Classes at the U
Most of my classes are once a week except for the IFSA advanced spanish class, that one meets twice a week. During the first week of classes I changed my schedule many times. When we were registering for classes Tracy and Teresita (our program directors) advised us to sign up for more than 5 classes, this would give us a range of classes to choose from in case there are classes we don’t like. A word to the wise, when Teresita and Tracy suggest something listen to them. I only registered for 5 classes and during that first week I dropped and changed classes many times because there were three classes I did not like. This was limiting when it came to dropping a class and replacing it with another because you are only allowed two weeks to make these changes without having to provide justification and since classes are once a week, I already missed the first class in some of the classes I wanted to switch into. I had to gamble and hope that I would like the classes I switched into.
On the bright side, all of my classes are fine now. The professors are all welcoming and willing to work with exchange students. IFSA students are also provided with the comfort of knowing we could get a tutor for any of our classes through IFSA if we feel that we need one. They will pay the tutor. One of the things that I like about UNA classes is that group work is common. When I first learned this I sighed, just like most of the other students in my program, I hate group work! Here is the deal, as an exchange student who is studying the language, group work is beneficial. Groups can be a good support system to clear up anything that wasn’t so clear in class.
Group work makes it easy to get to know other ticos at the university. The students here enter the university already starting classes for their majors, unlike in the United States where most of us do not have to declare a major until the end of our sophomore years. Since everyone declared their majors in the beginning, they all take the same class together at the same time so everyone already knows each other. This can make it hard for a foreigner to get to know the classmates especially since most of us studying abroad are not in our first year of college so we take second year or third year courses from different majors.
I am currently taking an Ecology class and the truth is that I don’t know the first thing about ecology but there is a lot of group work. The professor does his best to explain things in a clear manner but my group also makes an effort to make sure I understand. We have quizzes every time there is a reading but the nice thing about this is that we take the quizzes with our groups. This turns what could have been a boring quiz into a fun game that you do well on because at least one person in the group is likely to know the answer or there is a group effort in figuring it out. Another cool thing about this course is that there are four field trips and two of them are overnight. We already went on one of them and although they are educational they turn out to be fun because we spent time with our Tico classmates and get to know them better than we would just seeing them in class.