How many years you have?

It’s very weird being the one in the classroom that is that girl. It’s finally time where the teacher comes to my desk after everyone presents who they are, their age and major, and why they like psychology… etc. Now its my turn to speak and she’s there, at my desk, practically shouting in this awful, patronizing slow-Spanish “WHO ARE YOU? WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR?” And then in English when I didn’t answer right away, here is what she asks me:

“HOW MANY YEARS YOU HAVE?”

And I realized at that moment that I was that girl, that everyone felt a little sorry for, and made the room became a little tense because that girl couldn’t understand the most basic concept of the class- the language.

The frustrating thing was, I was keeping up just fine with her Spanish. However, the course is entitled “Biological Bases of Human Behavior” which is a science class… in Spanish. I don’t know what possessed me into thinking I could take a science class in Spanish but I did, and I went to this class for 3 hours today. She told us halfway through class that our first assignment was an essay that was 12 pages. I was out at that point, but I still had an hour and a half of sitting through that class. I couldn’t just leave, the class had only 10 people in it. So I spiraled.

At the beginning of the class I was determined to pass the class with flying colors. I thought, “I should embrace this challenge. It scares me, but I should face the things I’m scared of.” 20 more minutes into the class I thought, “Okay, this REALLY scares me.” I finally got a grip while she was going over the basics of the class- how now to be late, and turn things in on time, and the inevitable scare tactic that she won’t give anyone an easy A, and she was really strict. Then was back at square one with thinking I could do it, but it was downhill from there. She started joking with the students, saying something I didn’t understand. So I kept listening. Didn’t understand something else. Started questioning my ability to speak Spanish. Started wondering what other class I could take, and spiraled into saying there wasn’t a single other class I could take that would count for credit. Started thinking about why I wanted to teach. Started thinking about the school system and it’s corruption. Started to think I should drop out of school for awhile, until I’m sure what I want to do. Started wondering why I was there, in that class. Wondered why I came to Costa Rica in the first place if I don’t want to go to school. Started thinking I should open my own restaurant someday, and thought about what would be necessary to do that.

I pretty much talked to myself about my awesome restaurant that would be the talk of the town, when all the sudden my professor is at my desk yelling “HOW MANY YEARS YOU HAVE?”

I answered as best as I could and all the students awkwardly looked at me and their eyes seem to say, “It’ll all be okay. Hang in there.”

I used this as a reflection and lesson on humility on how I treat foreigners and sometimes people with disabilities (and a lot of times they’re just grouped together) in my classes. It feels pretty bad. I’ll think about this experience when I ask someone “DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?”

So, yeah. Among other stories I have about yesterday and today (the start of classes) that was one bad/good one. Yesterday I walked 4 times back and forth from my house to the university. There were a couple classes cancelled, others I was told the wrong day… and other stories that are too long and that you really wouldn’t care about. Time for bed.

Tomorrow’s a new day!

And seriously, let me know if you’re in on opening a restaurant with me…

Pura Vida!

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