21 July 2016

Stephanie Cariker - Expat in Rosario, Argentina

Stephanie Cariker - Expat in Rosario, Argentina

Stephanie Cariker is the 33-year-old founder of "Spanish in Rosario," a website that offers Spanish language school for travelers in Rosario, Argentina. Originally from California, USA, Mrs. Cariker is a frequent traveler. She originally visited Argentina for a vacation and ended up staying in the country for longer than expected. Presently, she has been living in Rosario for 9 years with her husband and son.


Mrs. Cariker noted that meeting people in Argentina was a challenge in the beginning. “Finding a social circle was, at first, quite difficult. I tried to mix with the locals but language was a bit of a barrier, so, initially, it was easier to seek out other foreigners,” she said. “Now though, I spend most of my time with locals and a few expats that have become more like family,” Mrs. Cariker added.


Socializing can be a difficult experience for many expats, as communication is quite hard at first, especially when language barrier is present. Furthermore, finding the right connections isn’t easy while overseas. To make the adjustment process easier, consider joining several clubs and associations in the country that you are living in—find fellow expats and locals that share your interests or hobbies. Aside from making expats feel less homesick, meeting new people can help you expand your networks when looking for work in a foreign country. 


Find out more about Stephanie Cariker’s experiences in Argentina in her full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: I was born and raised in a small desert town in the southern part of California, though I lived quite a few places between then and now: Las Vegas, Pismo Beach, San Francisco…


Q: What made you move out of your home country?

A: It was never actually a conscious decision to move out of my home country. It all happened quite quickly. I went on what I thought was a vacation and basically never come home. After around 6 months, I decided I had better be somewhat responsible and return to the states to close up accounts and tie up loose ends.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: I currently live in Rosario, Argentina.


Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I don’t think I chose this country, it sort of chose me. I met a man while traveling. He invited me to come to his home city camouflaging his desire to get to know me better with weak recommendations of “great weather.”


Q: How long have you been living in Argentina?

A: In January I will have been here for 9 years. I can hardly believe it myself. 1 year away from a decade!


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in Argentina?

A: Hmm, difficult experiences. I am ridiculously positive, so, to be quite honest, when looking back, nothing seems all that difficult. But, if I have to give you an answer, I would have to say, making friends. In San Francisco I had a really close knit community of friends and it was difficult to suddenly find myself without that.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance was particularly difficult in Argentina? What was your experience with these?

A: Everything bureaucratic is difficult, especially when you don’t understand the system and its language. But I learned quickly that things in Argentina are only difficult if you try to do them the “right way.” Needless to say, I didn’t get a work visa; most of my expat friends don’t have one either. This won’t stop you from getting a job, but it will if you want to work for a big multinational.


As for health care, this isn’t really a worry in Argentina, or at least in Rosario, as there is fairly reliable public healthcare and if you aren’t convinced with that, for roughly U$D 10 per visit, you can pay for private medical attention.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: I came here alone but have since formed a family here, so my situation is sort of reverse as far as culture shock goes. They didn’t have to adapt to anything. Although it is interesting the sort of shock both my husband and son experience when we return to the US for a visit.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in Argentina? How did you manage to find a social circle in Argentina?

A: Finding a social circle was, at first, quite difficult. I tried to mix with the locals but language was a bit of a barrier, so, initially, it was easier to seek out other foreigners. Now though, I spend most of my time with locals and a few expats that have become more like family.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: They say that the best things in life are free and that can certainly be applied to Rosario. It is not really a “tourist” destination, so the loveliest part of the city is simply partaking in its green space, enjoying its river, sharing in its culture and meeting its people.


Q: How does the cost of living in Argentina compared to your home?                                                            

A: A café con leche is between 8 and 15 pesos – that is roughly 1 dollar, depending on the exchange rate you wish to use. A meal for 1 in an inexpensive restaurant, with drink and dessert included is between 80 and 100 pesos, around 6 or 7 dollars. Dinner for 2 at an expensive restaurant might end up being similar to that of an inexpensive dinner for 2 in the US, around 25 or 30 dollars. Wine is something that, even coming from California, is hard to compare in as far as quality for price. You can buy a pretty dynamite wine for around 2 or 3 dollars and one of the top of the liner (at a wine store of course) for around 15.


Q: How do you find the local culture and people in Argentina?

A: Family oriented.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Argentina?

A: There are loads of positive things to mention, the public education that runs all the way through University, the socialized medicine that allows everyone the possibility to see a doctor and receive treatment, the fact that most people don’t work on Sundays, a day reserved for rest and family.


And, as for negatives, right now, I think that most of them could be narrowed down to having a dollar dependent economy. When the peso is in frequent fluctuation, and inflation seems to be on a constant rise, things like saving and investing seem to be sort of out of reach, so traveling is not as easy.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Everyday.


Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I constantly remind myself that it is my choice to live here. That I have a beautiful and amazing life and family here, and that missing would occur regardless of where I resided.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: At some point I would really like my son to have the experience of the US culture and lifestyle. So I often think about returning at some point, but for now, there are not plans. Like they say, “if it is not broken, why fix it?”


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: I am, at first, inclined to say that I have been lucky enough to have never had a negative experience with being an expat. But, after a second of though, I think the most difficult part of living abroad is constantly saying goodbye or see you later to amazing people you meet along the way.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in Argentina?

A: Stay positive, learn the language, and participate in the culture, but also, maintain something of your own.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Argentina?

A: I keep a blog for expats and people thinking about visiting Rosario – expros.blogspot.com.ar

And of course, if you need to learn the language or simply have questions or inquiries, you can contact me at Spanish in Rosario – www.spanishinrosario.com.