Friday, May 9, 2014

How Constant Strikes Affect College Students in Argentina

It’s been over a month since I wrote an article, but there’s a good reason behind that. After successfully passing the pre-semester (from February to March), I started my first-year college semester at the National University of Cordoba and things have not been going smoothly and a lot of the blame goes to the country constantly going on strikes!

From the beginning, which was April 7th, the semester has had problems. It’s no secret that Argentina is known for constantly going on strikes for one reason or another. It seems that whenever the cab drivers go on strike, the bus drivers do too; then all of the professors in the nation want to join in on the strike and claim that it’s because they need more money.

There have been about 3 strikes already in the month of April alone. Then came the first holiday, which was related to what they call “the week of the Saints”, which leads to Good Friday. The following week, the psychology school within the university had a 3-day seminar that brought therapists from all over the nation and beyond together. This meant that we had no classes for Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Then, the following week, Argentina celebrated Labor Day on May 1st. Since that fell on a Thursday, the university also took Friday off.

There are two 1st year courses that did not have classes until now due to all this chaos. The first was psycho-statistics, and the other was epistemology. As I mentioned in previous posts, each course is divided into two types of classes. The first one is known as the practical class, which requires students to attend and do coursework. The other one is called a theoretical class, which is basically a lecture class. This one does not require students to attend, but it’s highly recommended that they do as it provides them with additional material that can help them pass their exams down the line.

Given that I’d miss an entire month’s worth of class in these two courses, I decided to go to the lecture. Unfortunately, a problem that is often too common at this university occurred.

There weren’t enough seats! Students were either forced to sit on the floor or stand and look on. Some students had to stand in the hallway and strain to listen to the professor, who typically never speaks loud enough, even with the help of a microphone.
After the lecture class was over I went to the practical class and encountered the same issue. We were all crammed into a smaller classroom than the one where the lecture class was held in. Now I know how sardines must feel like (well… if they were alive inside the cans).

Some of the first exams will be held as early as next week, while others will be held by the end of May or sometime in June. Either way, I don’t feel motivated anymore. I’m so frustrated by the lack of organization and the crappy excuses that the administrative staff at the university provides for their shortcomings.

There are days that I don’t even feel like getting out of bed anymore. I’m just stumbling through the week like a zombie. I know I should motivate myself to study, but I'll admit, I’ve lost interest.

My psychiatrist, who graduated from the university here in Cordoba, warned me that I wouldn’t find the level of structure at the university that I had grown accustomed to back in the States. He also told me that most professors at the university don’t really care about teaching. Some don’t even have the knowledge needed to teach, according to him, and they could care less whether the students pass or fail. That's the last thing I needed to hear.

So if these professors, these mentors, who are supposed to guide me in the training of this career don’t give a frak, why should I?