Our child is going to school in the small Patagonian town of La Junta and she loves it.
For starters, the kids have welcomed her with open arms. She’s helping others with English and the atmosphere in the classroom is very friendly. She comes home with tales of school regularly, starting with ‘mum, please do not say you are going to complain and take me out of school when I tell you this, but it’s funny…’.
It’s nice to see her happy and opening up, but the Belgian in me expects to see her return stressed, tired and with tons of homework. Also, my mind goes tinkers every time I see the school’s clocks set on wrong times, because nobody bothers to replace batteries. I addressed it once to a teacher. His answer produced a small implosion in my brains, he smiled and replied:
‘Oh, that’s just to confuse the kids.’
So, to channel my uptight frustrations towards something more pleasant, I asked Laura to write this post with me and describe differences between her little school in Patagonia and what she was used to in Belgium.
- The classrooms are smaller and there is no central heating. Every class has its own log fire and its own box of wood instead, which they keep burning all the time and makes the class way too hot.
- In Belgium we had a traditional blackboard and wooden tables, here we have a whiteboard with touchscreen and each person has their own plastic table.
- The children here are very communicative and funny in class, even the teachers laugh with their replies. Funny is chistoso in Spanish. I had nice teachers in Belgium, but they were more stern, we were definitely not making jokes all the time.
- The years are different, I’m in 8th class, which would be 2nd year of high school in Belgium. After this there are 4 more years, so in the end, we do the same amount of years in school, only they number them differently.
- The times are different and a bit random, we start at 8 am and finish at 3.30 pm, except on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday was half a day in Belgium, here Friday is the half day. I prefer that, it makes the weekend longer. Wednesday however now is the longest day of the week, an hour longer than other days. Luckily Thursday starts an hour later :-).
- The school gives all kids laptops in the 7th year, I missed that, but I have my own, so it’s OK.
- It takes me 5 minutes walking to be in school, which is still very strange to me. I was used to ride the bike half an hour to get to school in the city.
- They feed us in school. School starts at 8 and at 9.15 we have our first break during which they give us breakfast: porridge and warm milk. I don’t eat it, I prefer my home made breakfast. Then at 1 pm it’s time for almuerzo, lunch. It’s always different, but I usually like it a lot, we get salmon, beans, rice, salads, steaks, tuna, etc.
- You have to bring your own toilet paper to the toilet.
- There are horses on our courtyard.
Me: So Laura, anything you want to add to finish?
Laura: They are very helpful and patient with me in school, explaining words I don’t understand and giving me time. I like learning Spanish and I like going to school here, but I never want to forget Dutch, that is why I prefer to keep on speaking Dutch at home and that’s all.