Friday, February 20, 2009

School is in session

It has been for a couple of weeks now, we started on February 2nd I believe. It has been an adjustment to say the least. I'm learning the best way to acclimate is with a go-with-the-flow kind of attitude.

We've had a few kinks that needed to be worked out. For example, we had to change rooms three times. First there was too much of an echo, so we switched to a quieter room. The quieter room was next to the bathroom that is under construction. The noises were a little distracting so we moved to a room that was farther away. The farther away room is on the busy side of the street. It was impossible to hear the lecture over the traffic noises. Unfortunately, having the windows closed was not an option due to the sweltering heat and absence of air conditioning. We finally settled on a room that had little or no noise pollution, of any kind. Now we just have to share the classroom with some pigeons who have built their nest on the fluorescent. These windows don't close, so we just have to make sure we aren't sitting in the drop zone.

Another minor setback, one of the classes for which we are supposed to be instructed in English, is now taught in Spanish. After we postponed for a week, Tony and the University of Buenos Aires found a more than adequate solution. We have the most amazing translator now, although only for a few weeks. I actually think working with a translator is really improving my Spanish. I now have confirmation that I am correctly, or incorrectly as it may be, interpreting what someone is saying. Something that I have found to be continuously frustrating, is that there is never someone there to tell me, word for word, what is being said so that I can immediately associate meaning to the sounds I'm hearing. I think having a translator will fill in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of the language.

I don't want to give you the wrong idea here. I am by no means discouraged by any part of these little bumps in the road to higher learning. I was fully aware that we would be the first students studying at La UBA under Panrimo's direction and I expected that we might need to make adjustments.

All I care about is that we are learning, and that we are. I would say my Spanish has improved beyond words, and there is so much to learn about Latin American history and politics. When talking to various people I have met around the city, I have heard nothing but good things about La UBA's Social Sciences department. Actually, I have heard more than once, that it has the best department of all the schools in the city. So we have to put up with a little ring around the classroom, a little bird poop, no working bathrooms, and a lot of construction. We are getting a damn good education.

Seriously though, the bathroom situation will hopefully be resolved in two weeks when the rest of the city goes back to school. I will keep you posted on that.

And now, for some pictures......

1 comment:

  1. Alice- Hang in there and keep using your Spanish. Maybe you can try blogging in Spanish sometimes as a way to help improve your written language skills.

    While it is awkward to be taking a course in Spanish that you thought you'd be taking in English, try make the best of it as there is no other solution. We'll have to make a note of it for any future students on the program.
    So, in dealing with your circumstances, maybe you can tape record the lessons and go over any points that you've missed at a later time in the day. Tape recording of lessons is a common activitiy for new speakers of a language. Be sure and ask your professor for permission first but I think that this could go a long way to helping with your comprehension. Of course, going to all of the classes and sitting the front of the room close to the teacher also helps with absorbing the lesson and properly hearing the spoken word.

    We here at CSU enjoy following you on your journey and have a link to your blog from our main study abroad page. Saludos!