Universities in Argentina
I just took my last final exam, and I passed! Woohoo! So I’m now officially done with my classes here! Don’t worry though; I’ve go the World Cup to occupy the rest of my time here After reflecting on my time in the university here, I realize that it’s really been a totally different experience than what I’ve been used to the last few years. To say the least, I’d say that the universities here are much more disorganized than in the States. As foreigners coming in, not having grown up with the system and not knowing the rules and norms, it was somewhat of a nightmare- not to mention the fact that we were taking classes in a foreign language! I quickly got used to the feeling of having no idea what was going on in class or being confused about assignments every week. Syllabi do not exist here, and professors would frequently assign things with very short notice. Last week, I went to class to turn in what I thought was my final paper for the class. When I got there, the professor informed me that there was a final oral exam that I would have to take the next week (which would decide whether I passed the class or not); surprise! At this point it wasn’t much of a shock, but I wasn’t exactly ecstatic to hear about that “little” detail. Here, everything depends on the final exam- if you pass, you pass the class, and if not, well, try again. The majority of final exams are oral as well; you sit down with the rest of the class, and the teacher asks each student, one by one, a series of questions. I know the professors went easy on us intercambios, but it’s still somewhat intimidating being drilled in front of all your classmates!
Professors in Argentina also miss class MUCH more than in the states, whether it be that they’re going on strike or going on vacation. And more often than not, IF you hear about it, it’s going to be very last minute. There were several times this semester when I got to class only to realize that it had been cancelled. If there’s class, it’ll almost always start late; at least in my classes that was the case. In one class, the professor would arrive to the university on time, but she would spend the first hour of class having coffee in the lounge with another professor (who also had a class that was supposed to start at the same time…). So what I thought coming in would be a 3 and a half hour class actually lasted 2 hours at the VERY most, usually shorter. This is definitely not the norm for all universities and all departments- I know that the public university was quite a bit more responsible in this regard. But I heard from friends that it was still pretty disorganized. In one class they told me about, they had 3 different professors. Each would teach a material, but none of them talked with each other, so when my friends asked questions about final exams, the professors often had no idea what the others had taught on. Talk about frustrating!
In the universities here, student portals are rarely used- instead, they use Facebook for all assignments, uploading them to Facebook groups for the class. And the times I’ve had to communicate with a professor, it’s been through Facebook messenger- they’re much more likely to respond to that than to an email
In general, I wouldn’t say I’ve had a terrible time with the university system here. But I’ll certainly be happy to go back to the system that I know in the States. Although it means that I’ll have to go back to studying regularly, I think I’m ready to be a student again