow in coming because of the country being Catholic. Frankly, I’m attracted to a religious society, compared to the morals of the USA. I’d take Chile any day.

    • It’s both. I suggest reading “My invented country” by Isabel Allende. Very intimate perspective on Chile and great book!

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