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Starting on the Right Foot at a New School

I have started my fall semester in Peru, and it has been quite different. It was an experience to enroll alright. At Holy Cross, enrollment is like this: I wake up at 6:30 am and sit at my desk and wait for 7 am to roll in while my heart starts beating a mile a minute as it gets closer to enrollment. I enroll, and I fall back asleep until my usual 10 or 11 am class. It’s a virtual academic hunger game for enrollment between my graduating class, and this I have realized is a breeze compared to what I had to do for enrollment in Peru. First week of school is “shopping week” for the international students. The local Peruvian students start their first official classes while the international students get to attend the classes they are interested in and observe the professors, no strings attached. On my courses I had all anthropology courses, and I only went to shop for two classes. I was kind of risking my chances because I didn’t really have a backup plan. Have I mentioned how most of the classes get together once a week for three hours straight? Others however get together two times a week for two hours each. So that was also a bit different for me. It’ll definitely be something I’ll have to get used to.

The week goes by and it’s the weekend. I was pretty determined to get my urban anthropology and relations of gender classes. Those would be useful for my major. However, Sunday rolls around and I change my mind completely. I decide on taking a sociology and an art course. Why? I realized that this semester I don’t exactly want to kill myself with homework and stress. I already have to ride on a combi/ bus twice a day each trip being at least an hour long (on a good day). My course selection in the end was focused on taking art. With this decision I was actually very limited. I strategized and found an art class that did not interfere with my already mandatory classes, and I chose a sociology class that could go into my major. I get a core requirement and a major requirement out of the way with less stress than taking two anthropology courses that required a hefty amount of reading. I felt pretty excited for the fall semester. I hoped I would get those classes. I also prayed, just in case.

That Monday I’d have to enroll along with 250 international students. The word on the street was to get there early or you will not get a good enrollment number. I had 2 necessary classes I wanted/needed to take so my friend and I, since we live close together, decided on waking up at 4:30 am. Comfy clothes and running shoes were a must. We called a safe taxi and it took us straight to the university. When we got there it was about 5:30 am. There were people already there. They were bundled up sitting, laying down, and talking outside of the university gates on the sidewalk. I sat and I counted. I was the 19th. That’s not bad. We did well. I sure hope the people in front aren’t interested in sociology and art. If so I would be considering my previous anthropology courses. I think I was ok. I had plan A, B, and C.

At 7 am the gates opened and we were let in. As the civil people that we were, we remained in single file and walked to the building where at 8:30 am we’d get those precious numbers for enrollment. I was so glad nobody started running hunger games style to the building, because I would have been one upset person. I woke up at a crazy early hour to get my 19th spot, I shall not get anything higher because someone runs faster than me. Nope, not today. But thankfully everything was civil.

I laid on the cold concrete and waited until 8:30 am. I passed the time checking and rechecking any kind of social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I soon got bored so all I could do was to alternate between sitting and laying positions. The wait seemed like forever. I was sleepy and hungry and I wanted to get the enrollment out of the way. Finally, two women came to the line with white papers each with black numbers. I got 19 and immediately was on my way to the coffee shop for a coffee and something to eat. I ended up getting a latte and a banana nut bread. It was delightful.

So know what happened? Did enrollment go as planned? Yes, yes it most definitely did. At the end of the day I got my art and sociology class. Even though I was a bit behind from not shopping either class, the professors were understandable and they were happy that I had chosen their class. I was happy too. I wouldn’t want to do enrollment in Peru again, but I was happy that I did. I now appreciate how the university/college system works in the U.S. and I also admire any student who has to do this process every semester. It was truly an experience. I’m glad I won’t have to do it this way again. Perks of Peruvian experiences…you appreciate more.


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