Parciales and parties

Rachel Hunt: official survivor of midterms en español.

The exams have probably proved one of the biggest culture shocks of my encounters so far. Forget finding out weeks in advance your timetable, or for that matter, having weeks to revise. The two week period announces itself roughly seven days before, revealing whether you are the lucky student that has one exam in the first week leaving you free to wend your way over this vast country and escape the urban sprawl or, a la yours truly, three nicely dispersed across the fourteen days to ensure maximum disruption to travel plans.

So as my flatmates jetted off (thankfully to places I’ve already seen) I was left to face the delights of Argentinean Foreign Policy alone and puzzle over the San Andrés approach to examinations. It may start at 9am but sure, stroll in at twenty past, noone will bat an eyelid. The paper may be so identical to last year’s that the 8 of 2008 has become a 9 with the skilful utilisation of a black biro and when your professor isn’t busy answering one of the many questions that are asked throughout, he will quite regularly absent himself from the classroom for extended periods, leaving students free to chat, take a cigarette break or if they so wished, crack out the notes that lay in the bags at their feet. Perhaps some suggestions to take back to Edinburgh?

Thankfully, nicely positioned at the end of midterms for a bit of downtime was Spring (opposite hemisphere, see) Break, Argentina style. I would here like to dedicate this post to the actual 100% real and dedicated San Andrés students who actually required this break after parciales, as opposed to us intercambios who appeared to continue living the exchange dream regardless!

Anyway, getting back to the programme; Spring Break = long bank holiday weekend when entire student population of Buenos Aires heads to Mar del Plata, the ‘closest’ (5+ hours) beach resort. I feel ‘Spring’ Break is slightly misleading, mainly because it conjures up the white shores of Miami and we were met by torrential rain on Saturday. Despite now being in Argentina for 4 months, I am still waiting on that summer feeling that a you would have thought a South American semester guarantees. Nevertheless, we powered, or partied, through with previas (pre-drinks) in a hotel entirely taken over with San Andrés students, super-boliches and a severe lack of sleep.

After quite happily conforming to the bed at 6am/up at 2pm lifestyle, I now have to sometime return to 7am starts and actual work, whilst trying to ignore the Freshers’ Spring Break flu symptoms that are trying to take hold. Off to buy some OJ…

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