“You get educated at home, you get culture at the university”

October 26, 2007

That’s the saying here in Spain.

Here’s how the schooling system here works.  High school is called the instituto.  It is required that you attended the instituto until you are about 16 years old.  After that, depending on how great your grades are, you have two options for your life.  The first is to go to una Formación Profesional, which is a 2 to 3 year technical school.  You can learn carpentry, plumbing, hair design, etc.  The other option is going to the university.  Each university has its own entrance exam.  Students here don’t take a general SAT or ACT, they simply try their luck with the entrance exam.  If they pass, they’re in and they’re given a number (say 980).  Then, they make a list from 1 to 10 of what they want to study (architecture, medicine, economics, etc).  Each of those “majors” (or in spanish, facultades) has a number as well.  Depending on how high your number is and how it corresponds with the numbers on the facultades determines where you will be put, which determines what you will study, how you will study it, and for how long you will be in the university.  It usually takes about 5 years here to get your licenciatura (degree), but they’re trying to shorten it to 4 years to keep up with Europe.  Basically, your career path starts when you’re about 16 and is for the most part immovable (did I spell that right?).

 Has anybody seen The Paper Chase?  🙂

In my Life and Culture class last week, Doug sent us out in groups of two to observe specified streets in Sevilla.  Every 15 minutes we would record for one minute the demographics of those who passed us by on the street.  It was interesting to see what the makeup was in different areas of the city.  Those who went close to the center saw more people shopping and more tourists.  Those who went outside of “the egg” (look at a map, you’ll know what I mean) saw more students, elderly couples, and businessmen.  Brittany and I had the street right outside of the school, Recaredo 44, which consisted of more students, elderly couples, and a lot of shoppers.

 Right now I’m looking into the possibility of teaching here from next October to May.  There is a great program sponsored by the Spanish government that allots english teachers 630€ a month to teach at elementary or high school levels.  They only accept 1000 applicants each year.  This is something that I would love to do!  Here’s the website if you want to read about it!  http://www.mec.es/exterior/usa/en/programs/us_assistants/default.shtml

The other night I met up with my Spanish friend Marta and her friend from the university and we had english lessons.  Her friend Isabel is trying to get into grad school to study international journalism, and today she has to take an entrance exam.  One part of the exam is translating an english article from the New York Times into Spanish, so we were exchanging vocabulary over hot topics.  It was fun to be the teacher for once instead of the student.

This weekend I’ll be hanging out in Sevilla and I’m pretty excited!!

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