Study Abroad

Class Shopping & Week 1 on Campus

Hello again team!

I know I just updated yesterday, but that was strictly about culinary delights-and delicious as they were, they were only a small part of what I’ve been up to this week.  This week, you see, was my first week of classes-as it was for most of you college kids back in the states.  However, my week was a wee bit different.  At La Católica, exchange students are given a week for class “shopping”-we can pop into any of the classes we think we might want to take to try them out, see if we can handle their workloads, if we like the professors, etc.  This is fantastic, because unlike Peruvian students we have 0 knowledge of professors, the system here, class reputations, etc.

The downside is that we’re not directly enrolled, and in at least a couple of the classes I sampled the professors were giving out assignments and syllabi via the internet through class sites-which, if you are not enrolled, you cannot access. So that’s annoying, but they presumably understand that exchange students don’t have these options.  The other downside is that official registration is this Monday, and in Peru they do it the old fashioned way-no computers, no internet. You go line up outside the building and write down your courses via pen & paper, and just pray you get there early enough so that things aren’t full.

I could probably live happily without that aspect.

In any case, I dipped my toes in a few different classes this week, trying things that will transfer for credit to complete my majors back home.  After all, the more credit I can get here (er, up to a limit of 14, I think) the fewer classes I have to jam into my last semester when I return to the US.  Classes I tried are: Amazonian Ethnography, Archaeology of the Andes, Human Osteology (an archaeology course), Art History, and Social Reality of Peru.  There were a couple of other classes that interested me and I would’ve like to try, but class times were either conflicting or HIGHLY inconvenient (ex, 6-9 PM. Remember, it takes me over an hour to get home.)

So, after sampling, I am HOPING to take the following: Amazonian Ethnography, Arch. of the Andes, and Social Reality of Peru. These I KNOW transfer directly back to my university as credits that I need. Human Osteology was a backup, but as interesting as the subject really is to me, it would be hard in English and I think I would go batshit crazy doing it in Spanish, so that’s like a super-back up now. History of Art I was hoping would transfer as some sort of Spanish Conversation class, but apparently not. So, now I need to replace that with something I can get credit for from the Spanish Department.  There’s one literature class that interests me (although I was hoping to avoid those as they are usually a little bit of a heavy workload) and, more importantly, a film class that supposedly has transferred in the past that I should very much like to take–especially because it’s only once a week, even though it would make me be on campus ALL day.  However, I didn’t get to sample either one of these classes, so that could be awkward next week. Especially the literature class, as I’m sure they’ve already had assignments.

Anyway, please cross all of your fingers and toes that I am able to get into these classes, because I NEED them, and furthermore, I don’t want to end up with a terrible schedule. (Because, friends, classes here are scheduled very irregularly so things constantly intervene with one another-it was REALLY hard to get a schedule mapped out.) Also, I definitely didn’t try out some classes that I probably would have really wanted to take, like Quechua, because they meet on Fridays-and sometimes even Saturdays!  I have limited enough time to travel around Peru as it is, so I’m trying to at least give myself 3 day weekends (and only 1 morning class on Thursdays) to facilitate this.

For the most part, I liked the classes I sampled well enough, though one irritatingly has a large group project (pretty much my LEAST favorite thing, ever).  Most of my classes have at least a handful-if not plenty more-other foreign students in them, many Americans. So there’s a nice safety net if any of us get lost or confused.  The downside is that, while I know this is snobby, a LOT of the American students literally speak only English.  This bothers me, because my main reason for coming here was to improve my Spanish, and so it makes me kind of anti-social towards them.  Now before you get annoyed with me, hear me out: There are plenty of occasions when I’m fine with hearing or speaking English. Examples-clarifying, being angry/bitching, gossiping, when you just need to say something fast, or when you just don’t know the damn words. It happens. And that’s ok. But in general I want to make an effort to immerse myself, even if I’m speaking broken Spanish with other broken-Spanish speakers.  (Probably an influence from my time in Jordan, where we were only ALLOWED to speak Arabic.) Which is why, for example, foreign students from countries like Japan or France are totally groovy by me…it would probably also be rather helpful if I made friends with Peruvians. 😛  The real downside to this opinion, though, is that until I DO make friends with Peruvians/other exchange students, if I keep avoiding the Americans I will continually be ambling around solo. And I mean, I like “me” time more than most people and am totally fine doing things myself. But…I also really like people. And being social. And having fun. And taking pictures that aren’t solely of buildings and parks. 😛 So, there’s a balance I’m going to have to find here.

In any case, that’s a wrap of my first week of classes. I’ll probably post again soon in the next couple of days about my weekend & visit to Barranco. Apologies again for not being able to contain my wordiness, and also for no photos-didn’t really take any relevant ones this week!


¡Hasta luego!

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