Upping the Ante

Good morning everyone! It’s 9:02am here and I am preparing to head to my 10:30am class. Time is different here in Argentina. Most places open up at 9 or 10 in the morning and (depending on the type of business) stays open a bit later.

So far this month has only been an intensive language month for me; as of March 12th I will start my classes with Argentine students. That being said, let’s talk about some of the classroom differences. All of the professors here go by their first names. In the U.S. this is not uncommon, but here everyone does it. If you call a professor “Señor” or “Usted” it’s almost like an insult to them. My current profesora, Mage, is very funny and outspoken and she’s travelled all over the place. Our class is usually 5 hours long (last week it was 6 because of a holiday weekend) Monday through Friday, and any professor that can keep a room full of 20 year-olds engaged for that length of time has got to be some kind of mastermind!

The tests are different here. It seems as though they place the most importance on the tests and everything else is just scenery. You have to write in pen because it’s an “official document” and just like in the States, everyone sits in separate isolated parts of the room. It’s interesting. One of my pet peeves about the classroom is that all of the chairs and desks are connected to the floor. This means that when you’re trying to subtly sneak in late to class, the whole world sees you anxiously trying to squeeze between each desk and seat to find an open spot. It can be a bit humiliating.

Another difference, at least at my university (La Universidad de Belgrano), is that every classroom has blackboards and chalk that the teachers use to dictate notes. In the last decade the U.S. has gone to using primarily white boards in its classrooms, so I found this interesting. Maybe chalk allergies just aren’t as common here?

Probably the most interesting thing that I have seen at this university is the end-of-classes celebrations put on by the graduating students and their friends and families. It’s crazy! In Findlay I have a bunch of Indian friends who celebrate birthdays by pelting the person of honor with cake and eggs, but here they up the ante! On the last day of exams Argentine students get all dressed up in suits and ties, take their exams, and then immediately change clothes. If they didn’t, their nice clothes would be ruined because as soon as they leave the building they are pelted with eggs, soda pop, flour, desserts, fruit–you name it! It’s a loud crazy tradition that everyone gets involved in, and it’s all in good fun. Afterward the person of honor has his or her picture taken with all of the gloating rebels and gets hosed off by a maintenance man. Now, alas, they are permitted to graduate.

Recent Argentine graduates celebrating by getting dirty!

Tell me what you think! I look forward to hearing from you all!

Liz De Luca
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Spring 2012

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