Oh wait…I actually have to take classes here? Qué bajón…I guess it had to happen sooner or later. It really hit me when I went to take the CELU exam, which is a basic proficiency exam to determine what level of classes you are permitted to take. We were out for lunch, celebrating the end of the test and then we realized, we had class tomorrow! Since I’m in the Master’s program, or posgrado, my classes are a little different than your typical Monday to Friday courses.
In Masters programs, there are students of all ages from all across Argentina or even from other countries. In my courses, there are about 11 of us: 2 from Brazil, 3 from the U.S.A. (Us!), and the rest from various regions scattered throughout the country.
Remember my post about the geography of Argentina? This country is HUGE! One person in my class takes a 12 hour-long bus to get here. Yeah, TWELVE hours! That’s kinda like me going to Atlanta, Georgia every other week for class from my hometown of Jamestown, NY.
The commuters bring a carry-on sized bag with them and stay on hostels for the weekend, leaving right after the last day of class each week.
So I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll reiterate. (So listen up!) My classes are INTENSIVE and ONE AT A TIME. The entire time I’m here, I’ll be taking 5 classes. These are the differences between my classes at Geneseo and the ones here for the Masters Program:
- One at a time: This is kind of nice because I only have to focus on one class at once. I can dedicate all my attention to just one.
- Only on weekends: My classes typically are on Friday and Saturday from 9:00am to 7:00pm, with brief pausas of about 15 minutes here and there and an hour lunch break.
- Intensive: We’re talking a month crash course for 10 hour segments on weekends in order to add up to the grand total of 40-60 credit hours each.
- Books: Just like in Spain, there is a fotocopiadora (reprografía in Spain) where I get my class materials. How this works is the professor chooses what they want to teach on and they compile a book of their own by photocopying the segments of text, diagrams and pictures they want to use. They give this to a little office within the university and they copy and bind these materials for students. My entire book, which was about 1.5 inches thick only cost me about $17 USD! That’s quite a bargain, considering that I’m used to buying individual books back at home, running anywhere from 10-200 dollars each.
- Class atmosphere: The way our class is conducted is very relaxed and conversational, which helps keep me engaged and allows time to go by a little quicker. We sit in a semi-circle and discuss our opinions and experiences on certain matters pertaining to the current topic of focus. The teacher I have for this class is very nice and accommodating and there is an existing rapport between her and the other students, who have had her before. In fact, there are many times during the class where the professor and students will share some mate (MAH-TAY), or even have lunch together.
- Class size: Being a very specific post-graduate program, the class size is obviously much smaller, giving in to a more intimate atmosphere and more opportunity to get to know your peers. After only two days, I’ve already learned their names, their general backgrounds and have begun to pick up on personality traits.
I like the way class is set up so far, and although the classes are long I really have no room to complain since they are every other week. This also allows me to travel for longer periods of time and for better rates, since my weekdays are free for such purposes. As we all know, hostels, busses and flights are cheaper on these days!
About the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba (UNC)
All right, so now a little background on my university!!
Founded in 1613, it is the OLDEST University in all of Argentina! It’s also a lot bigger than you’d think. Comprised of 13 facultades, or departments spanning over 2600 acres, the UNC boasts a student attendance of more than 111,000 students annually, including undergraduate and graduate students.
Our university is filled with a lot of striking, colorful murals.
So in other words, the UNC is 22x bigger than SUNY Geneseo, 4x bigger than Harvard and 2x bigger than the University of South Carolina. Get this—the UNC’s student attendance per year is higher than that of the 2 U.S. Universities with the highest enrollment COMBINED, namely the University of Central Florida and DeVry. You get the picture.
I attend the Facultad de Lenguas, the Department of Languages. Within this department, there are a number of extracurricular activities I can do, including over 25 intramural sports, free tutoring, and free workshops and clubs. There’s always something to do!
I can even sign up to learn other languages at a very low cost too. Perhaps I’ll finally be able to learn French!
Since this is my last round of college, I’m making up for the many years of non-musical activities by joining the chorus of the Facultad de Lenguas. My one friend from here sent me the advertisement for try-outs through WhatsApp and I reserved the date. At the try-outs, I just had to sing up and down scales and then repeat a melody. I got in as a soprano and practices have already begun, which helps keep me busy and lets me meet a whole bunch of people, all whom have made me and my friend feel welcome right away.
It was strange being at the first practice, doing warm ups and then breaking up parts to sing with the accompanist because I hadn’t done this since high school. I realized how much I’ve missed singing and I’m so glad to have stepped up and joined this group!
I’ve already met so many wonderful people here and it’s only been three weeks! There’s so much that the next 8 months are going to bring and I’m looking forward to every second of it. And it begins!