As we go on

Another week of school survived.

This school… it’s a lot different than my high school back in America. For one thing, we don’t have a set lunch time. We get two 20 minute breaks between the usual seven classes we have daily. There’s this little tiny store in the school that sells food, but it’s not anything like a cafeteria. It’s more like, um, a tiny store that sells food. But I haven’t visited it yet.

Another thing that is different is the people themselves. For one thing, they all speak Spanish, more or less. The weird foreigners like me are the only ones who can’t. Anyway, the people seem to be a lot looser than they do in America. “Oh, you got a good grade on that math test about dividing by zero? Well, come help me with that, please.” These are people you have never seen before. And for the confused, dividing by zero has something to do with functions and finding the average speed of them, which I’m assuming is the same thing as the average slope.

More examples of this looseness abound. You know how copying homework is a HUGE no-no in America? Here, well-done homework is a valued commodity. Of course, you obviously can’t let the teachers catch you doing it, but most of the boys usually provide enough distraction for the teacher not to notice. Of course, this is also a kind of precarious dance; you have to offer something in return to the person you’re copying from, at least usually. This can be anything from help with math to food to the simple friendship you provide. For example, I helped someone with dividing by zero and was afterwards offered the chance to transcribe his history homework, if I wished. However, if you consistently copy off of someone, they start to get annoyed, unfortunately for you. Fortunately for me, I don’t plan on doing that (much).

Another thing: teachers in America guard the grades of their students from the prying eyes of others like jealous dragons protecting a hoard of stolen treasure. Here, it’s more along the lines of, “Robert, you got an even worse grade than last time! Shame!” and “The highest grades were a 1 and a 2. Josefina got the 1 and Jorge got the 2. Congratulate them on their intelligence.” And if the teacher doesn’t tell, you soon have eyes assailing you from every direction, wanting to know. It’s very hard to keep grades secret unless you exclusively ask the teacher not to tell.

This week I technically had one class of extra Spanish help after school, for advanced Spanish speakers who are past learning “hola”. That was pretty okay. The people there are a good bunch and everyone helps everyone else. More fun, though, was the class for people new to the Spanish language. I went simply because I wanted to learn some more and was sure that a smaller class with a greater sum of smaller kids would turn out to be hilarious. I was right.

It was very un-class-like. The teacher started talking in the soft Spanish voice he has, and it was obvious that some didn’t get it at all. All of us can speak German, though, and so those who did understand helped the ones who didn’t. We had another “talk-in-front-of-class” session, during which the teacher wrote the new words we used on the blackboard. (This school uses a lot of blackboards. Whiteboards are nonexistent, but some classrooms appear to have some sort of Smart-Board attached to the wall. Next to the blackboard.) That was all fine and dandy. It turned really fun when we had to describe the little Roxas-boy from earlier. We were all saying things like, “Well, he’s got two eyes and two ears and a nose. He also has a mouth and most likely two knees, but I can’t tell because he’s got long pants on.” Roxas-boy was very amused by this and threw chalk at all of us. Then we had a paper-airplane competition. My classes seem to include a lot of paper airplanes, for some reason.

As for the people in my class; again, boys are boys. There is ONE who I have never witnessed being serious. Other than that, all of them are pretty tolerable when they aren’t making idiots of themselves. I like them when they’re serious. When they’re acting like zoo animals I tend to change my mind.

The girls really try to make me feel included, which I appreciate. There are five of us, but for some reason the others don’t like to answer questions in class, while I’m always raising my hand. Especially in English class.

The food here is different. My brother would never touch some of the things my classmates bring to eat during the break. It’s really pretty interesting; my host siblings eat crab salad and vegetablic stew-sauce-stuff like it’s nothing. I’m positively 100% sure my brother wouldn’t eat that if he could help it. I, of course, am trying everything offered to me.

I got a care package from home, and it was like Christmas. There was an article about ninjas and a big, big tub of Jif peanut butter. Oh, how my host siblings cringed when I spread it over the apple I was eating. Guess they’re not used to that sort of thing.

I also got a letter a few days later. I opened it in school during Castellano, because I don’t understand much during that class anyway. It was a beautiful thing to read something written by your sister, your parents, and your brother. I also received a very nice picture from my brother with two tanks shooting each other. It’s going on the wall in my room.

Today was actually pretty satisfying, I think. Despite having to run 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and then 10 minutes again during our two hour gym after school, then having to go to various new metro stations to find a place to recharge my metro card and not having enough money for the transaction to be completed, getting lost because of the various new metro stations, and learning that the metro I usually use wouldn’t go all the way to the station I needed to get off at, I learned a new kind of paper airplane, finished most of my homework, and have a tentative plan to meet an almost-friend tomorrow. We’re still trying to get the Internet up and running in my room, which is proving troublesome.

It’s taken me an unheard-of time of a whole week to finish reading 5 mangas. Granted, they’re all Spanish, but usually that would take me about 2 days. Lots to learn.

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