As my Northwest friends finish up their classes, I have a little over a month before I can say the same. I don’t really have room to be bitter seeing as I’ve also been filling my time with amazing experiences in my new home. However, thinking about all of this has led me to make a list of things that I have noticed about my classes here in Costa Rica.
The students studying English speak much better than I speak Spanish. Although this is sometimes embarrassing, it only confirms what I already knew. Students here start learning English early, and have no trouble keeping up with native speakers by the time they’re certified to be teachers. I only wish I could say the same about myself!
Almost all of the chairs on campus are reclined. This may not technically be about classes, but it is a noticeable difference. At first I thought was cool and relaxing, but it actually is kind of a hindrance when I need to sit up to focus and write.
Students don’t seem to have a problem telling professors they haven’t finished their homework. At home, there may be that one brave soul that mentions aloud that there was too much going on or that they just didn’t get around to doing the homework, but usually anyone who missed out tries to remain unnoticed. In my classes here, when the professor asks “Did everyone finish the homework?” a lot more straight up “no”s come back in reply.
It’s not common to use computers in class. I think I may be a little biased on this one because I come from a university where laptops are checked out to you, giving every student easy access to their own computer. However, I think that home computers and computer labs are more widely used here because of the way that students travel to and from school (which I will discuss shortly).
SO MANY group projects. I guess I never realized how much of an “independent” endeavor higher education in the US really is until I left it for a while. I have had classes at home with the typical one to two group projects in a semester or small pair or group work throughout, but all of my classes here have three to six on the syllabus with more sprinkled into classwork.
Classes are scheduled into longer blocks. Because very few students live on campus and most take the bus from surrounding towns, class schedules are planned accordingly. Most classes are held one or two times a week for two to three hours so that students don’t have to make so many trips to the campus. Students that live in apartments during the week almost always go home on the weekends, so many of them plan schedules without Monday or Friday classes if possible.
Professors don’t really have office hours. Although they are very helpful before and after classes, it is a bit more difficult to sit down and have a long conversation because the professors don’t seem to readily use offices.
There are copy/printing shops galore! Instead of having textbooks, teachers put together anthologies of sorts that are picked up by students at one of these local shops for a small (my most expensive “book” was $7!) fee. They are also used for any printing needs that come up for both students and teachers.
If you made it through the wordy part of this post, you shall be rewarded with photos of my latest adventures:
Exploring Barrio China (China Town) in San Jose. In reality, there wasn’t much to explore after passing through the pretty entrance.
There is, however, a statue of John Lennon in China Town. I have no idea why.
Visiting la Basilica Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles in Cartago.
A muddy, but beautiful day of hiking at Monte de la Cruz.