Mutiny in the Classroom

1 Oct

33596_1463566669452_1242030627_31371440_6099281_n.jpg Strike picture by baileebrownAs I’ve mentioned before, with my program I was able to choose between numerous universities here in Buenos Aires. One of those happens to be la UBA (University of Buenos Aires), and I ultimately made the decision not to go there because classes at la UBA are 6 credits each, and with my concentration I was only allowed to take 6 credits from any of the universities, which meant I was going to be left with only 4 classes to transfer back to Purdue and that was going to make me have to either take 20+ credits for two semesters (during my junior and senior years) or stay for an extra semester to finish my degrees. So, I decided to give up the awesome experience of a 350,000+ public university in Latin America because of good ol’ American bureaucracy. Awesome.

No worries, I’ve come to terms with my loss, especially since there is pretty much no order/organization/structure to that university at all, and I am most definitely a person who needs structure. My case in point: a large group of students at la UBA have decided that because of the inadequate quality of the classrooms, they were going to essentially mutiny and take over numerous buildings around the city, refusing to allow teachers, administration, or students who want to attend class inside. Yeah, this is real. They have moved chairs outside, so if professor want to continue to teach class, and if students want to continue to attend those classes that are still being taught, they can have them outside, in the streets or on the sidewalks or in the parking lots, where the atmosphere is essentially the same level of distraction as the classrooms they currently have. They’re pretty BA here in B.A.

Now, I do want to take a moment to explain that they definitely have a point. My biggest complaint about school here is not that I can’t understand my professors when they speak, its that I can’t hear my professors when they speak. The acoustics in the classrooms are horrible, they don’t have heat or air conditioning, so when its warm out the windows are open (allowing for your classroom to be filled with the lovely sounds that emanate from the streets of one of the largest cities in the world),  and don’t even think about a computer or projection screen, as most haven’t even upgraded from a chalkboard to a whiteboard. And that’s my university, a private one. At la UBA? Add tons of graffiti and even smaller, rickety desks than the ones I deal with, as well as a wall of smoke in the hallways from the students smoking while inside.

However, I also want to take a moment to mention that while I understand that they need better quality, they don’t have much worse than what the private universities here have, and la UBA is free. Gratis. They don’t pay anything. So, if you aren’t paying anything, can you really get that angry that you have slightly less quality than those who are paying? I don’t understand it, but then, this is Latin America, and protesting is what they do. I am also not complaining about it, though, because it is a very interesting, very Latin experience, and I’m really excited I get to be here for it. (It is also the less dangerous version of the Latin experiences, as I could have the misfortune of being in Ecuador right now….)

But, in all seriousness, this kinda sucks hardcore for my friends who are taking classes at la UBA. Their experiences have varied between having class completely canceled until the strike ends, having their class converted into an online course (with homework/assignments being sent through emails) until classes resume, or to being some of those students taking notes in the streets. It’s an experience I would love to have, but since classes end here more or less in late November, study abroad students are kinda screwed for getting credit back home. And this strike isn’t something new. While they usually have a student strike every year or so, this is the longest one they’ve had in about 5 years. It’s been going on for a month now, meaning some people I know have only been to class, like, three times since we got here. Crazy.

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