Escuela (School)

Trip Start Aug 01, 2009
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Argentina  , Central Argentina,
Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hello again lectores (that means readers)!  Now that I've been studying at La Universidad Blas Pascal for a few weeks, I think it's about time that I talk about what school is like in Argentina.

For starters, the University itself is quite nice. The campus isn't quite as large as what we have back home, but there are plenty of places where you can sit outside in the sunshine. It's cafeteria (or cantina) as they say, is spacious and most of the international students spend a lot of time there.  I'd have to say that my favorite room however, is the computer lab.  Those of us who don't have internet in their houses (which is about 90% of us) absolutely depend on those computers to read newspapers in English, e-mail family, and see pictures on Facebook of our friends back home.  Two times a week a friend of mine from Indiana and I get together before class to do a crossword puzzle online.

I'm currently taking three classes through the International Students' Office:  Argentine Popular Culture, Argentine Literature, and Advanced Spanish II.  Those classes are run in a way that is very similar to the United States.  However, I am also taking a class through the university itself on the History of Sociopolitical though in Argentina.  That class is completely different, it's so much more laid back.  It isn't uncommon for the professor to leave the room for a few minutes to take a phone call, and there aren't really any exams or homework assignments until the midterm and the final.  From what I understand, that is pretty common in most of the classes.  For me, that works well because I'm disciplined enough to keep up with most of the work, and it makes missing class to travel fairly easy.  I've actually had breakfast a few times with another international student in the class and the professor. Every class is 90 minutes long (which I do NOT like) but most of them only run two days a week.  That gives me every Friday off which definitely helps.

The grading system is also quite a bit different.  You get a number on every assignment from 1-10, with 4-10 being passing and anything from 8-10 being exceptional.  At the end of the semester all of the numbers are averaged (although usually there are only about 3 numbers total).  If you've scored an 8 or above total and have good attendance you don't have to take the final exam.  If you've scored a six or a seven the final is usually just an oral exam over a topic that you've chosen. Fortunately for me, just about every single assignment is essay, which I do well at.  Not having any multiple choice is really refreshing and so much less frustrating.  A lot of the international students aren't really worried about their grades because they are transferring back as pass/fail.  I however do not have that luxury so I've got to stay on top of things.  Although, to tell the truth, I'd have a big problem just not caring, I don't think I could do it. 

I guess in the end, even if the classes were impossible and I was failing them all it would be worth it for the pure experience and how much studying abroad will help my ability to speak Spanish.  If you're considering studying abroad to learn language I would absolutely do it because every day is a classroom and the most learning you do isn't in the classroom, it's in everyday conversation and your interactions with native speakers!

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