Hello Guys and Dolls!
Sorry for a bit of a long hiatus, I haven't had a lot of free time this last week with the beginning of classes and also, my parents are here for the week, which has been a delight! I introduced them to my host family, my program director and program mates, basically they have now been acquainted with my existence here. It's been very special to be able to share this experience with them, so I've decided that now the rest of you should come visit me so I can do the same with all of you!
Ok, a few highlights from the first week of classes! So, the procedure is a bit different from WashU in the way that we visit classes the first week without registering for them and then once we decide the classes we want, we go to the office of the department and wait in line to register for each course. A bit more time consuming than to what I am accustomed but it has made for some delightful adventures. Here are the classes I have ended up taking:
Politicas Sociales y La Familia (Social Policies and the Family): This class deals with the impact of social codes on the Chilean family both inside and outside the household. It should be interesting to compare with the social pressures on a US family and I'm very interested to learn more about the cultural codes which conduct the family inside the home, so I don't unknowingly make a fool of myself in my host home, although it does make for some good stories. The second day of the class, which meets Tuesday and Thursday, we were supposed to form groups of seven and each group was to focus on a certain part of the reading due for the next class. Information you need to know: There are close to 50 people in this class, most of whom are from the same major and therefore are taking this class with all of their friends. I felt like I was the new kid in middle school or something, not knowing anyone and being on the outside of all the cliques. Thankfully, one of the groups was short a few people, so me and my program mate who is also taking the class joined their group.
With this problem solved you'd think we would be home free, but after this small victory, we commenced our hunt for the fotocopiadora (yes, photocopy office) in order to obtain the readings for the class. The girls in our group said something to us which to me sounded like the equivalent of doing tongue exercises and then left (Note: I am at the point where I can understand and participate in conversations, but talking to people between the ages of 17 and 24 continues to prove to be extremely difficult). We had no idea what to do so we just followed them, like the street dogs which follow us daily, hoping for some affection or food. I tried to ask multiple times what it is we were supposed to do in these groups, what readings we were supposed to read, etc, but they talked so fast that my efforts remained futile. Finally, they resorted to speaking in English to us since we were clearly incapable of speaking in Spanish and I got a better idea of the work we were supposed to complete. I have felt like a child multiple times in the last six weeks, but I think it is far worse when I'm being condescended by people my own age.
Mujeres en la Historia de Corea (Women in the History of Korea): Yes, I know it sounds random to be in Chile and taking a class about the culture of another country but I'm actually very excited to take this course! I'm the only foreign exchange student in the class which will be great for practicing my spanish with people my own age. The professor, who is Korean herself, asked me why I was taking this course, had I taken class about Korea before? I told her no but that I had taken Womena and Gender studies classes and was interested in the women's role in the culture of Korea. She promptly stated that she was NOT a feminist and the giggled with the rest of the class. I think it was all in good fun but perhaps I am now known as the crazy American women's liberationist...updates to follow soon.
Sociocultura de Genero (Social culture of Gender): While my other two classes are through the Catholic University, this class is through the University of Chile. We have the opportunity to take classes at both since the student populations vary considerably; at the Catholic University, it is very cuico (elite, upper class students) but at UChile, there is more of a mix of classes and backgrounds. It is also often the site of political protests so often times students arrive for class and are greeted by policeman blockading the campus.
UChile is also way more disorganized than Catolica and on the opposite side of the spectrum from WashU. I read about this course in the handbook I received but there was no information about where it took place, who taught it, or the hours it started and ended. I turned to my program director for help and we spent a good 1.5 hours trying to find this information with no success. She called about 15 people, none of whom answered the phone and there was no information available on line. The next day I had to the department office and solicit the secretary for the information; although the commute to get there was about an hour, I met with the secretary and the information within 2 minutes.
The class itself proved to interesting although equally disorganized. There was no semblance of a syllabus or anything, the professor wrote her email on the dry erase board and said that the information was available on the course website, that which I do not yet have access because I am a foreign exchange student and our emails are not yet working. But the professor lectured passionately, most of which I could understand and the material is intriguing. We'll see how the semester pans out.
Shout-out goes to Ben Herrmann who has just recently returned to the states from his four month adventure in South Africa. Hope you're well and I look forward to trading abroad stories with you in December!