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Friday, March 17, 2006

Classes and Mechoneo

I just finished the 2nd/1st week of classes and so I decided it was time for a post. I still have one class that doesn’t start until next week and so I will tell you about that in a later post. Through COPA we have the option of taking classes at three different universities in Santiago, La Universidad de Chile (La Chile) which is the big public school and the oldest university in the country, La Universidad Católica (La Católica), which is the main Catholic university in the city, and Universidad Diego Portales which is a slightly smaller private school that is rated as one of the top private schools in the country. I chose to take classes at La Chile and Diego Portales. I wanted to take classes at La Chile for the experience, it is supposed to be full of activity, protest, cultural events, etc. I chose Diego Portales because whereas La Chile is much more disorganized, Diego Portales is more organized and has smaller classes. As it turns out, there has been some kind of internal problems within the social science department at La Chile and because of this classes are starting a few weeks late, which means they end a few weeks late, after my program ends, and so we are not allowed to take classes in the social science department. Since I am a Sociology major and take mostly social sciences, this limited my choices and I ended up not finding very many classes I wanted to take there. After visiting a couple classes I didn’t like, I am now taking only one class at La Chile which doesn’t start until next week and the rest of my classes are at Diego Portales. We are also required to take a Spanish class through the program with the other students from COPA. Oh, and all the classes are in Spanish. Ok, so here are my classes that have started already…

COPA Spanish
- This is a class with the other American students that is half grammar and half composition. We are split into three classes so there is only nine people in my class. It is annoying to have to take grammar again and do stupid exercises but it is helpful and a good opportunity to just be able to ask the professor anything we want about language, Chilean culture, Chilean words etc.

Sociología de los Medios de Comunicación (Sociology of Media)
- At Bard I have done a lot of projects for classes relating to media but never taken a media specific class so this seemed perfect. It is hard to get a sense yet of what the class will be like yet, but it focuses on different forms of media. Although we do have a section on Chile, it is much more general which is good because I can apply the class to US media as well. I am the only American in this class which is good, and will hopefully be a good opportunity for meeting Chilean students.

Familia, Género y Sociedad (Family, Gender and Society)
- This is another Sociology class that is about what it sounds like it is about. It seems like it will be a good class, focusing on structure of family, family relations, gender division of labor within the family, and alternative family structures. The second class was a background on theory. The lecture was on theorists who have studied the family and different schools of thought that relate to the family. Having just taken two different Sociology theory classes at Bard a lot of the information was familiar to me and so was easier to follow in Spanish. There is one other COPA student in this class, otherwise all Chileans.

Historia y Fotografia Chilena (Chilean History and Photography)
- This class just started last week. It is not in a specific department, it is an interdisciplinary class that is offered to students in any department. It is a class looking at Chilean history through history of photography. We are looking at a wide range of genres including art photography, travel, portrait, and journalism. There is also a “creative” element to the class. We have two photography projects where we have to take photographs on a specific subject and turn them in, in any format we want with a short paper justifying out photographs. So that should be fun. The professor is very funny and passionate about the subject matter. There are 6 or so other COPA students in this class but also lots of Chilean students. The professor loves that there are so many Americans in the class and keeps asking us questions. For example, in the last class he somehow started talking about hippies in Berkeley and then randomly turned to me and asked me if Berkeley or Stanford was a better school. So just the professor should keep us entertained throughout the semester.

My last class which is at La Chile is called Dinamicas Sociales y Transformaciones en la Ciudad Latinoamerica (Social Dynamics and Transformations in the Latin American City). More to come when that starts.

It seems like the classes will not have a lot of work. Each lecture and reading is obviously more challenging because it is in Spanish but I think my work load will be less than I am used to at Bard. Also, they are very into group and pair papers here which I don’t really understand how that works, but I guess I will find out.

For those of you that though Berkeley High Freshman Fridays were bad, that is nothing compared to the hazing that happens here with first year university students at almost all the universities in the city. It is called mechoneo and this is more or less what happens (or some variation of this)… Older students come into first year classes in the middle of class. They line everyone up and string a rope through their belt loops so they can’t get away. Then they take their backpacks and shoes. Then they cut there clothes to shreds. They cut off the legs of pants and cut up the sides of the pants, with guys they completely take their shirts, with girls the cut off the stomach and arms. Then they cover everyone in paint on their clothes, their stomachs, faces, everywhere, sometimes just paint, sometimes writing. Then they smear ketchup, mustard and flour in their hair. In the most extreme cases, they cut peoples hair off. Then they parade you through the streets and metro and send everyone out on the street in pairs to beg for money. You have to collect a certain amount of money by the end of the day in order to get your backpacks and shoes back. So everyday you see these kids on the street who are a mess, their clothes are cut up, they have no shoes, they are covered in paint and they smell disgusting from the ketchup and mustard in their hair, and they are begging for coins. It is so sad and seems horrible but I guess it is part of the university culture and some kind of initiation type thing and so people don’t mind going through it.

On another note, my weekend last week ended with another concert, a huge post-inauguration concert on the street right in front of the presidential palace. There was a giant stage and probably over ten thousand people with lots of big name Latin American artists and at the end, Bachelet spoke again. It was a lot of fun and a good way to end such an exciting weekend.

Sorry for such a long post, congratulations for making it to the end.

2 Comments:

At 3:10 PM, March 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sari,
Your adventures sound so amazing, fun, meaningful!!! I'm so impressed that you can take classes in Spanish. It's wonderful to be following you around through this blog.
Love,
Lili

 
At 4:11 AM, March 20, 2006, Blogger sonja said...

that hazing sounds AWFUL. how could anyone be ok with that?

 

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