An eagle goes international

By Brooke Hisrich — Hola Yankees! I learned very quickly the term “Yankees” is not only used to describe New Yorkers but all Americans. My classmates claim it is a term of endearment but I am still skeptical.

Argentina has been my home for one month and three days now and I still feel as if I have just arrived. The thought of creating a semi-permanent life here continues to surprise me.

Although I have much to say, I want to discuss the topic that continues to intrigue me the most. Education.

I started school two days after I arrived and I could not conceal my shock, or keep my mouth closed the entire day. Cervantes is a small private school that is dubbed the most prestigious in Bolivar. The total enrollment is around 700 students, kindergarten through 12 grade.

There are approximately 50 students in my junior year or fifth year class which is divided into two classes. High school begins in the 7th grade here which means the seniors are considered sixth year students. I am in class 5B and room 5B is where I remain the entire day. The teachers switch classes while the students stay in the same room and in the same seats. It is customary to stand up when a teacher enters the classroom as a sign of respect.

I believe the negative perspective to this learning style is the lack of freedom in deciding your own class schedule. All students take the same classes every year at the same level of difficulty. To be truthful the system is very similar to primary school in the United States. My classmates in 5B have been together since they were children and each year the students remain in the same class, the following year 5A will be class 6A for example. My class resembles a family more than I have seen with any other group of students, they are without drama and judgment and I know it is cliché but they all genuinely love each other.

School is only a mere five hours long and consists of five forty-five minutes classes and fifteen minute interval breaks. Lunch is not served at school but there is a “Kiosco” or snack bar that serves biscuits and juices that will sustain you. During the breaks most students walk out into the courtyard where wild dogs roam and the boys sneak off to the smoking section. Cigarettes are in fashion here and I am deathly terrified of dying from second hand smoke as smoking is something I refuse to adapt to.

Unfortunately I have to report that the physical condition of Cervantes is less than appealing. The classrooms are covered with graffiti, dusty chalkboards, broken chairs and desks and there is no existing technology. To help put things into perspective, there is no clock in our classroom. Attending Cervantes has really helped me appreciate what our government provides us, they provide us; with a stable and modern educational system.

Life in Argentina is definitely an adventure and education is only one aspect of the differences. I miss home but I am having amazing experiences in a new culture that I now consider my own.

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]