Registering and all that nonsense
Alright, news flash! There is a spider here called “la arana de rincon”, in English it’s called the Chilean Recluse Spider.” It lives in corners, is attracted to damp dark places, and is very poisonous. My host family basically told me that it was inevitable that I would see one at some point this semester. Today, I had the opportunity to interact with the not so elusive arana de rincon.
I stepped out of my shower and was toweling off, when a spider jumped out of my towel and onto my arm. I immediately screamed and shook it off. The spider scuttled straight for the corner and I ran out of the bathroom in my towel to inform my host brother that there was a spider in the bathroom. Granted, I do this every time I see a spider, so he wasn’t too concerned. However, this time I had a reason to freak out. He kindly killed it for me, and now two members of my family have reminded me to always shake my towel out (and laughed at me for screaming). There’s my exciting and slightly dramatic story to start my blog post!
Anyway, this last week hasn’t been too terribly exciting, just more stressful than anything. It was supposedly one of the most stressful we will have while we are here, and I’m really hoping that that is true!
Why was this past week so stressful?
We had to register for our classes. We really aren’t in America anymore.
Registering for classes in Chile is very different depending on where you are. I chose to take classes from two different Chilean universities and IFSA. The Universidad Catolica follows more of a Western approach, so I felt more comfortable with their system, while the Universidad de Chile is known for being more disorganized and “Chilean.” They also have campuses spread all over the city, creating an added challenge. Starting Monday, the only two classes I was guaranteed were the two classes I was taking through IFSA. It was time to get to work.
Monday morning, I had to show up bright and early to the Facultad de Letras at the Universidad de Chile to ask for class schedule, locations, and information from a professor. Classes started Monday and not all of this information was readily available for students. Like I said, this is a very different system. Conveniently, I got lost on my way to the university, but that’s how I learn, right?
I got my information, and then learned that I would have to go to the campus in the center of downtown approximately 40 minutes away to get information for the last class on my list.
A classmate and I got to the downtown campus without a hitch, handed in our passes allowing us to take the class, and were informed that we had class at 2:30 pm. Hoy. Wonderful. I now had a timeframe to pick up my laptop and get back to the campus where I just was.
When I arrived on campus, I was about half an hour early and had no idea where I was going. When I asked for directions, I was pointed to the art school, and had no problem knowing when I’d arrived. Everyone was camped out on the ground snacking and talking and the walls were covered in graffiti. I approached a group of girls and asked them for help getting to class. To my surprise, they stood up and went with me. No one seemed to know where my class was. They took me all around the building asking various secretaries until we located my class 5 minutes before it started. Guess what? The only two people in the class were my friend and me. Apparently Chileans at this university don’t show up to class the first week of school, our professor wasn’t even expecting to teach, but managed to come up with something until the class ended. Welcome to culture shock 101.
The rest of the week was much of the same. Tuesday, I showed up to the Universidad Catolica before the office even opened to guarantee myself a spot in my class. When I got there, the secretary informed me that regardless of what my book said, extranjero registration would be the next day. I had about an hour and a half until my class, so I wandered around, found the campus Starbucks, drank some coffee and read. I felt like I deserved some relaxing. The next day, I lucked into my class. There were only 5 spots available for foreign students, and the professor reserved them for students who had registered with him after class on Tuesday. I had done that, got to the office early, and got my spot. Two classes registered, one to go.
My last class was at the Universidad de Chile in another faculty. No information had been posted about this class, and I was unable to register online. When I told our director that I had been instructed to email the head of the university regarding this class, she raised an eyebrow and got on the phone. She then sent some emails. By Thursday, I was registered in the course.
I was lucky though, some students got to the office after their classes were full and had to register for harder classes that less students wanted to take, other students’ schedules are still up in the air. However, as disorganized as this system may seem to our hyper-efficient American selves, it functions. Everyone ends up in classes, and everyone ends up fulfilling requirements. It just takes a bit more effort than it does in the states.
Friday, I went to the zoo with some friends. It was a discount day, so we got in for about $3.00. It was great to get out, blow off some steam, and just relax. Also, the Chilean zoo has a lot more native species, and it was great to be able to see and learn about these animals! I’m definitely adjusting to life here and starting to really like it!
That’s all for this week!