I finally started school today. I was supposed to start a few weeks ago, but it was almost impossible to find a school in this city as a result of a Chilean law regarding exchange students. Whatever the case at the crack of dawn, I woke up and dawned a uniform to begin my South American education.
The school I am going to is called Verbo Divino. It’s in lovely, suburban Chicureo. It’s a newly built, concrete structure with a good handful of students ranging from toddlers to seniors. I was given a brief tour by an administrator along with a fellow exchange student from Germany. We were introduced to faculty and were informed of some rules and history of the school. It turns out exchange students are pretty common at this school, well, at least German ones. I think I am the only American here, so of course I was asked about Ruby Tuesday’s, patriotism, and English in general. ¡Qué sorpresa!
It was pretty mellow. We couldn’t exactly locate my correct class in the morning, so I just followed an outgoing, Chilean friend and sat in on her Psychology class. Eventually, I found my correct grade, which is very different from my American one. The classes, in general, are stagnant. The teachers rotate while the students remain in the rooms, and it’s pseudo-coeducation. There are boys and girls at the school, but usually they are put in separate classes, which is bizarre to me. I find that both sexes’ imputes can be really useful in discussion based teaching; however, since most of the classes are lecture based – I guess this attribute is lost.
The most fun class by far was English. Currently, we are learning about the passive voice in English – whatever that is? My teacher is Cuban and speaks English at a professional level with a strong wit. He put me on the spot a few times for information about the United States and other regional queries, but overall it was laid back. He did this because the way the Chileans learn English here is a little strict, so he likes to go off topic often. I found that out from the fact that we’d be talking about Elvis Presley for a second and then a moment later, he would be lecturing about the effect of Pinochet on Catholicism. It was pretty fun until I was asked to read from their textbook. It is in British English, which was just dissimilar enough for me to misread in front of the whole class.
The school is on a block schedule (more or less), begins at 7:40 am, and ends at 2:40 pm. It made me really glad to be at a school like where I am in the states. This is not a crack at Verbo Divino, which was relatively welcoming and warm to me today. I just appreciate some of the comforts of home like central heating in the winter months – today was especially cold (even for Chilean standards)! Overall though, it wasn’t that bad except I was really tired.