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Classes....finally

ARGENTINA | Tuesday, 18 March 2008 | Views [1091]

Friday morning I had my first real class, Latinamerican Political Systems compared.  It turned out to be boring so I’ve decided not to take it.  Monday I had my first class, Social History of Argentina and Latinamerica at the Public University.  I’ve  also decided not to take the class mainly because I have no background in Latinamerican history or Politics and the Professors are extremely hard to understand.  The class was about 60 students (I think I was the only American) led by a very old professor that mumbled and talked of the topic is a very obscure and philosophical way.  After the 3 hour lecture I had a 2 hour discussion led by a younger and slightly easier to understand professor, but the discussion was really just another smaller lecture.  The class seems really interesting, mainly because the old professor seems very liberal/borderline socialist.  He explained that revolutions are an unavoidable and natural and he mentioned something about how the US government used the media to convince the public that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction when in reality he didn’t.  The assigned reading also referred to George Bush as a parasitic bat.  Keep in mind the lecture is taking place in a lecture hall full of stencil graffiti of Che Guevara and a billboard announcing the next protest sponsored by a student group named “leftist socialist”.  If my knowledge of Latinamerican or world history was somewhere above zero I would probably take the class.

The next class I had was also in the public university.  The class is called Aids, social and political aspects.  It’s a class for social work majors in their final year.  The class was about 50 women and one man.  It turned out to be interesting and easy to understand with a lot of group discussion that I could actually participate in.  We all had to introduce ourselves and explain why we are taking the class.  Then after a short lecture, we arranged ourselves in a circle and did a group activity where we each received cards picturing different situations and we had to decide if there was a risk of spreading AIDS for each one.  It sounds basic, but it ended up starting a pretty interesting discussion.  I’m definitely going to keep the class.

Today I finally started my plant pathology class, it was a great time.  I got to class about 45 minutes late because I was waiting to meet with the secretary of agronomy who was planning on showing me to class, but his kid was sick and was going to arrive late.  Someone else from the office ended up showing me to class, being late was no problem because the professor hadn’t even arrived.  All the students were hanging out in the hall smoking, talking, and drinking mate.  I was standing by the door less than 30 seconds when someone started talking to me and began to immediately introduce me to all the others.  I had never seen anything like it in my life, a hallway of students, 95% male, everyone friends with everyone and smoking is permitted.  The professor showed up a couple minutes later and started giving a powerpoint slide, everything was pretty easy to understand.  The class is about 30 students, small enough to where people can just shout out questions whenever.   About two and a half hours after the start of class a few students start shouting out “descanso” (break) and the professor gives us a 15 minute break which I used to get my photocopies straightened out.  (Here instead of textbooks they use photocopies because it is cheaper.)  I won’t be able to pick up my photocopies for another 2 weeks since we don’t have class next week for semana santa, but one of the other students told me not to worry about it.

 After the break we break up into groups to fill out a worksheet based on the reading.  It turns out to be a bit of a waste of time since most of us don’t have the photocopies and have therefore not read and do not have the worksheet.  Nevertheless, a group invites me in and we attempt.  No one seems to mind that I’m not helping out too much; no one is too stressed about anything.  After about a half hour the professor goes to the photocopier and doesn’t return for awhile.  Most of the students decide that she’s not coming back and that its time to leave, but about 6 of us stay.  (I don’t have much choice because I have to wait for the bus to take me back to Capital Federal.)  We gave up on the worksheet and just hang out talking and drinking mate until the professor comes back.  When she comes back she doesn’t seem to care that most of the class left and she unofficially ends class.  I ended up getting a ride since most of the students drive from Capital Federal to Pilar.  I asked one of the students about the lack of work the class seems to involve, and he tells me that after semana santa the class gets more serious.  I still think it will be manageable since the final grade is based on two exams based on the in class worksheets, a paper with a PowerPoint presentation, and a diseased plant collection of 10 leaves or fruits. We shall see in a few weeks.

I now have an entire week of vacation and I’m unfortunately not going anywhere.  I was invited by a friend from the US that I made in the exchange program to go to a town near Rio Cuarto where he has a bunch of friends that he made while he lived there for a year in high school.  I went to the bus terminal Retiro on Sunday to try to find a bus ticked and they were all sold out.  It’s definitely a little late to look for bus tickets to travel during one of busiest holidays.  I should still have a good time here, Erika and Carolina are also staying so I’m not going to be bored.

(By the way, this past Saturday I went to the Bob Dylan concert here.  It was a fun show because of the crowd, but poor Bob Dylan can barley force the words out from his throat.  It’s kind of sad.)

Tags: education, friends

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