Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chilean School System

The one thing is Chile that continues to frustrate me! The Chilean school system is so different from Canada I don't know if I could ever understand it or will ever agree with it. But that's just cultural difference.
I'll give you a break down:

Colegio (College)
From Pre-Kinder to 4 Medio (Pre-Kindergarten - grade 12). You're in the same curso (class) for every class with the same kids. In the older grades you have some elective class, whether you choose to go into the Science/math stream or the humanities where you just have extra classes of the same subject on top of the standard class (ex. extra chemistry class). There aren't elective classes to specialize in something you enjoy/want to pursue in the future. Also all classes are at the same level, no College/University difference.

Colegio's are either public, private, or a mix. The schools differ a lot, especially seing and hearing about every exchange students school, it's interesting so see what social-class everyone is in. So you have to pay for your child to have a decent basic education.

Classes in colegio can be utterly craziness at times! There have been so many moments in which the idea of the teacher is the room was pointless. From my experience the teachers don't seem to have lesson plans most of the time, I don't know how some of the kids can learn if no material is given in class. Also I've noticed that some kids buy extra textbooks to learn from (ex. my biology elective class). The respect-level for the teachers are almost non-existent at times when kids talk over the teacher and do their own thing whether answering their cell phones, painting nails, putting stickers all over the room (I'm guilty!), or whatever!

The big dreaded PSU... the Chilean version of the USA's SAT test. This standardized test focuses on Language and Math. This is the biggest thing is a Chilean teenagers life, especially in 4 Medio. The score on the PSU determines what University one can get into, especially if they want to go to the good, less-expensive public Universities. They have PSU practice tests in colegio (once I had to do... the second time I didn't bother!) and there's so much pressure to constantly study, which brings me to the next stage...

Preuniversitario (Pre-University)
I loath these institutions this year as they have stolen all of my friends! In order to get a "better score" on the PSU most of the 4 Medio population attend preuniversitarios. On-top of a school day from 8 am - 3 pm the students go to another 2-3 hours of extra classes focusing on the PSU subjects and don't get home until 7 pm or so. Again you have to pay extra for these institutions so not every family can afford it, and they run from April-December when the PSU is. My opinion is that honestly it's quite silly to have these institutions when your still studying and learning in school, why not just learn there!

La U - Universidad (University)
There are two types of Universities - Public (Universidad de Chile, U de Catolica, U de Santiago, etc.) or Private. In order to get into a Public university you need to have a high score on the PSU, but to get into a Private university money is more of a factor. Student Residences and what Canadians would call "University-life" don't exist. They have sports teams but there's no student clubs or culture outside of classes. I've never been to a University class but I have heard they're much like colegio (but more organized), no grand lecture halls that you would find in Canada. The students seem to be at school all day as well, no only 2 hours of class a day.

Overall I'm still not a fan of the Chilean school system, I'm pretty happy to have the opportunity of a Canadian education and am actually quite excited to finally getting out of "high school" and into University this fall!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hockey de pasto... mi vida ocupada!

That's what my life finally seems to be! After receiving news that I gotten a job back in Canada that I really wanted for the summer I have been coming to the conclusion that my exchange is almost over! I think I know when I'll be arriving back in Canada and that means I have just under 2 months left here! Already a month has passed by since my North trip... these next 2 will absolutely FLY by! It's a little sad to think that I'm cutting my exchange a month short and coming back in June, (even though my visa is good until August Rotary wants us gone by mid-July.) But spending 2 weeks back home then heading off into the wilderness for 2 months in the summer I think I won't be as occupied in the state of "darn it... I'm back in my small town and not in Chile."

Back to feeling busy... field hockey has started to take over my free time here! This past week I had a scrimmage on Monday, practice Tuesday, rest day Wednesday, and a practice/game Thursday. Although I did find out I can't play in real games with the team - a little thing about not actually being a student in the university! So my day usually looks like this:
  • Wake-up at 6 am, go to school
  • Get out of school at 3:30-4:15 and take the metro home (40 minutes or so)
  • Change and have an hour or so in my house
  • Take the 1 hour trip by metro and bus to the stadium that we practice/play in
  • Practice
  • Return home around 10-11 pm depending on if my host-brother is also playing soccer
So needles to say I'm dead by Friday night... I wish I could just to to bed early on a regular basis sometimes - but that's not my Chilean life in any aspects!

Even trying to find a night to have dinner with friends seems to be a challenge with conflicting schedules! But it's nice to finally have my life be busy. I wish I could take the few lonely and not so busy first months and use them now - but that's the life of exchange. It's what your dealt with and how you deal... I've just come into full swing of my exchange in my last couple of months.

I can already tell that the tone and sound of this entry will sound weird, I've been typing spanish words and then deleting them, and also talking to friends in spanish then writing my blog in english... the brain can only handle so much!

Here's some pictures from the last "photo shoot" in school when I brought my camera

The girls

In the "Jardin de Eva"

Yo ♥ Santiago

I dyed my hair brown... ha ha as if!

4 Medio!

A photo from when a bunch of the exchange students stood outside La Moneda (Government Palace) for the anniversary of Rotary - you can spot me with the only red blazer!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Field hockey, Kanye West and a 5,3

Well the title sure sums up my last week... you may think all these things are quite random but sometimes thats how my life feels here - a mix of everything!

A couple of weeks ago I went to the gym with my host-Mama and older brother (he was in the USA for exchange but came home in March when I got home from my North trip!) Our gym is in one of the "stadios" (stadiums) because my host-Papa plays soccer there. Anyways as we were leaving and walking towards the car we spotted girls playing field hockey. I got instantly excited and blurted out how much I love field hockey and miss playing it. So my host-Mama walks to the field and asks the coach if I could join in and play with them, and the coach said yes! So I had a few minutes playing and then as I started to leave one of the girls asked if I wanted to come back next week as they train Tuesdays and Thursdays - oh course! Unluckly for me the week after was when I got sick so I couldn't go. But this past Tuesday and Thursday I went to both of the practices and they've been kicking my butt! The majority of the practices have been running and conditioning exercises... which haven't been in my daily schedule for a loooong time! But being able to play a sport again feels so good, and the girls on the team are all so nice! So I'm technically playing for the Universidad Diego Portales even though I'm not a student and I'm still not sure how many games we'll end up playing.

Kanye West - oh how a talented performer you are! Yesterday I went to Lollapalooza (a music festival - first time ever in Chile) with a group of the exchange students. We saw bands such as 311, Sublime, 30 Seconds to Mars and Kanye West! We waited at least 1.5 hours pushed up against the fence of the stage sweating and being smushed with thousands of people! But it was so worth it! The show was fantastic and we were only a few feet away... AMAZING MEMORY! I can now say I survived my first South American concert!

The boys rocking out

Waiting for Kanye...

Just sayin'... zero zoom

5,3 out of 7... that was my mark on my english test that I just took in school! I'll just leave it at that... and the fact that I am not looking forward to writing essays in University when I get home!