Friday, June 05, 2009

the winter is long in the city

Haven't been writing much lately, because I suppose that I have been living and studying. I have probably never read or studied so much for one exam, so I spent a good portion of last week in Caballito cafés poring over Bourdier, Berger, Levi-Strauss, Geertz and Jameson, among others.

Thankfully, I think this dedication paid off. I had my midterm on Tuesday, and it wasn't that terrible of an experience. Obviously I was nervous, but I decided that being calm about it was the best thing I could do for myself, so I concentrated on that. I went in there like a zen buddha, only to start to freak out when my professor asked us all something and expected individual answers while we were waiting for the rest of the class to arrive. The rooms at UBA are so damn loud and echo-ey that it is amazing that I ever understand even one word. I had no idea what he was saying. So I'm sitting there like an idiot, unable to understand a simple question, about to take this midterm about complicated cultural theory.

Next I realized that the professor wasn't going to give us a sheet with the questions on it. Nope...making 20 copies would just make too much sense. So he dictated the questions to us, which about gave me an aneurysm. Thankfully he repeated a couple of times, and I think I only missed the end of one of the questions (a part that wasn't that important). And to my delight, he then went through and explained each one, giving us some hints on what to draw on. WHAT? Guille, a third year UBA student, says that the professors always do that. I have never had that done for me at Bryn Mawr - by the time the questions are handed out, the professor is done, and if you're confused, you're screwed. In fact, most of the professors don't even come to give exams, they put a poor grad student in charge.

I took the exam, and wrote about 4 pages. I knew things. It felt good. Thankfully my Spanish grammar is pretty good, but I'm sure it had some strange word usages, which I think often makes my writing more funny for people than if it also had a ton of grammar mistakes. It sort of masquerades as normal, until it is just awkward. I'm sure whoever is grading this exam will not realize that I'm a foreigner, and will think I'm a retard. As long as I pass, I'm okay with this.

I've noticed that while in English we, as students, "take" an exam and the professor "gives" it, in Spanish the students "give" the exam and the professor "takes" it. So strange. I feel like this might say something cultural. In some ways it makes sense. The students "give" all of their knowledge onto the paper, and the professors "take" it and evaluate it.

Other than studying and reading and staying up all night doing those two things (first academic all nighter in Buenos Aires of the semester woooo) I have just been living. Spending lots of time with Guille, which has been wonderful. On cold wintery nights it is nice to have someone to watch bad Argentine TV with.


1 comment:

  1. Baaahaha, masquerading as normal. sounds like my study abroad experience. :)