A day in the life of a year abroad student: PART 1
So I thought I would do something a little bit different for this post. Last year I wrote a post giving you a run through of one my days as a first year Hispanic Studies student which you can read here.
Although I love telling you all about my travels whilst I am over here in Chile, I thought I would take a break from that this time, as I thought it might be useful to all of those readers who perhaps are thinking of doing a year abroad, or still have their year abroad to come (so jealous- wish I wasn’t already half-way through mine) if I do something similar again. So here we go, I hereby present you with a run-down of ‘a day in the life of a year abroad Hispanic Studies student’…
Wednesday 21/10/2014, Santiago de Chile
Wake up. This is pretty much as early as it gets for me. Yes, despite the fact that 8:30ams actually exist in Chile, I made the very wise and tactful choice of not choosing those classes. In fact, my earliest classes are all at 11:30 on Mondays to Thursdays, meaning, yes I have Friday off! This is pretty handy for travelling at the weekends, especially as on Thursdays with just one class finishing at 12:50, I am often able to leave for somewhere that evening, and if I want to, like last weekend (which I will tell you all about very soon) arrive back on Monday morning before class. However, after doing that twice now, I really don’t think I will be doing it again.
Anyway, I digress.
I could probably get up even later than this but, I am still not a morning person and never will be. Some things just never change. So once I have got myself up, it’s downstairs to our –approximately 1.5m x 1.5m kitchen- where I make myself some porridge (I have finally accepted the fact that Weetabix doesn’t exist in Chile. Therefore, having not found an Chilean equivalent amongst the hundreds of sugar-loaded varieties of cereal here, I have resorted to good old Quakers porridge with a tea-spoon of honey). Then having brushed my teeth, got dressed and made my face up all to the sound of los cuarenta principales radio station, I grab an apple, some water and off I go.
Leave the house and make the very short walk to Baquedano metro station.
Get to the metro station, Bip card (Chile’s answer to the London Oyster card) at the ready. During the very stressful first week of looking for accommodation, knowing that I would have to get the metro to and from my university campus every day, meant that being close to a metro station for me was a must. Trust me, after attending lectures in Spanish all day, having to cook, clean, do food shopping, work and travel all weekend, having a long commute to university is the last thing you want. I would definitely choose my our tiny kitchen, my doll sized room, and our not so luxurious bathroom over a long commute any day!
Arrive at Campus San Joaquín. I am also very fortunate to be living right next to one of the main metro stations with connections to both the green and red line, meaning no changes for me; just eight stops on linea 1 en dirección Vicente Valdés.
Enter campus. The campus is conveniently right next to the metro station.
Campus San Joaquín in all its glory #nofilter
Arrive at my class. The campus is absolutely huge. Despite being only one of four, it is practically the same size as Warwick’s campus. Hosting a beautiful backdrop of the Andes, on a spring day, full of ponds, trees and grassy areas, this place really is a unique place to study…that is until you are studying on the grass, soaking up the 32 Degrees Celsius ‘spring’ sun, laptop and notes all out, and then what happens? The sprinklers come on. Yep, this was exactly what happened to me the other day…
How is this even possible for the middle of Spring?!
My class begins. The class is introducción al arte contemporáneo, and therefore the only one of my three classes where I am the only foreign student. It is also the biggest of my classes which therefore takes place in a medium sized lecture hall. The class is taught through lectures lead by the professora normally with a PowerPoint used to show the relevant works of art she is talking about. This means that with no written hand outs or text, my note taking relies entirely on the hour and twenty minutes of spiel given by my teacher. Great for listening practise if nothing else. However, I must admit, taking all my notes in Spanish for all my classes also means that I have really noticed an improvement in my writing.
The class ends and I head over to one of the many cafeterias to grab some lunch and a coffee (if I’m feeling like going all out). On Tuesdays and Thursdays I go home for lunch as I am finished by midday. However having finished eating, I normally now head either to the main library or the humanities library to do the reading for my next class.
Make my way to the sports gym for yoga.
The class begins. I’m not going to lie, doing a yoga class led by a Chilean was definitely a tad challenging to start. However, once I got the terminology sussed, it is a great way to break up the gap between classes, practise more listening, meet new people, and more importantly, work on those relaxation and meditation skills.
I must admit, despite being somewhat of a gym fanatic last year at Warwick, here I don’t seem to have had the time nor energy to keep it up. In fact this was something I was talking to one of my friends about on the way home the other day. I don’t know what it is; the constant travelling at any given opportunity, the smog, the commute, or the fact that every day you are just having to constantly process and communicate in Spanish, but every day when I come home I am absolutely exhausted!
My yoga class finishes. I just have enough time to pop to the loo and make it to my last class of the day, Mujer y Sociedad.
If you have read one of my first posts from Chile where I explained my modules, you will know that this is the class where we are all international students. Nevertheless, having said that, it is by far the most demanding. Not only do all three of the teachers we have had for this module speak at -approximately 100mph- all with slightly different accents, but I have also has the most reading and work for this class. In fact, I have just submitted a 3,000 word essay…in Spanish.
Yes, I didn’t know that it was physically possible to write that much in Spanish, let alone having to do our own research, further reading, and come up with our own title and thesis. However, I somehow managed to accomplish it and was surprisingly quite proud of what I managed to produce.
The joys of essay writing
Having just finished the history part of this course (which was worth 66%), we are now concentrating on literature whilst exploring the representation of women in Chilean society. I have actually found this module really interesting, especially now that we are focussing on literature written by Chilean women..
Embracing all things Chilean whilst soaking up the sun in Parque Bustamante last week
However to give you a little idea of just how fast our literature teacher talks, today in the space of an hour and twenty minutes, we just about managed to cover two literary movements, one author, one critical analysis, two short stories, group work and 4 group presentations…I think mentally drained is the best way to describe the state of us as we walked out of that class.
The last twenty minutes of all of my classes are the hardest to maintain focus. One thing for sure is that with lectures all in Spanish, you can’t switch off for a second. What I mean is, that if your mind starts to wonder just momentarily as you begin thinking about, for example, the fact that when you get home you are going to have to make a trip to the supermarket unless you want scrambled eggs on toast again for dinner, that’s it you’ve lost it. Trying to get back into the lecture and follow what the teacher is talking about, especially if they have gone on a bit of a tangent as they often do, is a nightmare! I am of course not suggesting that I ever switch off from lectures in Warwick…well maybe just for the odd minute or two…but you get my drift.
[Continued here: A day in the life of a year abroad student: PART 2]